Revelation Chapter Ten

Mighty Angel

Mighty Angel

Revelation Chapter 10  tells us about the Mighty Angel giving a scroll to the Apostle John to eat. When John ate it it was sweet but when he swallowed it it was bitter in his stomach. This action signifies the beginning of the end of the world.

Rev 10:1 “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:”

Many commentators assert that this angel is none other than Jesus Christ. While there are Theophanies and Christophanies in the scripture where God the Father or God the Son appear as The Angel of the LORD, that is not the case here.

John’s straightforward statement that this is another angel, is our proof. There were angels with seals and with trumpets in view that came before this angel, and John observed them in succession. This is another angel like they were. If he were the Christ, he would not be another angel, but the Angel of the LORD. This angel is not Christ, but he is a type of Christ. He is a mighty angel; he is not named, but the description is one unlike we see in most Biblical references to angels.

He is a type of Christ because he descends to earth like Christ will. His description is similar to the descriptions of Christ in Revelation and Yahweh God in the Old Testament. He is reminiscent of Christ with the seven sealed Scroll in Rev 5:5-8. His voice is like a lion roaring; Christ is the Lion of Judah. His standing on the water and the land signifies that Christ is Lord of the peoples of Earth. There are other Scriptural witnesses, but these are enough to establish this angel as a type of Christ.

We do not see Jesus Christ described as an angel or as the Angel of the LORD in the Revelation; He is shown
as Lord over all the nations and all the earth. Jesus has been made heir of all things; he is the express image of the God the Father and sits “down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. “He is so much better that the angels.” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Additionally, some may consider this angel to be an archangel; John does not support that opinion; he simply describes the vision he saw. It is likewise inappropriate for Christ, who is God, to swear by God (“Him that liveth for ever and ever” in verse 6). The angel certainly had an appearance that was similar to Christ, though he is not the Christ.

There are some big differences between this and other angels we have seen described in Scripture. Here are some examples of angels in the Scriptures:

Abraham was sitting under the awning of his tent when he looked up and three men stood by him (Genesis 18:2). It is obvious from Abraham’s actions and from the contest that these men were angels and one of them was the Angel of the Lord (a theophany or the appearance of Yehovah to men). Note that He had the appearance of a man. Though he has the appearance of a man, Abraham knew by his visage that He was Yahweh in the appearance of an angel (e.g. Gen 18:22-33).

Later, Gideon encountered the Angel of the LORD. He did recognize him as a worthy man, but only later did he realize the man was the Angel of the LORD (Judges 6:21).

Manoah, Samson’s father saw the Angel of the LORD, he thought he was a man. He did not realize this was an angel until the angel ascended in the flame of the fire on the altar (Judges 13:10-20).

At the sepulcher of Christ the angels were described as men in shining garments (Luke 24:24).

John saw this angel “come down from heaven.” Recall from Revelation 4:1 that John is already in heaven when he sees these events. In that verse John saw a door opened in Heaven. Then he heard a voice through that open door telling him to “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” That is not, as Dispensationalists claim, the rapture of the Church. It is simply God taking John into heaven to show him the future.

John was in Heaven when he was given a vision of all the things he saw. The text states that John saw this angel comedown from heaven. That does not mean that he was actually on Earth. We learn from Rev 4:2, that he was in Heaven in the spirit. In other words he was in Heaven in the spirit and was being given a future vision of this angel. He may have been on Earth in the spirit when he observed these things, but that is not specified.

The angel was clothed in a cloud. There are passages of Scripture that show us God riding on clouds. Daniel, in Dan 7:13, observed Christ “one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” The disciples watched as Jesus ascended into heaven in a cloud in Acts 1:9. The Psalmist tells us that God makes the clouds His chariot (Ps 104:3).

At times, clouds also accompany God in judgment:

“Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne” (Psa 97:2).

“Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it” (Isa 19:1).

“How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger” (Lam 2:1)!

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations” (Joe 2:1-2).

