The Messianic Judgments, 6:1-16:21
3. The battle with the beasts, 11:19-15:4
viii] Like and judgmentSynopsis
John has another vision. He sees one like "a son of man" seated on a cloud with a sickle in his hand. An angel comes out of the temple and announces that the day of reaping has come "for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So, the earth is harvested. Then another angel appears from the temple, also with a sickle, and he is commanded by a third angel to harvest the "grapes from earth's vines." The grapes are gathered and pressed in "the great winepress of God's wrath" outside the city, and "blood flowed" "as high as a horse's bridle."
The kingdom of God is at hand, the day of judgment is come.
i] Context: See 14:1-5.
ii] Background: See 1:1-8.
iii] Structure: Life and judgment:
A vision of one like the son of man, v14;
The son of man reaps his harvest, v15-16;
The angels harvest the grapes of wrath, v17-20.
The perspective of this vision is still probably heavenly, ie., from heaven, rather than from within the church looking out. So, in all probability, the action takes place outside the heavenly temple as three angels carry out God's instructions for the day of judgment, cf., v17. On the cloud before the temple is one "like a son of man." John has left us with little doubt that this term refers to Jesus, and here he is the enthroned Lord, wearing his kingly crown. As the enthroned Lord, his task is now to reap. John leaves us guessing at this point, but the image of harvesting is probably the final harvest of the redeemed who through the resurrection will join Jesus in the clouds and thence to the eternal city. At the same time there is another harvest, a harvest of ripe grapes cast into "the great winepress of God's wrath." Obviously, they are the ones who carry the mark of the beast, for this takes place "outside the city." From the perspective of realized eschatology, John presents us with another image of the day of judgment.
John's apocalyptic imagery always leaves us guessing, and this passage is no different. He seems to be expanding on Joel 3:13, "Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow - so great is their wickedness." We have two harvests, the first harvest (probably of grain) by one like the son of man, and another angelic harvest of grapes. These two harvests together may represent the harvest of the wicked to judgment. Certainly many commentators take this view, so Aune, Beale, Hendriksen, Morris, ... Yet, it seems more likely that the two harvests represent two separate harvests, the harvest of the righteous and the harvest of the wicked, so Bauckham, Swete, Osborne, Blount, Koester, Smalley (although in the terms of "salvation through judgment", ie., the image is of a single judgment with two results - both the "son of man" and the "angel" carry the sickle of judgment), ....., cf., Matt.13:24-30, Mk.13:26-27. And when it comes to the harvest of the righteous, John is probably speaking of the final eschatological harvest in the last day, but there are those who argue that it is the evangelistic harvest over the time of human history, so Richardson, cf., Jn.4:34-38.
Text - 14:14
Life and judgment, v14-20: i] A vision of one like the son of man, v14: In a new vision John sees "one like a son of man." John is most likely describing Daniel's glorified Son of Man, the one who comes to reign beside the Ancient of Days, the one who enacts God's day of reckoning. Here then is the glorified Christ ready to gather the redeemed into the eternal city.
kai eidon "I looked" - and i saw [and behold]. Indicating a step in the narrative.
nefelh (h) "a [white] cloud" - Smalley describes this as "a mode of transport between heaven and earth." Indeed, that's how John describe it, but I have never thought of it in such literal terms; maybe it's a kind of Dr. Who police box, or a Star Gate!
kaqhmenon (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "seated" - [and upon the cloud I saw] one sitting. The participle serves as a substantive, object of the assumed verb "I saw."
epi + gen. "on [the cloud]" - John's favorite spacial preposition. John is surely alluding to Daniel 7:13, the coming Son of Man, although he comes, rather than sits, and does so "with" the clouds (LXX, "on"). In Daniel, the coming is to the Ancient of Days and ultimately the Son of Man harvests the elect / redeemed to come with him to the eternal city.
anqrwpou (oV) gen. "[like a son] of man" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. Even in the gospel, Jesus' favorite title "son of man" is ambiguous. In Aramaic it just means a man, a human being. John makes it more ambiguous with the comparative oJmoin, "like, similar to." Boring thinks that John wants us to see this "son of man" as a heavenly figure who administers judgment on God's behalf, but John is surely alluding to the messianic Son of Man, here as the risen Christ. The word "like" simply increases the mystery of the apocalyptic image by using Daniel's descriptive "like". See Aune for the view that this "son of man" is an angelic being, given that the angel that addresses him is "another angel." Yes, John is playing with our minds, but in the end, the one who comes with/on the clouds is Christ, cf., 1:7. Note that oJmoiV normally takes a dative, although uiJon, "son", is accusative (a solecism).
exwn (ecw) pres. part. "with [a crown of gold]" - having [on the head of him a golden crown]. Again we have a participle which virtually functions as a finite verb, "He had ..." Technically we may classify it as a periphrastic construction with an assumed verb to-be; cf., 1:16. John often uses ecw this way. "Upon his head he had a golden crown", Cassirer.
en + dat. "in [his hand]" - [and] in [the hand of him he had a sharp sickle]. Local, expressing space.
