The Messianic Judgments, 6:1-16:21
3. The battle with the beasts, 11:19-15:4
vii] The church militantSynopsis
John, in a vision, has just witnessed the gathering of the 144,000 redeemed believers on the heavenly Mount Zion. He now sees another heavenly vision (kai eidon, "and I saw"). Three angels, one after another, address the issue of the coming Great Day of the Lord. The first proclaims the gospel to all people on earth; the second announces the fall of Babylon the Great, and the third announces judgment upon those who are marked with the name / number of the beast. John deduces from this vision that the Christian community must face the coming day with perseverance of faith, a conclusion which is reinforced by a voice from heaven proclaiming a divine blessing upon the faithful who endure; "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord ...... for they rest from their labors."
In the kingdom of God, the redeemed stand eternally secure in Christ.
i] Context: See 14:1-5.
ii] Background: See 1:1-8.
iii] Structure: The church militant:
The message of the three angels, v6-11.
The first angel proclaims the gospel, v6-7;
"fear God and give him glory, because the hour of judgment has come."
The second angel announces the demise of the secular city, v8;
"fallen is Babylon the Great."
The third angel pronounces judgment, v9-11;
A call for the endurance of faith, v12-13.
This vision, introduced by the phrase kai eidon, "and I saw." John sees three angels; they are, in a sense, representative angels in much the same way as the angels of the churches represent the church, the Christian community, cf., chapters 2-3. In time terms, they are operating in the last days, the days between Christ's ascension and his return.
The first angel proclaims the gospel. This angel represents the mission of the church to make known to lost humanity the important news from God - "the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe." The message announces that "the hour of his judgment has come." Although we often describe the gospel as "good news", it is bad news for those who ignore it. The dawning of the kingdom of God / the reign of God is a day of blessing and cursing. A gospel presentation can focus on both aspects, or just one. Paul in his Areopagus sermon, a sermon to Gentiles, ends up his message by announcing that God "has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead", Acts 17:31. This is not a good news message! As for a proper response to the message, "repent and believe", John frames the response in the terms of fearing God and giving him glory / worshipping him. There is a tendency to explain this response in the terms of obedience, but "fear" (respect) and "worship" lean toward repentance and faith more than works. So, it is not "the basic gospel of obedience to God", Richardson.
The second angel proclaims the fall of Babylon the Great. The second and third angels seem to exegete the nature of the coming day of judgment, and in a sense, this is something that the Christian community is bound to do in these last days. It is not enough to walk around with a sandwich board announcing that "The End is Nigh"; we have to explain what that "end" means. The second angel states that the day of judgment entails the end of the secular city, Babylon. All the claims of the secular city to the status of corrupt divinity will be shown as worthless; its philosophies as vanity, its shibboleths corrupt, for it has taken the divine construct of society as extended family and turned it into a self-deluded human construct.
The third angel explains that the day of judgment entails the destruction of the adherents of the secular city, those marked with the name / number of the beast. They will have to drink the cup of God's wrath, the cup of his righteous fury. The horror of this judgment is described in the terms of an eternal tormenting fire. This image illustrates the horror of judgment, so giving weight to what is lost, rather than promoting the idea of the ongoing punishment of the wicked in an eternal hell-fire along the line of Dante's Inferno. It is unwise to draw a literal interpretation from apocalyptic imagery. There are, indeed, numerous allusions in scripture to the ongoing punishment of the wicked in Gehenna / Hell. The name Gehenna refers to the valley of Hinnom beside Jerusalem which served as a rubbish tip were everything was dumped and burnt, including dead bodies, with the stench and smoke constantly rising over the city. This image, used for the place of the dead, an image of fire, smoke and darkness, powerfully describes the reality of judgment in the terms of banishment from the presence and blessings of God which are found in Christ, cf., Matt.7:23, 25:41, 2Thess.1:9.