God coming in the clouds or surrounded by clouds is a picture of Judgment in the Old Testament. In the New it is God in Christ Who comes in the clouds to collect His own unto Him, and to dispense judgment on the world,
Mat 24:29-31; Mar 13:24-27; Luk 21:25-27.

Taking the context into account, the cloud this angel is clothed with is indicative of judgment. The angel prophesies the end of the age (“time should be no longer“) in Rev 10:6. In Rev 10:7 the angel continues to state that the seventh angel will soon sound his trumpet ushering in the third, last, and greatest woe, which is the seven angels with the seven bowls of the wrath of God to be poured out on the Earth. This angel is not Christ coming on the clouds but is the harbinger of judgment.

A rainbow was upon his head. The angel has a rainbow over his head, or perhaps surrounding his head like a halo. The word that the KJV renders upon can also mean above, near, around, towards, etc. Ezekiel described the brightness of the appearance of God as a rainbow around Him: Eze 1:28, “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.” God’s glory is in view here showing that this angel was indeed His messenger.

His face was as it were the sun. The face of the angel in Daniel chapter 10 was covered in brightness; Dan 10:5-6, “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:  (6)  His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.” The glory of Yahweh God is again reflected in this brightness.

There are similarities between the angel Daniel beheld and the angel in our passage. The brightness of the face, one like lightning, the other like the sun, both have the same piercing brightness; the color of the feet, one brass the other gold, similar in color; the sound of the voice, one like the voices of a crowd, the other like that of a lion; both loud and strong.

Immediately after Moses was in the presence of Yahweh God when he descended from Sinai; at that time his face was glowing in brightness (Exo 34:29, 35).

This angel went to Daniel to help himunderstand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days” (Dan 10:14). The angel in our passage is speaking in the actual latter days and is also prophesying. His prophecy is about the remaining woe.

His feet were like pillars of fire. The angels in Daniel and Ezekiel had feet that were like polished brass. We see the same thing about Christ in Rev 1:15. Once again, the glory of God, Who sent this messenger, is in view here.

All of the above attributes are seen in Theophanies, Christophanies, and the appearance of angels, cherubim and seraphim.

There is an apparent hierarchy of angels in the Bible for the scripture speaks of “the archangel” and angels. The archangel is named in Jude 1:9; his name is Michael. We know the names of two angels from the Bible—Michael and Gabriel. Apparently, the archangel is above all the other angels because of the Greek word rendered archangel. It is αρχαγγελος, ar-kang’-el-os. It is the combination of two words, ἄρχω, ar-kō, and ἄγγελος, ang’-el-os. Aρχω, ar-kō, means to be first in rank or political power or to rule over. Aγγελος, ang’-el-os, means angel or messenger.

We can surmise that an archangel is an angel that has a higher rank than other angels. Several extra-Biblical works, such as the Book of Enoch go into quite a bit more detail about angels than Scripture. However, our focus is on actual Scripture, and not on apocryphal, pseudepigraphical, Gnostic, or other extra-Biblical works. This brings us to the angel that prophesied the end time events to Daniel.

Daniel writes about Michael in 12:1, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” The setting was the end times and Michael will appear at that time.

John described the angel in our current passage as a “mighty angel” in the KJV. Other translations render it “strong messenger” (YLT), “strong angel: (NASB), and “powerful angel” (ERV). Thus there is good provenance to state this angel is quite possibly the archangel Michael that Daniel wrote about. For the timing of the Revelation is the end times, which certainly will be a “time of trouble.” Whoever the angel is, he is not Christ as we will see in the next few verses.

Rev 10:2  And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

The book is a small scroll. It is unlikely to be a book or codex of pages because scrolls were much more common. The scroll contains the words of God, as we shall see in Rev 10:11 What is the purpose of the angel having one foot on earth and one in the sea? It shows that he had charge over the entire globe. The scroll has something to do with the entire world. There is a famous painting showing John on Patmos looking at the angel who is standing on the beach with one foot on the water and one on the beach. He is pointing toward heaven with his right hand and has a small book in his left. The angel in that painting is tall, but not a giant..

