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Daniel Akin: Beginning with verse 6, we are introduced to six angelic messengers who appear in the remainder of the chapter (14:6, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18). Their messages contain both blessing and cursing. There are words of gospel (14:6). There are also words of judgment. What is made crystal clear is there is no place in a biblical, orthodox theology for universalism (i.e., the belief that eventually all persons will be saved). A biblical portrait of hell and eternal torment is painted for us in verses 10-11 that are simply too plain to be denied. Revelation 14:6-20 could not be more politically incorrect for an age that tolerates anything and everything. However, one thing is certain: the God of all the earth will do right (Gen 18:25). A day of reckoning is coming for all of us. We will not all be treated the same though we will all be treated justly and righteously. No one will stand before God at judgment and say, “You did me wrong. You were unfair.” Such a day will never come.

John MacArthur: The Final Reaping of the Earth

We are looking at a text of Scripture that deals with the final harvest of the earth, the final reaping when the Lord Jesus Christ reaps the earth in judgment.

  • The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a servant.

The next time He will come as the sovereign King.

  • The first time Jesus came, He came as one obeying.

The next time He will come as one commanding.

  • The first time Jesus came, He came alone to live with a Jewish couple in a small obscure town.

The next time He will come with all His holy angels to take over the whole earth.

  • The first time Jesus came He came in humility.

The next time He will come in glorious majesty and splendor.

  • The first time Jesus came, He came to seek and to save the lost.

And the next time He will come to judge and sentence the lost.

  • Or, to put the contrast in the terms of our text, the first time Jesus came He came as the sower.

Next time He will come as the reaper.

  • He came in grace,

He comes in wrath.


The book of Revelation is written to give us a clear understanding of that coming of Christ that yet awaits human history. And no one need be confused. The revelation of Jesus Christ is near. Christ is coming. He will appear in sovereign glory, the very same Jesus the world crucified and rejects. He will come no longer like the first time, but to judge the ungodly. . .

There are two great aspects of judgment yet to come. And that’s why I believe the Holy Spirit has ordained two visions. There are two significant final judgments to come. First, we are going to see in chapter 16 the seven-bowl judgments. They come at the very end of the time of tribulation, a rapid-fire sequence of frightening, worldwide judgments that destroy the whole world system of Babylon, destroying the Antichrist’s empire.

Then there is a second aspect to final judgment, and that is the battle of Armageddon when Jesus Christ actually returns to the earth. So in looking at the end, we still are going to see two phases of this final wrath. One will take the form of seven bowls, and the other will be the very direct intervention of Jesus Christ when He returns. One then is described in chapter 16 and the second is described in chapter 19. And I believe that the reason you have two images here is to accommodate those two distinct aspects of final judgment.


A.  (:6-7) First Angel: Proclaiming Good News to the World and Demanding a Response

  1. (:6)  Preaching Good News to the World

a.  Angelic Navigation in Midheaven

And I saw another angel flying in midheaven,

b.  Proclamation of the Eternal Gospel

having an eternal gospel to preach

Daniel Akin: He preaches the everlasting gospel. This is the only time an angel is said to preach the gospel! Generally this is our assignment. The “eternal” gospel is the same gospel proclaimed throughout all of history. It is the good news of forgiveness and eternal life made possible through the death of Jesus Christ for sinners. Old Testament saints looked forward to this day. All New Testament believers look back to what Christ accomplished.

Sola Scriptura: [Attempts to differentiate between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of Christ]  The gospel of the kingdom does not concern the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  A simple chronology of the Gospel of Matthew will demonstrate this.

Matthew 4:17 states, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”  Accordingly, Matthew 3:2 indicates that this is the same message preached by John the Baptist.  Matthew 4:23 declares, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” . . . (similarly Matthew 9:35).  However, Matthew 16:21 indicates a change in message for Jesus.  Matthew writes, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”  This clearly marks a new message for Jesus.  It is the heart of the gospel of Christ: i.e., the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for the sin.  That this is a new message that Jesus had not preached before is confirmed by Peter’s response.  Notice, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord!  This shall never happen to You.’”  This can hardly by the response of a man having heard this message repeatedly.

