Some scholars believe that the beast is not a person but a political system, but the beast is a man:
- Most of the descriptions of the beast do use the masculine pronoun
- The number he is assigned at the end of the chapter is “the number of a man”
- Most of the names he is called describe a man
- He is a false imitation of Christ.
the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
- The dragon’s power is what the beast uses to deceive the nations
- The dragon’s throne represents the worldwide sway he will possess
- The dragon’s great authority describes the control the beast is given over the political, commercial and religious aspects of Babylon
In Daniel we are told that he:
- has a mouth uttering great boasts (7:8, 20)
- speaks boastful words (7:11)
- speaks out against the Most High (7:25)
- will speak monstrous things against the God of gods (11:36)
Wiersbe: Almost all dictators have risen to power by controlling people with their words. Some of us can recall when Adolf Hitler was rising to power, and know now how he mesmerized huge crowds with his speeches. Satan will make “the beast” a great orator, whose addresses will blaspheme God, His name, His tabernacle (heaven), and the saints in heaven.
Once again we see the correlation with Daniel 7:
- I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them… (vs. 21)
- The fourth beast will… devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. (vs. 23)
Jesus said, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (John 5:43)
He also said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21)
Rosenthal: Deification of man is the “theology” of humanism. Humanistic philosophy rests on four major pillars. The first is atheism. The second pillar of humanism is evolution. The third pillar of humanism, moral relativity, comes logically out of the first two. If there is no God and man has evolved, there can be no absolutes for living. The fourth pillar is pragmatic and relates to values and lifestyle. If atheism and evolution are true and no absolutes exist, then amorality, which means no morality, reigns. According to this fourth pillar, there is no right or wrong—only likes and dislikes, your way and my way.
The Names of the Beast:
- The king of Babylon (Isa. 14:4)
- The leader of Tyre (Eze. 28:2)
- The little horn (Dan. 7:8)
- The prince who is to come (Dan. 9:26)
- The willful king (Dan. 11:36)
- The idol shepherd (Zech. 11:16)
- The man of lawlessness (or man of sin) (2 The. 2:3)
- The son of destruction (or perdition) (2 The. 2:3)
- The lawless one (2 The. 2:8)
- The Antichrist (1 John 2:18)
- The beast (Rev. 13:1, etc.)
Enormous Pride—he will exhibit all five of the “I wills” of Satan described in Isaiah 14:
- “I will ascend to heaven;”
- “I will raise my throne above the stars of God;”
- “I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north;”
- “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;”
- “I will make myself like the Most High.”
Murderous—the millions of people Hitler, Stalin and Mao murdered will be nothing compared to what this man does. (Jesus said the devil was “a murderer from the beginning” [John 8:44])
- He comes up through the ranks of the revived Roman Empire (Daniel 7:7-8)
- He rises in power by overthrowing three of his confederates (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24)
- He is a “little horn” at first but eventually becomes “larger in appearance than its associates” (Daniel 7:20)
- He is “insolent and skilled in intrigue” (Daniel 8:23)
- “through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence” (Daniel 8:25)
- He convinces Israel to enter into a treaty with him (Daniel 9:27)
- He rules his federation with absolute authority (Daniel 11:36)
- He worships power (Daniel 11:38)
- He bribes other leaders to follow him (Daniel 11:39)
- He destroys those leaders who attempt to resist him (Daniel 11:40-43)
- He eventually gains the devotion of the world’s leaders: (Revelation 17:12-13)
- He uses apostate Christianity for his own purposes and then turns on it (Revelation 17:3, 16)
The people of God who are destined for prison will be arrested and taken away; those destined for death will be killed. But do not be dismayed, for here is your opportunity for endurance and confidence. (Revelation 13:10 Liv)
- (Phi) Amid all this stands the endurance and faith of the saints.
- (BBE) …Here is the quiet strength and the faith of the saints.
- (WNT) …Here is an opportunity for endurance, and for the exercise of faith, on the part of God’s people.
- (Beck) …Here is where the holy people will need to endure and trust.
- (Mof) …This is what shows the patience and the faith of the saints.
- (Jer) …This is why the saints must have constancy and faith.
Osborne: This exhortation alludes to Jeremiah 15:2: “Those destined for death, to death; And those destined for the sword, to the sword; And those destined for famine, to famine; And those destined for captivity, to captivity.” The context of Jeremiah, however, is quite different from that of Revelation. There these are punishments on the nation for sin and apostasy, while here they are due to attacks by the beast and his followers. There the cause is unfaithfulness, here it is faithfulness to Christ. Thus, the judgment oracle of Jeremiah has been transformed into a prophetical call to the people of God to join in Jesus’ “fellowship of suffering” (Phil. 3:10). Christ warned that “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death” (Mat. 24:9) and added that “there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (24:21). Resistance is futile; one can only wait for God. Live faithfully and persevere in witness, but leave the battle to the Lord.
13:11-18 The false prophet
Osborne: While the first beast has a more military function (conquering the saints and taking over the world), this one has a more religious function, deceiving the world into worshiping the Antichrist. Michaels relates the relationship to the state and a state church. The beast from the sea is a secular political power, while the beast from the earth is a religious institution. This beast refers to the “false messiahs” of Mark 13:6, 22 and to the “great apostasy” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3. As Christ received authority from the Father (Mat. 11:27), so Antichrist receives authority from the dragon (Rev. 13:4), and as the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14), so the false prophet glorifies the Antichrist (Rev. 13:12).
Thomas: All of chapter 13 is a parody of the Christian era, with a counterfeit trinity, a death and resurrection and a universal church with its mark of membership. So the beast has an outwardly Christian image. The likeness to a lamb points to the beast’s counterfeiting of the milder nature of the Lamb. Though the beast’s mannerisms appear so gentle, his words are satanic (cf. Matthew 7:15). What he lacks in power he compensates for in cunning and corrupting influence. This type of persuasiveness contrasts with the first beast’s loud blasphemy against all heavenly things (13:6). This is not blustering fierceness, but deceptive, subtle, seductive speech to lure people away from faith in Christ and into the dragon’s trap.
Sola: The critical question at this point is this: when is the beast put to death and raised up? A second question concerns how long the two events – the death and restoration—are separated?
