Revelation Chapter Nineteen Part II

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The Sword of the Spirit
Is the Word of God

Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

John was overwhelmed by the great doxology and the events that he saw, and fell at the angel’s feet in worship. A common use of the word, ‘worship’ (προσκυνῆσαι, proskynēsai), literally means to prostrate oneself to do homage to another. That is how it is used here. He began to worship, but the angel was quick to prevent John from worshiping. We may be tempted to do so because of the glory of angels, but their glory comes from God. Though we may be tempted, we do not worship angels.

The angel is giving the reason John should not worship him. He, the angel, gave the prophecy that those invited to the wedding supper are blessed, not because he supernaturally knew this, but that he got this testimony from Jesus, Who has the true prophecy and gave it to the angel. A more understandable interpretation of the phrase is “I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers, holding the testimony of Jesus,” (From the Open Greek New Testament; OpenGNT.com.)

This statement shows that the angel is a servant, and the Scripture tells us that all angels are servants or ministers (Heb 1:14). Additionally, the term fellow-servant proves that all people saved by faith in Christ are children of God and also His servants.

We are to worship God (Mat 4:10) and Him only. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity and thus God, so He is worthy of our worship.

To understand the angel’s statement, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” let us break it down into its elements.

The word rendered testimony, is the Greek word μαρτυρίαν, martyrian/marturian, from μαρτυρία, martyria/marturia, meaning a witness, a certification, or a testimony. It is “a declaration by a witness who speaks with the authority of one who knows” (From The Complete Word Study Dictionary © 1992 By AMG International, Inc. Chattanooga, TN 37422, U.S.A. Revised edition, 1993)

Jesus, being God the Son, is without need of declaration. He is One who knows everything; He is omniscient. Thus he is an infallible witness here and His testimony is also completely trustworthy.

Prophecy is often thought only as the telling of the future. However, the Greek word, προφητείας, prophēteias, a noun, is defined several ways. Yes it can be the prediction of the future. It may also be, depending on the context, intelligible teaching, inspired expository preaching, the gift of expounding the Scriptures, declaring the purposes of God, etc. We must always take into consideration the context. In this instance, it is in the genitive case, indicating to us that it is the prophecy of, and from Jesus only.

The general context is the Book of Revelation, which is prophecy revealed to us through John from Jesus. The positional context is John in the spirit on the Island of Patmos. The chronological context is the First Century after the resurrection. The scriptural context is the heralding of the marriage supper of the lamb.

Therefore it is the divine will and purposes of God revealed to us by Jesus, Who is God the Son, through John, who is receiving the revelation of the marriage supper in a vision on the Island of Patmos.

The word spirit has many definitions. Primarily, in the context of the Bible, it is the Holy Spirit. However, in this case it is the spirit of something. The spirit of a thing is the essence, the essential nature, or the vital principle of a thing. In our context here it is the spirit of prophecy, or the essential nature, the vital principle, or the significance of prophecy.

Thus the entire statement can be expressed this way: “For this is the declaration by the Witness, Jesus Christ, Who speaks with the authority of One Who has all knowledge (testimony), which is the essence or the essential nature or the vital principle (spirit) of the divine will and purposes of God revealed to us (prophecy). Therefore let us worship Him.

Here is the Amplified Bible translation: “Then I fell prostrate at his feet to worship (to pay divine honors) to him, but he [restrained me] and said, Refrain! [You must not do that!] I am [only] another servant with you and your brethren who have [accepted and hold] the testimony borne by Jesus. Worship God! For the substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy [the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours].”

In other words, Jesus is God, thus He knows all things, and He reveals them to us. You can absolutely trust what He says. He is worthy of worship, but angels are not to be worshipped.

