Revelation

19:17-21

The Reign of Christ, 17:1-22:5

The demise of the Beast, 19:11-21:8

ii] The defeat of the beasts

Synopsis

In two further "and I saw" visions, v17-18, 19-21, John describes the feast of the carrion and the judgment of the beasts and their associates. In the first vision, v17-18, an angel, standing on the sun, invites the scavenger birds to a feast of carrion, the corpses of the beasts' army. In the next vision, v19-21, John sees the beast and the prophet-beast captured and thrown into the lake of fire. As for all those with the mark of the beast, they are slain by the sword from the mouth of the rider and left as carrion for scavenger birds.

 
Teaching

The Kingdom of God is at hand; the day of judgment is a day of destruction for the godless.

 
Issues:

i] Context: See 19:11-16.

 

ii] Background: See 1:1-8.

 

iii] Structure: The defeat of the beasts:

The feast of the carrion, v17-18;

The Beasts and their allies are destroyed, v19-21.

 

iv] Interpretation:

In the second of the kai eidon, "and I saw", visions, v17-18, John describes an invitation to a messianic banquet which is the exact opposite to the invitation given to the redeemed, those who join in the messianic banquet of the Lamb, 19:9. This invitation is given to scavenger birds to feed on the carrion of all those who have taken the path to oblivion by following the Beast and the Prophet; all those rich and poor who worship the secular city, Babylon.

In the third kai eidon, "and I saw", vision, v19-21, John describes the destruction of the Beast and the Prophet, and their allies. In 16:16 John referred to the kings and their armies gathering at Armageddon for a final showdown with Christ as part of the judgment of the sixth bowl. Now again, he takes us back to this event, the Great Day of the Lord, the day of judgment. Two main players lead the pack, namely the Beast and the false prophet. John exposed the Beast for us in 13:1-10. In simple terms he is the antiChrist, "satanically-manipulated political power", Richardson. Then there is the false prophet, the other face of the antiChrist, the beast from the land. John gives us a detailed description of him in 13:11-18. He is the ideological side of the antiChrist, the philosophical beast, or as Richardson puts it, "Satanically-manipulated ideologies." The two together, entailing the antiChrist, Babylon / the secular city, have gathered with their devotees to war against Christ and his army of followers, the redeemed. This they have always done, and now in this final show of defiance they are brought down by the same instrument that always lays them low, namely "the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider", the word of God, the gospel. This time there are no more opportunities for the beasts to stagger out of the bog, wounded and ready to cause more trouble; this time the game is up; the consuming fire of judgment sees to that. Such is the ultimate end of darkness. Of course, they don't go down alone. All those with the mark of the beast, those who worship the beast, those devotees of Babylon / the secular city, they too face the horror of judgment, and a rather horrible image John uses to describe it. Osborne suggests a sermon title for these verses could be "Will You Be the Eater or the Eaten?" - I don't want to be either!

 
Text - 19:17

The defeat of the beasts, v17-21: i] The feast of the carrion, v17-18. With rather gory images John describes the end of Babylon's reign. "The triumph of God's kingdom over the enemies of justice and love is celebrated by a joyful feast for the faithful (in heaven / the wedding supper of the Lamb), and ("but" is obviously a typo) by a nightmarish supper for the waiting [scavenger] birds [of prey on earth]", Smalley, cf., Beasley-Murray p282. The message for the reader is - make sure you attend the right feast! Don't be caught out with the mark of the Beast; persevere in faith / conquer.

kai eidon "I saw" - and i saw. Serving to indicate a step in the narrative / a new vision.

estwta (iJsthmi) perf. part. "[an angel] standing" - The participle serves as the complement of the direct object "angel", standing in a double accusative construction.

en + dat. "in [the sun]" - Here local, expressing space, "in/on the sun." The angel stands on the sun and invites all the scavenging birds to a feast of carrion, cf., Ezk.39:17-20 where the invitation is for a feast of slain animals, here reversed.

en + dat. "in a loud voice" - [and he cried out] in [a loud voice]. Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing manner; "with a loud voice."

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to cry out"; "he cried out ..... and said ..." - another example of John's stylistic use of this participle; cf., legwn 1:17.

toiV orneoiV (on) dat. "to [all] the birds" - Dative of indirect object.

toiV petomenoiV (petomai) dat. pres. mid. part. "flying" - flying [in midheaven]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "birds"; "all the birds that fly overhead", ESV.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[supper] of God" - [come gather to the great supper] of god. The genitive is adjectival, possibly possessive, "God's supper", but attributive / idiomatic may be better, "the supper / dinner / feast (judgmental banquet) which God has arranged"; "gather yourselves together for the great feast that God is giving", Cassirer.

 
v18

iJna + subj. "so that [you may eat]" - Here introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that ...."

basilewn (euV ewV) gen. "[the flesh] of kings" - [flesh] of kings [and flesh of captains and flesh of strong men and flesh of horses and of the ones sitting on them and flesh of all]. The genitive, as with the list that follows, is adjectival, possessive. The participle kaqhmenwn, "of the ones sitting", serves as a substantive; epi, "upon [them]", is spacial = "their riders."

te kai ... kai .... kai ... "and .... and" - both [free men] and [slaves] and [small] and [great]. Coordinate construction, with the linking particle te used only here in Revelation; "the free and the slaves, the small and the great", REB = worldly humanity as a whole, those with the mark of the beast, both the apostate and unbelievers.