Wal: The command to worship the image as well as the first beast was enforced by killing those who refused to do so. But there was a difference between the decree to put them to death and its execution. The problem of ferreting out everyone in the entire earth who would not worship the beast would naturally take time. Hitler, in his attempt to exterminate the Jews, took many months and never completed his task.
Osborne: In 3 Macc. The Ptolemaic king Philopater I (217 B.C.) forced Egyptian Jews to be registered in a census and then to be branded with the ivy leaf sign of Dionysus. Those who refused were executed. The purpose of such a mark is to signify both the rejection of former loyalties and the absolute acceptance of a new allegiance.
JFB: The mark in the right hand and forehead implies the prostration of bodily and intellectual powers to the beast’s domination.
Augustine: In the forehead by way of profession; in the hand with respect to work and service.”
Wiersbe: This much is sure: in recent years, we have seen a worldwide increase in the use of numbers for identification. In the United States, a person’s Social Security number is indispensable. In fact, numbers are more important to computers than names! Perhaps this is an advance warning of what will happen on earth when “the beast” is in control.
Wal: Probably the best interpretation is that the number six is one less than the perfect number seven, and the threefold repetition of the six would indicate that for all their pretentions to deity, Satan and the two beasts were just creatures and not the Creator.
Osborne: As for the number, it means the Antichrist is incomplete, incomplete, incomplete compared to the ultimately perfect Jesus.
Johnson: John seeks to give “wisdom” (sophia) and “insight” (nous) to believers as to the true identity of their enemy. A similar use of nous and sophia occurs in 17:9, where John calls attention to the identity of the beast ridden by the harlot. What John seems to be asking for in both cases is divine discernment and not mathematical ingenuity! Believers need to penetrate the deception of the beast. John’s reference to his number will help them to recognize his true character and identity.
Ladd: The most we can say is that if the number of the beast is a prophecy of a future situation, no one yet has solved the meaning of the number, but its meaning will be plain when the time comes.
- The first scene is the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000 (vv. 1-5),
- The first scene is the four climactic announcements about the coming prophesied period (vv. 6-13), and
- The final scene is the harvest and the vintage (vv. 14-20).
14:1-5 The 144,000
Thomas: Three appearances of the demonstrative pronoun “these” in v. 4, each time in an emphatic position, single out the 144,000 as worthy of high honor for maintaining very high standards in the midst of a corrupt religious, social and cultural environment. The Tribulation will be a very special time in history, requiring an especially high degree of dedication.
Ladd: [Saying this refers to celibacy] would be a violation of the whole biblical theology. Scripture nowhere looks upon sexual relations as such as being sinful or involving defilement. Sexual relations are without exception viewed as an important element in human relationships; in fact, they are a gift of God. Chastity or the avoidance of sexual defilement always stands in contrast to illicit sexual relations. The 144,000 are virgins and undefiled in the sense that they have refused to defile themselves by participating in the fornication of worshiping the beast but have kept themselves pure unto God.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matthew 16:24-27)
14:6-13 The Four Climactic Announcements
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Ladd: Babylon was the great enemy of Israel in OT times and here stands for the capital city of the final apostate civilization, the symbol of human society organized politically, economically and religiously in opposition to and defiance of God. The actual fall of Babylon which is here announced is described in chapters 17 and 18.
Thomas: The wine of Babylon is a symbol for not only sexual licentiousness, but every kind of excess that expresses unfaithfulness to God.
Ladd: God’s wrath is not a human emotion; it is the settled reaction of his holiness to man’s sinfulness and rebellion. Unless God in his wrath finally purges the world of all evil and rebellion, his Kingdom cannot come. Therefore, in the largest sense of God’s redemptive purpose for men, his wrath is a necessary correlative to his love and mercy.
PC# 2: The unmixed wrath of God will not be marred by weakness, nor by excess, nor by defect. It will be a pure and perfect equity dealing with sin. The figurative expressions here – “fire,” “brimstone,” “smoke” – are terrible ones, drawn from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and only such figures will avail to set forth the destructive and devouring effect of holy wrath upon a guilty soul. What is the effect? “No rest;” “torment.” There never can be any rest for a guilty conscience under the sway of Infinite Holiness. To those ill at ease with God there must be torment. The structure of mind and conscience necessitates this. For how long? “For ever and ever.”
Thomas: A constant reminder of the permanence of their misery is the endless trail of smoke that keeps on ascending. The temporal punishments have now given way to an ultimate sentence that has no time restrictions. No kind of semantic manipulation or recourse to symbolic language can erase the fact of eternal punishment conveyed in this announcement.
- Job 18:14-15—He is torn from the security of his tent, And they march him before the king of terrors. There dwells in his tent nothing of his; Brimstone is scattered on his habitation.
- Psalm 11:6—Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
- Psalm 75:8—For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.
- Psalm 49:14—As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; And the upright shall rule over them in the morning, And their form shall be for Sheol to consume So that they have no habitation.
- Psalm 58:10—The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
- Psalm 66:24—Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.
- Isaiah 30:33—For Topheth has long been ready, Indeed, it has been prepared for the king. He has made it deep and large, A pyre of fire with plenty of wood; The breath of the LORD, like a torrent of brimstone, sets it afire.
- Ezekiel 38:22—With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone.
14:14-20 The harvest
PC: For wise reasons, not all of which are known to us, both good and evil are to grow together side by side. The good have to confront the evil and keep it in check. The evil is permitted to counterplot the good and to retard its spread. But we must not speak only in the abstract. Rather let us say, good men, evil men. For when we bring human nature, with all its powers of willing and combating, into the question, then we can at once see that at least one purpose is gained by this temporary co-mingling together. Good men are made better, sturdier, and braver for having a conflict to endure. And much of the evil is turned into good through the grace of God. All life culminates in maturity. First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Growth is but life running into ripeness, as the river runs to the ocean.
Thomas: The vineyard account goes further than that of the harvest to picture the gruesome outcome of the judgment process. Jerusalem is the obvious answer to which city this is. The OT predicts that the final battle will happen near there, in the valley of Jehoshaphat which is traditionally located in the area of the Kidron Valley.
What is possibly a hyperbole tells the sad truth of massive failure under the scrutinizing judgment of God. The depth of the blood and the land area covered are both indicative of a massive slaughter. The number could be just a symbol for completeness, a hyperbole for a field inconceivably vast. But a literal meaning is not out of the question.
