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Kendell Easley: In 1712, the brilliant hot-tempered German composer George Frideric Handel moved to London, where he lived until his death in 1759. He achieved great fame as a composer of Italian opera, but abandoned opera for the oratorio in 1741. The oratorio originated as a musical drama to be played without staging in an “oratory” or meeting room. Principal singers represented biblical characters or saints from Christian history, with a chorus interpreting the events.

Handel began to work on Messiah in 1741, using words from Scripture compiled by his friend Charles Jennens. He composed the music for all fifty-three numbers in an unbelievable twenty-four days. Handel conducted the first public performance for Messiah in Dublin on April 13, 1742. He gave his last presentation the day before he died.

The thrilling “Hallelujah” Chorus is Handel at his best, and the tradition of the audience standing while it is sung began in Handel’s own lifetime. He brilliantly divided the choir into two groups that sing different themes. Messiah has remained the most frequently performed and highly regarded oratorio ever written. While audiences in the United States associate it with Christmas, in Handel’s day Messiah was an Easter presentation, for the “Hallelujah” Chorus is really not about Christmas but about Christ’s final victory. Jennens’ words were taken directly from the only chapter in the New Testament that uses the word hallelujah, Revelation 19. “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” will come true in its fullest and most complete sense only at the mighty return of Jesus Christ in triumph.

Buist Fanning: All of heaven rejoices over Babylon’s judgment and over the coming marriage supper of the Lamb (19:1-10). . .  This chapter is divided into two sections that bridge between major divisions of the book. . .  The first section (19:1-10) consists of two units signaled by the words “I heard something like the voice of a great multitude” (vv. 1, 6).  These contain praise to God centering on his judgment of Babylon the prostitute (vv. 1-5) and then praise to God centering on the preparation of the Lamb’s bride and ending with a beatitude and John’s interaction with the angel who revealed these things to him (vv. 6-10).

The second section consists of three units signaled by “and I saw” (vv. 11, 17, 19).  John describes Christ as he comes in judgment (vv. 11-16), hears an invitation to feast on the evil armies (vv. 17-18), and records Christ’s decisive victory over them (vv. 19-21).

Daniel Akin: A single word captures the heart of this text: “Hallelujah.” It appears in verses 1, 3, 4, and 6. Surprisingly, the word appears nowhere else in the New Testament. In 1741 George Friederich Handel (1685–1759) wrote Messiah, the most famous oration of which is the “Hallelujah Chorus.” It is a tradition around the world that when it begins the congregation stands and remains standing until its completion. In heaven, however, they respond differently. There they fall down and worship (19:4). They worship “God, who is seated on the throne” because He has judged “the notorious prostitute” (19:1-5), prepared the bride (the church) for the marriage supper of the Lamb (19:6-8), and directed all of heaven and earth to keep their attention on Jesus (19:9-10). Heaven’s “Hallelujah Chorus” is a response to the command of 18:20, and it anticipates the second coming of Jesus (19:11-21), His millennial reign (20:1-6), Satan’s final judgment (20:7-10), the great white throne judgment (20:11-15), and the establishment of the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem (Rev 21–22).

Craig Koester: The multitudes praise God for the “salvation” that he has brought (19:1). In this context, salvation refers to deliverance from the oppressive power of Babylon, whose smoke goes up forever and ever as a sign that its demise is permanent (19:3). Some readers may be troubled by the idea of celebrating such a victory, preferring a gentler version of the gospel; but the context suggests that joy is appropriate. Babylon was responsible for corrupting the earth and shedding the blood of the saints (19:2). Those who have been subjected to this corruption and whose lives have been threatened by the city’s oppressive power will find blessed relief when oppression is lifted. Moreover, the justice of God, as celebrated here (19:2), consists in directing the beast to turn its rage away from the saints and toward its own ally, the harlot. Justice is done when evil self-destructs. Babylon’s fiery end comes when the demonic power that it uses against others ends up destroying Babylon itself (17:16).

