The final battle that the Antichrist gathered in chapter 16 is here. The most interesting thing about this “battle” is that there is no battle. Thereseems to be instant defeat for the evil armies and their leaders. The leaders, the wild beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet (the other beast) are captured immediately and receive their doom. Then the evil armies are cut down by the words (sword) of Jesus. The destruction is total destruction. Most scholars (Osborne***, Pg. 691; Mounce**, Pg. 343) believe this passage references Psalms of Solomon 17:24-27:
24 With a rod of iron he shall shatter all their substance; he shall destroy the godless nations with the word of his mouth. 25 At his rebuke nations shall flee before him, and he shall reprove sinners for the thoughts of their heart. 26 And he shall gather together a holy people, whom he shall lead in righteousness, and he shall judge the tribes of the people who has been made holy by the Lord his God. 27 And he shall not suffer unrighteousness to lodge any more in their midst, nor shall there dwell with them any man who knows wickedness, for he shall know them, that they are all sons of their God.
It should be noted, that this is the battle of Har-Magedon (Armageddon) of 16:16.
11 And I saw heaven open1 , and behold, a white horse2 and the one sitting on him [was called]3 Faithful and True. He judges and makes war with righteousness4. 12 And his eyes were [like] a flame of fire5 and many crowns6 are on his head, having a name written7 on them which no one knows except him8 . 13 And he was clothed with a garment dipped in blood9, and his name is called10 “The Word of God”11. 14 And the armies, [the ones] in heaven, were following him on white horses, wearing white, clean fine linen12. 15 And from his mouth went out a sharp sword, so that with it, he may strike down the nations. And he will shepherd them with an iron rod13, and he will trample the wine press of wine of the wrath of God, the Almighty’s anger14. 16 And he has on his garment, namely15, on his thigh a name written, “King of kings and Lord of lords”.
17 And I saw an angel, one standing in the sun and he cried out [in] a loud16 voice, saying to all the birds flying in midair, “Come! Gather together to the great supper of God 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of high ranking officers17, the flesh of horses and the ones sitting on them, and the flesh of all people, both free men and slaves, and small and great.18 19 And I saw the wild beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies having gathered together to make war19 with the one sitting on the horse and with his army. 20 And the wild beast was seized and with him, the false prophet, who made the signs before him. With them20, he led astray the ones who received the mark of the wild beast, namely, the ones who worshipped his image. The two were thrown alive21 into the lake of fire of burning sulphur22. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword of the one sitting on the horse which came from his mouth23, and all the birds were filled from their flesh24.
1 ἠνεῳγμένον (open)
Greek: “having been opened”. The participle is in the perfect tense as is John’s style. The idea is that heaven was open at the time that John saw the vision, so I’ve translated it in the present tense.
Having opened the door to heaven by His sacrifice, the door remains open, for no one else can open or shut that door.
2 The white horse signifies conquests as it does in opening of the first seal of 6:1-2. Beale* also says it stands for vindication here. (Pg. 950).
The rider of the first white horse was trying to imitate the Prince of Peace. to deceive the world. The horse that followed revealed its true nature. Feigning peace, but it comes with a heart full of war and death.
Jesus Christ rides this horse. He is the One Who is Faithful and True. The other one was the exact opposite.
3 [καλούμενος] ([was called])
This is in brackets as it may not be original to the text. It is actually a participle meaning “calling” or with the nuance of the middle, “calling himself”. It is unlikely that this nuance is meant, so I translated it as a finite verb.
And a voice from heaven spoke, saying this is My Son. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word of God and is God. There may be something here that hints of the God Who reveals Himself, for faithful and true is the Son Who reflected the perfect image of the Father.
4 ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ (with righteousness)
or “in righteousness”. The idea is that Jesus uses righteousness to judge and to make war. The phrase is used throughout the OT to show that it is God’s standard of righteousness in which he judges. Osborne*** (Pg. 680). See 16:5-7; 19:2.
God cannot be other than He is. It is this righteousness He grants to those who place their faith in Jesus.
5 Parallels with 1:14.
6 διαδήματα πολλά (many crowns)
or “many diadems”. These crowns are worn by royalty. Jesus wears not one, but many. This is figurative for his completeness in being “King of kings and Lord or lords”. Mounce** says this indicates Jesus’ unlimited sovereignty. (Pg. 344).