Osborne: To be executed “outside the gate” is to be cut off from the covenant people. In Hebrews 13:12 Jesus sacrificed himself by bearing our sins “outside the gate,” while here the nations are judged “outside” the holy city. This emphasis occurs also in Rev. 22:14-15, where the faithful “go through the gates into the city” while sinners must remain “outside.” Thus, the judgment of unbelievers “outside the city” emphasizes their absolute rejection by God and is in contrast with the blessed state of the faithful.
Ladd: The preceding three chapters (12-14) have constituted an interlude between the sounding of the seven trumpets and the outpouring of the seven bowls. The time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet announced the period of the end (10:7); but when the trumpet was sounded, which was to be the third woe (11:14), no woe or plague occurred; instead we have a proleptic announcement of the coming of God’s Kingdom. Since the seventh trumpet has no plague of its own, even though it is the third woe, we must conclude that the seven bowls constitute the third woe, with which “the wrath of God is ended” (15:1).
Bar: The word “plagues” – plegas, means a wound caused by a stripe or blow, and is frequently rendered “stripes,” Luke 12:48; Acts 16:23, 33; 2Co. 6:5; 11:23. In this book it is rendered “wound” in Rev. 13:3, 12, 14; and plagues in Rev. 9:20; 11:6; 15:1, 6, 8; 16:9, 21; 18:4, 8; 21:9; 22:18. It does not occur elsewhere. The secondary meaning of the word, and the meaning in the passage before us, is a blow inflicted by God.
- “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching” (Matthew 7:28)
- “When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.” (Matthew 13:53)
- “When Jesus had finished all these words…” (Matthew 26:1)
- “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, ‘I am thirsty.’… Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:28, 30)
- “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7)
PC# 2: It is evident that they are those who once were in the scene of conflict here below; who had to maintain a fight, hard and stern, against a godless world and a corrupt Church; in fact, against all the forces which, led on by “the dragon,” are used by the first and the second beasts. They once were strugglers and wrestlers here. But their toils are over, and they have gained the victory. They stand now in “the land of triumph.” There are no foes to encounter there. Here is the fighting; there, is the rest. Here, the cross; there, the crown. Here, the sigh; there, the song. Here, the foreboding fear; there, all fear is forever done away.
Thomas: It is now time for the main actors introduced in v. 1 to receive their tools of misery and that in a very dramatic setting. The form “was opened” occurred in 11:19 too. There the temple of God was opened to reveal the ark of the covenant. Here [it] is opened to allow the seven angels to exit from the presence of God. Emphasis falls on the presence of God as the source from which come the troubles about to transpire.
Thomas: The bowls are full to the brim with the hot anger of God. The fullness speaks of the devastating character as well as the finality of the coming divine judgment (cf. 14:8, 10).
Thomas: With the bowls in the hands of the angels, the heavenly temple undergoes an awe-inspiring transformation into an environment accessible only to God. It recalls the Shekinah that first filled the tabernacle and later the temple. The smoke from God’s glory and power is so intense that “no one could enter the temple.” Smoldering fires of indignation are here at the point of erupting into punishment issuing from an arsenal of divine wrath.
Chronology of Revelation
Period Preceding the Tribulation
Days of Noah & Lot (Luke 17:26-33)
Birth Pang Period Leading up to the Seals (Matthew 24:5-9)
Apostasy Begins to Form and Grow (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 4:3-4)
First 3 ½ Years of Tribulation
Breaking of the First Five Seals (Matthew 24:5-9, 29; Revelation 6:1-11)
Antichrist’s Rise to Power (Daniel 7:8, 11-12, 23-25; Revelation 17:9-14)
Antichrist’s Military Conquests (Ezekiel 38-39; Daniel 11:36-45)
Antichrist & Israeli Treaty (Daniel 9:27)
Apostasy Moves Toward One-World Church (Matthew 24:24)
Middle of Tribulation
Antichrist is assassinated but resurrected & energized by Satan (Revelation 13:3; 17:8)
Antichrist Breaks Treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27)
Breaking of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24: 29; Revelation 6:12-17)
The Lord Revealed to Israel (Zechariah 12:10-14; Romans 11:25-27)
The Great Outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32)
Sealing of the 144,000 (Revelation 7)
New Covenant Fulfilled (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27)
Second 3 ½ Years of Tribulation
Antichrist Forms One-World Government (Revelation 17:12-13)
False Prophet Formalizes One World Church (Revelation 13:11-14)
The Two Witnesses Begin Prophesying (Revelation 11:3-12)
Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8:6-9:21)
Antichrist Turns Against One-World Church (Revelation 17:16)
False Prophet Forces Worship of Antichrist & Mark of Beast (Revelation 13:15-18)
Angelic Call to Repentance (Revelation 8:13; 14:6-11)
Bowl Judgments (Revelation 16)
Final Collapsing of Commercial Babylon (Revelation 18)
Antichrist Gathers Armies to Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16)
Passages with direct reference to the three and a half year period:
- The Antichrist will speak out against the Most High (Daniel 7:25)
- He will wear down the saints of the Highest One (Daniel 7:25)
- He will intend to make alterations in times and in law (Daniel 7:25)
- The saints will be given into his hand. (Daniel 7:25)
- The Antichrist will break his treaty with Israel and put a stop to the sacrifice in the middle of the week. (Daniel 9:27; 12:11)
- The holy people will be shattered. (Daniel 12:7)
- The nations will tread underfoot the holy city. (Revelation 11:2)
- The two witnesses will prophesy. (Revelation 11:3)
- The woman that fled into the wilderness will be nourished. (Revelation 12:6, 14)
- The Antichrist will have authority to act. (Revelation 13:5)
Second Coming of Christ
Armageddon (Chapter 19:11-21)
Millennial Period (Chapter 20)
Judgment (Chapter 20)
City of God (Chapter 21-22:1-15)
Thomas: Megas occurs eleven times in this chapter. This is “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” God commands all seven angels at once to carry out their mission. The angels respond by emptying their bowls in rapid succession and cumulatively. The plagues pile upon one another until the end. “I pour out” occurs repeatedly in this chapter, but not elsewhere in Revelation. It is a bit of irony that the same verb tells of the pouring out of God’s Spirit on His servants on the Day of Pentecost and following and in the last days in conjunction with Christ’s second advent.