Albert Mohler: This passage is the heavenly response to God’s justice.  John hears the sound of a massive multitude praising God.  The multitude certainly includes all angelic inhabitants of heaven, but it specifically includes the entirety of the redeemed people of God (cf. 7:9).  The elated mood expressed by the heavenly multitude is the opposite of the grievous laments of the kings, merchants, and sailors (18:9-20).  The reason the heavenly multitude shouts “Hallelujah!” is because God has judged Babylon and avenged the blood of his servants (19:2).  Therefore, the heavenly multitude worships God accordingly for all his righteous acts of judgment.

John MacArthur: (vv. 1-10) — The praise seen in heaven throughout Revelation (4:8–11; 5:9–14; 7:10–12; 11:15–18; 15:3–4; 16:5–6) reaches a crescendo in this text. The heavenly rejoicing is not over the damnation of those who reject God (cf. Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11), but because Jesus Christ will soon remove those obstinate sinners from the world. God will then be properly honored, the Lord Jesus Christ enthroned, and the earth restored to its lost glory. Heaven rejoices because history is finally going to reach its culmination as the true King establishes His kingdom on earth.

As the text unfolds, five reasons for heaven’s joy become evident. Heaven rejoices because full salvation has come, because justice is meted out, because rebellion is ended, because God is in control, and because the marriage of the Lamb is completed.


A.  (:1) Refrain of Praise

  1. The Choir = Heavenly Multitude

After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice

of a great multitude in heaven,

G.K. Beale: The phrase after these things refers primarily to the vision of Babylon’s demise, especially as portrayed in 18:20-24.

Sola Scriptura: “After these things” – indicates the final vision unit in the Revelation.  This vision conclude the eschatological judgment of God and moves through the millennial kingdom of the Son of Man to the final eternal kingdom of God on a new earth.

John MacArthur: The text does not identify those whose composite voices make up the loud voice John heard, but they are likely angels. This great multitude does not appear to include the redeemed saints, since they are encouraged to join in the praise later (vv. 5–8). The uncounted millions of holy angels make up a majestic, awe-inspiring choir.

Kendell Easley: Just as three earthly groups lamented Babylon’s fall, so three sets of heavenly voices shout hallelujah for Babylon’s fall.

  1. The Content = Hallelujah

saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;’

Robert Mounce: The Hebrew form of “Hallelujah” introduces a number of Psalms (106, 111-13, 117, 135, 146-50). . .  Salvation is more than personal deliverance. In this context it refers to the safeguarding of God’s entire redemptive program. It stands first in the sequence in that it is the fundamental aspect of God’s redemptive work (cf. 7:9). Glory and power follow and refer respectively to the majesty and the might revealed in effecting a deliverance of such magnitude.

John MacArthur: The angelic chorus opens with the important word Hallelujah, an exclamation of praise to God. The Greek word Allēlouia is a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase comprised of the verb halal (“to praise”) and the noun Yah (“God”). It appears only in this chapter in the New Testament (cf. vv 3–4, 6). The Hebrew phrase first appears in Psalm 104:35,”Let sinners be consumed from the earth and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!” In its first Old Testament appearance, as in its first New Testament appearance, Hallelujah expresses praise for God’s judgment on the wicked oppressors of His people. The Hebrew phrase is associated with God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt in Psalms 113–18, which are known collectively as the Egyptian Hallel. It is a word often associated with both the judgment of the ungodly and the salvation of God’s people.

Heaven rejoices specifically because salvation has come for God’s people, and with it the glory and power that belong to God (cf. 1 Chron. 29:11) have been put on display. The word salvation does not focus on justification or sanctification, but celebrates the final aspect of salvation history, the glorification of the saints in the kingdom of Christ. The imminent coming of Jesus Christ prompts this praise as the angels anticipate the glory of His kingdom.

Richard Phillips: We can grasp the significance of God’s glory by considering the two Bible words used for this attribute. The Hebrew word for glory is kabod, which originally meant that something is “weighty.” To speak of the glory of God, then, is to celebrate his weightiness. We live in a time when thoughts of God exercise little influence. Secular people do not consider God to be very consequential, so that one may believe whatever one wants about God and do whatever one desires without fear of God’s judgment. The events at the end of history will display both the folly of this attitude and the infinite weightiness of God! God is the true heavyweight, and those who have ignored him will suffer a great fall in the last judgment. The Greek word for glory is doxa. This comes from the verb dokeo, which means “to seem.” It came to be used for something that we esteem or that is especially impressive. It is rightly used of God, since he is the most seemly of all beings. The events at the end of the age will prove that nothing is more significant than our relationship with God. Nothing is more important now than that we should live in God’s favor through faith in Jesus, the Savior whom he has sent.

