Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.The Lamb upon Mount Zion. Chap. 14 Revelation 14:1-51. a Lamb] Read the Lamb: of course the same as in chap. 5.
on the mount Sion] Probably the earthly one—the heavenly Jerusalem of chap. 21 has not yet appeared. And in Revelation 11:7-8 we had an intimation that the seer’s gaze was now directed to Jerusalem: Babylon, though mentioned in Revelation 14:8, is not seen till chap. 17.
an hundred forty and four thousand] Cf. Revelation 7:4.
his Father’s name] Read, His Name and His Father’s Name. Notice that it is assumed as understood, that the Lamb is the Son of God. See notes on Revelation 3:12, Revelation 7:3.
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:2. as the voice … great thunder] It was as loud and as multitudinous as these, but was harmonious, and apparently articulate.
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.3. sung] More accurately, sing.
as it were] Should perhaps be omitted, as in Revelation 5:9.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.4. for they are virgins] The first instance of the use of the word as a masculine. It was adopted in ecclesiastical language, and applied e.g. to St John himself. It is best to understand the word literally. St Matthew 19:12; 1 Corinthians 7 prove, on any fair interpretation, that a devout and unselfish celibacy gives special means for serving God, and so we need not be surprised to learn here that it has a special reward from Him. No disparagement of holy matrimony is implied. Marriage is lowered by the Fall from what God meant it to be (Genesis 3:16), and so, like other things which God made very good, has its own evils and dangers; but it does not follow that it is here conceived as in any sense defilement—they who are virgins à fortiori are “not defiled with women.” It is noticeable that we owe to the two celibate apostles the highest consecration of marriage, see Ephesians 5:23-33, and the last two chapters of this Book.
being the firstfruits] This seems to imply, as is required by the view that “virgins” strictly speaking are meant, that the 144,000 do not represent the whole number of the Elect, but a specially sanctified number from among them. See on Revelation 7:4.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.5. no guile] Read, no lie.
before the throne of God] Should be omitted; and so perhaps should “for.”
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,The Angel with the Everlasting Gospel, Revelation 14:6-76. another angel] Different from the many mentioned before, perhaps especially distinguished from the one who appears in ch. 10, but see Revelation 14:17, Revelation 18:1, where such a reference is hardly possible.
in the midst of heaven] See on Revelation 8:13.
the everlasting gospel] Strictly speaking, these words have not the article, but neither has “[the] Gospel of God” in Romans 1:1. Even if, therefore, the grammatical usage of this Book were more regular than it is, it would be needless to translate “an eternal piece of good news,” in which, moreover, it would be hard to find a sense for the epithet. No doubt “gospel” is used in its constant N. T. sense; and the gospel is called “everlasting,” as declaring the eternal truth of God. The preaching of the Gospel here stands in the same relation to God’s Judgement as in St Matthew 24:14. But notice, that the name is applied to the whole truth of God, not to what was revealed by Christ only: for the substance of the angel’s message is pure natural theism.
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.7. give glory to him] See on Revelation 11:13.
the sea, and the fountains of waters] Distinguished as (so to speak) different elements, as in Revelation 8:8; Revelation 8:10, Revelation 16:3-4.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.Angels of Warning, Revelation 14:8-118. another angel] The correct text is another angel a second.
Babylon … that great city] Read Babylon the great as in Revelation 17:5. See also Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:18; Revelation 18:21 where we have “Babylon the great city,” “the great city” (meaning Babylon), and “the great city Babylon.” The omission of city here makes the presumption less that “the great city” of Revelation 11:8, Revelation 16:19 is the same.
is fallen, is fallen] Isaiah 21:9.
because she made] Read, which hath made.
the wine of the wrath of her fornication] There is a blending of the two views: she makes them drink of the cup of her fornication, Revelation 17:2, and she is made, and they are made with her, to drink of the cup of God’s wrath: Revelation 14:10, Revelation 16:19. In Revelation 18:6, as in Jeremiah 51:7, from which the image is taken, there is, as here, a combination of the two.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,9. the third angel] Read, another angel, a third.