ii] The Son of Man reaps his harvest, v15-16. The final day has arrived and so John sees an angel deliver a divine message from the throne room to the Son of Man, a message instructing him to enact the day of harvest; "reap, for the time has come." Presumably John is imaging the harvest of the living and dead in Christ, the day of resurrection, of the day when believers join with Christ in the clouds to be transported to the eternal city, and there to gather with Christ before the Ancient of Days. John uses various apocalyptic images to describe this event, although, in the end, it is a day beyond description. As already noted, many commentators argue that the harvest of grain and the harvest of grapes are one in the same harvest, a harvest for the judgment of the wicked. This is unlikely, but there is, in a sense, one harvest, one judgment, although with two outcomes: blessing and cursing - approved for salvation and condemned to destruction. The Son of Man uses the sickle for the reaping of the righteous / faithful for blessing, the angel in v17 uses the sickle for the reaping of the wicked / unfaithful for cursing.
ek + gen. "[came out] of [the temple]" - [and another angel came out] from [the temple]. Here expressing source / origin. Typical use of an unnecessary preposition following a verb controlled by a similar prefix, here exhlqen, "to come out of." The angel comes out of the Temple, presumably the heavenly reality, not the earthly copy, cf., v17. In John's heavenly design, this temple houses God's throne-room, so ultimately the message comes from the throne of God.
krazwn (krazw) pres. part. "called" - crying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "came out"; "another angel came out of the temple and called out in a loud voice ...." It could also be treated as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the angel's coming out of the temple, "calling with a loud voice", ESV, so Mathewson. Seeing that the angel is giving orders to the "son of man", Aune suggests that he is superior to this "man" on the cloud, but he is probably just passing on a message from the Father to the Son, so Koester.
en "in [a loud voice]" - Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing manner, or instrumental, expressing means; "called out with a loud voice."
kaqhmenw/ (kawhmai) pres. mid. part. "to him who was sitting [on the cloud]" - to the one [sitting upon the cloud]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object.
pemyon (pempw) aor. imp. "take [your sickle]" - sent [the sickle of you and reap]. Here probably with the sense of to cause someone to carry something to some destination*; "bring your sickle and come reap", Junkins. Most translators follow the sense of Joel 3:13, "put in your sickle for the harvest is ripe"; "set to with your sickle and reap", Barclay. The sickle, unlike a sword, can be used to promote a positive, as well as a negative image. As noted above, commentators divide on whether it is being used by the Son of Man for a positive or negative end - a harvest to blessing, or cursing.
oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the "son of man" must take his sickle and begin to reap, "because" the time for harvest has come.
qerisai (qerizw) aor. inf. "[the time] to reap [has come]" - [the hour] to reap [come]. The infinitive is epexegetic, specifying the hour in mind, namely, the time for reaping. Beale suggests that the angel has had to pass this instruction to the Son of Man because his knowledge of the hour of judgment is unknown to him. This was certainly the case for the earth-bound Jesus, but surely not the glorified Christ, cf., Matt.13:32. The word wJra, "hour", is used of a point in time, not a period of time, and with the aorist / punctiliar hlqen, "has come", we see again another example of John's realized eschatology.
oJti "for" - because. Introducing a second causal clause explaining why the time for reaping has come.
thV ghV (h) gen. "[the harvest] of the earth" - [the harvest] of the earth [was dried up = fully ripe, ready]. As is often the case with a genitive, it is unclear what sense the author wants to convey. Mathewson thinks it is verbal, objective, but the Aramaic mind does tend toward an adjectival sense, so here it is more likely possessive, "the earth's crop", Cassirer.
oJ kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "[so] he who was seated" - [and] the one sitting. The participle serves as a substantive.
epi + gen. "on [the cloud]" - upon, on [the cloud]. Spacial.
ebalen (ballw) aor. "swung [his sickle]" - cast [the sickle of him upon the earth and the earth was reaped]. "To swing / use a sickle" is a particular idiomatic sense for this verb. Often used of harvesting in general, cf., Mk.4:29.
iii] The angels harvest the grapes of wrath, v17-20. Having spoken of the harvest of the redeemed for blessing, John now speaks of the harvest of the wicked for cursing. Although Smalley argues that this final judgment "includes the possibility of redemption", it seems likely that John is describing the eschatological day of judgment when all is lost for those who have not persevered in faith. This terrible day culminates in the treading of the winepress, an image used by John to illustrate "the climactic moment of judgment", Boring. This terrible day will be further explored in the judgment of the seven bowls, chapters 15-16.
tou gen. art. "[the temple in heaven]" - [and another angel came out from the temple] the [in heaven]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "in heaven" into an attributive modifier limiting "temple"; "the temple which is in heaven."
ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "and he [too] had [a sharp sickle]" - [he] having [also a sharp sickle]. John is probably again defying grammatical conventions and just using the participle ecwn as a finite verb, much in the same way he used it in v14. Such a usage would technically be classified as a periphrastic construction with an assumed verb to-be. None-the-less, here it can also be classified as attendant circumstance, expressing action accompanying the verb exhlqen, "to come out", "he came out ..... and held ...", or adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his coming out, "came out ..... holding ..."
kai "still" - and. Indicating a step in the narrative; "then ...."
ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "who had [charge of the fire]" - [and another angel came out from the altar] the one having [authority over the fire]. John is probably following his usual pattern with this participle, as in v17, cf., 1:16; "Then there came another angel from the altar / temple. He had authority over fire and he called out in a loud voice ...." None-the-less, if the variant article oJ is accepted then the participle would be adjectival, attributive, limiting "angel", as NIV. The next angel also comes from the heavenly temple, although here specifically the alter set before God's throne (in John's heavenly temple there is only one alter, unlike the physical representation on earth. Of course, the physical representation, destroyed in 70AD, is superseded by the Christian community). This angel is in charge of the fire. This is probably an allusion to the belief at the time that angels were in charge of the elements, fire being associated with judgment.
epi + gen. "-" - over [the fire]. John's favorite spacial preposition contextually takes the sense "over" rather than "on, upon."
fwnh/ (h) dat. "in a [loud] voice" - The dative is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his "shout".
tw/ econti (ecw) "to him who had [the sharp sickle" - to the one having [the sharp sickle]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object.
legwn "-" - saying [throw = swing the sharp sickle of you]. John again uses the participle "saying" to introduce speech in a vision, cf., legwn 1:17. Here best classified as attendant circumstance, redundant, as NIV. Swinging the sickle to cut down the bunches of grapes images judgment.
thV ampelou (oV) gen. "[the clusters of grapes] from [the earth's] vine" - [and gather the clusters, bunches of grapes] of the vine, vineyard [of the earth]. The genitive is best treated as adjectival, idiomatic / producer, "the bunches of grapes which are produced by the vine", or possibly ablative, source / origin, "from the vine", as NIV. The genitive "of the earth" is adjectival, most likely intended as possessive, although Mathewson suggests it is epexegetic. "Put in your sharp sickle and gather in the clusters of the vine of the earth", Cassirer.
oJti "because" - because [the grapes of it have ripened]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the angel should begin the harvest of grapes; "for the clusters are ripe", Barclay. The grapes are "ripe", meaning that the time for harvest / the day of judgment is at hand.
thV ghV (h) gen. "[gathered] its [grapes]" - [and the angel threw = swung the sickle of him to, into the earth and gathered the vine = vintage] of the earth. The genitive is probably adjectival, idiomatic / producer; "the vintage which was produced by the earth." "The angel swung the sickle and harvested the earth's vintage", Peterson.
ton megan adj. "[the] great [winepress]" - [the winepress ......] the great. This articular adjective serves as a noun standing in apposition to the noun "winepress", although "winepress" is feminine and "great" is masculine; "into the winepress of God's wrath, one of great size." Presumably the person of "great" has been attracted to tou qeou, "of God." Smalley suggests that although accusative and not genitive, it was intended to modify "wrath"; "the winepress of the great wrath of God."
tou qumou (oV) gen. "of [God's] wrath" - [and threw it into the winepress] of the wrath [of god the great]. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, specifying the winepress in mind, "the winepress that represent / amounts to / namely / that is"; "put into a winepress of giant size, that of God's anger", Cassirer, but possibly idiomatic / content, "the winepress which is full of the wrath of God." The genitive "of God" can be taken as verbal, subjective, "the wrath enacted by God", or adjectival, possessive, "God's wrath", or ablative, source / origin, "the wrath from God." God's passionate anger parallels Babylon's passionate immorality.
exwqen + gen. "outside [the city]" - [the winepress] outside [the city was trodden]. Local, expressing space; "outside". Alluding to Joel 3:13. It seems likely that "the city" is representative of the Christian community and so "outside" expresses that the punishment of the wicked is apart from the community. Boring notes that Jesus was crucified outside the city wall, a sacrifice that brought victory over sin and death. Both ideas may be present in John's apocalyptic image of eschatological judgement, although dispensational commentators would not agree. They see this as a reference to an actual military engagement that takes place outside the present city of Jerusalem; see Thomas. Given 14:8, the implication is that it is "Christ who actually crushes the harvest with the passionate fury of God's wrath", Boring.
ek + gen. "[out] of [the press]" - [and blood came out] from [the winepress]. Expressing source / origin, or separation, "away from." A great flow of blood serves in the OT to image divine judgment, cf., Isa.34:3, Ezk, 32:5-6, ...
arci + gen. "as high as [the horses' bridles]" - up to [the bridles of the horses]. Spacial use of the preposition, rather than temporal. The size of the flow of blood serves to "emphasize the scale of the slaughter", Koester. Cf., 1 Enoch 100.3. "A slaughter of exceptional proportions", Aune.
apo + gen. "for [a distance]" - from [stadia one thousand six hundred]. When used before a number, this preposition expresses distance from, so Zerwick; "1,600 stadia (180 miles / 300 kilometers) away." There is probably no significance in the number, although it has been noted that it is the square of ten by the square of four = the four corners of the earth.