William Barclay: God is praised because salvation, glory and power belong to him. Each of these three great attributes of God should awaken its own response in human hearts. The salvation of God should awaken our gratitude; the glory of God should awaken our reverence; and the power of God is always exercised in the love of God and should, therefore, awaken our trust. Gratitude, reverence, trust – these are the elements that make up real praise.

B.  (:2) Reasons for Praise

  1. Barometer of God’s Judgment

because His judgments are true and righteous;

Richard Phillips: The end of history will see God glorified not only in saving his people but also in judging the wicked. The angels thus praise God’s holy justice: “for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute” (Rev. 19:2).

God is glorified in his wrath for sin, since “his judgments are true and just.” God is not capricious or unfair in judging, but exercises perfect justice in accord with his law. Even those who reject God’s Word tend to agree in the punishment of murderers, thieves, and cheats. God enforces the entirety of his law, upholding it perfectly in his judgment of sin. Especially in places where injustice widely prevails and evil goes unchecked, the cry goes up for justice to be done. At the end of history, when Christ has returned and put an end to the sinful world, this cry for justice will be satisfied to the praise of God.

Grant Osborne: God’s justice is “true” because it is based on his own covenant faithfulness and “just” because it is based on his holy character. In other words, his judgments are both morally true and legally just (see on 15:3; 16:7). Babylon is being destroyed because her evil deeds demand such an extreme punishment. This is expressed further in the second ὅτι clause, stating the basis of the “judgment” of “the great prostitute.” This fulfills the promise to John by the angel in 17:1, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute.” That judgment was carried out in 17:16; 18:2, 8, 9–19, 20, 21, and here it is celebrated.

Warren Wiersbe: The song emphasizes God’s attributes, which is the proper way to honor Him. We do not rejoice at the sinfulness of Babylon, or even the greatness of Babylon’s fall. We rejoice that God is “true and righteous” (Rev. 15:3; 16:7; 17:6) and that He is glorified by His holy judgments. As we discovered in Revelation 8:1–6, God’s throne and altar are related to His judgments. Revelation 19:3 should be compared with Revelation 14:10–11, and Revelation 19:4 with Revelation 5:6–10.

J. Hampton Keathley, III: God’s perfect and holy character, His perfect righteousness and justice, cannot act unfairly or unjustly. He has perfect knowledge (omniscience) and, therefore, He has all the facts so that all His judgments are in accord with the truth. There is no hearsay evidence in the court of God. In this case, the ground of God’s judgment demonstrated in the fall of Babylon was the immorality by which the great harlot seduced and corrupted the earth.

  1. Basis for God’s Judgment on Babylon

a.  Seducing Others to Sin

for He has judged the great harlot

who was corrupting the earth with her immorality,

Buist Fanning: Babylon’s role in leading the people of the earth to moral ruin or “corruption” by her evil and profane deeds (“her sexual immorality”; cf. 14:8; 18:3, “all the nations”) demonstrates God’s righteousness in judging her.

Richard Phillips: The world tempts people by making actions seem attractive and pleasing when they are in fact immoral and ultimately destructive. This is heinously offensive to God, who made mankind to live in holiness and blessing. Genesis 3 shows how sin came into the world by means of deception, ruining the world and placing mankind under the shadow of corruption and death. Every time sin is similarly advanced by deceitful enticements, God is infuriated once more. How terrible it is to lead a person into sin, especially those who are young and impressionable. Jesus declared that it would be better to be drowned in the sea with a millstone around one’s neck than to lead a child into evil (Matt. 18:6), and Revelation 18:21 shows this very judgment as befalling Babylon. Today, how great is the sin of the entertainment industry, advertisers, and government officials who promote immorality in order to gain money and power. In the end, God will vindicate his law by judging the entire Babylonian world for this kind of corruption.