The gospel of Christ is a message of grace.  The gospel of the kingdom is a message of wrath.  John the Baptist declared, “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come” (Matt 3:7).  He also stated that Jesus would baptize with “the Holy Spirit and fire.”  This is spoken in a context of divine judgment against the wicked (Matt 3:11-12).  Matthew 24:14 indicates that God will declare to the whole world His intent.  He is going to judge and remove everyone that is unlike Himself (both human and angelic) from the earth.  The universal proclamation will remove any possible excuse by those found wanting.  Revelation 16:7 describes the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14.

J. Hampton Keathley, III: Some expositors use the term “gospel” to include all the revelation God has given in Christ and hence conclude that there is only one gospel with various phases of truth belonging to this gospel. There are others who prefer to distinguish various messages in the Bible as gospel or “good news” even though they contain only one aspect of divine revelation, hence, the expression “gospel of grace,” referring to the goodness of grace, or to the gospel of the kingdom, dealing with the good news of the kingdom of God. The everlasting gospel seems to be neither the gospel of grace nor the gospel of the kingdom, but rather the good news that God at last is about to deal with the world in righteousness and establish His sovereignty over the world. This is an ageless gospel in the sense that God’s righteousness is ageless. Throughout eternity God will continue to manifest Himself in grace toward the saints and in punishment toward the wicked. To refer to the gospel of grace as an everlasting gospel is to ignore the context and usage of the term.

John MacArthur: The gospel is identified in various ways in the Bible:

  • the good news of the kingdom” (Matt 4:23)
  • the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1)
  • the good news of God” (Mark 1:14)
  • the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24)
  • the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor 4:4)
  • the gospel of salvation” (Eph 1:13)
  • the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15)
  • the glorious gospel” (1 Tim 1:11)

William Barclay: The angel comes with an everlasting gospel. Everlasting could mean that the gospel is eternally valid, that even in a world which is crashing to its doom its truth still stands. It could mean that the gospel has existed from all eternity. Paul, in the great final hymn of praise in Romans, speaks of Jesus Christ as the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25). It could mean that the gospel is the eternal purpose of God for the world. It could mean that it deals with the eternal things.

Robert Mounce: It is an eternal gospel in that it sets forth the eternal purpose of God for people. It relates to judgment and salvation in the coming eternal age.

c.  Worldwide Target Audience

to those who live on the earth,

and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;

James Hamilton: If you know the gospel, you know everlasting good news. And if you know the gospel, you should feel an enormous weight of responsibility. This is the only saving message, and so many people have never heard it. My prayer for the church is that our lives would be given to the proclamation of the gospel and that our highest commitment will be to make disciples of all nations.

G.K. Beale: The gospel is called eternal because it is immutable and permanently valid.

  1. (:7) Demanding a Response of Fear and Worship

and he said with a loud voice,

Kendell Easley: At the time of final judgment, everyone will acknowledge God, as expressed in three commands:

  • Fear God. They must reverence him instead of the monster.
  • Give him glory. They must honor him instead of the dragon.
  • Worship him. They must fall before him instead of the beast’s image.

a.  Fear God and Give Him Glory – His Judgment Has Come

“Fear God, and give Him glory,

because the hour of His judgment has come;

J. Hampton Keathley, III: “Fear God” — refers to a holy reverence that recognizes the sovereign authority and power of God to deal with man in His holy wrath. It is to recognize the true God who can destroy the soul rather than just the body as with the beast.

Give Him glory” — refers to the praise and honor that should accrue to God from man due to man’s knowledge and high estimation of God as the sovereign Creator of the universe.

The hour of his judgment has come” — is a reference to the final judgments of the Tribulation, the bowl judgments which are about to occur. These will conclude with the return of Christ Himself (Rev. 19) and lead to the removal of all unbelievers. The emphasis then is to not delay because the time is short.