JFB: These seven vials being called “the last,” must belong to the period just when the term of the beast’s power has expired, close to the end or coming of the Son of man.
Bowl judgments comparison with the trumpet judgments.
- First trumpet: Hail, fire and blood cast upon the earth; one third trees, etc. burned.
- First bowl: Painful sores break out on the followers of the beast.
- Second trumpet: One third of seas made blood, destroying one third of creatures & ships.
- Second bowl: The seas turned to blood of a dead man; every creature dies.
- Third trumpet: One third of the fresh water is poisoned.
- Third bowl: Fresh water turned to blood; God’s righteous judgment declared.
- Fourth trumpet: One third of the sun, etc. smitten; one third of the day darkened.
- Fourth bowl: Sun smitten; men scorched, blaspheme God & refuse to repent.
- Fifth trumpet: Locusts from abyss sting and torment people.
- Fifth bowl: The kingdom of the beast smitten; men blaspheme God & refuse to repent.
- Sixth trumpet: Armies from the Euphrates destroy one third of men; men refuse to repent.
- Sixth bowl: The way prepared for kings beyond the Euphrates.
- Seventh trumpet: Voices in heaven; the judgment; earthquake, etc. and hail.
- Seventh bowl: Voices in heaven; the fall of Babylon; earthquake, etc., and hail.
PC: What a description of unspeakable distress – “gnawing their tongues for pain,” but blaspheming God the while and repenting not! Burning rage against him enwrapped their souls. As if he were to blame, and not they! God’s wrath will exasperate, enrage, and harden, but there will be no repentance. They attribute their sufferings to every cause but the true one. Sin has such a hold on them that they cannot give it up. Yes, deeper than the dread of its punishment is the love of the sin. Cries and tears, protestations and prayers, may be extorted from the man through his terror and pain; but they are but surface-sounds, and touch not the depth or reality of the man’s soul.
PC: Men seem to think that the function of a Divine Being is just to make his creatures as comfortable as possible; as if there were no principles of righteousness for which a holy God should contend, and as if there were no claims on our obedience on which God ought to insist.
MH: Hell itself is filled with blasphemies; the more men suffer, and the more plainly they see the hand of God in their sufferings, the more furiously they often rage against him.
Johnson: The Euphrates was not only the location of Babylon, the great anti-God throne, but the place from which the evil hordes would invade Israel. Thus, by mentioning the Euphrates by name, John is suggesting that the unseen rulers of this world are being prepared to enter into a final and fatal battle with the Sovereign of the universe. Further confirmation that these Eastern kings represent the combined forces of evil in the world is John’s reference to the three froglike evil “unclean” spirits.
Osborne: The mouth in ancient world symbolized royal proclamation, and here the false trinity sends out its messengers with its deceptive message. The false prophet has been called the Minister of Propaganda” for the Antichrist, and so these three spirits are part of his propaganda campaign.
Wal: The question is sometimes raised why eternal punishment is eternal. The answer is that people in the hardness of their hearts will not change; they deserve eternal punishment because they are eternally unrepentant.
Ladd: John’s apocalyptic narrative is now hastening to its end. He has carried us through the time of great tribulation with its terrible persecution of the saints by Antichrist, and he has shown us a rebellious, antichristian civilization unbowed and unrepentant under the outpourings of the wrath of God in the plagues of the seven trumpets and the seven bowls. Twice before, John has suddenly and without explanation introduced Babylon into his prophecy (14:8; 16:19); now he picks up this motif to develop it at length as one of the most important facts in the coming of the end.
JFB: The whore is the apostate Church, just as “the woman” (Rev. 12:1-6) is the Church while faithful. Satan having failed by violence, tries to seduce her by the allurements of the world; unlike her Lord, she was overcome by this temptation; hence she is seen sitting on the scarlet-colored beast, no longer the wife, but the harlot; no longer Jerusalem, but spiritually Sodom (Rev. 11:8).
PC: Wherever professedly Christian men have thought the world’s favor better than its reproach; wherever they have esteemed its honors a more desirable possession than its shame; wherever they have courted ease rather than welcomed suffering, have loved self-indulgence rather than self-sacrifice, and have substituted covetousness in grasping for generosity in distributing what they had – there the spirit of Babylon has been manifested…
FL: The harlot is subject to Satan; the bride is subject to Christ. Satan clothes the one (v. 4); God clothes the other (19:8). Eternal death is the portion of the harlot; eternal glory the lot of the bride. All true believers are commanded to come out of her or they will be condemned with her (18:4).
PC: The verse declares that this faithless portion of the Church has chosen rather to render to the world that love which is due to God, and to be connected rather with the powers of this world than to have its treasure in heaven.
JFB: The world power gives up its hostility and accepts Christianity externally; the beast gives up its God-opposed character, the woman gives up her divine one. They meet halfway by mutual concessions; Christianity becomes worldly, the world becomes Christianized.
Ladd: That the woman was seated upon many waters reflects her relationship to the nations of earth; that she is seated upon the scarlet beast reflects her relationship to the Antichrist. One of the chief characteristics of the beast is his blasphemy.
Wiersbe: The beast rises to power by means of “the harlot,” a symbol of the apostate world church. This is not any one denomination or faith, but a world religious system that has rejected God’s Son and God’s truth. However, when “the beast” rises to universal power, he will no longer need “the harlot” and shall subsequently destroy her and establish his own satanic religion.
Thomas: The woman’s clothing and adornment is elegant, but repulsive to the pious mind. A description of “the great city” in 18:16 resembles this one very closely. Her appearance was like the greatest queen in order to impress and allure her paramours. This description is in sharp contrast to the appearance of the bride of the Lamb whose apparel consists of “fine linen, bright and clean” (19:8). The last part of the woman’s paraphernalia is the golden cup in her hand, which adds to her royal appearance but whose content epitomizes the depths of her degeneration. From her perspective, the cup’s contents represent her own glory and grandeur, but in reality they are her self-destruction as the consequences of her sins turn upon her. “Abominations” was a characteristic term for idols in the OT, where it denotes ceremonial and moral impurity, but especially idolatrous rites. These are blasphemous activities that God detests, and the harlot’s cup is full of them! The harlot thrives on spreading her filthy vices and corruptions.