G.R. Beasley-Murray: In corrupting the earth Babylon was undoing the work of the Creator and frustrating the purpose of creation.  In waging war on the saints she fought the God of heaven.  Her works accorded with here nature as the incarnation of the spirit of evil and its instrument in the world (ch. 13).  The time had to come for the destroyer to be destroyed (11:18), and when it came the judgment was acclaimed by heaven as true and just.

b.  Slaughtering God’s Servants

and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.

Buist Fanning: The further grounding of his just judgment is that she had slaughtered God’s people for their faithful service to him (symbolized in “the blood of his servants”; cf. 18:24) and thus rightly deserved God’s vengeance (see same verb “avenge,” in 6:10) exacted “on her.”

Kendell Easley: One great concern of Revelation is to show that God will ultimately vindicate the Christian martyrs. On earth they were rejected and killed by the prostitute city as if they were wicked people. They had cried, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (6:10). With the death of the harlot, God now has avenged the wrongful death of the saints. (Rev. 6:10 and 19:2 are the only two verses in the book that use the Greek verb for avenge. In both instances, it is martyrs for whom divine justice must be served. For other New Testament appearances of the verb ekdikeoµ, see Luke 18:3,5; Rom. 12:19; 2 Cor. 10:6).

Gordon Fee: Thus what John’s beleaguered churches need to hear is that “our God” has condemned the great prostitute; that God thus intends to mete out justice on an empire that cares nothing for God and will express its contempt by slaughtering God’s own people.


And a second time they said,’”Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.’

Buist Fanning: Here the heavenly voice from v. 1 repeats its declaration of praise in much the same terms as in v. 2, followed by a gesture of divine worship and an antiphonal response offered by the two groups of heavenly beings seen in John’s original throne room vision in chapters 4-5.

John MacArthur: The destruction of the last and most powerful empire in human history marks the end of man’s day. The rebellion that began long ago in the Garden of Eden is finally ended (apart from a futile, short-lived revolt at the end of the Millennium; 20:7–10). There will be no more false religion, worldly philosophy, injustice, unrighteousness; all the sorry results of human depravity will be vanquished.

James Hamilton: Her punishment will never end. Why? Because of the infinite majesty of God, against whom she sinned. The punishment of sin is ultimately about God’s word being upheld as justice is visited against sin. Hell lasts forever because God is infinitely great.

Grant Osborne: This smoke “of torment” is in direct contrast to the “smoke of incense,” the prayers of the saints (8:4), and the “smoke from the glory of God” that filled the temple (15:8). Also, the “eternal torment” of the unbelievers is in direct contrast to the God “who lives forever and ever” (1:18; 4:9, 10; 10:6; 15:7) and “reigns forever and ever” (11:15) and especially to the eternal reward awaiting the righteous (22:5).

Kendell Easley: Not only has evil been judged, but the sentence is without possibility of reversal. The city is pictured as an everlasting ruin: the smoke of her burning goes up for ever and ever. Because God lives “for ever and ever” (15:7), his righteous condemnation must also endure forever. In the Book of Revelation, three times he measures out eternal punishment: to the followers of the beast, to the great prostitute, and to the “unholy trinity” of dragon, beast, and false prophet (14:11; 19:3; 20:10). Wicked humans, wicked organizations, and wicked spirits alike will one day go into eternal destruction.


And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’

Grant Osborne: Elsewhere in Revelation, ἀμήν concludes the doxology of 1:6, affirms the prophecy of 1:7, concludes the series of praise songs in 5:9–14, frames the praise song of 7:12, and concludes the book (22:20, 21). Throughout, it maintains its OT meaning of “so be it,” authenticating and guaranteeing the efficacy of the worship (see on 1:6). Thus, the “amen” in some sense confirms the worship of the previous hymns, and the “hallelujah” continues the praise established in 19:1, 3 and leads into the call to praise (v. 5). In light of all that God has accomplished for his people, the whole of the celestial kingdom can only say, “Praise Yahweh!”

Buist Fanning: Verse 4 records the reverential response of the heavenly elders and living creatures like those John saw around God’s throne in 4:4 and 4:6.  They have appeared in scenes of heavenly worship at several places in Revelation since that initial throne room vision (7:11; 11:16; 14:3), but this verse is their last mention in the book.  Their appearance here is a reminder that all the judgments of chapters 6-18 have been directed from the heavenly throne room and watched with rapt attention from there.  In their deep reverence they fall in worship again before God on his throne.

