Revelation Jewish New Testament, JNT, CJNT, David H. Stern
1. After these things, I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd in heaven, shouting,
The victory, the glory, the power of our God!
2. For his judgments are true and just.
He has judged the great whore
who corrupted the earth with her whoring.
He has taken vengeance on her
who has the blood of his servants on her hands.”
3. And a second time they said,
Her smoke goes up forever and ever!”
4. The twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshipped God, sitting on the throne, and said, “Amen! Halleluyah!”
5. A voice went out from the throne, saying,
“Praise our God, all you his servants,
you who fear him, small and great!”
6. Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd, like the sound of rushing waters, like loud peals of thunder, saying, “Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven’s armies (Amos 3:13; 4:13), has begun his reign!
Halleluyah! Hebrew for "Praise Yah!" ("Praise the Lord!"), rendered in the Greek text as Allelouia, and found in the Bible 22 times in Psalms 104-150 and 4 limes in these six verses. The huge crowd in heaven praises God for judging Babylon the Great and for actively beginning to rule his Kingdom (v. 6).
Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven's armies (see 1:8N), has begun his reign (or: "has become King"). God's universal rule is a major theme of the Tanakh (Psalms 103:19,145:13; Isaiah 2:2-4,9:5-6(6-7), 11:6-9; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 14:9). On the one hand, the New Testament presents the "Kingdom" or "rulership" of God (see Mt 3:2N on "Kingdom of Heaven") as a reality present at this moment through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah (Mt 5:3, 10; 11:11; 12:28; 25:34; 26:29; Lk 17:21; Ro 14:17; 1С 4:20; Co 1:13). On the other hand, it also describes the Kingdom as a future promise yet to be fully manifested (Mt 6:10, 7:21; Lk 22:30, 23:42; 1С 6:9-10; Ga 5:21; 2 Ke 1:11). The present verse inaugurates God's kingly reign, although its establishment requires several stages: first is the wedding feast of the Lamb (vv. 7-9), climaxed by the return of the Messiah (vv. 11-15); then Satan must be chained (20:1-3, 7-10), judgment must take place (20:11-15), and only then does Yeshua actually rule (21:3-4, 22:3-5); compare 1С 15:23-28.
The "Hallelujah Chorus" in George F. Handel's oratorio, The Messiah, consists of the KJV renderings of this verse and phrases from 11:15 and 19:16. Messianic prophecies from the Tanakh and other Bible verses about Yeshua constitute its entire libretto.
7. “Let us rejoice and be glad!
Let us give him the glory!
For the time has come for the
wedding of the Lamb,
and his Bride has prepared herself —
The wedding of the Lamb (Yeshua the Messiah), and his bride or "wife" (the Body of all believers throughout history, the Messianic Community). Although in the 'olam haba individual resurrected believers will not marry (Mt 22:30), the Messianic Community as a whole is the Bride of the Messiah. Similar imagery of the Messiah as bridegroom and the inauguration of the Kingdom as wedding is found also at Mt 22:1-14, 25:1-13; Mk 2:18-20; Yn 3:28-30; Ro 7:1-4; 1С 6:13-20; 2C 11:2 and Ep 5:25-33.
The Tanakh similarly pictures Israel as the wife of YHVH — see Isaiah 54:1-8, 62:4-5; Jeremiah 31:31(32); Ezekiel 16; and the whole book of Hosea, especially Chapters 1-3. Midrash Rabbah to Song of Songs 4:10 names ten places in the Tanakh which speak of Israel directly or allegorically as a bride. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a Jewish believing scholar whose theology might be categorized as a modified Dispensationalism, distinguishes radically between the "wife of Jehovah," Israel, and the "bride of the Messiah," the Messianic Community; see his commentary on Revelation called The Footsteps of the Messiah, Appendix HI ("The Wife of Jehovah and the Bride of Christ").
My view is that the distinction between the Church and the Jewish people is less sharp and more subtle than Dispensationalism has generally depicted it (see Ro 11:23-24&N), and that Yeshua the Messiah sometimes represents and sometimes is intimately identified with the Jewish people (see Mt 2:15&N). For these reasons I see no significant substantive distinction to be made between the bride of the Messiah and the wife of YHVH. Rather, the Bible employs a variety of metaphors to express the future intimacy of God with his people; different ones are used at 21:2-3, 22:3-5.
8. fine linen, bright and clean
has been given her to wear.”
