Friday, July 15, 2011

Revelation 14:1-5, The Song of the 144,000 (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     1 And I looked1, and behold, the2 lamb stood3 on Mount Zion4 , and with him one hundred forty-four thousand5 having his name6 and his father’s name written7 on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice8 from heaven like a voice of many waters and like a voice of loud9 thunder. And the voice that I heard was like harpists playing10 on their harps. 3 And they sing a new song in the presence of the throne and in the presence of the four living creatures, and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred forty four thousand, the ones who have been purchased from the earth.11 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins.12 These are the ones who follow the lamb wherever he may go. The have been purchased from people as firstfruits13 to God and to the lamb. 5 And no lie14 was found in their mouths15; they are blameless16.

1 εἶδον (I looked) 

Greek: “I saw”.

2 τὸ (the) 

The TR/KJV removes this, thus rendering the phrase as “a lamb”.

3 ἑστὸς (stood) 

Greek: “having stood”. The participle is in the perfect tense as is John’s style.

4 Mounce** states that this is a heavenly Mount Zion. (Pg. 267). I think it reflects the earthly Mount Zion as the 144,000 are taught a new song from heaven and the harvest of the earth has not taken place yet.

     Mount Zion could be on earth and the 144,000 represent the remnant of Israel. These would fulfill the covenant of God.

     Psalms 132:13-17 ESV 
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion; 
He has desired it for His habitation. 
14 This is My resting place forever; 
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.

     Micah 4:6-7 
6 In that day, declares the Lord, 
I will assemble the lame 
And gather the outcasts, 
Even those whom I have afflicted. 
7 I will make the lame a remnant 
And the outcasts a strong nation, 
And the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion

5 This passage points back to 7:1-8 where the 144,000 are sealed. Beale* restates his claims that the 144,000 represent a figurative count of all the believers throughout the church age as the 144,000 is figurative for “completeness”. (Pgs. 733-734).

     His claim does not adequately explain the innumerable multitude from every nation that is before the throne in the following verses, and how it relates to this number that is sealed.

6 τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ (his name) 

This refers to the lamb’s name. The TR/KJV removes this phrase.

It is a travesty in how a copyist(s) has diminished the Christology of this passage! The TR has:

Ἀποκάλυψις 14·1 Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδού, ἀρνίον ἑστηκὸς ἐπὶ τὸ ὄρος Σιών, καὶ μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ ἑκατὸν τεσσαρακοντατέσσαρες χιλιάδες, ἔχουσαι τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένον ἐπὶ τῶν μετώπων αὐτῶν.

1 And I looked, and behold, a lamb standing on Mount Zion and with him one hundred forty four thousand, having the name of his father written on their foreheads.

It is possible that these are merely a result of mistakes by copyists throughout the centuries, but the damage was done nonetheless.

     A change of the same sort and in multiple places seems to imply something more than than a simple copy error.

7 γεγραμμένον (written)

Greek: “having been written. The participle is in the perfect tense as is John’s style. In this case, the perfect really makes sense as the “seals” were placed on the forehead earlier (in chapter 7) and are still on their foreheads in this passage.

     This can be interpreted as written on the mind and heart, the word of faith planted and rooted.

8 φωνὴν (a voice)

or “a sound”. The word can mean both. Osborne*** (Pg. 524) translates this as “a sound”, but since we find out that what is heard is the singing of a song, I translated it “a voice”.

9 μεγάλης (loud) 

Greek: “great”.

10 κιθαριζόντων (playing)

This participle actually means “to play a harp”, but the passage would have been too redundant if rendered: “harpists playing harps on their harps”.

     1 Chronicles 25:1 ESV 
1 Moreover, David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who were to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals; and the number of those who performed their service was:

     There is here the idea of praise and celebration.

11 This points back to 5:9. Mounce** states that the reason that this 144,000 were the only ones who could learn the song is because they were the ones who have been purchased. (Pg. 268). It may be that this group was taught the song because they were the firstfruits that went through the great tribulation; the final period of time at the end.

12 As one would guess, this passage has puzzled many scholars. There are two schools of thought around it. 1. This represents a bride that has prepared to marry (Christ takes his bride), 2. Men that have prepared for Holy War who were required to keep themselves chaste (Deut. 23:9-10; 1 Sam. 21:5; 1 Sam. 11:8-11). Osborne*** (Pgs. 528-529). I would say that both are in view.

13 ἀπαρχὴ (firstfruits)

In the OT, firstfruits of a harvest were dedicated to God to show that the farmer was grateful for God’s gift of the crop. Here, these are the firstfruits of the final harvest that happens in 14:14-16. Osborne*** (Pgs. 530-531).

     The following verses might also bring Israel into view as firstfruits.

     Jeremiah 2:3 
3 Israel was holy to the Lord, 
the firstfruits of his harvest. 
All who ate of it incurred guilt; 
disaster came upon them, 
declares the Lord.
     Romans 11:16 
If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
     Ezekiel 48:11-14 
This shall be for the consecrated priests,the sons of Zadok, who kept my charge, who did not go astray when the people of Israel went astray,as the Levites did. 12 And it shall belong to them as a special portion from the holy portion of the land, a most holy place, adjoining the territory of the Levites. 13And alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites shall have an allotment 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in breadth. The whole length shall be 25,000 cubits and the breadth 20,000. 14 They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to the Lord.

     In Romans, Paul tells us that God is not through with Israel. Jesus came to the Jews first, and Paul intimates they will come at the 

14 ψεῦδος (lie) 

Beale* (Pg. 745) reminds us that these believers stand in contrast to the 
Jews in 2:9 and in 3:9a

9 Behold, I am going to make the ones from the synagogue of Satan 
who call themselves Jews (and they are not, but they are lying)

The TR/KJV replaces ψεῦδος with δόλος (deceit).

15 An allusion to Isaiah 53:9 and Zephaniah 3:13.

16 ἄμωμοί εἰσιν (they are blameless)

or “they are without blemish”. The TR/KJV adds ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ Θεοῦ (in the presence of/before the throne of God).

     It is only through the righteousness of Jesus that we are able to stand in the presence of God. He was the Lamb without blemish sacrificed on our behalf, the one and only.

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

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