William Barclay: We saw that the twenty-four elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles, and, therefore, stand for the entire Church. The four living creatures, respectively like a lion, an ox, a human being and an eagle, stand for two things, for all that is bravest, strongest, wisest and swiftest in nature – and for the cherubim. Hence a song of praise from the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures is a hymn of praise to God from the whole Church and the whole of nature.

Alternate View:

Richard Phillips: Revelation 19:4 shows the response of the worship leaders of heaven to God’s eternal judgment of the wicked. . .  The twenty-four elders are angelic counterparts to the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the church, who thus represent the entirety of the redeemed people of God in history. The “four living creatures” are the cherubim who are closest to God’s throne and represent the submission of all creation (see Rev. 4:4–6).


A.  Authoritative Voice Commanding Praise

And a voice came from the throne, saying,Give praise to our God,’

David Aune: indicates the divine authorization of the speaker

John MacArthur: The text does not identify the owner of the voice that came from the throne, but it is likely an angel, since he refers to God as our God. The voice authoritatively calls another group to join in the anthem of praise, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” The redeemed believers in heaven are described as God’s bond-servants (cf. v. 2; 1:1; 2:20; 7:3; 11:18; 15:3; 22:3, 6; Luke 2:29; Acts 4:29; 16:17; Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:7; 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1), and those who fear Him (cf. Deut. 6:13; 8:6; 10:12, 20; 13:4; Josh. 24:14; 1 Sam. 12:14, 24; 2 Kings 17:39; Pss. 22:23, 25; 25:14; 33:18; 34:7, 9; 85:9; 103:11, 13, 17; Luke 1:50). The all-inclusive phrase the small and the great (cf. 11:18) transcends all human categories and distinctions to embrace everyone. All the redeemed are called to praise God.

Gordon Fee: At this point toward the end of the book, John pictures all creatures in heaven and on earth as joining in the worship of God, a concern that is then intensified by a responding voice that came from the throne. But at this point John leaves the reader simply to ponder as to the identity of the speaker. The content of what is said eliminates the possibility that it is God who speaks, since the aim of the “voice” is to call on the whole populace of heaven to praise our God, whereas the worshipers themselves are identified simply as all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small! As with such moments elsewhere in the book, this interlude moment serves as a kind of formal introduction, plus invitation, for John’s readers and everyone else to join in the final “hallelujah” that follows.

John Walvoord: Another voice is now heard from the throne, calling God’s servants to praise the Lord. It is probable that this is a voice of an angel rather than the voice of God or the voice of the saints. The occasion for this praise is God’s judgment against evil people who have oppressed His people, and all of God’s servants are invited to join the praise. The verb “praise” is in the present tense and is therefore a command to “keep on praising” the Lord.

Grant Osborne: This is the third group worshiping in chapter 19: first the heavenly multitude, then the elders and living creatures, and now the saints on earth.

B.  All-Inclusive Identification of God’s People

  1. Bond Servants

all you His bond-servants,

  1. God Fearers

you who fear Him,

Richard Phillips: True servants of God worship him with reverence and are careful to obey God’s Word. The believer’s fear of God is not a servile terror, but the respectful attitude of a son for a father whose rule is accepted and whose punishment is dreaded. The wise Christian knows that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6). Therefore, he is careful how he lives, and while he delights in the Lord’s kindness and love, he worships “with reverence and awe,” knowing that “our God is a consuming fire” (12:28–29).

  1. Classless

the small and the great.”

Buist Fanning: The final phrase extends the call across all groups of God’s people regardless of their status (cf. 13:16; 19:18; 20:12).  The combination of “those who fear him, the small and the great” is derived from Psalm 115:13 and appears also in Revelation 11:18.

Robert Mounce: “You who fear him, both small and great” (cf. Ps 115:13) are believers on earth from every socio-economic level, and represent every stage of spiritual maturity. The call is directed to the church on earth because it wouldn’t make sense to admonish those in heaven to praise him, for that is what they were just doing in vv. 1–4.