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Here we see Christ preparing for battle. He is on his horse ready to ride into battle. We know that this is Messiah from His description (Rev 3:7,14). He is the righteous judge (Psa 50:6; Jer 23:5,6; 33:15). Everyone will recognize him (Zec 12:10; Mar 24:30; Rev 1:7). He is prepared to make war with the “beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies” (Rev 19:19), where he will defeat (Rev 19:15) and judge them (Act 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2 Tim 4:1)

John’s vision depicted in Revelation 19:11-21 is like artists’ landscapes of paintings of famous battles. In those paintings we have seen men fight in the battles with their leaders leading the charge. In some scenes the leader is riding on a galloping horse leading the charge with an ensign held high in his hand. In others, the leader is seen above the fray with his sword in his hand held high urging his men onward. Both men are in the midst while the battle surges around them. The warriors are gathered in large throngs and are enjoined in combat around or near those leaders.

Such paintings are a mosaic of the battle and many different acts of war are seen in many different areas of the canvas. The different acts of war are not seen in a linear timeline, but are displayed all at once on the canvas. As one’s eyes roam over the painting, one sees the different acts of war that the artist added to the painting. Some fighters are seen in hand to hand combat, others have weapons drawn and shields raised. Warriors on horses are engaged in the fight. Bodies of the dead and wounded are strewn about the field of battle, flames are seen and plumes of smoke and dust are rising. As we peruse the paintings we begin to imagine the actions of battle in each scene and it comes to life as if it were going on in front of us. In the mind’s eye, one can imagine such paintings of battles at Waterloo, Alexander’s Battle at Issus, the battle of Gettysburg, the battle of New Orleans, etc., and even actual paintings of these events in Revelation.

The scene in our verses is very much like the paintings described above. Like the paintings, the verses of our passage are not described in a linear timeline. Again, like the paintings, each verse depicts a different scene of the ongoing battle. As he beheld each scene, John described and recorded the visions in the order they appeared before him. If we read the passage without the verse numbers to distract us, we are very much looking at two pictures; one of a battle unfolding and the one of the end of the battle. There are many paintings of this battle in Revelation 19 available for viewing online. Look some of them up.

Let us review those two images as we would such battle paintings and glean what we can from them, and then we may exegete the verses as needed. These verses here in the latter half of Revelation chapter 19 paint such a picture in our minds.

In our first image, we see Jesus on his white horse attired in glorious robes leading the myriads of the armies from heaven all clothed in white and all riding on white horses following Him as He leads the charge with his sword held high, His eyes are fierce and burning with anger at His enemies, and crowns upon His head that show Him to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We see the sword that is the Word of God coming forth from His mouth. We see the iron rod which is the King’s Scepter that He will rule with, and we see the writing on His robes.

Image 1, The Battle is Engaged (Rev 19:11-16)

Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. The armies of heaven and the saints wearing fine linen, white and pure, are following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

In our second image, The kings of earth and their armies are gathered before Christ for battle. Meanwhile the angel is gathering the animals of prey together and preparing them to feast on the enemies’ corpses after their armies are defeated. The beast and false prophet are seen captured and being thrown in the lake of fire and burning sulfur. As Jesus strikes down his enemies in defeat, we see Him standing over them with the iron rod, the Scepter of a King in His hands as He rules them in His wrath treading them under His feet in the winepress of God’s wrath and their blood is splashed upon his robes as he treads. He defeats all of His enemies and they are all killed. There are no survivors.

Image 2, The Battle is Won (Rev 19:17-21)

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

In the Revelation, we see Heaven open in three other places. Heaven was opened in Rev 4:1 when the voice of Jesus in John’s vision called John up into heaven in order to show John what would happen after Jesus dictated the letters to the churches. In his vision, John entered the Throne room of Heaven, upon which Yahweh, the One who lives forever and ever sat (Rev 4:10).

We see Heaven opened again in Rev 11:19, after the seventh trumpet was sounded. In his vision, John saw the temple of God opened where he saw the ark of His covenant (that is God’s covenant).

John sees Heaven opened again in Rev 15:5. There, in his vision, he once again saw the “temple of the tabernacle of the testimony,” or the room where the Ark of the Covenant stood in Heaven. Such appearances are not unprecedented.