Grant Osborne: A final chance to repent is being given the nations. Everywhere that εὐαγγέλιον is found in the NT, it implies the gracious offer of salvation. Lohse (1960: 85) links this with the proclamation of the gospel in the end times in Mark 13:10 and parallels. . .  Michaels (1997: 173) notes rightly the parallel with the summary of Jesus’ kingdom message in Mark 1:14–15, “The kingdom is near. Repent and believe the good news.” Also, in Rev. 5:9 and 7:9 the fourfold “nation, tribe, tongue, and people” is used for those who are converted from among the nations; and in 21:24, 26 the “nations” bring their “glory and honor” into the New Jerusalem. Aune (1998a: 825) calls this “an appeal for repentance and conversion to the God who created heaven and earth in the context of impending judgment.”

b.  Worship God – He Created All Things

and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth

and sea and springs of waters.”

J. Hampton Keathley, III: “And worship Him” — The word “worship” means to show reverence or respect. This word emphasizes the external display as seen in obedience, prayer, singing, and formal worship, while the word “fear” emphasizes the mental attitude behind the worship. In the Tribulation men will be forced to fear and formally acknowledge the beast and his image. In this message the angel is demanding that men reject the beast and formally turn to God to worship Him (cf. Rev. 14:11).

Grant Osborne: It is clear that the nations are forced to make a choice: worship God and receive salvation or worship the beast (14:9, 11 below) and receive judgment. Kraft (1974: 193) calls the angel a heavenly herald calling the whole world to pay homage to the King. The description of God as “the one who made the heaven and the earth” occurs only here, but creation theology permeates the book (3:14; 4:7, 11; 5:13; 10:6; 12:16). The God who created and sustains this world will end it on the basis of his sovereign will. Moreover, the fourfold litany of “heaven, earth, sea, springs of water” as in 10:6 reiterates the victims of the first four trumpets (8:6–12) and bowls (16:2–9). As such these summarize the effects of God’s wrath and prove again that one of the purposes of the judgment septets is to prove the omnipotence of God, disprove the earthly gods, and give the nations a final chance to repent.

Richard Phillips: The first basis of our worship of God is his glory as the Creator: “Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Rev. 14:7). All creatures are obligated to give worship to the Maker of all things, and Scripture notes the offense that their spiritual indifference causes: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). In light of this, the angel issues “a call to the earth’s inhabitants to awake to the reality of God’s rule before it is too late.”

B.  (:8) Second Angel: Proclaiming the Fall of Babylon the Great

And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.’

Daniel Akin: Verses 8-13 reveal a tremendous contrast between those who follow the Lamb and those who follow the beast, between the saved and the lost. We see first the destiny of the unsaved. Their end can only be described as heartbreaking, sorrowful, and tragic. Their future is unimaginably dark and hopeless. . .

In Revelation, Babylon stands for that system that stands religiously, politically, and economically in opposition to all that is of God. It is the antichrist’s worldwide political, economic, and religious empire. Founded by Nimrod (Gen 10:9), Babylon was the site of the first organized system of idolatrous and false worship (Gen 11:1-4). The tower of Babel was its most pronounced expression. So certain is its demise that the word fallen is repeated. It is certain to be destroyed (MacArthur, Revelation 12–22, 90).

All nations have been intoxicated, deceived, and seduced by this false system headed by the antichrist. Like a seductive prostitute, the Babylonian system leads men into passionate maddening adultery with a god who is no god at all.

Those who drink Babylon’s wine and experience her passion will also drink another wine and experience another passion. Tragically, it will be the wine of the wrath of God. As the 144,000 follow the Lamb, so those on the earth follow Babylon and the beast (14:9). The result is that they will now drink the wine of the wrath of God in full strength and in full measure.