The sense of the concluding verses is somewhat unclear. Some commentators see verse twelve as a call for endurance by the third angel, but it seems more likely that we have a word of exhortation from John, a kind of ethical comment. From time to time John makes such comments, cf., 12:17, 13:10b, 13:18. John's comment is probably not the "literary focus" of this vision, so Beale, but it certainly "contextualizes" it, so Osborne. The Christian community, represented by the three angels, has the task of communicating the gospel "to every nation, tribe, language and people." This task will require "patient endurance", the endurance of faith. Many of those who persevere will face interesting times - persecution, even martyrdom. Given this reality, a voice from heaven adds a word of encouragement, v13.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill,
God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.
Text - 14:6
The church militant, v6-13: i] The message of the three angels, v6-11; a) The first angel proclaims the gospel, v6-7. "Another angel", through the Christian community, sets out to communicate to lost humanity an important message from God. The message is an everlasting euaggelion, "gospel". This is no news report that fades into oblivion in a matter of days; this is a message that applies to all humanity from the time of Christ's ascension to his return. The message proclaims that the day of judgment is at hand, and so now is the time to repent and believe.
kai eidon (oJraw) aor. "then I saw" - and i saw. Indicating a step in the narrative.
metomenon (metomai) pres. mid. part. "flying" - [another angel] flying. The participle serves as the complement of the object "angel" standing in a double accusative construction. "Another angel" may seem unexpected, but the sense is likely to be "another angel in a series of angels who carry out the judgments of God in the book", Osborne.
en + "in [midair]" - in [midheaven]. Local, expressing space. "Midheaven" just means in the sky when the sun is directly overhead, or simply "flying directly overhead", ESV.
econta (ecw) pres. part. "and he had" - having. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "angel", but note John's use of this participle in 1:16; "who had a gospel to proclaim", Cassirer.
euaggelion (on) "the [eternal] gospel" - an [eternal, everlasting] message, news, announcement. The NIV has opted for "the gospel" message announced by Christ and given to his disciples to communicate to all humanity. Yet, this is the one occasion in the NT where the word does not carry an article. So, is this message the gospel as we know it, or another important message? The presence of "eternal / everlasting" surely implies that this is the message that "the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe", contra Smalley who suggests "that the prophet-seer is alluding to a different message, unique in form." John's unique description of the gospel as "eternal / everlasting" probably serves to emphasize the value of the message. The gospel is no political communique that gathers dust in a day or two; this is a divine message with eternal significance.
euaggelisai (euaggelizw) aor. inf. "to proclaim" - to communicate important news. The infinitive is probably adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to proclaim." The angel / Christian community has the euaggelion, "important news / gospel", for the purpose of making it known / evangelizing.
epi + acc. "to" - John's favorite spacial preposition, used here like proV, "to, toward", or like a dative. Then follows epi + gen. for "on, upon [the earth]", followed again by + acc. "to [every nation ....]. When followed by an accusative, epi can express reference / respect; John saw an angel who had an eternal gospel to proclaim with respect to / concerning "the judgment that will fall on the nations", cf., Koester, re. Giesen. It is more likely that epi is spacial here, but the sense of Giesen's comment is sound enough - the announcement / gospel does indeed concern coming judgment. "To announce to the people, to every race, tribe, people and nation on earth", CEV.
touV kaqhmenouV (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "those who live [on the earth]" - the ones sitting [upon the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people]. The participle serves as a substantive. "Sitting" is used to express the idea of being settled on the earth, so a resident of the earth. Given the change from katoikounteV, "those who live [on the earth]", 11:10, the reference could be to all people rather than those "who choose Satan over God", Osborne.
legwn (legw) pres. part. "He said" - saying. Again we have John introducing what is said in a vision with a participle. We may properly have expected an accusative, but see legwn 1:17. In the Gk. sentence covering v6 and 7, the sense is that John saw an angel who had (econta) a message and proclaimed it (legwn), ie., both participles are adjectival, although econta is accusative and legwn is nominative. Technically we could classify it as standing in a periphrastic construction which is missing the verb to-be, and as such translated as a finite verb; "'Reverence God', he shouted out for all to hear", Barclay.
