Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Revelation 14:1-5 The Lamb with his company standing on Mount Sion,
Revelation 14:6,7 an angel preacheth the gospel,
Revelation 14:8 another proclaimeth the fall of Babylon,
Revelation 14:9-12 and a third, the punishment of them that worship the beast.
Revelation 14:13 The blessedness of those that die in the Lord.
Revelation 14:14-16 The harvest of the world.
Revelation 14:17-20 The vintage and winepress of God’s wrath.
God, in this part of the vision, showeth his servant John, that during the whole reign of antichrist, till the voice mentioned Revelation 14:8,
Babylon is fallen, should be heard, notwithstanding all his rage, he would preserve his church, though it would be but a small number, bearing no better proportion to the whole world than one hundred and forty-four thousand (the number of those sealed of each tribe of Israel, Revelation 7:1-17) bare to whole Israel, which were above six hundred thousand upon both their numberings, Numbers 1:26. The
Lamb here signifieth Christ, Revelation 5:6.
Mount Sion signifieth the church of the gospel, typified by Mount Sion amongst the Jews where the temple stood.
An hundred forty and four thousand is the same number that was sealed of all the tribes of Israel, Revelation 7:1-17: not that there was just so many which made up the church under antichrist’s persecution; but it signifies:
1. A small number in comparison of such as should be of another stamp.
2. It is a number made up of twelve times twelve, by which is signified that they were a people that should answer the Israelites indeed of the Old Testament, that remnant of the twelve tribes whom God had chosen, who adhere to the doctrine and precepts of the twelve apostles.
Having his Father’s name written in their foreheads; making an open profession of being the children and servants of God: as those servants and soldiers did that had anciently the names of their masters and generals in their foreheads; it being an ancient custom for masters to brand their servants, and captains their soldiers, as we do our beasts at this day.
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:As the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; a loud voice, and terrible also to the followers of antichrist.
The voice of harpers harping with their harps; a musical, melodious voice, as of persons rejoicing. Mr. Mede rather thinks, that the voice as of many waters, signifies no more than a great multitudes, and indeed it is so expounded, Revelation 19:6.
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.And they sung as it were a new song before the throne: by the throne here is meant the throne of God in glory. The new song here spoken of, is probably the same with that we met with before, Revelation 5:11,12, sang by the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: called new, either for the excellency of it; or, because sung unto God after Christ was manifested in the flesh; the design of it was to declare the worthiness of Christ to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing: see Revelation 5:12. Mr. Mede saith thus of it; "If God shall at any time make me fully to understand it, I will happily more largely explain it, for it is deeply settled in my mind, that the whole mystery of evangelical worship is in it contained." And quite through the Scripture generally, a new song signifies a song which praiseth God for some new benefits received from him.
And before the four beasts, and the elders; the throne, beasts, and elders, described before, Revelation 4:1-11,
And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth: during the reign of antichrist none could learn this new song, viz. to give glory to Jesus Christ alone, ascribing to him power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing; but a small number redeemed through the blood of Christ, from that vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers, 1 Peter 1:18. All the other part of the world gave Christ’s honour and glory to the virgin Mary, angels, and saints, &c.
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.These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins; that is, that would not comply with antichristian idolatry and superstition; for idolatry is all along in holy writ compared to whoredom and fornication.
Which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth; that follow the Lord Christ fully, in all things keeping close to the rules of worship and life which he hath given.
These were redeemed from among men; these show themselves to be redeemed by the blood of Christ from the vain conversation of men, whether towards God, in matters of worship, or towards men.
Being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb; that are consecrated to, and accepted of God, as the first-fruits were, being the only part of the world that are not profane.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.Not that any liveth and sinneth not against God, but it is to be understood comparatively; they are without fault in comparison of the rest of the world, they have not in them the guile of hypocrisy, they are sincere. Or, possibly by
guile is here understood a lie. All idolaters are liars, Romans 1:25, and idols are called lies, Jeremiah 16:19 Amos 2:4. Mr. Mede expoundeth this text by Zephaniah 3:13. The words may either more generally signify the holiness of these persons, in opposition to profaneness and hypocrisy; or more particularly, their freedom and purity from antichristian superstitions and idolatry.