Buist Fanning: In an abrupt preview of the story that follows, the angel declares the final destruction of the great imperial city that has spread its idolatry and opposed God and his people for so long.  The wording of this declaration is drawn from the Old Testament prophecies in Isaiah 21:9 and Jeremiah 51:8 of the ultimate fall of Judah’s great oppressor and destroyer (586 BC), the great Babylonian Empire.  The dramatic heavenly announcement (v. 8b), “fallen, fallen is Babylon,” is phrased with the double occurrence of a Greek aorist verb (ἔπεσεν, ἔπεσεν) to portray Babylon’s destruction as having just been accomplished in its totality (also in 18:2).  John uses “Babylon” here and later in Revelation not to refer literally to the city in Mesopotamia but as a typology of evil drawn from the ancient and prominent imperial enemy of God’s people in the Old Testament that destroyed Jerusalem and its temple and exiled its population.  Ancient Babylonia was a cardinal example of a pagan empire that opposed God and his people, and such examples would be repeated throughout history (e.g., the Seleucids in the 160s BC). Rome was the replication of the type in the first-century world, most notably in its destruction again of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70 and its pressure on Christians to engage in idolatrous practices. It also united a variety of nations in its godless rule as Babylon had done. This evil pattern will appear in its greatest form in the end-time opposition to God portrayed in Revelation 12–19.

James Hamilton: Are you living as if Babylon has fallen? Are you living as if Babylon’s fall is certain? To the extent that we are guilty of worldliness, we are not living like we believe Babylon will fall. And if we believe Babylon will fall and are still living in worldly ways, then we are guilty of trying to please ourselves with pleasures that God has condemned and will destroy.

Richard Phillips: We will learn more in chapters to come about Babylon as the great harlot of Revelation. For now, we learn that the evil world system not only oppressed people in bondage but also seduced them into soul-destroying sin. The original Babylon stood not only for power and violence, but also for luxury and sexual indulgence. If people could not beat Babylon, they would be easily led into imbibing the wine of its pleasure. Jeremiah described Babylon as “a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad” (Jer. 51:7). In John’s time, the same could be said of sexually indulgent Roman society. In our time, it is America and the other decadent Western nations that export sexually permissive values and provide the appetite that fuels a vast global network of prostitution and pornography. The fall of Babylon provides a sober warning of what will happen to America if it does not repent of its sin.

C.  (:9-11) Third Angel: Proclaiming Judgment of God’s Wrath for the Followers of the Beast

  1. (:9)  Cause for Judgment = Worshiping and Identifying with the Beast

And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice,

a.  Worshiping the Beast

If anyone worships the beast and his image,

b.  Identifying with the Beast

and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand,’

  1. (:10)  Conditions (Characteristics) of Judgment

a. Defined as the Full Strength of the Wrath of God

he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God,

which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger;

Buist Fanning: In declaring the consequences (v. 10) for anyone who accepts the beast’s dictates, the angel reverses the imagery of Babylon’s intoxicating enticements from v. 8 (implicitly revealing the alliance of the beast and the harlot of Babylon that ch. 17 will portray). The beast’s follower will suffer God’s wrath in full measure (v. 10a–b), expressed here as drinking from “a cup of his wrath” (cf. 16:19; 18:6; Isa 51:17–22) that contains “the wine of God’s anger” (cf. Rev 14:19; 19:15) which is “full strength” or undiluted (cf. LXX of Ps 75:8 and Jer 25:15). Changing the imagery of what God’s judicial anger will entail, the angel speaks of it as being “tormented in fire and sulfur” (v. 10c), a preview of the punishment of the beast and the false prophet in the lake of fire (19:20) as well as of the dragon (20:10) and unredeemed humanity (20:13–15; 21:8). This is said to be “before the holy angels and before the Lamb” as an allusion to its initial stages that will take place at the return of Christ to earth with his heavenly armies (19:11–14).

b.  Described as Everlasting Torment with Fire and Brimstone

and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone

c.  Directed by the Holy Angels and the Lamb

in the presence of the holy angels

and in the presence of the Lamb.

Van Parunak: This detail reminds us that God’s judgment on sin will endure as a public memorial of his absolute holiness.

