Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 19

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Apocalypse 19

Supplemental Commentary:

VI.  BABYLON THE GREAT  17, 1 -- 19, 10 (continued)

19, 1-5:  The Angelic Song.  In 18, 20 the saints were bidden to make merry over the destruction of Babylon; their voices are now heard.  The first voices heard are those of the angels and the blessed in heaven.  Alleluia: i.e., praise the Lord.  This is the object of the song, praise of the justice of God which is manifest in the punishment of the harlot.  On earth this judgment appears as future, but in heaven it is viewed as already made.  The twenty-four elders, etc.: the point of view is that of 4 and 5.  A voice came forth from the throne: this is not the voice of God, for it speaks of "our God."  Some have thought it the voice of Christ speaking as a man, since He occupies the throne of His Father (7, 17).  You his servants: the voice exhorts the faithful on earth to join in the heavenly song.

19, 6-10:  The Song of Triumph.  The universal Church praises God.  The fall of Babylon is assured, although it has not yet taken place.  Its fall is a token of the final triumph of the Lamb.  Marriage of the Lamb: the glorious marriage of the Church Triumphant and the Lamb in heaven.  The spouse of the Lamb is the heavenly Jerusalem.  This statement foreshadows the final chapters of the book (21-22).  Fine linen: good works.  We must note that these works are a gift on the part of God (cf. Eph. 2, 10).  And he said to me: the voice is probably that of the angel in 17, 1.

VII.  THE CONSUMMATION  19, 11 -- 22, 5

19, 11-14:  The Divine Warrior.  This is the conquering Christ.  The description corresponds essentially with the vision of 6, but it is enriched by several traits taken from 1.  Faithful and True: a true king with power to fulfill all His promises and accomplish all justice.  Many diadems: as opposed to the beast with his many crowned heads.  A name written, etc.: expressing His essence, this name cannot be known without revelation, and even with revelation it cannot be comprehended.  The Word of God: the divine Word of the first chapter in John's Gospel.  Only the Word with the Father and the Holy Spirit understand perfectly the meaning of the name.  The armies of heaven, etc.: sharing in His triumph and glory.

19, 15-16:  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  A sharp sword: the symbol of power.  This name can be understood by men.

19, 17-21:  Defeat of the Beast and the False Prophet.  In 17 and 18 John is inspired by the symbolism of Ezech. 39, 17-20.  The great supper: in contrast to the marriage of the Lamb in 9.  Kings . . . tribunes . . . etc.: the enemies of Christ belong to all classes.  The war of justice is not between class and class in the world, but between the justice of God and the world power which is made up of many classes.  The battle itself is not described; only the result is given.  This pictures the destruction of the forces symbolized by the two beasts.  We must remember that, although the details are realistic, the victory is essentially in the spiritual order and the "sword" is the power of divine persuasion through Christian preaching (Eph. 6, 17).  This vision will be realized perfectly at the time of Christ's Second Coming, but it is partially accomplished each time there is a great movement towards Christianity.

Confraternity Bible:

The Angelic Song  1 After these things I heard as it were a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven, saying,
"Alleluia! salvation and glory and power belong to our God. 

2 For true and just are his judgments, who has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and has avenged the blood of his servants at her hands." 
3 And again they have said, "Alleluia!  And the smoke of her goes up forever and ever!"  4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who sits on the throne, and they said, "Amen!  Alleluia!"  5 And a voice came forth from the throne, saying,
"Praise our God, all you his servants,

And you who fear him, the small and the great!"
The Song of Triumph  6 And I heard as it were a voice of a great crowd, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying,
"Alleluia! for the Lord, our God almighty, now reigns! 

7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his spouse has prepared herself. 

8 And she has been permitted to clothe herself in fine linen, shining, bright. 

For the fine linen is the just deeds of the saints."
9 And he said to me, "Write: Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb."  And he said to me, "These are true words of God."  10* And I fell down before his feet to worship him.  And he said to me, "Thou must not do that.  I am a fellow-servant of thine and of thy brethren who give testimony of Jesus.  Worship God! for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

The Divine Warrior  11 And I saw heaven standing open; and behold, a white horse, and he who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and with justice he judges and wages war.  12 And his eyes are as a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; he has a name written which no man knows except himself.  13 And he is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and his name is called The Word of God.  14 And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords  15 And from his mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which to smite the nations.  And he will rule them with a rod of iron, and he treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God almighty.  16* And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, "King of kings and Lord of lords."

Defeat of the Beast and the False Prophet  17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather yourselves together to the great supper of God, 18 that you may eat flesh of kings, and flesh of tribunes, and flesh of mighty men, and flesh of horses, and of those who sit upon them, and flesh of all men, free and bond, small and great."

19* And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to wage war against him who was sitting upon the horse, and against his army.  20* And the beast was seized, and with it the false prophet who did signs before it wherewith he deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and who worshipped its image.  These two were cast alive into the pool of fire that burns with brimstone.  21 And the rest were killed with the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that goes forth out of his mouth; and all the birds were filled with their flesh.


10: Fellow-servant: one bond of service unites angels and men.

16: King of kings: the power of Christ is irresistible, His kingship universal.  This is an affirmation in favor of His divinity.

19: The true King is followed by his army; it is one army, united by one bond and under one King.  The army of the beast is made up of diverse armies and united only by opposition to the good.  The battle appears to be that of Armagedon.

20: The false prophet: the second wild beast of chapter 13.