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,God having in a vision showed unto his servant John the reign and rage of antichrist, Revelation 13:1-18, and in this chapter the care he would extend toward his church for the preservation of a godly seed during his reign, he now cometh by further visions to instruct him in what should be done during antichrist’s reign of forty-two months. The gospel should be preached: this I take to be the substance of this verse. This angel seems to me to represent faithful ministers’ speed and diligence to preach the gospel in all parts of the world. It is called
the everlasting gospel, either with reference to the time past, as much as to say, the old gospel; or to the time to come, it being that doctrine of salvation, besides which there neither is, nor ever shall be, revealed any other while the world endureth, Acts 4:12.
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.These angels, or ministers of God, whether civil or ecclesiastical witnesses, cried aloud against the papal idolatry, in worshipping saints and images, admonishing all men to give Divine adoration only to the true and living God, who was the Creator of all things. The worshipping of images began soon after antichrist began to reign: we find it decreed in a synod held at London about the year 710, but it was abolished by a synod at Constantinople, 712. In 723, it was again established by a synod at Mentz. By a synod in Syria it was defended, Anno 725, and the emperor Leo Isaurus was excommunicated for opposing it; but in 730, a synod at Constantinople decreed for Leo against it. Another synod, held there Anno 755, under the emperor Constantinus Copronymus, decreed against it; but two other synods held in Bavaria, 765, 766, again decreed for it. In the year 786 the second synod of Nice established it; since which time it hath constantly obtained amongst the papists. But as from the first broaching of this idolatry it was opposed by five emperors of Constantinople, so it hath all along been declaimed against by the faithful ministers of Christ, preaching the everlasting gospel, and calling upon men to perform Divine adoration only to
him who made heaven and earth.
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.The apostle is shown, that other messengers of God should come forth, during the reign of antichrist, that should declare his ruin as certainly as if it were already effected.
Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city: these words are taken from Isaiah 21:9, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath brokers unto the ground. So Jeremiah 51:8, Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed. There is no doubt but both the prophets spake of that Babylon into which the Jews were carried captive; but that Babylon was typical of another Babylon, called here the
great city, and great Babylon, Revelation 16:19 17:5 18:10,21; and the mother of harlots, Revelation 17:5. There neither is, nor ever was, any city in the world to whom these things could agree, but to Rome, rightly enough called the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth, Revelation 17:5, both in respect of carnal filthiness there tolerated to make the bishop of Rome a revenue, and spiritual whoredom, which is idolatry: called also Sodom and Egypt, Revelation 11:8, the former of which was famous for beastly lusts, the latter for idolatry, and oppression of God’s Israel. The ruin of old Babylon is denounced by the prophet, Isaiah 21:9, because of her idolatry in image worship, for which the new Babylon is every whit as famous.
Because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication: the word translated wrath, though it oft so signifies, yet should rather be here translated poison, as we translate it, Deu 32:33 Job 20:16. The LXX. in those texts use the same word that is here used, yumov; so the sense is, with the poisonous wine of her idolatry, intimating to us the venomous condition of Romish superstitions and idolatries, to entice ignorant people to be in love with them; as harlots use with their philters, or poisoned cups, to make men in love with them. If we better approve of our translation of the term wrath, the wine of the wrath of her fornication signifieth her fornication which brings wrath upon them that join with her in it.
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,God letteth his servant John know, that during the reign and rage of antichrist, as he would have ministers of the gospel that should preach the truth, and mind men to keep themselves from idols, worshipping God alone; and others that should assure them the papacy should go down, mystical Babylon should fall; so he would have others that should give warning to men and women of those dreadful plagues that should come upon them that entered themselves in this great city, either worshipping the devil after the pagan manner, or the image of the beast, i.e. committing idolatry after the antichristian, popish fashion, or that should either be subject to this idolatrous head, or be a soldier to fight for it. What those judgments should be, God showeth in Revelation 14:10, and possibly there is not a more severe denunciation of judgment in the whole book of God.
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:Those that do yield a subjection to him, and profess his faith,
shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God; that is, shall feel the severity of God’s judicial dispensations, which in Scripture are expressed by the wine cup of his fury, Jeremiah 25:15; see also Job 21:20 Psalm 75:8 Isaiah 51:17; either from the intoxicating quality of wine, or the stupifying quality of it, when mixed with myrrh, or other stupifying things. But here it is said without mixture, which signifies their sensible feeling of the effects of Divine wrath.