en + dat. "in [a loud voice]" - Here adverbial, probably modal, expressing the manner of the angel's speech, or instrumental, expressing means.
autw/ dat. pro. "[fear God and give] him [glory]" - [fear god and give glory] to him. Dative of indirect object. "Fear" is not a useful translation of fobew, "to fear", when used in relation to God. In the scriptures the "fear of God" is used in the sense of "respect / reverence" toward God. We show our respect toward God by giving weight to his words and by seeking to apply them in our lives; "you must show respect for God", TH. As for "give him glory", the REB attempts to break open the sense with "pay him homage". TH heads in the same direction with "O God, you are very great." Cassirer strikes the right note with "stand in awe of God and give due honor to him", Cassirer. No greater honor can be offered to God than to believe in Jesus. Note that Beale argues that this announcement has coercive force such that all creatures will ultimately give God due recognition, cf., Phil.2:10-11 (Yet, the force of passa, "every", is a matter of debate. It is likely that the "every" is "everyone who believes" rather than "every living creature."). Those who "fear God and give him the glory" are the faithful, the ones who persevere in faith, who conquer, not those marked with the name / number of the beast.
oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why people should fear God. Given that the day of judgment is at hand, it is high time to repent and believe.
thV krisewV (iV ewV) "of [his] judgment" - [the hour] of the judgment [of him has come]. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / temporal, limiting "hour"; "the hour when he will judge mankind has come." The genitive personal pronoun autou is best viewed as verbal, subjective, a judgment enacted by God. Note the aorist hlqen, "has come"; it is punctiliar, so "has arrived", "is upon us." John's eschatology leans toward realized rather than inaugurated; "the kingdom of God is at hand."
tw/ poihsanti (poiew) aor. part. "[worship] him" - [worship] the one having made [the heaven and the earth and sea]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the verb "to worship." "Worship the maker of heaven and earth ..", Berkeley.
uJdatwn (wn atoV) gen. "[the springs] of water" - [and the fountains] of waters. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / material, limiting "fountains"; "springs which are made up of / consisting of water."
b) The second angel announces the demise of the secular city, v8. "Fallen, fallen, is Babylon, and all the images of her god's lie shattered on the ground", Isa.21:9. The second angel explains something of the judgment announced by the first angel. Babylon, the pinnacle of secular ingenuity, is doomed because of her adultery = idolatry; the hand has writ and Jezebel is fallen, cf., Jer.51:7.
legwn (legw) pres. part. "[followed and] said" - [and another angel, a second one, followed] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to follow", but note legwn 1:17.
epesen (piptw) aor. "Fallen is [Babylon the Great]" - [babylon the great] is fallen, [is fallen]. The aorist is future referencing.
ek + gen. "-" - [who] from]. Expressing source / origin.
tou qumou (oV) gen. "[the] maddening [wine]" - [the wine] of anger, rage, fury = passion. The NIV takes the genitive as adjectival, attributive, limiting "wine." This seems the best way to handle the genitive here; "intoxicating wine."
thVporneiaV (a) gen. "of [her] adulteries" - of the sexual immorality, fornication, debauchery [of her, has made drink all the nations]. The genitive is again adjectival, but here epexegetic, or more specifically appositional, defining rather than specifying the "maddening wine"; "that is / namely ......": "her unfaithfulness / whoring / vice / profligacy / ....... "her addiction to illicit carnal intercourse", Junkins. It is again likely that John is using this imagery of Babylon / the Jezebel Babel / the secular city, to illustrate not so much its indulgence in alcohol fueled lust, but rather its worship of the creature rather than the creator. Like an adulterous Jezebel, glorious Babylon the Great seduces humanity to worship its idols / adopt its vain philosophies.
