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Buist Fanning: With the trumpet blast from the seventh angel (v. 15a) the series of trumpets that began in 8:2–7 is completed. But just as the opening of the seventh seal in 8:1 signaled no immediate judgments (unlike the first six seals; 6:1–17), so no explicit judgments follow the seventh trumpet blast. Instead, the seven bowls that eventually follow in chapters 15–16 will fill out the judgments of the seventh trumpet (as the seven trumpets fill out the seventh seal). The cumulative effect of this telescoping of each of the seven judgments in this way is that each of the series brings the reader right up to the climax of God’s coming judgment and redemption. The heavenly preview of the seventh trumpet in 10:6–7 sets the stage for this consummation (i.e., no further delay; God’s mystery will be completed when the seventh angel sounds), and the description of the seven bowls as “the seven last plagues” (15:1) reinforces it at the other end.

Robert Mounce: When the seventh trumpet is blown, we might expect yet another plague but instead we hear voices in heaven declaring the eternal sovereignty of God and his Christ. The twenty-four elders join the celebration falling, before God in worship and praising him for having taken his great power and begun to reign. The time for rewarding his servants and pouring out his wrath on the destroyers of the earth has come. 11:15–19 is a summary of all that is yet to take place. The declaration of triumph by the heavenly hosts (v. 15) and the anthem of praise by the worshiping elders (vv. 17–18) introduce the great themes of the following chapters. The extensive use of the aorist tense (eleven times) conveys a sense of absolute certainty about the events taking place. . .

The burden of the angelic declaration is that the dominion and rule of this world have been transferred to God and his Christ, who shall reign forever and ever.  This great eschatological event that establishes once and for all the universal sovereignty of God is a recurring theme in OT prophecy. Daniel predicted the day when the kingdom of God would utterly destroy the kingdoms of this world (Dan 2:31–45, esp. v. 44). The day is coming, said Zechariah, when God will be “king over the whole earth” (Zech 14:9). As the drama of the consummation moves toward the final scene, the hosts of heaven proclaim it fait accompli. During his earthly ministry Jesus had resisted the tempting offer of Satan to hand over the kingdoms of this world in exchange for worship (Matt 4:8–9). Now this sovereignty passes to him as a rightful possession in view of the successful completion of his messianic ministry. “Our Lord and … his Christ” reflects Ps 2:2, which was interpreted messianically by the early church (Acts 4:26–28).  Although the Son will ultimately be subjected to the Father (1 Cor 15:28), he will nevertheless share the eternal rule of God. The singular (“he will reign”) emphasizes the unity of this joint sovereignty.

Grant Osborne: Indeed, this section effectively concludes this major section (4:1–11:19) of the book. As stated in the introduction to 4:1, the contrast between the throne of God (chaps. 4–5) and the reign of the dragon and the Beast (chaps. 12–13) make this a natural break. Moreover, the heavenly acclamation of the victorious reign of God in 11:15–19 make this a perfect conclusion for this section. Note also the inclusio as the twenty-four elders, not part of the action since chapters 4–5, once more sound forth in worship (see Michaels 1997: 144). Thus, this seventh trumpet forms a kind of conclusion, summarizing many themes set forth in chapters 4–11 and setting the stage for the elaboration of these themes in the rest of the book.

  1. Third woe announced (11:14)
  2. Announcement by heavenly voices (11:15)
  3. Hymn of twenty-four elders (11:16–18)
  4. Cosmic events heralding the end (11:19)

The interlude added the experiences of the people of God during the time of judgment depicted in the first two woes (9:1–21) and implicitly hinted that God’s judgment on the earth-dwellers was the result of their persecution of the saints (lex talionis, law of retribution). Therefore, the second woe could only be finalized when the whole picture was given.

John MacArthur: Satan will not relinquish his kingdom without a struggle.  In a desperate and doomed effort to maintain control of the world, God will allow him to overrun it with hordes of demons during the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments (9:1-19).  But his efforts will not keep the true King from returning and establishing His earthly kingdom (cf. 19:11-21; 20:1-3, 10).  Jesus Christ will return to sit on the throne of His father David (2 Sam. 7:12-16) and take over the whole world from the satanically controlled people who now possess it.  This is really the theme of Revelation – the triumph of God over Satan as evil is purged from the world and Christ becomes its holy ruler. . .