In our verse, John saw Messiah Jesus in all his glory, riding upon a white horse. We must recall another rider on a white horse in Revelation 6:2, “I looked, and there was a white horse. Its rider held a bow; a crown was given to him, and he went out as a conqueror in order to conquer.

That rider upon a white horse in Rev 6:2 was Satan the dragon, or one of his emissaries masquerading as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). This he has done through the centuries. Notice that there is no more mention of the Lamb slain there.

Here, we see Jesus the Messiah in His Power and Great Glory. He is ready to make war against His enemies, which are the beast, the false prophet, and all those on the earth that worshipped the beast. They are gathered together to make war against Him to defeat Him while he is preparing to righteously judge them.

Why do nations make war against other nations? They do so to defeat their enemy, either for self-protection or to conquer them. If that is the case, then those who will gather together against Christ must believe that they can defeat and conquer Him. However, God the Father, the Almighty has given Jesus all of His power and authority (Mat 11:7, 28:18; Joh 17:2; 1 Cor 15:24-26; Eph 1:20-22).

Thus it is impossible for those armies to defeat him. Yet that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan (Rev 20:2), he who deceives the entire world, is exquisitely good at convincing humans to believe his lies (Joh 8:44; 2 Cor 11:14; Rev 12:9, 13:14). There he will convince those that war against Christ that they can defeat Him. Many of Christ’s enemies today actually believe the same thing. Why? Because they hate Him (John 7:7). Satan uses their hatred to convince them that with him leading, they will be able to defeat Jesus. Even when Jesus walked on earth, the Devil, the Jews, and the Romans tried unsuccessfully to defeat Him.

This rider in white is Jesus, who is Faithful and True and he Rides out in righteousness, unlike the first rider on a white horse. That rider was given a bow and sent out with the other three horsemen. Their job was to bring the judgment of God to bear on sinners. They were sent out to conquer, bring war, famine, and death to the unrighteous of the earth (Rev 6:15). See all the comments at Revelation 6:2. The rider in our current verse is the true Christ.

Revelation 19:12  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

We are again at a point in the Apocalypse when the angels have gathered the saints to be with the Savior forever (Mat 24:31). Now we must take a more in-depth look at our Risen Savior as John described Him in our current verse and in others.

Compare this picture in Rev 19:11-16 with the picture of the Messiah in Rev 1:13-17.

When he first beheld Christ in heaven, John told us that His eyes were like a flame of fire (Rev 1:14). He again noticed Jesus’ eyes like a flame of fire in Rev 2:18. In the commentary on those verses, we looked at historical pictures of God Almighty and His Christ as seen by Ezekiel and others, and compared them to John’s visions of Christ.

John states that Jesus’ “eyes were as a flame of fire.” Daniel described an angel, possibly Gabriel, but not identified as such, with eyes like flaming torches that came to him as he was standing on the banks of the Tigris river. Daniel wrote, “I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude“(Dan 10:5-7 NRSV). Some had described the angel as the pre-incarnate Christ, but that is impossible, for Jesus would not have been hindered by the prince of Persia that was struggling with the archangel Michael (Dan 10:13).

Notice that Daniel’s description of this man is similar to John’s description of Jesus: “and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire,  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force” (Rev 1:13-16 NRSV).

Daniel tells us that the sight of the angel took his strength away and he went pale with fear and fell to the ground when the angel spoke.

John has similar words, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead” (Rev 1:17). Daniel and John had the same response. Christ touched John, then spoke and told him not to fear (Rev 1:17b). Similarly, the angel touched Daniel and told him not to fear (Dan 10:12). After that, both Daniel and John were no longer frightened and able to function once again.

In a fire on the hearth of a fireplace, or a bonfire or campfire one can sit for quite a while watching the jumping flickering flame and feeling its heat. A person can become entranced watching the flames darting around, flashing, shining, shimmering, playing, and changing colors. The longer one watches, the more intriguing the fire is, and the less and less one is observant of the things going on around oneself. You, yourself, may have had such an experience near a fireplace, campfire, or a bonfire.