Daniel Akin: Verses 10 and 11 provide a terrifying picture of hell and eternal damnation. It is impossible to read these verses and come up with any kind of doctrine of universalism, annihilationism, or conditional immortality. The picture is one of conscious, eternal, and everlasting torment before the angels and the Lamb. Those in hell will have a constant awareness and knowledge of the God they rejected. This will only enhance the horror and torment they will experience. Fire and brimstone are often used in Scripture with respect to divine judgment. God used it to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24-25; Luke 17:29) (MacArthur, Revelation 12–22, 91). Our Lord spoke of hell as a place of “eternal fire” (Matt 18:8; 25:41), “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43), and where “the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). In Matthew 25:41 Jesus taught that the everlasting fire or hell was “prepared for the Devil and his angels.” God does not desire that anyone would go to hell, but that all would come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). Those who go to hell choose their destiny, saying no to the grace of God made available to all through His Son, the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

G.K. Beale: those who have denied the Lamb will be forced to acknowledge Him as they are being punished in His presence (as in 6:16).

  1. (:11a)  Conditions (Characteristics of Judgment

a.  Described as Everlasting Torment

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever;

Grant Osborne: At first glance, this idea of the eternal punishment of the unsaved as a sweet-smelling incense to God and a source of delight for the heavenly multitudes seems offensive. Yet we must remember the tone of the book. These are the ones who have killed the saints (6:9–11), worshiped the beast (13:4, 8, 12, 15; 14:9), and generally rejected the overtures of God’s calling for repentance (9:20–21; 14:6–7, 9–10). The judgment of God is not only deserved but mandated by the actions of the earth-dwellers. Moreover, this is the vindication of the saints promised in 6:11 and the answer to the imprecatory prayers of 6:9 and 8:3–4.

b.  Destined to an Unending Restless Existence

and they have no rest day and night,

Buist Fanning: The idea of unending torment for those who reject Christ seems so horrendous that even several evangelical theologians have argued that such a harsh judgment cannot be squared with the biblical view of God, even of God’s justice.  How just is it for temporal, earthly sin to be punished by eternal and conscious torment? Their alternative is annihilationism, the view that the wicked are destroyed (i.e., obliterated, removed from existence) in hell rather than eternally punished.  But such a view is unsupportable even in the biblical texts that use the terms “destroy, destruction” (ἀπόλλυμι, ἀπώλεια), since in speaking of God’s punishment for sin the words do not mean “annihilate” but “ruin, take away all that is valuable; suffer ultimate loss.”  The same texts that speak of “eternal” life refer also to “eternal” punishment (e.g., Matt 25:41, 46). Reference to the unending experience of suffering for humans who reject the infinitely glorious God are found throughout the New Testament (e.g., Mark 9:43–48; Phil 3:18–19; 2 Thess 1:9; Heb 6:2; Jude 7). A fitting appreciation of the infinite majesty of God puts into perspective in some measure the justice of such a judgment for those who spurn him.

  1. (:11b)  Cause for Judgment = Worshiping and Identifying with the Beast

a.  Worshiping the Beast

those who worship the beast and his image,

b.  Identifying with the Beast

and whoever receives the mark of his name.”


John Walvoord: The stern warning addressed to all worshipers of the beast is also an encouragement to those who put their trust in Christ in the time of great tribulation. Though some of them will face martyrdom and others will need to go into hiding, they are assured that their lot is far preferable to those who accept the easy way out and worship the beast.

 A.  (:12) Blessing Pronounced on Those Who Persevere in Obedience and Faith

Here is the perseverance of the saints

who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

Van Parunak: “have the testimony of Jesus Christ” — The parallel with 12:17 suggests that we should understand “the faith of Jesus” as “the faith that Jesus teaches,” “the testimony of Jesus Christ,” the witness that he is giving throughout this book. Compare 1:2, which calls the book “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Recall our earlier discussion of 12:17. The testimony originates with the Jesus Christ. We have received it through John, and are now responsible to pass it on to others.

G.K. Beale: The fact of coming judgment against their persecutors also motivates Christians to persevere. This is a motivation arising not from revenge but from a desire that judgment will show their cause to be true and will therefore vindicate the righteous name of God, which has been blasphemed by the beast and his allies.

Sola Scriptura: This verse is the key to why this announcement occurs at this point in the chronology of the Revelation.  The reader should remember that we are within days of the final outpouring of the wrath of God – the bowl judgments.  The battle of Armageddon is probably four to five weeks away, which adds to the importance of this warning.

