Cultural / Historical Background: SBL assumed that the book uses a future orientation to challenge the situation of the original readers. Osborn (2002: 1) thinks there are two important attributes associated with the book of Revelation: a. they are predominantly futuristic in perspective, and (b) it is a disjunctive fallacy to take an either-or stance regarding different views and interpretation on a given text. Revelation speaks of certain stability in the situation of the churches but it also indicates a fair amount of persecution. It should be noted that there are both prophecy and apocalyptic in the letter. Prophecy tends to be oracular and apocalyptic visionary. Both center on salvation for the faithful and judgment for the unfaithful.
Contextual Background: Chapter 19 is an illustration of final victory, which is the end of the evil empire at the parousia (19:6-21). It’s the second part of the section of Final judgment at the arrival of the eschaton (17:1-20:15). There are four topics in the section of final judgment: A. Destruction of Babylon the Great (17:1-19:5); B. Final victory (19:6-21); C. The thousand-year reign of Christ and final destruction of Satan (20:1-10); and D. Great white throne judgment (20:11-15). The chorus is indicating the view of believer who is joyful for the returning of Christ. In the selected text, we see the parousia from the view of unbeliever (Osborn, 692).
Structure: The final victory starts with Hallelujah Chorus (19:6-10) which is not part of our selected text. After the chorus, comes the arrival of the conquering Christ (19:11-16), invitation to the Messianic Banquet (19:17-18), and the swift battle (19:19-21). The first part of the text is divided into the character of the Warrior messiah (vv.11-13) and his deeds (vv.14-16). Then there is the “battle of Armageddon” (cf. 16:13-16) is an anticlimax, started by the calling to the banquet, finished by the victory of the battle.
Original Language Observation: (v.11) He is called “πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός”. “faithful” means that Jesus remains true to God and he is the model for all followers. He is also “true” to his calling and purpose as God is “true” in his righteous deeds and judgment. The final war is mandated because of the “faithful” and “true” of Jesus. “ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ” indicates that he judges and makes war in righteousness. It means god dispenses justice on the basis of his own righteous standards (Osborn, 680). It’s a contrast with false prophets’ empty promises and lies. (v.13) The name of Jesus is “ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ”. This is the third “title” given in this text, but tis’ also the only place in NT where Jesus is called “the Word of God”. τοῦ Θεοῦ may be a general genitive, both objective and source. Jesus “speaks for God” and the message is “from God.” (v.15b) there are five genitives in this verse (τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ παντοκράτορος) and probably is the longest in the book. It’s a metaphor combines the image of the winepress with the cup of wrath (14:10). The first genitive modifies the previous accusative, while the second till fifth is a genitive phrase function epexegetically. The phrase “anger of God” occurs earlier and many times in NT. (v.19) the verb of gathering (συνηγμένα) is in passive voice. Beale (967) link it with 20:7-8. The kings and their armies do not gather under their own power but under Satanic and demonic influence. (v.20) The two figures are said to be “caught” (ἐπιάσθη) by the messianic rider. The verb carries the sense of “seizing with intent to overpower” (BDAG, 812b) is used only here in Revelation, eight times in Gospel of John. John uses a lengthy participial phrase to describe the false prophet. This is a common practice in Apocalpse when the author is referring to leading characters in narrative (Smalley, 499). The phrase ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ means that the false prophet was working miracles “on behalf” of the beast and within the beast’s authority.
Difficult Text /Theology: (v.12) there are a lot of “symbols” in this verse that are hard to understand. A. eyes like a raging fire. It’s a repeat of 1:14 and 2:18, based on Daniel 10:6. It’s referring both to the penetrating vision by which God discerns all and “fiery” judgment that will result from his all-seeing discernment. B. He has “many diadems”. Osborn (2002: 681) suggests that it relates to 19:16 “King of Kings”. It is also a contrast to the dragon (12:3) and the beast (13:1). Both the dragon and the beast are adorned with a limited number of crowns. So the “many” here indicates cosmic and eternal power. C. “A name written that no one knows”. It’s based on 2:17, utilizes Isa 62:2. Probably it’s new not because of the name, but probably because of a new level of revealed meaning. Since the new name is hidden, it’s better not to put too much time on it. (v.13). However, the symbolic meaning of the “unknown name” is the affirmation that Christ has not yet consummately fulfilled the promise of salvation and judgment now. Johnson suggests that knowledge of the name is in antiquity associated with the power of god. When a name becomes known, then the power is shared with those to whom the disclosure is made (Johnson, 758). D.Whose “blood” is it? It can be the blood of his atoning sacrifice, or it can also be the blood of the martyrs, or the blood of his enemies. Osborn (2002: 683) thinks the last one might be correct under the illustration of war. (v.14) Who are the “the armies in heaven” following him? Since 17:14 already said that “accompanying him will be the called and the elect and the faithful”, Osborn suggest that “heavenly army” will consist of both angels and saints. But we don’t know whether they will fight or not. (v.15) Three successive images of the total conquest and destruction. “sharp, two-edged sword” is from 1:16 and 2:12, 16. It’s the symbol of Roman authority over life and death. Here the armor indicates the final authority of Christ. Next image is built on Ps 2:9, but it’s actually an echo to 2:26-27. The “iron scepter” is the shepherd’s club that kills the enemies of the sheep. So the shepherding in this verse is implying a destruction to the enemies. Third image is that he destroys the nations. The nations are “thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God”. It’s an echo to Isa 63:1-6, but also echo to 19:13 in which Jesus’ garment “dipped in blood.” Obviously the shedding of the blood will be just payment for their shedding the blood of saints (18:24, 19:2). (v.16) The fourth image of the rider has a name written “on his garment at his thigh”. It can indicate two places (as my Chinese Bible does). But several commentaries suggest that it is “on his robe, namely (epexegetical καὶ) his thigh.” (v.19) Who is the beast? He is the false trinity in 16:13-16. 19:19 refers to the same prelude to the last war as in 16:14 and 20:8 (Beale, 967). (v.20) the lake of fire (τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρὸς) occurs only in Rev. 19-21. Osborn (2002: 690) provides a lot of discussion on the source of “lake of fire”. The basic connection with “Gehenna” is certain. Gehenna refers to eternal fiery punishment, used by Jesus several times.