The message of the seventh trumpet is that Jesus Christ is the sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords.  He will one day take the rule of the earth away from the usurper, Satan, and from Earth’s petty human rulers.  History is moving inexorably toward its culmination in Christ’s earthly reign.  When He returns, He will bring covenant blessings to the redeemed, but eternal judgment to those who reject Him.

Kendell Easley: The blowing of the seventh trumpet proclaims Christ’s long-awaited public reign, beginning with the time of judgment both for God’s saints and for those who are depraved.


A.  Sounding of the Trumpet

And the seventh angel sounded;

B.  Triumphant Refrain – Key Verse in the Book

and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying,

J. Hampton Keathley, III: Note that their voices are “loud.” This stresses the joy and extreme exuberance over what God is going to do through the seventh trumpet.

Buist Fanning: Instead of an onslaught of judgment, the immediate effect of the seventh trumpet is “loud voices in heaven” proclaiming God’s everlasting victory over the whole world (v. 15b–d). This is another in the series of heavenly announcements in these chapters of the imminent arrival of God’s full judgment and redemption (10:6–7; 12:10–12; 14:7–8; 15:1; 18:2; 19:2). Giving heaven’s perspective on earthly events, the voices proclaim the establishment of God’s rule on earth, overcoming the existing evil empires: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah” (v. 15c). The full accomplishment has not yet come—the seven last plagues are still to be poured out (15:1–16:21) and Babylon must be defeated (17:1–18:24)—but God’s rule on earth is already decided, and so it is certain and near at hand. The imminent victory is phrased using an aorist (“has become”; ἐγένετο) as well as a future verb (“will reign”; βασιλεύσει) to signal that what is anticipated has already been decreed and is about to come to pass on earth.

Van Parunak: “Great voice” φωνή μεγάλη is used frequently in the Greek Bible in the singular, to describe the voice of God (Deut 5:22) as well as of people (Gen 27:34), but the plural appears only here and in Lk 23:23, describing the demand of the chief priests, rulers, and people (23:13) for the Lord’s death:

Luke 23:23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

Their joint demand for the death of God’s supreme righteous witness recalls the raging of the peoples in Psalm 2:1 and anticipates the opposition we have just seen against the two witnesses in 11:3-13. Here we are reminded that God has a multitude who can cry “with loud voices” as well, perhaps angels as suggested by the LXX of Job 38:7,

Job 38:7 [LXX] When the stars were made, all my angels praised me with a loud voice.

David Thompson: What happens here in heaven is a worship service that anticipates Jesus Christ coming back to earth and taking it over and establishing a complete righteous kingdom. When Paul presented his message in Athens, he predicted that God has “fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.” Heaven realizes the day is near and the Kingdom is about to Come.

  1. Transfer of Dominion

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord,

and of His Christ;

Kendell Easley: The first line announces transfer of this world’s kingship (notice the singular). Satan had assumed kingship, and indeed could be called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He had even claimed ability to offer all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus (Matt. 4:8–9). He was a usurper, and in the days of the blowing of the seventh trumpet, the kingdom publicly returns to our Lord (God the Father) and his Christ (God the Son), recalling Psalm 2:2: “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.”

The second line proclaims the eternal rule of the divine kingship over the world by Christ and God. His reign for ever and ever will never be interrupted. This rule had long been predicted by the ancient prophets of Israel as the LORD’s everlasting goal (Dan. 2:44; Zech. 14:9). How that transfer of kingship will be worked out is detailed in the two dramas with which vision two ends (12–14 and 15–16).

Grant Osborne: The heavenly throne will become the earthly throne (see 22:1–2), and this will be an eternal reign. The emphasis on the eternal nature of God (1:6; 4:9, 10; 5:13; 7:12; 10:6; 15:3, 7), of Christ (1:18; 5:13), of the final kingdom (11:15), and of our eternal reign with Christ (22:5; cf. 20:4) in Revelation shows the centrality of this theme in the book. The temporal reign of sin and the temporal nature of life in this sinful world will be replaced by an eternal Godhead, an eternal kingdom, and eternal life in glory for the faithful children of God. The suffering of the people of God (6:9–11; 10:9–10; 11:2, 7–10) will result in their vindication (6:11; 7:13–17; 8:3–5; 10:7, 9–10; 11:1, 18) and resurrection to eternal glory (11:11–12, 15). The Son of Man passage in Dan. 7:13–14 stated, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (see also Ps. 10:16; Dan. 2:44; Zech. 14:9). These are now fulfilled in a final way with the coming of God’s eternal kingdom.