B.  (:13) Blessing Pronounced on End Times Martyrs

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write,’

  1. State of Blessing

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!

Richard Phillips: Christ’s blessing in death is directed to those who live in faith now. In fact, the only way to die in the Lord is to live in the Lord: dying in Christ is the final triumph of the believer who has lived valiantly for Jesus. Charles P. McIlvaine writes that dying in the Lord is the enduring to the end, of a relation formed when the Christian life began. . . . It is the Christian going through the valley and shadow of death, precisely as he went through the dangers, and trials, and sorrows, and duties, of this mortal life, saying, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” . . . . It is faith overcoming, in the last conflict, precisely as it overcame in every previous conflict of the Christian’s pilgrimage—the same faith, resting on the same promises, embracing the same Saviour just as ever before. . . . It is the child of God falling asleep in the same arms of redeeming love in which he was always embraced, and where always he was safe in the peace of God.

One way to appreciate the rest that believers enjoy in death is to compare the Bible’s teaching with the abominable Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. The pope tells his followers to expect not rest in death but purging fires of torment. McIlvaine explains what Rome teaches the dead in Christ to expect:

Instead of resting from their labors, [they] have entered on labors and pains more severe than ever they knew before; instead of being blessed and happy with Christ, are suffering for their sins, in distant and dark separation from him; instead of finding that his blood “cleanseth from all sin,” are experiencing the pains of purgatorial flames . . . ; instead of being liberated from all terrestrial things, are now dependent on the prayers, and masses, and indulgences of the Church on earth, on the will of priests, on the charity of sinners, and the payment of money to buy the priest’s mediation, for the [shortening] of their years of suffering.

  1. State of Rest

“’Yes,’ says the Spirit,

‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’

Grant Osborne: Incredibly, the “Spirit” now adds a comment solidifying the exhortation and promise to remain true to Christ. Elsewhere the “Spirit” is seen as the revelatory source behind the seven letters (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22) and prophetic activity (19:10) and the one breathing life into the two witnesses (11:11) and bringing the visions to John (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). Only here and in 22:17 (“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’”) does the Spirit actually speak in the book. Thus, it is all the more important that the reader heed these words, for they begin with a direct “voice from heaven” and conclude with a message from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s ναί (nai, yes) is functionally equivalent to ἀμήν (amēn, amen) in 1:7 and 22:20 (so Aune 1998a: 839) and means the Spirit is affirming the truth of the special blessings awaiting those who “die in the Lord.”

Sola Scriptura: The rest of the believers follow the completion of his divinely appointed task on earth.  The permanent record of the works of believers on earth is maintained.  The nature of the suffering believers will experience during the final days of the Day of the Lord warrants special attention for them.  It is not that others who have died before this point are not resting as well.  This is an encouragement to those living at this very difficult time to remain faithful.  No doubt many “sheep” will die during the thirty-day period following the Seventieth Week of Daniel as Antichrist attempts to put together his final army to prevent the reign of the Male-Son on earth (Rev 20:4).


Grant Osborne: There is debate as to whether these are two synonymous images for the judgment of the wicked (Hendriksen; Morris; Beagley; Roloff; Fekkes 1994: 193; Michaels; Giesen; Aune; Beale) or whether the first harvest is of the faithful and the second of the sinner (Swete, Lohmeyer, Farrer, Ford, Prigent, Krodel, Bauckham 1993b: 290–96).

James Hamilton: Some interpreters think that both sections of this passage are harvests that result in judgment.  If 14:14–16 is depicting a harvest that leads to judgment, the ripening of the earth would be the filling up of transgressions (cf. Genesis 15:16; Matthew 23:32; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). This may be correct, but I’m inclined to agree with those interpreters who see a harvest of the righteous in 14:14–16, followed by a harvest of the wicked in 14:17–20. The wicked are definitely harvested in 14:17–20, for the grapes are cast into the winepress of God’s wrath (v. 19). I think the harvest in 14:14–16 contrasts with that judgment for at least three reasons:

  • first, the 144,000 are described as the “firstfruits” in 14:4, which points to a full harvest in 14:14–16;
  • second, the harvesters are different—Jesus harvests the righteous, then another angel harvests the wicked;
  • third, this matches the judgment of the righteous whose names are in the Book of Life in 20:12, followed by the judgment of the unrighteous whose names are not in the Book of Life in 20:13–15.3 So if 14:14–16 is a harvest of the righteous, the ripening of the earth might refer to the gospel going to all nations (Matthew 24:14), the full number of the Gentiles being brought in (Romans 11:25), people from every tribe being saved (Revelation 5:9), and the two witnesses finishing their testimony (11:7).