(“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.)
Fine linen, bright and clean contrasts with the garish dress of the harlot (17:4). "Fine linen" means or "results from" (literally, "is") the righteous deeds, etc.
9. The angel said to me, “Write: ‘How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!’” Then he added, “These are God’s very words.”
10. I fell at his feet to worship him; but he said, “Don’t do that! I’m only a fellow-servant with you and your brothers who have the testimony of Yeshua. Worship God! For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy.”
I fell at his feet to worship him, etc. Compare Ac 10:25-26&N. The early believers sometimes were led astray into angel-worship, but this was condemned (Co 2:18). Perhaps Yochanan, in awed confusion, thought the voice of the angel was that of the Messiah and reports his embarrassment at his mistake. The testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy. A difficult phrase. I think the author is explaining why he was instructed not to worship the angel; compare Kefa's similar remark to Cornelius (Ac 10:25-26&N). Yochanan and his brothers have in themselves Yeshua's testimony or "evidence," that is, what Yeshua said about himself and his Messianic Community (similarly at 1:2b, 22:16). This evidence which believers have in them is the Spirit of prophecy (Greek prophiteia, "speaking forth" on behalf of God), that is, the Holy Spirit, who speaks forth God's truth whenever they live a godly. Messianic life and communicate the Good News to others.
11. Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle.
A white horse, different from the one at 6:2&N, with a different rider. Faithful and True — words applied to the Messiah also at 3:14. The two words mean virtually the same thing, since the Hebrew idea of truth was not correspondence to reality (as in Greek thought), but reliability. The "God of truth" (Elohim emet, Jeremiah 10:10) is not primarily the God who reveals eternal verities, but the God who can be trusted to keep his covenant. When Yochanan in his Gospel wrote that "grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah" (Yn 1:17), he meant that in the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, God's faithfulness was revealed in fulfillment of his covenant. Likewise, the return of Yeshua will be the faithful reappearance of him who has already appeared among men; this time he comes to bring God's covenant promises to their final and full consummation. (Adapted from George E. Ladd, Revelation)
12. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself.
A name written which no one knew but himself. Yeshua has three public names in vv. 11-16; each reveals aspects of his nature (see Yn l:l2N on how names were understood in antiquity). Yet even on the day of the eschatological battle there are elements which remain hidden.
13. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.”
Soaked in blood. This could be the blood of the enemies' armies (vv. 19, 21), Yeshua's own blood shed on the execution-stake or the blood of martyred believers (6:9-10&N, 12:11&N). Most interpreters opt for the first.
14. The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
The armies of heaven, the angels. God is called "Adonai, God of heaven's armies" many times in the book of Revelation (see 1:8&N). "Adonai my God will come, and all holy ones with him" (Zechariah 14:5). Yeshua returns with angels (Mk 8:38, Lk 9:26. 1 Th 3:13, 2 Th 1:7). However, the believers too accompany him as he overcomes his enemies (17:14 above; also Mt 24:31, 1 Th4:15b-17&N).
15. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — "He will rule them with a staff of iron" (Psalm 2:9). It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies
He will rule them with a staff of iron. See 2:26-27N, 11:18&N, 12:5. Winepress, etc. See 14:14-20N.
His eyes were like a fiery flame (1:14).... the name by which he is called is. "THE WORD OF GOD" (1:2,6:9,20:4).... Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword (1:16; 2:12,16). The sword here and at v. 21 is the Word of God (see 1:2N, 1:16N). See MJ 4:12-13&N for the same three metaphors (Word of God, sword, eyes).
16. And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written:
KING OF KINGS
LORD OF LORDS.
At Ti 2:13&N we are taught "to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Sh 'khinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah." The present verses describe this eagerly awaited Second Coming.
In the Tanakh YHVH wars victoriously over his enemies (baiah 13, 31, 63:1-6; Ezekiel 38-39; Joel 4:9-21 (3:9-21); Zechariah 14); here we see that it is through Yeshua the Messiah that he does this. Moreover, Yeshua's work upon his return is not only to reward the righteous (vv. 6-10) but also to conquer and judge the wicked, as seen from Mt 13:41-2,25:41-46; Ro 2:5-6, 8-9, 16; 1 Th 1:7-9, 2:8. The first time, God did not send his Son into the world to judge but to save (Yn 3:17); however, God has entrusted all judgment to the Son (Yn 5:22), and this takes place at his Second Coming.