7 γεγραμμένον (written)
Greek: “having been written”.
There was a name written on the horns of the beast, but it was different from the name on these crowns on the head of Christ. I can’t help but wonder if this same name will appear on the crown of the believer, who takes His name as his own. It is in His name that all must be saved.
8 A build up from Christ’s message to Pergamum in 2:17. So, what is the name? I believe it is Yahweh! It is not so much that the name is not known, but it is not spoken by humans. The name Yahweh had stopped being spoken by Jews around 400 to 350 B.C. Paul says in Philippians 2:9-11 that God “graced” upon Jesus that name. For more insight into this see Yahweh = Adonai = Kurios = Jesus.
9 Osborne*** (Pgs. 682-683) says that the blood here belongs to the enemy and the passage is an allusion to Isaiah 63:1-3. Thus, chronology is ignored by John (which is often throughout the Apocalypse and other apocalyptic writings) and this is Jesus’ victory march after he has conquered the wild beast, the false prophet, the kings of the earth and their armies. Mounce** agrees. (Pg. 345).
The blood may also speak the winepress of God’s wrath, which will spill the blood of those that reject His word and grace. His first appearance on earth gave witness to the spilling of His own blood that we might have life. The next time He will pour out a different cup.
17 I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the Lord. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
10 κέκληται (is called)
Greek: “having been called”.
11 Although this parallels with John 1:1-14, this is the only place in the NT where Jesus is actually called “the Word of God”. Here, the Word of God “is fulfilling his divine purpose”. Mounce** (Pg. 346). This idea can be found in the Wisdom of Solomon 18:15-16.
15 thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior 16 carrying the sharp sword of thy authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth. RSV
Revelation is given as the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The beast will kill those who cling to the Gospel, who give witness to the truth.
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
12 In 17:14, the saints are the ones who accompany Jesus in his return.
We rise to meet Him in the clouds.
13 Parallels 2:26-27 where the saints in Thyatira will be give the authority to rule with Christ.
14 Parallels 14:19-20.
15 καὶ (namely)
The name is not written twice, it is written once. It is on area of the garment that covers the Lord’s thigh. Thus, καὶ here is used to describe where the name is written. This use of καὶ is frequent throughout the Apocalypse. Osborne*** agrees. (Pg. 686). As does does Mounce** (Pgs. 347-348). The thigh is where warrior’s sword would have been.
16 μεγάλῃ (loud)
17 χιλιάρχων (high ranking officers)
Officers that would have commanded 1000 troops. Osborne*** translates this as “generals”. (Pg. 688).
18 An allusion to Ezekiel 39:17-20. Beale* (Pgs. 965-966) points out that this passage fulfills the passage in Ezekiel as it identifies Christ as the agent who will destroy the agents and armies of the antichrist and the false prophet who represent Gog and Magog. He goes on to say that the allusion also indicates how Jesus’ name will be revealed.
Ezekiel 39:7 “ ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. 8 It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day I have spoken of. NIV
If this is the case, then Christ will reveal his name in battle against the powers of evil.
Many times in the Old Testament God says, “So that they will know I Am God. The reason we are here is to find Him. The reason He came is so that we would.
19 ποιῆσαι τὸν πόλεμον (to make war)
A style change! Normally, John use the verb πολεμέω (make war), but here he uses the infinite verb ποιέω (to do or to make) along with the noun τὸν πόλεμον (war).
20 ἐν οἷς (With them)
Greek: “in to which”.
21 ζῶντες (alive)
We see a special treatment of the two beasts compared to the deceived. These deceivers were thrown alive into the lake of fire. They drew breath, but their life was of the dragon. They pitched their tent in the valley of the shadow of death, only to find themselves pitched into the lake of fire.
Everyone else is killed and feed the birds of the air. It is the word that judges, the sword of the Holy Spirit. It is the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
22 The lake of fire probably has its roots in Jesus’ teachings on the Gehenna (Mark 9:43, 45; Matthew 18:9; 23:15; 25:46).
23 See Introduction.
24 The imagery here is figurative and depicts total destruction.
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)