A.  (:14-16) Reaping the Grain Harvest of the Righteous

  1. (:14)  Judgment Administered by Son of Man

a.  Judgment Presence

And I looked, and behold, a white cloud,

and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man,

Grant Osborne: The question here is whether the white cloud signifies judgment (the cloud in 1:7) or salvation (the cloud in 10:1; 11:12). The emphasis on the “white cloud” could favor either (the white of purity or the white of victory). The theme of judgment even affects the saints, however, for they will also stand before the bema or judgment seat in 20:12; and it is judgment that dominates this section, as seen in that Christ “sits on” this cloud. Thus, the “white cloud” signifies the glorious victory of Christ as he prepares to harvest the earth.

b.  Judgment Accessories

                                    1)  Golden Crown

having a golden crown on His head,

Robert Mounce: The golden wreath designates the Messiah as one who has conquered and thereby won the right to act in judgment.

2)  Sharp Sickle

and a sharp sickle in His hand.

James Hamilton: The fact that Jesus is coming in the clouds identifies him with the one “like a son of man” who will receive the kingdom from “the Ancient of Days” in Daniel 7:13. The fact that Jesus is “seated” identifies him with the one seated at the Lord’s right hand in Psalm 110. Jesus himself is described in terms that put Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 together in Matthew 26:64: “from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” John seems to allude to this connection in his description of Jesus in Revelation 14. This indicates that John (and Matthew) learned to interpret the Old Testament from Jesus. Jesus is wearing “a golden crown.” He has conquered and received what he promised to those who overcome in 2:10 and 3:11. Jesus has “a sharp sickle in his hand.” He comes to harvest the earth.

Grant Osborne: The emphasis on the “sharpness” of the sickle brings out the finality and power behind the judgment.

  1. (:15)  Judgment Announced as Ripe and Ready

And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.’

  1. (:16)  Judgment Accomplished by Process of Reaping

And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth;

and the earth was reaped.

[Alternative View:]

G.K. Beale: The Joel passage is the only one in the OT where both images of harvest (as in vv. 15-16) and of treading the wine press (as in vv. 17-20) occur, and there they are both images connoting judgment (for a similar OT passage, see Isa. 63:2-3). On balance, therefore, the passage probably refers to judgment only.

Buist Fanning: Given the background in Joel 3 and the fact that nothing clearly signals the presence of the righteous in this grain harvest, it seems best to understand both passages as symbols of God’s judgment on the unrighteous.  The first (vv. 14–16) is a more general and the second (vv. 17–20) a more detailed picture of the same action.  The imagery of rebellious humanity being summarily cut down like stalks of grain at the edge of a sickle is a graphic and terrible warning of judgment to come. But just as anyone who is observant can tell that it is the season for harvest in a positive sense (John 4:35–37), so the world’s inhabitants should be aware that the time is drawing near for the harvest of God’s judgment to break in upon them. The warnings are clear; the time for repentance has come.

B.  (:17-20) Reaping the Grape Harvest for the Wine Press of God’s Wrath

  1. (:17)  Judgment Administered by an Angel with a Sharp Sickly

And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven,

and he also had a sharp sickle.

Charles Swindoll: While the wheat harvest represents the sudden, swift intrusion of God’s judgment into human history, the grape harvest signifies the severity of that judgment.

  1. (:18) Judgment Announced as Ripe and Ready

And another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying,

‘Put in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.’

