There are two views seen in these two harvest. 1. The harvest of the wheat represents the harvest of believers and the harvest of the grapes represents the harvest of non-believers. 2 Both are judgements on unbelievers. Osborne*** sees view 1. Beale* sees view 2 because the OT background of Joel 3:13 is based in judgement.
So which one is correct? Here are a few points to consider: 1. It is Christ who harvests the wheat. 2. There is no mention of judgement for the wheat harvest. 3. Wheat tends to represent believers throughout the NT (The passage seems to parallel the wheat and the tare parable in Matthew 13:24-30). 4. It is an angel (without a golden crown) who gathers the grapes, and not Christ. 5. The grapes are placed in extreme judgement.
My view is that of view 1. I believe this represents the final harvest of believers and non-believers.
One harvest seems to be in view.
Two sickles are mentioned, one wielded by the one sitting on the cloud, the other by an angel. Both of the implements are sharp, for it is the same sharp sword of His mouth that judges between those on the right and those on the left.
One sickle is used to reap and the other to gather. Both have a sharp blade, and the cut is made. The one applied depends on the fruit found hanging on the branch. The second angel’s sickle is hot from the fire in the alter which is before God’s throne.
14 And I looked, and behold, a white1 cloud, and sitting2 on the cloud was someone like a son of man.3 He had4 a golden crown5 on his head and a sharp sickle6 in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple7 crying out with a loud8 voice9 to the one sitting on the cloud, “Send out your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe10. 16 And the one sitting on the cloud swung11 his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested12.
17 And another angel came out from the temple which is in heaven. He also had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel [came out]13 from the alter [who] had authority over the fire14, and he called with a loud15 voice to the one who had the sharp sickle saying, “Send out your sharp sickle and gather the bunch of grapes from the earth’s vineyard, because her grapes have become ripe. 19 And the angel swung16 his sickle into the earth and gathered the earth’s vineyard and threw it into the great17 wine press18 of the God’s wrath19 . 20 And the wine press was trampled outside of the city20, and the blood came out from the wine press as high as21 the horses’ bridles for22 one thousand six hundred
1 Osborne*** points out that white is always a symbol for purity throughout the Apocalypse. (Pg. 550).
2 We see Jesus here as sitting on the cloud, which implies His authority as King of Kings. He is sitting as He would on a throne. Into the clouds He arose and took His rightful place beside the Father.
3 An allusion to Daniel 7:13. Osborne*** sees this person as Christ. (Pg. 550).
Jesus often referred to Himself as the Son of Man.
4 ἔχων (he had)
We are reminded here that His victory is fresh and eternal. It is accomplished and life giving, as close and present as the next breath.
To one who has, more will be given.
5 στέφανον χρυσοῦν (a golden crown)
We see the “conquerer’s crown” again.
6 The sickle represents God’s judgement in the final harvest throughout the Apocalypse. It can also be seen in Mark 4:29. Osborne*** (Pg. 551).
7 An angel is a messenger. In this case, he comes from the heavenly temple where God sits. The command is from God.
Beale* (Pg. 772) points out that the command comes from God to inform Christ about the time for judgement to begin because:
Μάρκον 13·32 Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης ἢ τῆς ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι ἐν οὐρανῷ οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ.
13:32 Now concerning that day or the hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, except the father knows.
8 μεγάλῃ (loud)
9 Possible echos of 1 Thessalonians. 4:16a.
Θεσσαλονικεῖς α 4·16 ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ
ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ, καταβήσεται ἀπ ̓ οὐρανοῦ
4:16a Because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, and with a trumpet of God.
There is no other God than God Himself.
10 ἐξηράνθη (is ripe)
Greek: “has dried up”. The passage alludes to Joel 3:13a. Wheat is
harvested once it turns golden, thus, dried up.
The next time ripe appears in this passage, another Greek word is used to describe this state: ἤκμασαν
This word indicates maturity, but of a different sort. Just as sin gives birth to death, instead of the good wheat sown by the sower, the grapes here depict the unrepentant wickedness of those whose time of judgment is at hand. They are swollen with the wine of rebellion against God. They will drink from the brew they helped prepare.
11 ἔβαλεν (swung)
Greek: “threw”. Osborne*** states that the idea of “throwing” his sickle
is a strong metaphor and pictures a decisive act. (Pg. 553).
12 ἐθερίσθη (was harvested)
Greek: “was reaped”.
13 [ἐξῆλθεν] ([came out]) This may not be original to the text.
14 There are two views to what this means: 1. Fire represents God’s judgement and this angel is over the element of fire. Mounce** points to 1 Enoch 60:11-21 where angels are assigned to the elements. (Pg. 281). 2. Since this angel is coming from the alter, he is in charge of the fire of the alter. If that is the view, then this passage is linked with 8:3-5 where the prayers of the saints are offered as well as the golden censor is thrown onto the earth. This serves as a blend of the two images.
The refining fire of God separates the silver from the dross, the wheat from the chaff.
15 μεγάλῃ (loud)
16 ἔβαλεν (swung)
17 τὸν μέγαν (the great)
John has turned the Greek language on its head again! τὸν μέγαν is in the accusative masculine. The only noun that is also in the accusative is τὴν ληνὸν (the wine press), but that noun is feminine!
As one would expect, copyist(s) would try to “smooth out” the bad Greek. So, The TR replaces τὸν μέγαν with the feminine τὴν μεγάλην to match with τὴν ληνὸν.
18 A wine press had two vats: one where the grapes would be placed so that they could be pressed and one vat that caught the grape juice. As we will see, both vats are in view in this passage.
A distinction is made between the harvest of the earth and the harvest of earth’s vineyard.
19 An allusion to 2nd half of Joel 3:13 and Isaiah 63:2-3.
20 ἔξωθεν τῆς πόλεως (outside of the city)
This probably the New Jerusalem of 21:9-27. The unbelievers are not allowed in the New Jerusalem. They receive their great judgement outside of the city. It stands in contrast of Christ’s death where he is executed outside the city’s walls.
Beale* offer three reasons for this to be true: 1. The trampling of the wine press refers to judgement on unbelievers, 2. The OT background of Joel 4:13b and Isaiah 63:2-3 is a picture of judgement on unbelieving nations, 3. The Isaiah allusion (62-62), the overthrow of the nations takes place outside the city. (Pg. 780).
Refuse is placed outside the city.
21 ἄχρι (as high as)
or “as far as”.
22 ἀπὸ (for)
Greek: “from” as in “from the wine press”.
23 ἀπὸ σταδίων χιλίων ἑξακοσίων (from one thousand six hundred stadia)
A στάδιος is a length of about 600 feet or the length of a stadium which the word originates from. It would be about 184 miles. Here we see the size of the 2nd vat of the winepress. To the readers of the 1st century, this would have seemed impossible to fathom! It shows just how great the judgement will be. This probably represents “complete” judgement as the number is the multiple of the square of four and ten.
Some literalist see this as blood filling up the land of Israel which was about 184 miles long in the 1st century.
24 The passage is an allusion to 1 Enoch 100:3.
3 And the horse shall walk up to the breast in the blood of sinners,
And the chariot shall be submerged to its height.
Interesting to see horses mentioned again. This may point us back to the invading locust army amassed and sent by the dragon. It was an army mighty in number and full of the fury of rebellion, but no match for the winepress of God. The measurement may be telling us that all the invaders met their end when they took on God Almighty.
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)