The Angel and Scroll, Author Anonymous

Again, the angel has a similar appearance to Christ. He symbolizes Christ who will return to earth at the last trump. That he has one foot on the sea and one on the earth is symbolic of Christ who is Lord over the nations (the seas) as well as Lord over the entire earth. (See Zec 14:4, 9 and Rev 15:4)

Revelation 10:3 “And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.”

The voice of the angel was as loud as a lion’s roar. It was answered by the sound of thunder. Thunder symbolizes the voice of God (Psa 29:3). So the voice of the angel is like a lion’s roar and the voice of God is like the sound of thunder. The angel’s voice is the harbinger that Yehovah Himself is about to speak.

When the LORD roars, or calls out mightily, it is usually as a war cry. In Isaiah chapter five there are six woes against Israel and Judah. The LORD then beckons the nations to attack Israel. When they attack, they roar and their roaring cannot be stopped. This indicated that they will have the upper hand throughout the battle and will be the victors. The angel is roaring here. He is indeed uttering a war cry, for the Day of the LORD is at hand.

According to Psalm 29:3, the voice of the LORD is on many waters and His voice is thunder (The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters). The word translated voice is קוֹל, qowl, which also means thunder1. We know from the Revelation and other books that the voice of God is like thunder. For example, when God spoke to Moses on the Mountain, it sounded like thunder (Exodus 19:16). View “Psalm 29 and the Voice of the LORD.”

As for what the seven thunders spoke, we are told at this juncture that John was not to write what they said:

Revelation 10:4 “And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.”

In 1:11 John is told to write all that he sees in a book. Here, he is preparing to do just that but is stopped. God told him not to write what the seven voices of God spoke.

We don’t know what the thunders spoke; we only know that John was commanded not to record what they said. Bible commentaries give us several possible reasons why. One possibility (according to commentators) is that there is no further warning of impending judgment to be given. Another is that the knowledge given is too sacred to disclose to mortal men. Compare this with Paul’s visit to the third heaven in 2 Cor 12:4. He saw things there that were inexpressible. A third is that God was detailing additional judgments but they were canceled. It could have been one of these three or something else.

Perhaps we will know in Heaven: 1Co 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Like the Apostle Paul wrote, we may have to wait until we get to Heaven to find out what the thunders said. That is, if Father God wills it.

Revelation 10:5-6 “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, {6} And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:”

He swore by God Almighty. It is better to not swear by God than to swear by Him and not keep your oath. That is breaking the third commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Vain means empty. If you swear an oath in the name of God and do not uphold that oath, then you have made God’s name empty and unreliable. He is not unreliable, but you have made it so in the eyes of others. The angel is definitely not taking the LORD’s name in vain.

When we pray, let us always remember that we are praying to Him that is eternal; He always was and always will be; He had no beginning or end; He created everything; there is not one thing that exists that he did not create except Himself. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere. What an awesome God we serve!

Yet, even though He is creator and sovereign of everything, He allows His children to call him “Abba,” which is the familiar or informal way of saying “Father.” It is like calling Him Dad, Daddy, or Poppa. Those are terms a child would use to address his or her father. We are God’s children.

This angel was speaking the truth. The fact that he swore before God proves that this is the truth and will happen as stated. The angel did not mean that time would come to an end at that time (Robertson)2; he essentially said that there would be no more delay…

Revelation 10:7 “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

…no more delay, that is, after the seventh angel sounds his trumpet.

In this passage, the voice of the seventh angel is explained by the next clause, “he shall begin to sound.” The Greek word is σαλπιζειν, salpizein, which is the present active form of the verb, σαλπίζω, salpizō, meaning to sound or blow a trumpet.

When the seventh trump sounds, it is the beginning of the end. There are several events that must happen after the seventh trumpet sounds before the end of the age occurs. These events happen during “the days of the voice of the seventh angel.” Those events are summarized in the remaining chapters of Revelation.

When that finally happens, the present age will be at an end and time will cease for the age and the mystery of God will be finished. That mystery was that He would send His only Son to become a man and to die a guilty man’s death (even though He was not guilty) and to rise again on the third day, providing atonement for the sins of mankind once for all.