Osborne: In the NT the phrase “son of” refers to one’s primary characteristic (e.g., “son of righteousness”). Thus, to be called “mother of” means not only that it characterizes one but that one has reproduced it in others.
Johnson: She is the fountainhead, the reservoir, the womb that bears all the individual cases of historical resistance to God’s will on earth; she is the unholy antithesis to the woman who weds the Lamb (19:7-8) and to the New Jerusalem (21:2-3).
Osborne: In 12:11 the people of God conquer Satan by “the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives even to the point of death.” This is part of the connection in the book between martus and martyr, a connection that later led to using the term for martyrdom. There is no hint anywhere that during the terrible persecution the saints are hiding in forests, caves and remote places lest they be killed. Rather, they engage in fearless witness throughout this period.
JFB: That the world should be beastly is natural, but that the faithful bride should become the whore is monstrous, and excites the same amazement in him as the same awful change in Israel excited in Isaiah and Jeremiah. “Horrible thing” in them answers to “abominations” here. When the Church falls, she sinks lower than the godless world, in proportion as her right place is higher than the world. The elect are never perverted into apostates, and still remain as the true woman invisibly contained in the harlot; yet Christendom regarded as the woman has apostatized from its first faith.
Ladd: The beast is to pass through three stages: “it was,” i.e., it had an existence in the past; “it is not,” i.e., there will be a time when it does not exist; “it is to ascend from the bottomless pit,” i.e., it will have a future manifestation which will be the incarnation of satanic evil. The bottomless pit is the apocalyptic metaphor for the demonic, satanic realm of evil, and is pictured as the home of the beast before he appears on earth (11:7).
Thomas: After his death, he will come back in a demonic rather than a purely human form to establish his world domination. This explains why the abyss, the abode of demons is his origin.
Osborne: Since Rome divided its empire into ten provinces, it is best to see the background in the Roman practice of appointing client kings in various conquered territories and provinces. These were honorary titles but were considered higher than the governors or tetrarchs of provinces. Still, they reported to Rome and functioned under its authority.
Johnson: Since these kings enter into a power conflict with the Lamb and his followers (v. 14), the kind of sovereignty they exercise must be the true antithesis of the kind of sovereignty the Lamb and his followers exercise. These rulers as well as the beast with which they will be allied can be no other than the principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that Paul describes as the true enemies of Jesus’ followers (Eph 6:12). To be sure, they use earthly instruments, but their reality is far greater than any specific historical equivalents.
“I will also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare. They will incite a crowd against you and they will stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords.” (Ezekiel 16:39-40)
Sixteen reasons Babylon must be judged:
- She has become a dwelling place of demons
- She has become a prison of every unclean spirit,
- She has become a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.
- All the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality,
- All the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her,
- All the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”
- Her sins have piled up as high as heaven,
- God has remembered her iniquities.
- She glorified herself and lived sensuously,
- She says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow,
- She says in her heart, she will never see mourning.’
- All the nations were deceived by her sorcery.
- Her merchants were the great men of the earth,
- In her was found the blood of prophets
- In her was found the blood of saints
- In her was found the blood of all who have been slain on the earth.”
Johnson: John is not writing a literal description of the fall of an earthly city, such as Rome or Jerusalem; but in portraying the destruction of a city, he describes God’s judgment on the great satanic system of evil that has corrupted the earth’s history. He especially draws from the OT accounts of the destruction of the ancient harlot cities of Babylon (Isa. 13:21; 47:7-9; Jer. 50-51) and Tyre (Ezek 26-27). Here in chapters 17-18 is some of the most beautifully cadenced language in the whole book. John combines the song of triumph and the wailing strains of lamentation into a noble funeral dirge.
Thomas: The question is, how different from the Babylon of chapter 17 is the Babylon of chapter 18? Undoubtedly the city is the same in both instances. Both have the name “Babylon the great” (17:5; 18:2). Both are guilty of fornication (17:1, 2, 4, 5, 16; 18:3) and of causing the kings of the earth and the earth-dwellers to imbibe of the wine (of the anger) of the city’s fornication (17:2; 18:3). The destiny of both is to be burned with fire (17:16; 18:8, 9, 18) and to become an utter desolation (17:16; 18:17, 19). In both chapters Babylon is “the great city” (17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21) and wears the apparel and adornment of a harlot (17:4; 18:16). Both are responsible for the martyrdom of the faithful (17:6; 18:20, 24).
Yet a different aspect of the city is in view in chapter 18. The major guilt in chapter 17 stems from the city’s abominations (17:4, 5), but in chapter 18 it is her sensuality associated with luxury (18:3, cf. vv. 7, 9). Heavy interaction with the merchants of the earth (18:3, 11, 15, 23) and those connected with the sea (18:17) characterizes the Babylon of chapter 18, but is missing from chapter 17 (18:7). Chapter 18 attributes to Babylon a distinctive attitude of arrogance that is missing from chapter 17. The deep lamentation of uninvolved witnesses of her destruction in chapter 18 (18:9-11, 15-16, 19) contrasts strongly with the absence of such witnesses in 17 (17:16). The economic prosperity and luxury of the latter Babylon (18:11-14, 19) is a marked difference from anything said about the earlier Babylon.
The distinction between the two chapters is that between two systems or networks that have the same geographical headquarters. In chapter 17 it is a religious system that operates independently of and in opposition to the true God, but in chapter 18 it is an economic system that does the same. The collapse of the city marks the internal deterioration of the beast’s empire prior to the defeat of his political structure by the returning warrior-king (19:11-21).
Wiersbe: The system intoxicated the people of the world with all the riches and pleasures it had to offer. It catered to those who were “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4). Like a person taking a sip of wine, we can soon find ourselves drinking deeply and then wanting more. The world system that opposes Christ has always been with us, and we must beware of its subtle influence. The world system satisfies the desires of the earth-dwellers who follow “the beast” and reject the Lamb. But worldly things never permanently satisfy or last. The love of pleasures and possessions is but an insidious form of idolatry, demonic in its origin and destructive in its outcome.