John MacArthur: This phrase also describes the kingdom in its broadest sense, looking forward to divine rule over the creation and the new creation.  No differentiation is made between the earthly millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom, as, for example, Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.  At the end of the thousand years, the millennial kingdom will merge with the eternal kingdom, in which Christ will reign forever and ever.  Once the reign of Christ begins, it will change form, but never end or be interrupted. . .

All attempts to equate this glorious reign of Christ over the whole earth with any past event or with the church is utterly foreign and contradictory to the clear eschatological teaching of Scripture, including especially this passage.  There is no way this text can be fulfilled except by the universal reign of Jesus Christ over the whole earth – as the prophets had for so long predicted.

J.A. Seiss: Not yet has the sovereignty of this world become the Lord’s.  All earthly governments, principalities, and powers, from the beginning until now, are uniformly represented in the Scriptures as wild beasts, having no lawful owner, and full of destructive savageness and offensive uncleanness.  A lion with eagle’s wings, a bear crunching bones and flesh, a four-winged and four-headed leopard, a nondescript with many horns, dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, having great iron teeth to devour and break in pieces; these are the prophetic symbols of the greatest and most lauded of them.  Even the premiership of Daniel himself in one of them does not alter its general character.  It is but folly and fanaticism for men to talk of Christian states and governments in this world. . .  True, the kingdom is by right the Lord’s.  All authority and power originates with Him and belongs to Him.  Government is His own ordinance.  But since the apostasy of the race to Satan’s standard, usurpation, falsehood, and other powers than the rightful sovereign of men and nations, have held and directed the sway in this world.

  1. Timeless Reign

and He will reign forever and ever.

Charles Swindoll: Perspective is everything. The events described in 11:15-19 await fulfillment at God’s final judgment and the second coming of Christ, but the loud voices of praise from heaven refer to future events in the past tense because John sees them as they happen. None of us today see things from that same prophetic perspective, but we can be just as certain of the ultimate reign of Christ “forever and ever.”

In his musical masterpiece, Messiah, Handel incorporated this refrain into his famous “Hallelujah Chorus.” The words emphasize the great transfer of power from wicked humanity under the spiritual bondage of Satan (the kingdom of the world) to Christ and the saints under the sovereign headship of God the Father (the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ). However, to effect this change, the kingdom of darkness must be judged and the kingdom of light must cast its brilliance upon the face of the earth.


A.  (:16-17) Directed Towards the Eternal, Almighty Sovereign

  1. (:16)  Response of Worship by the 24 Elders

And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God,

fell on their faces and worshiped God,

Buist Fanning: Just as in the vision of chapters 4–5, the twenty-four elders who surround God’s heavenly throne, sitting on their own thrones (4:4), now join the acclamation of the heavenly voices (11:15b) with their own worshipful posture (v. 16; cf. 4:10; 5:8, 11, 14) and song of thanksgiving (v. 17).  Their heavenly declaration of gratitude is reminiscent of 4:9 and 7:12, and is addressed to the Lord here using titles appropriate to the theme of their thanksgiving. The Lord God is “Almighty” (παντοκράτωρ), a characteristic title for God in Revelation, rooted in the Old Testament and denoting his all-powerful sovereignty over the affairs of his created universe.  As in 1:8 and 4:8, the name “Lord God Almighty” is accompanied by the title “the One who is and who was” (11:17b), signifying his eternal, self-existent deity. The latter is rooted in Exodus 3:14. In 1:8 and 4:8 a third epithet is included, “and who is to come,” but here and in 16:5 this phrase is omitted because its sense of God’s future coming has now been made real (see 1:4). The reason (“because”; ὅτι) for giving thanks (v. 17c) is that God has “taken” in hand (cf. NLT, REB: “assumed”) his “great power” in order to exert it in ruling authority on earth: “You have begun to reign” (ἐβασίλευσας).

  1. (:17)  Refrain of Thanksgiving for Kingdom Reign

saying, ‘We give Thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast, because Thou hast taken Thy great power and hast begun to reign.’

Robert Mounce: “Great power” does not indicate omnipotence as a divine attribute in a general sense, but points to the final conflict in which God overpowers all his enemies. As in 1:8 and 4:8, he is the Lord God Almighty. He is able to accomplish all that in his decrees he has determined to do.