The mystery is the gospel. The gospel was hidden until revealed at the first advent of the Christ. That mystery, the gospel, is fulfilled after the sounding of the seventh trump, during “the days of the voice of the seventh angel.” Never again will men be saved by faith in the unseen, for Christ will be revealed in His glory to all. The prophets heralded this (Isa 7:14, Micah 5:2, Joel 2:32, etc.). Note that in this verse this is not the sounding of the seventh and last trump. That occurs in 11:15. This is just a herald of that event.

Revelation 10:8 “And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.” (See Revelation 10:2)

Note that the book is open—it is unsealed and available to all. God commanded and John reacted:

Revelation 10:9-10 “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. {10} And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”

There is a parallel to this in Ezekiel 3:1-14: Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. {2} So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. {3} And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. {4} And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. {5} For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; {6} Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. {7} But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. {8} Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. {9} As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. {10} Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. {11} And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. {12} Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place. {13} I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing. {14} So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.

The scroll given to Ezekiel contained lamentations, mourning, and woe. He was to speak the words of this scroll to the House of Israel. When they would not listen to Ezekiel, he was taken away by the cherubim. He went in bitterness. The words of the LORD were sweet to him, but the fact that no one would hear them was bitter to him. This is similar what happened to John. We discuss the bitterness in John’s belly in the next verse.

Revelation 10:11 “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”

Where Ezekiel was to speak only to the House of Israel, John was to speak to many different people with different nationalities and different languages as well as to kings. Where the scroll that Ezekiel consumed contained bad news; the book here contained good news. John had already spoken to many peoples and this got him banished to Patmos. He is currently prophesying to the world through this book of the Revelation of Christ he has written.

In his Book of Martyrs3, Foxe says the Apostle John was boiled in oil by the Emperor Domitian but was miraculously unharmed and was preaching the Gospel while he was in the vat of hot oil. He was unharmed in the oil and the people demanded he be set free. He was then banished by the Emperor to Patmos. Foxe’s story is based on the historian Tertullian’s account of the event in his “The Prescription Against Heretics” written circa 200 AD. According to the tradition of the early Church fathers, Emperor Nerva later pardoned John and he went back to Ephesus.

The Gospel is sweet as honey to the one who believes but becomes bitter when rejected by the world. Though the Gospel is sweet to you, it is bitter to the world. That is the homily of this passage about the little book. The book contains the Gospel, or the Mystery, and it is sweet to John but bitter to “many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” This applies not only to the Gospel, but to the entire Word of God. It is sweet to those who believe but bitter to those who do not.

The world hates the Gospel. This hatred comes from Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning and is the father of lies (John 8:44). The hatred of Christ and all things Christian has caused millions upon millions of people throughout history to be slaughtered for their faith in Christ. It is happening even today and will be happening any time you are reading this commentary; it will continue to happen until the end of the age. Even Western Republics, like those in Western Europe, and the USA are beginning to persecute Christians.

The Islamic credo is the destruction of Israel and of Christians in the name of God. That has been their doctrine since the sixth Century AD. All of the enemies of Christ, including Islamists, are willing to kill God’s people thinking they are doing God a favor (John 16:2). As an example, there was a mass slaughter of Christians in Nigeria by Islamic militants in the past two or three years (2016-2019 AD). This is all caused by bitterness toward the Word of God and the Gospel.


Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks, Updated October 17, 2019

  1. Strong, Vine, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Halot, Holladay, and others all indicate that the word can also mean thunder. We have a play on words here where God’s voice and thunder are synonymous.
  2.   “That there shall be time no longer (hoti chronos ouketi estai). Future indicative indirect discourse with hoti. But this does not mean that chronos (time), Einstein’s “fourth dimension” (added to length, breadth, height), will cease to exist, but only that there will be no more delay in the fulfillment of the seventh trumpet (Rev10:7), in answer to the question, “How long?” (Psa 6:10),” —Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson, © 1930 Broadman Press, Nashville, Note on Revelation 10:6.
  3. Foxe, John, Actes and Monuments, also known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, John Day, Publisher, 1563
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