And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; that is, in short, he shall go to hell at last; the exquisiteness of which torments, as to the pain of sense, is set out by fire and brimstone; brimstone being a material in which fire holds longest to torment any flesh put into it.
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.And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; that is, their torments shall be everlasting, as well as most exquisite, and causing the most acute pain.
And they have no rest day nor night; this is but the same thing in other words; their torments shall be such as shall give them no rest at any time.
Who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name: the sense of these two verses is no more than this: That all idolaters shall fall under the vengeance of God in this life, and at last shall be thrown to hell; not only such as worship the beast, committing paganish idolatry, worshipping stocks and stones, and devils, as the term of their worship, but such as worship the image of that beast set up by antichrist, worshipping of angels and saints, or their images. From hence an easy answer may be given to that question, Whether a man can be saved in that which at this day is called the Roman Catholic religion? If they either worship the beast, or the image of the beast, they cannot: whether they do or no, let the reader judge from what hath been before said.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.Here is the patience of the saints: God having in the former chapter shown his servant John the reign and rage of antichrist in his time of forty-two months, and in this chapter what shall be the end of him and all his adherents; here concludeth with telling him: This is a period of time wherein the patience of his holy ones will be tried, both in waiting for their deliverance, and also in their patient enduring antichrist’s oppression and tyranny.
Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus; and here will be the trial of men, whether they will keep to the faith of Christ, and obedience of God’s commandments, by coming out of, or keeping in, this spiritual Babylon: those that come out of her will show both; those that keep in that idolatrous communion will show neither.
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.And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write: these words denote the excellency of the following saying; it is a voice from heaven, therefore worthy of our attention. John is commanded to write it, to be kept in memory for the comfort and encouragement of God’s people, who might be discouraged at the hearing of those calamitous times which they were like to meet with during the reign of antichrist, in which many of them were like to be put to death.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: this phrase of dying in the Lord, is applicable to any persons that die united to Christ by a true and lively faith; all such die in the Lord. But if we consider the Scriptural usage of it, it seems rather to signify martyrs, such as die for the Lord; for en often in Scripture signifieth for, Romans 16:2,8,12 1 Peter 4:14, &c. If any shall be put to death for adherence to Christ, they shall be no losers; for they shall be blessed, and that not only upon the account of that glory into which they shall pass, but upon the account of that
rest which their death will give them from the troubles of the calamitous times before or hereafter mentioned.
From henceforth: there is some little difference amongst interpreters about the sense of this particle: certain it is, it is not to be understood of the time following this revelation exclusively, as to those who before died to Christ; for they also were blessed, they also rested from their labours, &c.; yet the particle seems to refer to the time to come. The emphasis of the particle seems to be, to obviate the doubts of those who should happen to die under antichrist’s rage, because they died not by the hands of pagans and avowed enemies of the gospel, but of such as should call themselves Christians; such, saith God, die for the Lord, and are blessed, and shall be blessed.
Yea, saith the Spirit; the Spirit of truth affirms it.
That they may rest from their labours; they shall be at rest from the troubles of this life.
And their works do follow them; and their good deeds and patient sufferings shall follow them, as witnesses for them before the Judge of the quick and the dead.
Here follow two visions, the one of a harvest, the other of a vintage; there is no great difficulty in determining, that they both signify some judicial dispensations of God, that he would bring upon the world, or some part of it, the latter of which should be greater than the former: yet Dr. More and Mr. Mede have another notion of them. But there is some doubt amongst interpreters, whether they signify God’s general judgment in the last day, or some particular judgments before that day, mentioned Revelation 15:1-8 and Revelation 16:1-21, and belong to the vials which we there read of. Those who think that the last judgment is here showed to John, are led to it from the representation of the day of judgment, under the notion of a harvest, Matthew 3:12 13:39. But I rather agree with them who think that the harvest here mentioned, is a representation of some judicial dispensations of God before that time, particularly God’s vengeance upon the beast, more fully expressed, Revelation 16:1-21. For:
1. The last judgment is fully described afterward, Revelation 19:1-20:15.
2. To express that, there needed not two types, the one of a harvest, the other of a vintage.
3. Here is no mention of the resurrection, which must go before the last judgment.
Mr. Mede hath noted, that there are three things belonging to a harvest;
(1.) Cutting down of corn.