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:10. drink of the wine of the wrath of God] Psalm 75:8 (9); Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 25:15 sqq.
poured out without mixture] Lit. mixed unmixed: there is prob. nothing meant but the sense of the A. V., the “pouring out” of wine being usually a process of “mixing.” But the paradoxical form of expression comes from the LXX. of Psalm 75:8, where the word “red” (or perhaps “foaming,” “fiery”) is translated by “unmixed,” proving that St John knows and uses the LXX. version, though he corrects it when necessary.
with fire and brimstone] Perhaps rather in. See Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:15, Revelation 21:8.
in the presence, &c.] It is impossible to translate these words otherwise: they prove that the holy angels, and the Lamb Himself, acquiesce or something more in the justice and necessity of God’s awful judgements. This being so, we dare not give weight to sentimental or à priori arguments against their possibility, though to our present faculties God’s future treatment of sin may be as hard to reconcile with His known attributes as His permission of its origin in the past. We are forced to pass over the one difficulty: faith and humility will pass over the other.
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.12. Here is the patience of the saints] See Revelation 13:10, and the end of the note there.
here are they] Should be omitted, reading of the saints that keep, &c. The construction, though not that of classical Greek, is that usual in cases of apposition in this Book.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.Blessing on the Faithful Dead, and the Harvest and the Vintage of the Earth, Revelation 14:13-2013. Write] See on Revelation 10:4.
Blessed are the dead &c.] Two questions arise as to this verse, though its touching associations make us unwilling to raise questions about it. What is its relevance here? and why are the holy dead blessed “from henceforth”?—i.e. probably, from the time foreshadowed by the last part of the vision. The answer to both probably is, that in those days a holy death will be the only escape from persecution and temptation, which “if it were possible should seduce even the Elect.” Not only “for the Elect’s sake the days shall be shortened,” but even before they end, one and another of the Elect will be delivered from them. Even now it is a matter of thanksgiving when a Christian is delivered by death “from the miseries of this wretched world, from the body of death, and from all temptation,” and much more then, when temptation is so much sorer that no Saint can dare wish to abide in the flesh.—This seems better than supposing that the special blessedness of the dead of those days consists only in the interval being shorter before their “perfect consummation and bliss.”
that they may rest] The construction probably is, “who die that they may rest”—the sense is, “Yea, they are indeed blessed, for the result, and the providential end, of their dying is, to bring them to rest.”
and their works] Read, for their works.
do follow them] More accurately, follow with them: there is therefore hardly any resemblance to 1 Timothy 5:24-25. The meaning of the passage is much the same as 1 Thessalonians 4:15—we are not to think of the holy dead as if they missed (and as if the dead of the last days only just missed) the glories of the Lord’s coming: for they and their good works are kept by Him safe against that day, ready to share in its glories.
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.14. I looked] Better, beheld, as Revelation 4:1, &c.
one sat] More literally, [I saw] One sitting. It is scarcely possible to doubt that a vision of the Last Judgement is here interposed, to encourage “the patience of the Saints” that is to be so sorely tried. No one would have doubted that “One like unto the Son of Man” is the same Person as in Revelation 1:13, and that His coming with the clouds of heaven indicates the same as in Revelation 1:7, except from a desire to interpret the whole series of visions continuously, as fulfilled in chronological order. Now it is probably right to regard the order of the visions as always significant, and generally answering to the chronological order of fulfilment. But exceptions to the latter rule must be admitted: Revelation 11:7 plainly refers to the same events as chap. 13, while chap. 12 goes back to events earlier than, probably, any others indicated in the Book. In this chapter itself, we have in Revelation 14:8 an anticipation of chap. 18: we need not therefore hesitate to suppose that here we have an anticipation of chap. 20. Those who wish to make the order of visions strictly continuous put on the words “one like unto the [or “a”—see on Revelation 1:13] Son of Man” the gloss “an Angel in the likeness of the Messiah,” and suppose that one of God’s typical or anticipatory judgements is described in terms suitable to the last.