Daniel Akin: The vision shifts from the “grain harvest” to the “grape harvest.” I believe this is also our first glimpse of the battle or campaign of Armageddon (see 16:12-16; 19:17-21). The fifth and sixth angels of chapter 14 appear in verses 17-18. The fifth, like the fourth, comes from the sanctuary. Like our Lord, he has a sharp sickle for reaping. The sixth angel comes from the altar, the altar of incense (6:9-11; 8:3-5). There is once more a connection between the prayers of the saints and judgment on earth. God hears and answers our prayers. The fifth angel commands the sixth to harvest the grapes “from earth’s vineyard, because its grapes have ripened.” Fully ripened is the idea. The time is now.

The angel responds immediately and decisively (14:19). There is no delay, no hesitation. In the ancient Near East in John’s time, grapes were trampled or stomped by foot in a trough that had a duct leading to a lower trough or basin where the juice was collected. “The splattering of the juice as the grapes are stomped vividly pictures the splattered blood of those who will be destroyed” (MacArthur, Revelation 12–22, 117).Treading grapes in a winepress was a familiar figure of divine wrath and judgment.  (Isa 63:3-4; Joel 3:13; Rev 19:15)

  1. (:19-20)  Judgment Accomplished by the Process of the Wine Press of God’s Wrath

a.  (:19)  Gathering the Grapes and Throwing Them into the Wine Press

And the angel swung his sickle to the earth, and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God.

Buist Fanning: The  Old Testament picture of treading out grapes in the winepress as a figure for judgment (Isa 18:5; 63:2; Lam 1:15; Joel 3:13) now is added to the harvest imagery: “The winepress was trodden outside the city” (v. 20a). This is a preview of one of the descriptions of Christ’s judgment of his enemies at his glorious return (Rev 19:15). Adding the detail that this is done “outside the city” locates this overpowering retribution near Jerusalem. Jerusalem or Zion (cf. 14:1), the locus of God’s restoration of his people Israel (14:1) and the center of Christ’s millennial reign (20:4–6), is the setting spoken of in many of the Old Testament prophecies that John has alluded to in this chapter, especially those that anticipate a final battle of the dragon and his minions against the Lord God and the Lamb (Isa 62:6–63:6; 66:10–17; Joel 3:1–17; Zech 12:8–12; 14:3–5; cf. Rev 19:19–21).

The final ghastly feature of the winepress imagery is the utterly exaggerated picture of “blood” running out from the winepress for “sixteen hundred stadia” (about 200 miles) at the depth of “horses’ bridles” (v. 20b).  Again the vehicle and tenor of the metaphor are intermingled since “blood” is not generally a part of treading out grapes but of the defeat or killing of enemies in battle

b.  (:20)  Great Quantities of Blood Produced by the Wine Press

And the wine press was trodden outside the city,

and blood came out from the wine press,

up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

William Barclay: It is said that the blood came up to the horses’ bridles and spread for a distance of 1,600 stades or furlongs. No one has ever discovered a really satisfying explanation of this. The least unsatisfactory explanation is that 1,600 stades is almost exactly the length of Palestine from north to south; and this would mean that the tide of judgment would flow over and include the whole land. In that case, the figure would symbolically describe the completeness of the judgment.

Robert Mounce: The distance, 1,600 stadia (some 184 miles), has been variously interpreted. Geographically it is the approximate length of Palestine.  Symbolically it squares the number four (the number of the earth: “four corners of the earth,” 20:8; “four winds of the earth,” 7:1) and multiplies it by the square of ten (the number of completeness; cf. 5:11; 20:6).  The judgment of God, portrayed ideally as taking place outside the holy city, extends to all people everywhere who find themselves beyond the pale of divine protection.

Judgment is certain. The followers of the Lamb are made to realize by means of the visions of chapter 14 that not only will they ultimately enjoy the immediate presence of God and the Lamb but that their faith will be vindicated by the judgment brought upon their oppressors. The beasts of chapter 13 employ every method at their disposal to gain the allegiance of the entire world, but those who belong not to this world but to the heavenly realm yet to be fully manifested successfully resist both the deceptive ploys of the Satanic beasts and all their attempts to bring about allegiance by force.