Since Jesus’ eyes were likened by John to a flame of fire, it is likely he was drawn to those eyes like our eyes are drawn to a fire on the hearth, or a bonfire, or campfire. Like us, he probably could not immediately look away. As a flame catches our attention and can be captivating and difficult to look away from, John accordingly took note of Jesus’ eyes. John had lived daily with Jesus during His earthly ministry and we can be sure he looked in Jesus’ eyes countless times. That was before Jesus was glorified. Here he sees the glorified Messiah, whose eyes are deeply attention-getting. John was so fascinated with Jesus’ eyes that he wrote a description the best he knew how, which was to describe them as fiery.

Wesley, Gill, and Clarke all state that this illustrates the Omniscience of Christ. Utley says they are indicative of “His penetrating knowledge,” which is His omniscience. God knows and sees all. He misses nothing. We can hide nothing from Him. Jesus is God the Son, who is omniscient. That is, He has all knowledge.

Those things are completely true, but there is a difference in context. In this case, Jesus is a Commanding Officer and Warrior prepared for the ensuing battle. His troops are with Him; He is dressed for battle; He is preparing for battle; He is deadly serious about the coming massacre of His enemies. “His eyes like a flame of fire” well describe a General leading His troops and heading out for battle. He has toughened Himself for the coming fight; He is intent on engaging the enemy; He has the steely, fiery eyes and fierce countenance of such a prepared warrior. When God punished his enemies several times in the Old Testament era, He was just as deadly serious as Jesus, Who is God the Son, is here. For some examples, see Psa 97:3 Isa 47:14 Isa 66:15 Am 5:6.

Peter tells us, in 1 Pe 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

We read in Proverbs, The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Pro 15:3)

The chronicler wrote, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chr 26:9)a. In the second part of the verse Hanani the seer, prophesied to King Asa, “Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (2 Chr 26:9)b.

When the Yahweh looks upon the righteous, He is pleased. When He sees evil, He is angered, and consequences occur. In our passage, Jesus is prepared for Battle with His enemies. He has seen the evil they inflicted on the peoples of Earth and consequences are about to happen to them.

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The crown on the rider of the first white horse in Chapter 1, was a στεφανος stephanos, that is a wreath or garland on his head, which is a victor’s crown. Here these are diadems, διαδηματα, diademata, the crowns of kings or royal crowns and they are many. They show us that this is the Christ, then King of kings and Lord of lords. The dragon has seven crowns, the rider on the first white horse had one crown, and the beast out of the sea had ten crowns. Christ has many more crowns than those entities. Those many crowns show that Jesus reigns over all (Mat 11:27; Luk 10:22; Jon 3:35, 13:3, 16:15).

Since no one but Jesus knows this new name, it is not one of the names of Jesus we see in Scripture. Compare this to Rev 2:17, where Jesus will give a white stone to those whose victory is in Christ and on those stones will be a new name that no one else will know. It will be a name that will outshine any name anyone has given you in derision. It will be a name that shows you have the righteousness of Christ in you and that you are His. In an adoption the child takes the new father’s name permanently. Like sheep following their shepherd, we will follow our Good Shepherd and we shall know His Name, for it is written on us.

In Rev 3:12, the Scripture succinctly tells us that those who overcome, that is those that remain faithful to Christ throughout all the tribulations we go through on earth, that they will have written upon themselves His, that is Jesus’, new name. So when eternity arrives and we are living with Jesus on the new earth, we will be called by the Name of God, the name of the city of God, and Jesus’ new name.

We are currently called by His title, Christ, which is the English translation of the Greek word for Messiah; we are called Christians. The Greek word is Χριστιανός, Christianos, or followers of Christ (Act 11:26) In eternity He will have a new name and we will identify as belonging to Him by His new name.

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords thus no one has power over Him. Some ancients thought that knowing a man’s name gave them power over the him. No one has power over God and Jesus is God! (See also Isa 62:2; Gen 32:29; Jdg. 13:17-18).

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