a sharp sickle] The image of the harvest, combined with that of the vintage, is from Joel 3:13 : see however also St Matthew 13:30 &c.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.15. another angel] It is probably not relevant to argue that in classical Greek this would not necessarily imply that the previously named Person is an Angel, even if “another” is meant to distinguish the Angel from Him. But comparing Revelation 14:6, it appears that the angel may be called “another” simply to distinguish him from those of Revelation 14:6; Revelation 14:8-9 : and then no inference whatever can be drawn as to the figure of Revelation 14:14.
out of the temple] See Revelation 11:19, and note on Revelation 4:6.
Thrust in] Lit. send, as in St Mark 4:29, where “putteth in” should be “sendeth forth” (the Greek word is not the same as here, but there is hardly any difference in sense). It may be implied, that the Son of Man does not reap Himself—cf. St Matthew 24:31. See on the next verse.
is ripe] Lit. is dried; hence R. V. “is over-ripe”; possibly a more literal translation than St Mark’s, l.c., of our Lord’s words in the parable, to which there is probably a reference.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.16. thrust in] Lit. cast: but the word is used in much milder senses, e.g. of the Lord “putting” His fingers in the deaf man’s ears, St Mark 7:33. The A. V. can therefore be defended: but it is perhaps likelier, that He Who sat on the cloud threw down the sickle, for others (unnamed angels) to reap with.
the earth was reaped] Comparing the parables in SS. Matthew and Mark, there is little doubt that the gathering of the harvest indicates the gathering of the Elect. In Jeremiah 51:33, it is true, the image of harvest is used of the time of God’s vengeance, and so Joel 3:13, where, as here, it is combined with that of the vintage. But it would be pointless to have the two images successively worked out, if they meant exactly the same: while the vengeance of the other image is clearly defined in Revelation 14:19-20, and there is nothing (like the threshing of Jer., l.c.) to indicate it here.
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.18. the altar] Revelation 6:9.
which had power over fire] Plainly the A. V. leads us to understand an elemental Angel, like “the Angel of the Waters” in Revelation 16:5. This is not impossible: the word “fire” has the article, but in Greek “the element of fire” would be naturally so expressed. It may therefore be, that “the Angel of Fire” is made to invoke the judgement on the wicked which will be executed by fire. But probably here and at Revelation 8:3-5 we are to understand that this is the Angel “who had power over the fire” on the Altar. He appears also in rabbinical literature.
Thrust in] Send as in Revelation 14:15.
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.19. thrust in] Cast as in Revelation 14:16 : but here the Angel himself plainly gathers, as well as supplies the instrument for gathering.
the great winepress] Isaiah 63:2-3; Lamentations 1:15.
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.20. the city] Probably Jerusalem, see on Revelation 14:1.
blood] Isaiah 63:3.
even unto the horse bridles] Literally, even unto the bridles of the horses—though no horses are mentioned in the context. Probably the A. V. is right—that it is meant as a mere measure, that any horseman riding there finds his horse bridle-deep in blood: but some think of the horsemen of God’s avenging army in Revelation 19:14. There can hardly be a reference to the horses of chap. 6 or of Revelation 9:17.
by the space of] Lit. from—perhaps best translated “from a distance of.”
a thousand and six hundred furlongs] 200 Roman miles, or about 183 English. It is hardly likely that it is meant, that the blood covered a space of 40 furlongs square—more probably, that it extended 1600 (or perhaps 800) in every direction from the city. It has been imagined that the distance specified stands for the length of Palestine, which is estimated by St Jerome at 160 Roman miles, by modern surveys at about 140 English.