J. Hampton Keathley, III:  Thanks is given because at this point in history God will be exercising His complete sovereignty.The elders say “because you have taken your great power.” “Have taken” is the perfect tense of lambanwto take hold of, possess.” In His immutability God has always possessed omnipotence, but He has not always exercised His absolute authority or power over the earth. Here, at this point, He takes hold of it in the sense that He begins to exercise it absolutely. The perfect tense points to action accomplished with continual results. This stresses that once God so acts it will be permanent and the world will begin to experience the results.

B.  (:18) Directed Against the Nations Deserving of Divine Wrath and Judgment

  1. Wrath of the Nations

And the nations were enraged,

Warren Wiersbe: Why are the nations angry? Because they want to have their own way. “Why do the heathen [the nations] rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed [Christ], saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us’” (Ps. 2:1–3). They want to worship and serve the creature instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25). Like adolescent children, the nations want to cast off all restraint, and God will permit them to do so. The result will be another “Babylon” (Rev. 17—18), man’s last attempt to build his Utopia, a “heaven on earth.”

John Walvoord: There is a play on words in the Greek of this verse, for the word in verb form for the rage of God’s enemies is used in noun form for God’s wrath. The contrast is clear; the wrath of humanity is impotent, but the wrath of God is omnipotent.

  1. Wrath of God

and Thy wrath came,

Warren Wiersbe: There was intense suffering in the first half of the tribulation, but only the last half will reveal the wrath of God (Rev. 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15).

S. Lewis Johnson: So what are we living in at the present time? Well, we’re living in the forbearance of God, in the long suffering of God. But let me tell you this, my friends, that there is coming a time when his forbearance will reach its end, when his long suffering will finally reach its destined end. Then shall he speak under the nations in his wrath and he’ll be very displeased and carry out his judgments. The one who controls all sits in calm content, but then what difference.

  1. Judgment of God

a.  General Judging of All the  Dead

and the time came for the dead to be judged,

Van Parunak: —Something else has come, “the time of the dead.” This expression, unique in the Greek Bible, indicates that death is not the end of existence. God yet has an appointment with those whose physical life has come to an end.

Buist Fanning: The first of these is for “the dead to be judged” (v. 18d), a general reference to both the righteous as well as unrighteous “dead” who will face God’s assessment for good or for ill (cf. 14:7; 22:12). This judgment is then defined both positively and negatively by the two infinitives that follow (“to reward” and “to ruin”).

Robert Mounce: In the schedule of God’s redemptive program a decisive point has now been reached. It is a fitting time for judgment, reward, and destruction. The judgment anticipated by the elders is carried out in the great white throne scene of 20:11–15. It is preceded by resurrection and followed by retribution. If the wrath of God is the judgment of the wicked, the vision of a New Jerusalem (21:9–22:5) with the presence of God its crowning joy (22:4) is the reward of the faithful. Although rewards are all of grace (Rom 4:4), they vary according to what each has done (1 Cor 3:8).

John MacArthur: The establishing of Christ’s kingdom will be a fitting time for the dead to be judged.  The Great White Throne judgment (20:11-15) is not in view in this passage, as some argue, since that judgment explicitly involves only unbelievers.  It is best to see the reference to judgment here as a general reference to all future judgments.  The elders in their song make no attempt to separate the different phases of judgment as they are separated in the closing chapters of Revelation.  They simply sing of future judgments as though they were one event, in the same way that other Scriptures do not distinguish future judgments from each other (cf. John 5:25, 28-29; Acts 17:31; 24:21).

b.  Positive and Negative Judgments

1)  Positive: Rewarding the Righteous

and the time to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets

and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name,

the small and the great,

2)  Negative: Ruining the Wicked

and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

Buist Fanning: The negative side of God’s time of judgment that has now arrived is “to ruin those who ruin the earth” (v. 18f). This is a clear reference to the coming judgment of the great harlot Babylon who “corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality” (19:2), using a play on words. The verb “ruin” (διαφθείρω and its cognate words) can refer either to physical decay or outright destruction (8:9; cf. Luke 12:33; 2 Cor 4:16) or to moral or spiritual corruption (Rev 19:2; cf. Gen 6:11; 1 Cor 15:22; 2 Cor 7:2; 11:3; 1 Tim 6:5). John uses the verb with its double sense to describe God’s destructive judgment against those who lead others astray morally and spiritually (see Paul’s play on the simple verb in 1 Cor 3:17; also 2 Pet 2:12; Jude 10). . .  The related verb καταφθείρω is used twice in LXX Genesis 6:12 to describe the corruption of the earth as well as “all flesh” and is then used in 6:13 to declare God’s imminent “corruption” or destruction of the earth and humanity in the flood of Noah’s day.