Preaching Hints: (1) In the view of unbeliever, Jesus is the warrior Messiah who has come not just to rescue but also to destroy the sinners. Peterson (1988: 159) speaks of the contrast between meal and war, each defining the two sides of the salvation. (2) The invitation to the birds is powerful. It guarantees before the battle that the end result is certain. There are two great messianic banquets at the eschaton: the feast with the Lamb for the saints and the feast on the sinners for the carrion birds. (3) The actual weapon of judgment is christ’s word of truth suggests further that the purpose of the text is to emphasize the basis of the saints’ vindication and to provide a demonstration of the truth the saints proclaim. The truth will lie hidden to unbelievers until the final, full revelation of Christ at his last coming (Beale, 949). (4) the primary opposition is not the historical, finite, worldly human community but the transpersonal powers of evil that have inspired and deceived them. This power is symbolized by the beast and false prophet. But both groups are defeated by Jesus the conqueror.
Bibliography: Aune, David E. Revelation 17-22, WBC. Thomas Nelson, 1998 |Beale, G.K. The Book of Revelation, NIGTC. Eerdmans, 1999 |Boring, M. Eugene, Revelation, John Knox Press, 1989 | Boxall, Ian. The Revelation of Saint John. A&C Black, 2006 |Johnson, Alan F. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Revelation. Zondervan, 2006 | Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation, NICNT. Eerdmans, 1977 | Osborne, Grant R. Revelation, ECNT. Baker, 2002 | Peterson, Eugene H. Reversed Thunder. Haper & Row, 1988 | Smalley, Stephen S.The Revelation of John. IVP, 2005
Christ will return to Judge
Introduction: Hollywood has made a lot of movies talking about the end of world. In those movies, the end of the world always accompanies with disasters, catastrophes, sad stories, and a human hero who will save the world from being destructed. Though we can get some entertainment from those movies, I wish we won’t be misled by them. The end of world in Christian theology is not a destruction of the universe, but destruction and judge of those oppose God.
Proposition: Christ will return to judge.
Organizational Sentence: The Book of Revelation comes to a climax in Chapter 19. Verse 11-21 in this chapter revealed the second coming of Christ in three aspects: His image, His role, and His fight.
Sermon Outline (Didactic):
I. Christ will return. (vv. 11-13)
- Christ will return because he is faithful and true. (v. 11a)
- Christ will return to judge. (v.11b-12)
- Christ will judge through word of God. (v. 13)
Illustration: Jesus is here portrayed as the conquering warrior and hero because of the suffering of saints (Cf. 6:9-10).
Application: Anticipate Christ’s return because he is a faithful God.
II. Christ will return as King of kings. (vv.14-16)
- Christ will return with followers. (v. 14)
- Christ will shepherd his Kingdom by defeating enemies. (v.15)
- Christ is King of kings, Lord of lords. (v. 16)
Illustration: When I was a customer service manager, I do random calls to check service quality as customers. … God do punish those who do bad, but there is the initiate Final judgment from Christ as King of Kings. (Cf. 2 Peter 3:9)
Application: Rely on him and always turn to him for justice and comfort. (Cf. Romans 12:19 “leave it to the wrath of God.”)
III. Christ will return as judge. (vv. 17-21)
- Christ prepared a marriage supper of the Lamb with us, and a banquet of enemies. (vv. 17-18, 21. Cf. v9)
- Satan and his followers will continue to struggle with Lord at the last day. (v. 19, also mention the role of false prophets from v.20.)
- This victory is in certainty. (vv. 20-21)
Illustration: Explain the work of Satan through fallen political powers (kings) and false prophecies.
Application: Rest assured that devil’s work will be defeated (my experience with heresy).
Conclusion: Christ will come, He will come in the image of warrior and hero, He will come as King of Kings, and He will definitely win the final battle against the devil.