c) The third angel pronounces judgment on humanity, v9-11. In 13:15-17 John describes what befalls those who do not worship the beast, now he describes what befalls those who do worship the beast, and the consequences are far worse. This exegesis of the coming judgment, announced by the angel through the Christian community, applies to the world at large (including those members of the Christian community who are flirting with Jezebel). John paints a vivid picture of judgment, a picture of horror, pure torment, something to be avoided at all cost. See "they will be tormented", v10, for the idea of the eternal punishment of the wicked.
autoiV dat. pro. "[followed] them" - [and another angel, a third one, followed after] them. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow." "A third angel followed the first, saying in a loud voice", TEV.
legwn (legw) pres. part. "and said" - Attendant circumstance participle, as NIV; see v8.
en + dat. "in [a loud voice]" - Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing manner; "with a loud voice."
ei + ind. "if" - if [anyone worships the beast and the image of it and receives a mark on the forehead of him or on the hand of him, then even he will drink .......]. Introducing a 1st class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, ..... then ......" The apodosis, the then clause, is v10.
In this verse we have the apodosis of the conditional clause; "if ..........(v9) then he also will drink ....."
kai "[they] too" - and [he will drink]. The NIV takes the conjunction here as adjunctive, "he also will drink", ESV, but it could also be ascensive, "then even he will drink."
ek + gen. "-" - from [the wine]. Expressing source / origin. Possibly a partitive use of the preposition; "some of the wine", so Smalley. Note the repeated use of this OT descriptor of a cup / draught of wine for God's righteous anger: 14:19; 15:7; 16:1, 19; 19:15.
tou qumou (oV) "of [God's] fury" - of the anger [of god]. The genitive is epexegetic, specifying the wine; "the wine, namely / which is God's wrath." The NIV takes the genitive "of God" as possessive, but possibly verbal, subjective, "the wrath poured out by God." "The white heat of God's anger", Swete.
tou kekerasmenou (kerranumi) gen. perf. mid./pas. part. "which has been poured [full strength]" - being mingled [undiluted]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "wine", limited itself by the attributive adjective akratou, "undiluted". The sense of "being mingled / mixed undiluted / without mixture" is somewhat awkward. The "mingling" covered the whole process of mixing wine with water / dilution, adding herbs, and pouring it out. So, the NIV, as with ESV, Cassirer, etc., take John to mean that the wine "mixed" was en, "in [the cup]" = "poured into the cup", and that it was not diluted, or mixed with additives, ie., it is pure, "undiluted", Cassirer.
thV orghV (h) gen. "of [his] wrath" - of the wrath [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, specifying "the cup", "the cup, namely / which consists of / represents his wrath", but possibly idiomatic / content, "the cup full of wrath", Mathewson. Again, autou, "of him", may be possessive, "his wrath", or subjective, "the wrath poured out by him." "His anger", Barclay, but possibly better "his righteous anger." The notion of an "angry" God is an awkward one to handle, given that "God is love."
basanizqhsetai (basanizw) fut. pas. "they will be tormented" - [and] he will be tormented. As already indicated, the idea of the ongoing punishment of the wicked has long been debated. Here we have another hint of ongoing punishment with the word "tormented / tortured"; see also 19:20, 20:10, 21:8 - note the following verse. Beale, Osborne, ... argue for ongoing torment, psychological rather than physical, so Beale. Yet, it seems more likely that the image illustrates the horror of what is lost when a person puts their trust in the secular city rather than the eternal city. Both Caird and Smalley argue that the fire consumes those who worship the beast. It's worth noting how John counterposes the situation facing the redeemed with the situation facing those who worship the beast. The redeemed worship the Lamb day and night, they find eternal rest in him, while those who worship the beast find eternal torment, night and day they find no rest. Rather than promote the idea of the eternal punishment of the wicked, this comparison serves to heighten the horror of failing to enter the eternal city.
en + dat. "with [burning sulfur]" - in [fire and sulphur]. The preposition here is probably instrumental, as NIV. "And suffer torment from fire and brimstone", Peterson. Fire and sulphur are used in the OT to describe divine punishment, cf., Gen.19:24, Ezk.38:22. See Rev.19:20, 20:10, and 21:8 for the lake of fire and sulphur prepared for Satan and his associates.