 
v19

ii] The beasts and their allies are destroyed, v19-21. The beast + the prophet (the beast from the land) [+ the kings + their armies] = Babylon = antiChrist (all puppets of Satan / the Red Dragon), had deluded the subjects of the city with signs and wonders (the corrupted political, philosophical and technological glories of the secular city), but now in a final confrontation at Armageddon (16:14) face the consequences in fire and the sword from the rider's mouth (the gospel, the announcement that "the kingdom of God is at hand"). "Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out", Jn.12:31. This confrontation climaxes the ongoing confrontations experienced by the Christian community as it battles with the powers of darkness. John's description of the nations waring with the Lord's anointed and his subjects (see also Gog from Magog, ch. 20) reflects the prophetic image of the nations waring against Israel, Ezk.38-39, Joel 3, Zech.12-14.

kai eidon "I saw" - and i saw. Serving to indicate a step in the narrative / a new vision.

thV ghV (h) gen. "[the kings] of the earth" - [the beast and the kings] of the earth [and the armies of them]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "the world's kings", Barclay, or attributive, idiomatic / subordination; "the kings who rule over the earth."

sunhgmena (sunagw) perf. mid./pas. part "gathered together" - having been gathered. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "kings .... and the armies of them", "which were gathered / "being mustered."

poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "to wage [war]" - to do [war]. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to make war."

meta + gen. "against" - The preposition expresses association / accompaniment, as in "engage with / war with" an enemy, but expressed in English as "against" an enemy.

tou kaqhmenou (kaqhmai) gen. pres. mid. part. "the rider" - the one sitting [on the horse and against the army of him]. The participle serves as a substantive; "assembling themselves together against the rider and his army", Cassirer. Here we see the secular city fail the first rule of war: know your enemy.

 
v20

Both the beast / antiChrist ("the incarnation of secular powers in their unjust and idolatrous opposition, at any period of history, to God and his people", Smalley) and the prophet / beast from the land / antiChrist ("the alter ego of the beast", Smalley), are epiasqh, "sized by force", and cast into the lake of fire (as was Korah, Num.16:33, ie., not a place for holding the dead, Hades, Gehenna, or John's abyss, but a place of destruction, cf., Dan7:11). As to who does the seizing, obviously the rider on the white horse / Christ, so Aune, rather than the rider's army, so Osborne, although John's apocalyptic imagery restrains our imagination by providing no battle. The battle was actually won on the cross and the rider and his heavenly army are part of the heavenly victory parade rather than an army heading off to earth; see 19:11-16. The reader who continues to persevere in faith as they struggle under the power of the secular city / Babylon / the beast / ..... can take to heart in the fact that the corrupt systems of this age are destined to destruction, and that even now the faithful share in the eternal prize. So, brothers and sisters, persevere!

met (meta) + gen. "with [it]" - [the beast was captured and] with [it]. Expressing association / accompaniment, as NIV. "The beast was taken into custody, and along with it the false prophet, the one who performed many signs in its presence."

oJ poihsaV (poiew) aor. part. "who performed [the signs]" - [the false prophet] the one having done [the signs]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "false prophet", as NIV.

enwpion + gen. "on [it's] behalf" - before [him]. "Who in its presence had done the signs", ESV.

en + dat. "with [these signs]" - in [which]. Instrumental use of the preposition, expressing means, along with the resumptive relative pronoun oi|V, "which", ie., "in which signs ..."; "by which he had deceived those who had received the mark", ESV.

touV labontaV (lambanw) aor. part. "those who had received [the mark]" - [he deceived] the ones having received [the mark]. The participle serves as a substantive, as NIV.

tou qhriou (on) gen. "of the beast" - of the wild animal. The genitive is adjectival, limiting the noun "mark", but can be nuanced in a number of ways, eg., possessive, "the mark that belongs to the beast", subjective / idiomatic, "the mark which is bestowed by the beast", even ablative, source / origin, "from the beast."

touV proskunountaV (proskunew) pres. part. "worshiped" - [and] the ones doing obeisance to [the image of it]. The participle serves as a substantive. The verb "to do obeisance to / worship" takes a dative, here the dative "image."

zwnteV (zaw) pres. part. "[the two of them were thrown] alive" - [the two were thrown] living.

tou puroV (r roV) gen. "[the] fiery [lake]" - [into the lake] of fire. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "lake", as NIV, but possibly idiomatic / content, "the lake filled with burning fire."

thV kaiomenhV (kaiw) pres. mid. part. "of burning [sulfur]" - the one burning [with sulfur]. As noted by Mathewson, the participle is feminine in agreement with "lake" and "genitive in agreement with "fire", and so it "may modify the entire construction 'lake of fire'". So we could classify it as adjectival, epexegetic, limiting by further defining the "lake of fire", "that is / namely, the lake of burning sulfur", or better just attributive, "the lake of fire that burns with sulfur", ESV.

en + dat. "-" - in [sulfur]. Instrumental, expressing means; "with sulfur."

 
v21

The associates and followers of the antiChrist are destroyed by the Word of God.

en + dat. "with [the sword]" - [the rest were killed] in [the sword]. Here the preposition is instrumental, expressing means; "killed by / with the sword."

th/ exelqoush/ (exercomai) dat. mid. aor. part. "coming out of" - [of the one sitting on the horse,] the one (ie., the sword) coming out from [from the mouth of him]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "sword"; "that came from the mouth of him", ESV. The redundant, but stylistic repetition of the prefix ex with the preposition ek, "from", source / origin.

tou kaqhmenou (kaqhmai) gen. pres. mid. part. "the rider [on the horse]" - of the one sitting. The participle serves as a substantive, the genitive being possessive; "the sword belonging to the rider on the horse."

ek + gen. "on [their flesh]" - [and all the birds were fully fed] from [the flesh of them]. Expressing source / origin. "Having one's body be food for birds was considered a horrific judgment", Koester, cf., Jer.7:33, 16:4, 19:7, 34:20. "And all the birds devoured their flesh and had their fill", Cassirer.

 

Revelation Introduction

 

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