Osborne: When God remembers his people, he works on their behalf (Psa. 105:8-11; 111:5-6; Ezekiel 16:60); when he remembers sin (Psa. 109:14; Jer. 14:10; Hos. 8:13; 9:9), he acts in judgment.
Thomas: This is a judicial pronouncement against a sinful civilization that has reached the ultimate limit of evil.
Osborne: The whole scene could be likened to a universal courtroom, in which a class-action suit takes place. Plaintiffs in this suit are Christians; the defendant is Babylon, who is charged with murder; and the presiding judge is God. Babylon has lost the lawsuit and therefore its associates break out in lamentation and mourning, while the heavenly court and Christians rejoice over the justice they have received. God pronounces a legal sentence on Babylon in 18:6-8, perhaps given to the heavenly bailiff who is to carry out the sentence. It contains both the sentence and the legal basis for the verdict.
Wiersbe: Business and government are so intertwined that what affects one affects the other. Today, with the complex connections that exist between governments and businesses, and with the interrelated computer systems, it would not take long for “Babylon” to collapse and the world’s economic system to be destroyed.
PC: We read in chap. 16:21 that when the destruction came men blasphemed God because of the hail. Surely, nothing could speak of the degradation of man when in apostasy from God, more than such a lamentation as this. It all centers in self. Nor can we fail to detect in this lament a note of bitterness against God. They see that the great Power they have been ignoring is working against them, and that they are bankrupt for eternity. Terrible beyond expression must it be for a man who has lived for earth, to find the world for which he lived departing forever. How bare and forlorn and desolate he must feel! The man is left alone. His gods are gone, and he is confronted with the God whom he neglected, to find, alas! too late, that his whole life has been a mistake, and now, instead of finding his joy in God when every earthly joy is gone, his only look-out is a vista of bankruptcy and of irreparable woe.
Wiersbe: Last on the list, and most disturbing, is “slaves and the souls of men” (Rev. 18:13). We can certainly see an increasing loss of freedom in our world today. Persons are “bought and sold” (and even traded!) by athletic teams; and our great corporations more and more seek to control the lives of their officers and workers. As people become more enslaved to luxury, with more bills to pay, they find themselves unable to break loose from the “system.” It would take little imagination to conceive of a universal enslavement under the rule of “the beast.” We have already seen that he required his mark on everyone who would buy or sell (Rev. 13:16–17), and he also demanded that all people worship his image. He will promise “freedom,” but put men and women in bondage (2 Peter 2:19). He will take advantage of the people’s appetites (Rev. 18:14) and use their appetites to enslave them.
“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance on the nations And punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with chains And their nobles with fetters of iron, To execute on them the judgment written; This is an honor for all His godly ones. Praise the LORD”! (Psalm 149:4-9)
Thomas: This second “hallelujah” is not just a formal repetition of the first one. It heightens the emphasis on the praise offered to the Lord. The continuing ascent of smoke, so vividly portrayed by the present tense of anabainei (“keeps on ascending”), supplies the finishing touch to the description of Babylon’s collapse already set forth in 18:21-24. It echoes what the gospels teach about unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17; Mark 9:43).
PC: “The marriage of the Lamb” stands in contrast with the fornication of the harlot – the union of the spiritually unfaithful portion of Christ’s Church with the powers of the world.
JFB: Perfect union with Him personally, and participation in His holiness; joy, glory, and kingdom, are included in this symbol of “marriage.” The harlot divides her affections among many lovers: the bride gives hers exclusively to Christ.
Johnson: The meaning of the clean garment is probably repentance and obedient response to Christ. Thus John contrasts the faithful disciples of Jesus, who have been true to God, with those who were seduced by the beast and the prostitute.
Thomas: This is the sober dress of a woman of dignity, not the flashy splendor of a harlot. “Righteous deeds” are a manifestation of the inner life and are practically equivalent to character (cf. 14:13).
Ladd: In Ephesians 5:25, the preparation of the bride for marriage is represented as an act of Christ accomplished by the giving of his life; here preparation is demanded on the part of Christians. While redemption is altogether the work of God in Christ, there must be a human response.
Sted: This is the once far-off divine event toward which all human events since the beginning of time have moved — the unveiling of the presence of Jesus in power and great glory. It is the most prophesied event in the Bible. Three different times in this book, at the end of each of the series of judgments — the opening of the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls of wrath — we have been brought to the very edge of this event, and each time the Spirit of Truth has brought us back again to see in more intensified form what God is doing in the world of that day. But now at last we come to the event itself.
Prophetic passages regarding the Second Coming:
(Psa. 2:1-9; 24:7-10; 96:10-13; 110; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:1-8; Ezek. 37:15-28; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Hosea 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:7; Zech. 2:10-12; 12; 14:1-9; Matt. 19:28; 24:27-31; 25:6, 31-46; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 12:35-40; 17:24-37; 18:8; 21:25-28; Acts 1:10-11; 15:16-18; Rom. 11:25-27; 2 Thes. 2:8; 2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 14-15; Rev. 1:7-8; 2:25-28; 16:15; 22:20).
Ladd: In his cross and resurrection, Christ won a great victory over the powers of evil; by his second coming, he will execute them.
PC: We know whose head is meant. It was the head that once was crowned with thorns; the head that “had nowhere” during the days of his earthly ministry, “to lay” itself down to rest; the head that once and again was a fountain of tears because of man’s sorrow and man’s sin; the head that was beaten and spit upon by his enemies; the head that was bound about by the linen wrappings of the tomb; the head that was “bowed” when on the cross “he gave up the ghost;” – on that head St. John saw in vision “many crowns.”
In favor of angels are the many OT passages that call them the host of God. There are also verses like these:
- Matthew 16:27— For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
- Matthew 25:31—But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:7—…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire;
In favor of this referring to the saints:
- 1 Thessalonians 3:13— so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.;
- Revelation 17:14 says “those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Then there are a number of verses which talk of Him appearing with His holy ones.
- Zechariah 14:5 …Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!
- Jude 14— It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all).
Johnson: There are three OT allusions to the warrior-Messiah in this verse: he strikes down the nations (Isa 11:3 ff.); he rules them with an iron rod (Ps 2:9); he tramples out the winepress of God’s wrath (Isa 63:1-6). Christ conquers by the power of his word. Christ’s words are also the instruments of his judgment.
