Monday, July 18, 2011

Revelation 14:6-13, The Messages of the Three Angels (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     6 And I saw another angel flying in midair1 having the eternal good news2 to preach3 to the ones who are sitting4 upon the earth, namely to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 He said5 with a great voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the the hour of his judgement has come. Worship the one who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the springs of waters.”6
     8 And another angel, a second one7, followed saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great8 who has made all nations to drink from the wine9 of wrath for her sexual immorality10.”
     9 And another angel, a third one, followed them saying with a great voice, “If anyone worships the wild beast and his image and receives11 a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink from the wine of wrath of God12 who has poured his wrath full strength13 into the cup of his anger and he will be tormented in fire and sulphur in the presence of holy angels and in the presence of the lamb14. 11 And the smoke of their torments goes up forever15, and they have no rest16 day and night: the ones who worship the wild beast and his image or for17 anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12 Here is the endurance of the saints, the ones who are keeping the commandments of God and the faith in Jesus18.
     13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: ‘Blessed19 are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes”, says the Spirit, “so that they will rest from their labors. For their deeds follow with them.20

1 Osborne*** states that the angel flying in midair symbolizes that the message that he carries if for the whole earth. (Pg. 534).

     In a previous interlude a lone eagle cries out woe, woe, woe. Here three angels each speak, making proclamations from God. In both cases warning is given.

2 εὐαγγέλιον (good news) 

or “gospel”.

     As is today, one’s perspective on this news might differ, but the implications are close at hand. To some the news is good, but not to those who are perishing.

3 εὐαγγελίσαι (to preach) 

or “to bring the good news” or “to announce the good news”.

4 ἐπὶ τοὺς καθημένους (to the ones who are sitting)

Here is a shift! By now, one would expect to see τοὺς κατοικοῦντας (the ones who dwell). A copyist(s) from centuries ago thought the same thing as well as the TR/KJV replaces the phrase with τοὺς κατοικοῦντας (the ones who dwell).

Perhaps John uses this phrase to draw attention to the reader that the “preaching” is to be to everyone on the earth: believers and non-believers alike. A call to non-believers to repent and a call to believers to hold fast to the faith.

     This could also serve to remind us of those Egyptians sitting in their houses at days end, while Israel was ready with unleavened bread and sandals on their feet to embark on a journey. The Egyptians were sitting in the dust of the earth. Israel was getting ready to shake that dust from their feet.

5 λέγων (He said)

Greek: “saying”. Due to the complexity of the Greek sentence, I chose to create a hard stop before this participle.

6 Osborne*** sees the entire passage as a final call for repentance and salvation. (Pgs. 534-537). Beale*, on the other hand, sees this passage as he sees 11:13. Unbelievers are forced to admit to God’s sovereignty through the judgements, but remain unconverted. (Pg. 751).

     Both views are not incompatible. Grace is held out to all, but is refused by so many. They remain defiant and resolute in following their own way.

7 δεύτερος (a second one) 

The TR/KJV omits this.

8 The passage is an allusion to Isaiah 21:9a while the title echos Daniel 4:30. In John’s day, Rome would have seen as Babylon. Osborne*** (Pg. 538), Mounce** (Pg. 273).

9 The wine here causes the world to be put under its influence. Just as too much wine causes one to be intoxicated, Babylon’s wine does the same thing.

     Just as the new wine of grace fills the cup offered by Jesus to His disciples is mixed with the blood of His sacrifice, so is the cup of the beast filled by God, but with a different wine. It is mixed with the blood of the saints and the wicked deeds of Babylon, bringing wrath and judgment: a bitter brew.

10 τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς πορνείας αὐτῆς (of wrath for her sexual immorality)

There are a few ways to translate this passage. I’ve translated it with “for her sexual immorality” being objective genitive, that is Babylon (Rome) forces all that she controls to commit idolatry (sexual immorality). We can see this theme in chapters 2 and 3. Alas! This raging brings about her own downfall.

Many scholars see τοῦ θυμοῦ as meaning “intense desire” (this is an alternate meaning), but θυμός has already been used in 12:12 to describe the dragon’s extreme wrath and is used below in verse 10 to describe God’s wrath. If θυμός modifies πορνεία, then the passage would be rendered “her passionate sexual immorality”, thus showing her passion for idolatry that she makes all of the nations drink.

     Repeated in Scripture is the imagery of sexual immorality to convey how God views those that seek something other than Him. Idolatry brings the wrath of a loving God, but love triumphs in the end.

11 προσκυνεῖ/λαμβάνει (worships/receives)

Both verbs are in the present tense and carry a continual aspect. If one sees a call of repentance (or judgement for that matter) by the first angel, then one can see here a possible rendering of “if anyone continues to worship”, but that really doesn’t fit with λαμβάνει (receives) as that would be rendered “continues to receive”.

     When one receives God, the result is worship. It can’t be helped, like a string on a violin which finds voice when the bow is drawn across, gratitude flows and love is lifted up. For this we are created.

12 τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (the wrath of God)

θυμός is used here as “wrath” of God and is the same word that is used in verse 8.

13 τοῦ κεκερασμένου ἀκράτου (who has poured full strength)

Greek: “who has mixed without mixture”. It was common to mix water into wine in those days. Here, God is not diluting his wrath. He pours it out in full strength. Osborne*** expands this by pointing out that the ancients would mix one part water and one part wine, but sometimes even 3-1 water to wine. (Pg. 540). The image portrays unbelievers as being intoxicated on the wrath of God. They will be completely overcome by its effects. As Beale* puts it, “While the intoxicating effect of Babylon’s wine seemed strong, it is nothing in comparison to God’s wine.” (Pg. 759). God’s wine is full strength as compared to the diluted wine of Babylon.

     Not only is it undiluted, but its strength is doubled. It is this justice that Jesus bore on our behalf, required by God and answered by God. By His grace we remain.

14 It is possible to see this as the announcement of the eternal judgement. That is, it is the announcement of what is coming that happens in the presence of the holy angels and the lamb and not the actual eternal judgement. It could also mean that the angels carry out the judgement. Beale* (Pg. 760).

     This underlines the fact that Jesus not only is our Savior, but is Judge as well. The first time He came, He was slain without a word of protest. At His second coming He will have the last word.

15 εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων ἀναβαίνει (goes up forever)

Greek: “goes up into the ages of ages”. The verb “goes up”, which is in the present tense and carries a continual force, combined with “forever” paints a hard picture that unbelievers will suffer for eternity.

16 οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἀνάπαυσιν (they have no rest) 

or, “they don’t have ceasing”.

     Those that choose the Lord will find His rest.

17 καὶ εἴ (or for) 

Greek: “and if”. as in “an if anyone receives the mark of his name”.  
The Greek is a touch crude.

     There is but one name by which men will be saved. God has spoken and His Son Jesus is that Word.

18 τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ (faith in Jesus)

Ἰησοῦ can be translated “in Jesus” (Subjective Genitive) or “of Jesus” (Objective Genitive). Here, the saints “are keeping the faith in Jesus”. See Blog on Galatians 2:15-21. Osborne*** sees this view as well. (Pg. 544).

     This is in keeping with the view and understanding of Jesus Christ as part of the one God.

19 or “Happy”. This word carries both meanings.

20 The hard work that was done pays off in the end. Not only did these saints work hard in their witness, but labored against the very forces of evil. In death they conquer to awake in eternity with God.

     The work of the saints is largely believing. This is reflected in our lives. We are encouraged by Jesus to hold on to our faith, to endure to the end. Paul likens it to a race. Heaven waits at the finish line.

     We will eat from the Tree of Life.

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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