enwpion + gen. "in the presence of" - before [holy angels and before the lamb]. Spacial, as NIV. "While the holy angels and the Lamb look on", CEV. The image of judgment enacted before the Lamb and his "holy angels" is a rather unique picture, one not found in the OT or apocryphal writings. In the previous vision the Lamb was gathered with the redeemed on Mount Zion before the throne of God. It is possible that "holy angels" = "holy messengers" = the redeemed. The image of the Son of Man coming to the throne of the Ancient of Days in the clouds and with his angels / messengers is most likely a coming of Christ with the dead in Christ / raised believers / the redeemed. In the last day there will be two gatherings, one in the lake of fire, and one on Mount Zion. It is impossible to be precise with apocalyptic imagery, but the idea is that both groups see each other.
basanesmou (oV) gen. "[the smoke] of [their] torment" - [and the smoke] of the torment, torture [of them]. The genitive may be treated as adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, limiting "smoke", "the smoke which emanates from their torture", or verbal, subjective, "produced by their torture", even ablative, source / origin, "from their torture"; "the smoke coming from the fire tormenting such men", Cassirer. Smoke rises from a city judged by God (Isa.34:10), and so it will be for Babylon. "The image of their painful suffering goes up forever and ever", Koester. Again we have the image of eternal torment, an image which may be treated as either metaphorical or literal.
autwn gen. pro. "their" - The genitive may be taken as either adjectival, possessive, or verbal, objective, with the genitive pronoun receiving the action of the verbal noun "torment".
eiV aiwnaV aiwnwn "forever and ever" - [goes up] into ages of ages. Idiomatic phrase meaning "forever".
oiJ proskunounteV (proskunew) pres. part. "those who worship the beast" - [and] the ones worshipping, doing obeisance to [the beast and the image of it]. The participle serves as a substantive, introducing a noun clause which serves as the subject of the negated verb "they do not have [rest day and night]." This clause consists of the rest of the verse.
kai ei + ind. "-" - and if [anyone receives the mark of the name of it, and (kai = "then") they do not have rest day and night]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, ...... then ...." Again John introduces the apodosis, the then clause, with kai. The awkward arrangement of the Greek text serves to emphasize the problem that causes the loss of rest, namely, the worship of the beast, so Mathewson. The redeemed find rest in Christ, but those caught up in judgment upon Babylon / the secular city, find no rest.
tou onomatoV (a atoV) gen. "[the mark] of [its] name" - [the mark] of the name [of it]. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic / of definition, "the mark which consists of its name"; "the mark bearing its name", Cassirer.
ii] A call for the endurance of faith, v12-13. Although there is some debate over this verse, it seems likely that it is "a comment by the Seer appended to the angel's proclamation of divine wrath", Mounce. Given what's coming and is already here, how should the faithful approach the tribulation of these end-times? Endurance is the answer, progressed through faith. "If such be the fate of the adherents of the beast, Christ's people must at all costs continue to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus", Beasley-Murray. This observation is confirmed in the following verse.
w|de adv. "This [calls for patient endurance]" - here, herein [is the endurance, steadfastness]. The adverb serves as a substantive, subject of the verb to-be, but at the same time, as a demonstrative, either backward referencing or forward referencing. Aune thinks it is backward referencing; "this indicates that the perseverance of God's people involves keeping the commands of God and maintaining faithfulness to Jesus." Yet, it is more likely forward referencing to "the ones keeping the commands of God and the faith of Jesus", so Mathewson. "This is where the power of endurance in those consecrated to God is to be found - in those who keep God's commandments and hold fast to the faith in Jesus", Cassirer.
twn aJgiwn (oV) gen. "on the part of the people of God" - of the saints. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, as NIV.
oiJ throunteV (threw) nom. pres. part. "who keep [his commands]" - the ones keeping, retaining, holding fast to [the commands of god and the faith of jesus]. The participle serves as a substantive introducing a participial construction which stands in apposition to w|de, "here", which is technically the nominative subject of the verb to-be estin.
tou qeou (oV) "his [commands]" - [the commands] of god. The genitive is probably ablative, source / origin, "the commands from God."