(2.) Gathering it into the barn.
(3.) Threshing it.
Whence, in Scripture, it signifieth either cutting and destroying, or safety and preserving, which is the end of gathering corn into the barn. We have examples of the former, Isaiah 17:3,5 Jer 51:33; but of the latter we have only examples in the New Testament, Luke 10:2. It is his opinion, that the conversion of the Jews, going before the great slaughter mentioned Revelation 19:1-21, is that which is here meant; but I rather agree with those who think, that by this parable is signified God’s judgments upon antichrist, and that the general scope of both the parables is to declare, that God would grievously punish antichrist, first by lesser, then by greater judgments, as is more particularly expressed in the two next chapters, to which this, to me, seemeth prefatory. Let us now come to the text itself... See Poole on "Revelation 14:14".
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.The description here can agree to none but Christ, sitting, as it were, upon clouds, and coming out in his judicial dispensations of providence, to execute judgment upon his enemies, to which purpose he is said to have
in his hand a sharp sickle.
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.Most interpreters understand this of the prayers of God’s people, from the church, soliciting the Lord Jesus Christ (say some) to gather in the Jews, or the number of his elect, the fields being now white to that harvest, (as Christ useth the metaphor of the Samaritans, John 4:35), or, (as others say, with whom I rather agree), to execute vengeance on antichrist and his adherents.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.According to the before mentioned different notion of the harvest, there is amongst them a different interpretation of this verse; some interpreting it of God’s calling in the Jews, or his elect, by the preaching of the gospel; others, of his vengeance upon antichrist and his adherents, more fully expressed, Revelation 15:1-16:21.
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.This angel some will have to be some instrument God would make use of to cut down antichrist: others would have it to be the word of God in the mouth of his ministers, which, Hebrews 4:12, is sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit; and thus they judge this angel to be the same with the rider upon the white horse, Revelation 19:11-21, out of whose mouth went a sharp sword, Revelation 14:15.
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.From the altar; the place of sacrifices and burnt-offerings.
Which had power over fire; which had commission to execute God’s judgments, compared to fire, Psalm 11:6 21:9 1:3.
And cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying: God’s holy ones cry unto him who hath a power to execute vengeance.
Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; put an end to the rage of antichrist, and gather those clusters which grew upon this vine of Sodom, and were as the clusters of Gomorrah.
For her grapes are fully ripe; for their iniquities were come to the full, and they were now ripe for judgment. Our learned Dr. More expounds this ripeness, of a readiness for conversion, as well as for destruction, and thinks the first is here rather intended: the last words of the next verse incline me to judge otherwise.
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.Dr. More thinks the sense of this is, that men were pressed in conscience upon the sharp conviction of Christ’s powerful ministers, with sorrow for their sins, and so felt the wrath of God in them. But Mr. Mede, with whom (as to the sense of this text) I rather agree, tells us, that the treading of the vintage, in parabolical Scripture, constantly signifies a cruel, bloody, and deadly slaughter; he thinks that it is the same slaughter mentioned Revelation 19:19-21, as to which, Revelation 14:15, much the same metaphor is used, he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath, of Almighty God.
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.And the winepress was trodden without the city: by the city, Dr. More thinks Babylon is here meant, and that the meaning is, that the powerful convictions of the word before mentioned, shall not reach Babylon, the Romish hierarchy and polity, as being hardened against any such thing. But Mr. Mede and others think, that the city of Jerusalem is here meant, or the Holy Land, which comprehends exactly one thousand six hundred furlong, that is, two hundred Italian miles, or one hundred and sixty Grecian miles. But what that place shall be, where this slaughter shall be, is a great secret.
And blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs: it is plain it shall be a great slaughter, by the depth of the blood mentioned, and the length of the ground which it should to that depth overflow. It is very probable, that great battle is meant, mentioned Revelation 19:20,21, in the place called Armageddon, upon the pouring out of the sixth vial, Revelation 16:16. In so difficult a business nothing can be positively determined.