Thomas: The prophet includes no description of the course of the battle and no indication of any effective resistance. The fact that they enter this fate while alive increases the horror of the picture. This indicates that the two are more than just human, because the rest of the lost will not enter the lake until the judgment of the great white throne. The beast has already undergone the healing of his death-wound, a counterfeit of Christ’s resurrection, so his superhuman standing is already a matter of revelation.
Johnson: These armies and the beast have been positionally defeated at the Cross (Col 2:15), but they will finally be stripped of all power at Christ’s return.
Bar: This almost resembles a modern courthouse indictment, in which special care is taken to identify the culprit, by a sufficient number of aliases. The enemy sometimes has appeared as a fierce and fiery dragon; at another, a cunning and subtle serpent; a devil (accuser); and Satan – an adversary. In these various forms, and under these various names, he has ruled the fallen world.
Thomas: The children of the saints who survive the beast’s persecution will far outnumber their parents and will quickly fill the planet. The rate of population growth during this period will be far higher than ever before because physical death will be the exception rather than the rule throughout this ideal period (cf. Isaiah 65:20). So a new set of nations will come to exist on earth in a relatively short period. They will remain undeceived from external sources “until the thousand years have been completed.”
JFB: As long as the devil rules in the darkness of the world, we live in an atmosphere impregnated with deadly elements. A mighty purification of the air will be effected by Christ’s coming. Though sin will not be absolutely abolished – for men will still be in the flesh (Isa. 65:20) – sin will no longer be a universal power, for the flesh is not any longer seduced by Satan. He will not be, as now, “the god and prince of the world” – nor will the world “lie in the wicked one” – the flesh will become ever more isolated and be overcome. Christ will reign with His transfigured saints over men in the flesh.
Stedman: The presence of sin is why Jesus must rule with a rod of iron — still, righteousness will be dominant. Today evil is the dominant philosophy of the masses. Righteousness must struggle to exist. But then it will be reversed. The dominant practice of the day will be justice, wholeness, peace and purity. Evil will have to keep under wraps and will find it difficult to express itself — but it will be there. These are men and women who are not born-again despite the wonderful, almost perfect, world in which they live. When Satan is released there is an immediate response from them.
Millennial Passages: Psalm 96:11-13; 98:7-9; Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:1-6; 9:6; 11:1-9; 14:7-8; 30:18-26; 35:1-10; 51:3; 55:12-13; 65:19-25; Ezekiel 34:25; Daniel 7:13-14; Micah 4:1-8; Zechariah 9:10; 14:5-9; Romans 8:19-22.
BB: It should be remembered that all children born during Christ’s reign will be born in sin and will need to be saved. Not all will accept Him as rightful King, and these will scatter throughout the earth, trying to get as far away from Jerusalem as possible.
Osborne: After a thousand years of experiencing Christ, the unbelieving nations throw themselves after Satan the first chance they get. This book proves that even the equivalent of fourteen lifetimes are not enough to overturn their allegiance to Satan. The message is that in a billion years, a trillion years, they would do the same! Thus, they must suffer the same penalty as the one they worship, namely, eternal torment. Those who are offended by such teaching have too low a realization of the terrible nature of sin and the natural response that divine holiness must have toward it. We must remember the many times in this book that God sought their repentance. God cannot abide sin and his reaction must be swift and final.
2 Thessalonians 1:9: And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence (prosopon) of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
1 Peter 3:12: “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face (prosopon) of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Revelation 6:16: and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence (prosopon) of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
New Bible: The description is likely to be symbolic, to enhance the terrifying grandeur of the scene—the last overwhelming theophany from which creation wants to escape but cannot (cf. 6:12–17).
Wiersbe: Heaven and earth will flee away and no place will be left for sinners to hide! All must face the Judge! At the White Throne, there will be a Judge but no jury, a prosecution but no defense, a sentence but no appeal. No one will be able to defend himself or accuse God of unrighteousness. What an awesome scene it will be!
Judgment of Deeds: Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 16:27; John 5:28-29; Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 22:12. Words: Matthew 12:36-37. Thoughts: 1 Corinthians 4:3-5. Secret Things: Romans 2:16.
Judgment according to Light: Matthew 10:15; 11:21-24; Luke 11:31-32; 12:47-48; John 12:48; Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11-15.
PC: The unerring record – the memory of God. All the manifold and complicated currents of human thought, the varied fluctuations of human wills and impulses, the maze of human design and plan, past, present and future, are all laid-open to his searching glance. Not one passing thought eludes his notice or escapes from his memory. In his mind is a complete and permanent photograph of every soul.
The Greek word for “judgment” is “crisis.” How common it is to hear it said of a man who has passed through some great experience, “He has never been the same man since!” Great trials and great successes act as crises, turning-points, judgments, to a man. They do much to settle him in a fixed habit of character, for good or ill, as the case may be. How much more, then, after “death” must there be “judgment!” Then, freed from all the restraints of life, from all that hindered the manifestation of what he really was, his nature now gravitates towards that side of spiritual character to which it has long been leaning. God’s judgments are continually taking place, and every thought, act, and word is helping to determine to which side, whether to the right hand or to the left, our souls shall go… Heaven or hell is, in great degree, in a man before ever he enters either the one or the other. They are in us before we are in them, and the judgment is but each man’s going to his own place.
Teacher’s Commentary: In the resurrection of the unsaved, the individual is unchanged. He is conscious, aware, but his character and his attitude toward God retains sin’s twist. The man consumed with anger is an angry man still. The jealous person is still jealous. The lustful still lustful. In the lake of fire, the old desires burn, but are forever unsatisfied. It is an endless captivity to what one is when he dies. There is no hope for change, no hope for growth, no hope for transformation. Fixed forever, unchangeable, the personality of the lost burns as much from inner torment as from the cauldron John can only liken to burning sulfur.
“From the smoke and pain and heat [of the preceding scenes] it is a relief to pass into the clear, clean atmosphere of the eternal morning where the breath of heaven is sweet and the vast city of God sparkles like a diamond in the radiance of his presence” (J.B. Moffatt).
- Revelation 7:16—They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
- Revelation 21:1—there is no longer any sea.
- Revelation 21:4—and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
- Revelation 22:3—There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;
- Revelation 22:5—And there will no longer be any night.