A.  Climactic Access into God’s Heavenly Temple

And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened;

J. Hampton Keathley, III: We should note that this chapter began with the apostate temple on earth, but closes triumphantly with the heavenly temple in view. Again this stresses, as in Isaiah 6, the awesome holiness of God, the basic cause of God’s wrath (Heb. 1:13). Remember, this earthly, apostate temple is desecrated by the beast, but he cannot touch the heavenly temple which reflects God’s perfect righteousness, perfect justice and majesty.

The things seen in the temple are symbolical of:

(a)  the presence of God by the Shekinah glory which hovered over the mercy seat;

(b)  the faithfulness of God as evidenced by the contents of the Ark—the Law which guided God’s people, Aaron’s rod, a picture of resurrection, and the pot of manna, a picture of the person of Christ and daily provision; and

(c)  God’s divine holiness which could not be approached without blood, and spoke of the sacrifice of Christ.

All this is seen in heaven to remind the Jews that God is going to fulfill His covenant promises. It is to encourage faith in Christ.

B.  Covenant Commitment

and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple,

Kendell Easley: Although nothing was more sacred to ancient Israel than its ark, the ark had been forever lost when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the sixth century B.C. Thus, when John saw the heavenly counterpart, the ark of his covenant, he was beholding what no human had seen—even in an earthly form—for centuries (Heb. 8:5; 9:23–24).

Robert Mounce: The ark of the covenant corresponds to the rewarding of the faithful, and the cosmic disturbances to the outpouring of God’s wrath.  The sanctuary that opens to reveal the ark of the covenant is not an earthly temple (as in 11:1) but the sanctuary of God in heaven (cf. 3:12; 7:15; 15:5–8; 21:22). From this most holy place proceed both the promise of covenant love and righteous anger (cf. 16:1). The opening of the temple is of limited duration (cf. 15:5) and serves to reveal a heavenly ark, the symbol of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling his covenant promises. For the days of wrath that lie immediately ahead, believers will need the assurance that God will bring his own safely to their eternal reward.

John MacArthur: The ark symbolizes that the covenant God has promised to men is now available in its fullness.  In the midst of the fury of His judgment on unbelievers, God, as it were, throws open the Holy of Holies (where the ark was located; Ex. 26:33-34; 2 Chron. 5:7) and draws believers into His presence.  That would have been unthinkable in the Old Testament temple, when only the high priest entered the holy of Holies once a year (Heb. 9:7).

John Schultz: In the fact that the ark becomes visible, we see God’s revelation as an invitation to fellowship with Him on the basis of atonement. This speaks of God’s love, holiness, faithfulness, and grace. The flashes of lightening and peals of thunder are images of God’s majesty. They give us an image of God’s greatness, omnipotence, and glory. The flashes of lightning are also part of the revelation of the ark. But the ark is named “the ark of His covenant,” the symbol of God’s friendship with man. God has made His covenant with Abraham, with Israel, and with us in Jesus Christ. His calls us “friends” and the bond of our fellowship is more intimate than that of a marriage relationship. Our friend is God, the Almighty, the God of lightning, thunder, and hail.

C.  Cosmic Disturbances

and there were flashes of lightning

and sounds and peals of thunder

and an earthquake

and a great hailstorm.

James Hamilton: As we were given a vision into the heavenly temple after the seventh seal was opened in 8:1–5, and as we saw there lightning, thunder, and an earthquake, so also here in 11:19 after the seventh trumpet the temple of God is opened. The ark of the covenant becomes visible. The heavens went dark, the veil was split, the earth shook, and the dead were raised also when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:50–53). This is what happens at the day of the Lord. The lightnings, thunder, earthquake, and hail seen emanating from God’s throne in 4:5 also punctuate the events of the seventh trumpet and remind us that these judgments are God’s judgments.

John Walvoord: Before the details of the judgment to follow are unfolded in the seven bowls in chapter 16, the revelation turns to other important aspects of this period that chronologically precede the consummation. Apart from the outpourings of the bowls, which occur in rapid succession, there is little narrative movement from this point until chapter 19 and the second coming of Christ. Events and situations are now introduced that are concurrent with the seals and the trumpets. These serve to emphasize the dramatic climax of this period in the second coming of Jesus Christ.