Ihsou (ouV ou) gen. "[remain faithful to] Jesus" - [and the faith] of jesus. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective, either "faith in Jesus", ESV, or "faith" in the terms of "faithfulness", "faithfulness toward Jesus", as NIV. It is possible that the genitive is subjective, "faith bestowed by Jesus", or "the tradition / doctrine from Jesus" (Beale thinks the genitive is plenary, both subjective and objective). The genitive could even be adjectival, possessive, "the faithfulness of Jesus" = Christ's own faithful obedience on the cross. There is a slight zeugma in the construction in that "keeping" works well with "commands", but not so well with "faith". Note how the NIV has reworked the clause with two different verbs, "keep" and "remain". It seems more than likely that John is making the point that endurance in the time of tribulation involves an attention to God's commands (guarding against idolatry and the sensual attraction of Babylon - blasphemy, sorcery, theft, murder ....) and an ongoing dependence / faith in Jesus (better than "remaining faithful to Jesus", Koester).
ek + "from [heaven]" - [and i heard a voice] from [heaven]. Expressing source / origin, "out of, from."
legoushV (legw) gen. pres. part. "say" - saying [write]. The participle serves as the genitive complement of the noun "voice" standing in a double genitive construction. The noun fwhnV, "voice", is the genitive direct object of the verb "I heard." See legwn 1:17, for John's use of a participle to introduce speech in a vision.
oiJ .... apoqnhskonteV (apoqnhskw) pres. part. "[blessed are the dead] who die" - [blessed the dead] the ones dying. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "dead", as NIV.
en + dat. "in [the Lord]" - Local use of the preposition expressing incorporative union. An idiomatic phrase expressing the intimate association a believer has with Christ by grace through faith; "a blessing rests .... on those who die united to the Lord", Cassirer.
ap arti "from now on" - from now. This temporal construction is somewhat illusive. The word order would imply that "from now" applies to those who die in the Lord, but surely the redeemed who existed before this moment are also blessed. The temporal phrase could apply to what follows; "from now on they may rest from their labors", but this is a stretch and not regularly followed by translators. Aune plays with the Gk. and suggests aparti was originally intended: "truly says the Spirit", but what about the emphatic nai, "yes"? Smalley is surely on the right track when he suggests that the phrase is not temporal, but is used to express John's realized eschatology; "now, in these last days, those who die united to the Lord are blessed."
iJna + subj. "[they will rest from their labor]" - [yes says the spirit] that [they will rest from the labors of them]. It seems likely that hina here introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the Spirit affirms to be true as regard the blessed state of those who die in a relationship with Christ, namely, "that they rest from their labors." The "blessed rest from their hard, hard work", Peterson.
gar "for" - for [the works of them]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why they rest from their labors, "because"; "for the record of their deeds goes with them", REB. Of course, we may well wonder what erga,"deeds" (kopoi, "labors", 2:2, 19, etc.), John has in mind. Given our inclination toward nomism (sanctification by obedience) there is a tendency to see such "deeds" in the terms of an obedience of good works, but it is more likely an obedience of faith, our perseverance of faith in the face of syncretic temptation. "Both terms refer to the active expression of faith in the Messiah, despite oppressive injustice, which will in the end by rewarded by sharing the life of Christ in eternity", Smalley. John is reminding his readers of a simple truth; God will favorable remember what they have done, and of course, there is only one deed which brings such favor, a personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, or simply, faith in Jesus. No other work of ours is worthy of divine favor.
akolouqei (akolouqew) pres. sing. "will follow" - [the works of them] follow. As is usually the case in Gk., a neuter plural noun can serve as the subject of a singular verb.
met (meta) + gen. "-" - with [them]. Expressing association, "in company with"; "their works follow in company with them", or as we would express it, "their deeds follow after them.