Beale lists five uses of the concept of “sea” in this book:
- the origin of evil (12:18 [13:1]);
- the nations that persecute the saints (12:18 [13:1]; 17:1-6);
- the place of the dead (20:13);
- the location of the world’s idolatrous trade activity (18:10-19); and
- a body of water, part of this world (5:13; 7:1-4; 8:8-9; 10:2, 5-6, 8; 14:7; 16:3).
Osborne: Shekinah meant communion between God and his people, and it was finalized in two stages, first when “the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us” (John 1:14), and second here as the Shekinah “dwells with his people.” In Christ the Shekinah became incarnate, and here communion between God and his people becomes physical and absolute.
Ladd: During the church age, God indwells his church, which is his temple; but this is a dwelling “in the Spirit,” which can be apprehended only by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:17). In the consummation, all this is changed; faith will be changed to sight. Direct, unmarred fellowship between God and his people is the goal of all redemption.
PC: Pain meets man as he enters the world, follows him through all the stages of life, and does not leave him until his heart grows still in death. It attends us as a dark angel wherever we go, through all seasons of the year, and through every period of our mortal life. Its ghastly form makes our limbs tremble at its touch, and our nerves quiver with anguish before it. Now, the text directs our attention to a world where there is no pain.
It is done. There are in a sense three stages:
- At the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning God’s redemptive plan for his sacrificial death.
- Revelation 16:17 said, “It is over,” meaning that this present evil order has been destroyed.
- Here “it is done” meaning that all the events of human history—including the Millennium and Judgment—are at an end.
Sted: When evil reaches its highest density it forms a whore-city. That city is a concentrate of evil and is destroyed. Likewise, when God-consciousness and the interrelatedness of love reach their highest density, a bride-city is formed.”
Thomas: The dimensions and layout design of the Jerusalem descending from heaven are an accommodation to finite minds, so a complete comprehension of the new creation is not the expected result. That new heaven and new earth will be beyond what any person has ever experienced. Yet the information conveys a picture designed for finite minds of this existence and should not be written off as totally symbolic. She is a real city with a material existence.
Ladd: Obviously, these measurements represent the ideal symmetry, perfection, vastness, and completeness of the new Jerusalem.
MH: A paradise in a city, or a whole city in a paradise! In the first paradise there were only two persons to behold the beauty and taste the pleasures of it; but in this second paradise whole cities and nations shall find abundant delight and satisfaction.
My Dream of Heaven:
Thus encouraged, I, too, stepped into the ‘gently flowing river,’ and to my great surprise found the water, in both temperature and density, almost identical with the air. Deeper and deeper grew the stream as we passed on, until I felt the soft, sweet ripples playing about my throat. As I stopped, my brother said, “A little farther still.”
“It will go over my head,” I expostulated.
“Well, and what then?”
“I cannot breathe under the water—I will suffocate.”
An amused twinkle came into his eyes, though he said soberly enough, “We do not do those things here.”
I realized the absurdity of my position, and with a happy laugh said, “All right; come on,” and plunged headlong into the bright water, which soon bubbled and rippled several feet above my head. To my surprise and delight, I found I could not only breathe, but laugh and talk, see and hear, as naturally under the water as above it…
“What marvelous water!… Frank, what has that water done for me?” I said. “I feel as though I could fly.”
He looked at me with earnest, tender eyes, as he answered gently, “It has washed away the last of the earth-life, and fitted you for the new life upon which you have entered.”
Walvoord: The word “healing” (therapeian) can be understood as “health-giving.” The English “therapeutic” is derived from this Greek word. Even though there is no sickness in the eternal state, the tree’s fruit and leaves seem to contribute to the physical well-being of those in the eternal state.
Zondervan: So powerful is the salvation of God that the effects of sin are completely overcome. The eternal life God gives the redeemed community will be perpetually available, will sustain, and will cure eternally every former sin.
Stedman: What a glorious picture of abounding fertility, of life on every side — a river of life, a tree of life. Both of these are found in the Old Testament. Psalm 46 says, “There is a river that makes glad the city of God.” (Psalm 46:4a). There is continual excitement, discovery, anticipation — and constant gratitude and praise. The rest of the book is simply an epilogue. As the book began with a prologue, so it ends with an epilogue.
Ladd: The prophecies of the Revelation were not written to satisfy intellectual curiosity about the future; they were written that the church might be able to live in the will of God by keeping the words of the prophecy. The church of the first century, the church of the last generation, as well as the church of every age finds herself caught up in the struggle between Christ and Antichrist. John wrote his prophecy not only to inform the church about the events of the consummation but to admonish her to steadfast and unswerving loyalty to Jesus Christ in the face of demonic pressures and persecution. He therefore pronounces a beatitude on those who heed and stand fast and who endure to the end.
JFB: The punishment of sin is sin, the reward of holiness is holiness. Eternal punishment is not so much an arbitrary law, as a result necessarily following in the very nature of things, as the fruit results from the bud. No worse punishment can God lay on ungodly men than to give them up to themselves.
PC: We are ever engaged in gathering together the materials which go to the formation and fixing of character, no matter whether it be good or ill. All our pursuits, pleasures, companionships, books, work; all our thoughts, words, and deeds are busy, like a very colony of ants, all at work, and all tending to that ultimate result in character which binds us down to be ever still the same. That result was brought about by the sum of small and trifling additions, each one but little in itself, but together accomplishing so much. And so with the myriad minute acts that go to make habits, and habits form character.
Walvoord: Probably no other book of Scripture more sharply contrasts the blessed lot of the saints with the fearful future of those who are lost. No other book of the Bible is more explicit in its description of judgment on the one hand and the saints’ eternal bliss on the other. What a tragedy that so many pass by this book and fail to fathom its wonderful truths, thereby impoverishing their knowledge and hope in Christ Jesus.
Barnes: It was appropriate to the aged John, suffering exile in a lonely island, to pray that the Lord Jesus would speedily come to take him to himself; and there could have been no more suitable close of this marvelous book than the utterance of such a desire. And it is appropriate for us as we finish its contemplation, disclosing so much of the glories of the heavenly world, and the blessedness of the redeemed in their final state, when we think of the earth, with its sorrows, trials, and cares, to respond to the prayer, and to say, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”