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (in reverse order at 17:14). A title expressing Yeshua's rulership over all creation (1С 15:25-28&NN, Pp 2:9-11&N, MJ 2:8&N). It is equivalent to the phrase "King of kings of kings" which the Siddur (prayerbook) applies to YHVH in this song which introduces Shabbat in many Jewish homes:
"Shalom 'aleikhem, mal'akhey-hasharet, mal'akhey-Elyon, miMelekh-malkhey-ham'lakhim, HaKadosh, barukh hu. Bo'akhem l'shalom,... barkhuni l'shalom,... tzetkhem l'shalom...."
"Welcome, ministering angels, messengers from the Most High, from the King of kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be he. Come in peace,... bless me with peace,... go in peace...."
The extra "kings of in Yeshua's title is necessary because the ruler of Persia styled himself "king of kings" — and truly so, since Esther 1:1 says that Achashverosh (Ahasuerus, Xerxes) ruled 127 countries (and, by implication, their kings as well). See also citation of Avot 3:1 in 20:11-15N below.
17. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving,
18. to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!”
Birds of carrion feast on their flesh (vv. 17-18). The imagery is from the book of Ezekiel 39:17-20, although Ezekiel is speaking of the battle of Gog and Magog, which does not appear in Revelation until 20:8&N. See v. 21N.
19. I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army.
Compare Psalm 2:2, Joel 4:9-17(3:9-17); see 14:14-20N, 16:16N.
20. But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
Here is God's answer to the logical conundrum, "How do you throw away the trash can?" The beast... and with him the false prophet (see 13:1-18&NN, 14:8-11 &NN) are thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur (compare Ezekiel 38:22), "prepared for the Adversary and his angels" (Mt 25:41). At 20:10 Satan himselt joins these "angels" of his to be "tormented forever and ever"; compare Daniel 7:11, and see 12:12N, 14:10aN. Death and Sh'ol themselves are thrown into this lake of fire, as there is no longer any need for them (20:13-14&N). And in the final judgment of humanity, "Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire" (20:15&N).
Compare Mt 3:10-12; 5:22, 29-30; 10:28 ("Do not fear those who kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gey-Hinnom";and see Lk 12:4-5); 13:40-43; 18:8-9; 23:15,33; 25:46. Also note Mk 9:43,48 ("If your hand makes you sin, cut it off! Better that you should be maimed but obtain eternal life, rather than keep both hands and go to Gey-Hinnom, to unquenchable fire..., where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." There Mark is citing the most important Tanakh reference to eternal fiery punishment, Isaiah 66:24 (quoted below in 21:1-8N). In Lk 16:23-24 torment by fire is experienced by the dead already in Sh'ol, even before the lake of fire. In Lk 17:29-30 fire and sulfur are cited as God's means of punishment and destruction in the days of Sodom (Genesis 19). See also 2 Th 1:8, MJ 12:29, 2 Ke 3:7, Yd 7.
21. The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
This is the Battle of Armageddon (see 16:16&N); the Messiah defeats the anti-God forces, both the instigators in the spiritual realm (v. 20) and their human followers (v. 21).
And all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. In Judaism, following biblical practice, the honored dead are buried. Not to be buried is a disgrace (see 2 Kings 9:34). and being torn apart by buzzards and dogs is the ultimate disgrace (note Yeshua's figurative use of this fact at Mt 24:28&N). Elijah prophesied about Ach'av (Ahab), the king of the Northern Kingdom (Israel), and his wife Izevel (Jezebel):
"Adonai also said of Izevel, 'The dogs will eat Izevel by the wall of Yizre'el. Any of Ach'av's people that die in the city the dogs will eat, and the birds flying around will eat those who die in the field.'"(1 Kings 21:23-24)
Elisha later confirmed that
"The dogs will eat Izevel in the area of Yizre'el, and no one will bury her." (2 Kings 9:10)
God fulfilled the prophecy about Izevel at 2 Kings 9:32-37. Yehu (Jehu, later the king) had her thrown to her death from a high window of her castle. But even he wanted to show her dead body the respect of burial:
"Go, take care of this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king's daughter. So they went to bury her; but all they found of her was the skull, the feet and the palms of her hands."
Yehu then recognized that Elijah and Elisha's prophecies about her had come true.
See also above, 11:8-10&NN.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
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- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
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