Friday, July 22, 2011

Revelation 15, The Angels with the Last Plagues (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     1 And I saw another sign1 in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the last seven plagues, because in them, the God’s wrath was complete2.
     2 And I saw something like a sea of glass3 mixed4 with fire5, and the ones who were victorious6 over7 the wild beast and over his image and over the number of name stood on the sea of glass8 holding harps for God9.  3 And they sing the song of Moses10, the slave of God, namely11 the song of the lamb saying,
     “Great and marvelous are your deeds12 
          Lord God, the Almighty.
     Righteous and true are your ways13
          The king of the nations14.
     4 Who will never15 be afraid of you Lord, 
          and will glorify your name?
     Because you alone are holy. 
          For all the nations will come
     and will worship before you, 
          because your righteous acts have been revealed.”
     5 And after these things, I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was opened in heaven16, 6 and the seven angels [who] had the seven plagues came out of the temple wearing17 clean, bright linen and and a golden belts wrapped around their chest. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of God’s wrath who lives forever18. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power. No one was able to go into the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed19.

1 sign

This is a reminder that we are viewing a message that is wrapped in the visual language of the Old Testament used to communicate truths about what God is doing and will be doing. While the imagery draws from the past, it speaks of things to come, and reassures us us of God’s promises.

2 The last of the judgements of the earth end here. It is fitting that there are seven. The last judgements will be complete as they usher in the very last days.

3 This points back to 4:6 where John sees a glass sea like crystal before the throne.”

     It conveys the idea of purity and peace, the rest of God. This had to have been what it was like in the Garden of Eden before it was spoiled by disobedience.

4 μεμιγμένην (mixed) 

Greek: “having been mixed”.

5 Osborne*** see the fire here as another sign of God’s judgements. (Pg. 562). Beale*, on the other hand, sees this a reference to the Red Sea because Jewish exegetical tradition depicted the Red Sea as becoming a “sea of glass”. He also states that the fire is a sign of Judgement. (Pg. 789).

     The sea of glass could be representative of earth mixed with the fire of Judgement. It is on earth where the battle with the beast takes place, and the fire from the alter is cast upon the earth. It is here that the nations ride the waves of waters troubled and cursed with the wine of Babylon.

6 τοὺς νικῶντας (who were victorious) 

Greek: “the ones who conquer”.

     Victory is found only through the Lamb.

7  ἐκ (over)

Greek: “from” or “out of”.

     Our victory over the wild beast, in the name of the Son, transfers us from the world to the kingdom of God.

8 Note that the martyred saints are standing on the sea of glass. Since we know from 4:6 that this sea was before the throne, we can see that these saints are also before the throne. Osborne*** (Pg.561).

     This might speak of the new creation which is to come.

9 τοῦ θεοῦ (for God)

This can be translated a few ways: 1. A genitive of source, which would have the harps given to them by God, 2. An objective genitive, which would have the harps being played for God, and 3. a possessive genitive, which would have the harps belonging to God. Since the playing of the harps accompany the singing of a song to God, then the playing of the harps are also for God. Osborne*** sees the objective genitive as well. (Pg. 563). Mounce** on the other hand, sees this as “harps of God”. (Pg. 286).

     Again, the future is foreshadowed by the past.  The relevance of the Old Testament continues to manifest itself in the New Testament.  The Word of God is comprised of both.

10 The Song of Moses links the bowl judgements with the ten plagues of Egypt just as the trumpet judgements were based on the Egyptian plagues. In the OT, the Song(s) of Moses are found in Exodus 15:1-19 and Deuteronomy 32.

     Again, the future is foreshadowed by the past. The relevance of the Old Testament continues to manifest itself in the New Testament. The Word of God is comprised of both.

11 καὶ (namely) 

Greek: “and”.  There is only one song that is sung.  It is Moses’ song as well as the lamb’s song.

     This points to the cohesion and purpose in Scripture.

12 Echoes both Psalms 111:3 and Deuteronomy 28:59-60. Osborne*** (Pgs. 564-565).

In Deuteronomy 28:59 LXX, the very same words are used to describe the plagues.

πληγὰς μεγάλας καὶ θαυμαστάς (great and marvelous plagues)


μεγάλα καὶ θαυμαστὰ (great and marvelous)

The only differences are the forms: feminine in Deuteronomy because “plagues” is feminine and neuter here because “deeds” is neuter.

13 Echoes Deuteronomy 32:4.

14 The TR replaces τῶν ἐθνῶν (of the nations) with τῶν ἁγίων (of the saints).

15 οὐ μὴ (never) 

Greek: “not not”. The double “nots” is emphatic, thus “never”.

16 Beale* states that like 11:19, the opened temple signifies that God is appearing to execute judgements. In this case, the final judgements. (Pg. 802).

     Opening of the temple takes back to the throne room. Remember that God’s throne is in the midst of the living creatures. Before the throne were seven spirits.

     The seven angels are clothed as priests of Israel. They receive the bowls of God’s wrath from one of the living creatures, which could be a sign of Israel. There were four divisions that camped in the wilderness with the Tabernacle in the desert.

17 ἐνδεδυμένοι (wearing) 

Greek: “having been clothed”. This is the first time this word is used in
the Apocalypse.

18 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (forever) 

Greek: “into the ages of ages”.

19 There tend to be three reasons as to why no one could enter the temple: 1. The temple is closed because there is no longer a place for intercession, either for divine mercy for the nations (Mounce** Pg. 290) or for vindication and vengeance for the nations (Beale* Pg. 807), 2. No one can approach God until his wrath is completed, 3. The temple is closed due to God’s glory and power. Osborne*** see the last two. (Pg. 572).

     In the Old Testament, the temple was the place of sacrifice for sins and atonement of God’s people. God’s wrath is here poured out on those who cling to their sin and do not seek Him. Since they do not accept the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, they are judged in light of the Law. The Law did not disappear when Christ came. He fulfills the Law and offers the liberty that arises from faith in His grace.

     The saints worship before God in the temple built in three days. What Christ opens cannot be shut and what He closes cannot be opened.

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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