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Buist Fanning: While John knows the traditions about Jesus and the New Testament preaching of his saving work, the predominant themes of his visions are drawn from Old Testament portrayals of the divine warrior coming to defeat the nations and regather repentant Israel in a restored Jerusalem from which a Davidic king will rule both faithful Israel and believing gentiles. . .

[The names for Christ in this passage] reflect the biblical idea that the name of a person is indicative of his or her true essence and role, and so a “new name” can symbolize a change of character or status.  Likewise a new circumstance can reveal that an existing name, one already known, has a depth of meaning and relevance not previously appreciated.

Daniel Akin: Main Idea: When Jesus returns, He will do so in power and glory as He executes justice on all who reject and oppose Him. . .

The apostle John’s vision of the second coming of Christ focuses primarily on one major aspect of His return: His complete and total victory over all the powers of evil. He sees our King coming as the conquering warrior Messiah “in bloodstained garments, destroying all hostile and opposing powers with his mighty sword. . . . In his cross and resurrection, Christ won a great victory over the powers of evil; by his second coming, he will execute that victory” (Ladd, Commentary, 252–53). There is not a more glorious description of our coming King in the whole Bible than verses 11-16.


G.K. Beale: Christ will reveal His sovereignty and faithfulness in fulfilling His promise to judge evil by defeating the forces of wickedness at the end of history. . .

This passage offers a picture of Christ far different from, yet complementary to (and hinted at by) the portrait of His earthly life presented in the Gospels. He is represented as a divine warrior executing judgment and ruling sovereignly over all. His true identity cannot be known or controlled by others. He will crush His enemies in the winepress of the wrath of God. Not only that, His saints will assist Him in the execution of this judgment. How often do we consider the full biblical picture of Jesus? The mystery is of One who hung defenseless on the cross, taking the punishment for our sins and calling us to serve Him in weakness, yet who one day will ride forth to execute vengeance, with us alongside Him. A true understanding of Christ can only come as we consider all these elements of who He is. He has given everything, as must His followers, to reach those still outside His grasp, yet by virtue of His holiness must bring God’s righteous rule to creation by judging those who choose to bring destruction on the earth (Rev. 11:18).

James Hamilton: The purpose of this passage is to highlight the glory of the coming King. It is intended to give hope to suffering Christians by showing them that they have a King who is coming who will triumph over their enemies. Everything in this passage points to the glory of Christ.

In 19:11–21 we see the cavalry that we as Christians will ride in one day. We represent the world’s true King. My prayer is that the knowledge that the rightful Lord of the World will return as King and the knowledge of our role in his conquest will do three things for us:

1)  Deepen our appreciation of the significance and purpose of our daily lives, mundane though they may seem to us.

2)  Increase our propensity toward instant willing obedience to our sovereign King, regardless of time, place, or the possibility of our being caught.

3)  Most importantly, stir up in us a longing for our King to come and reign over us. May we be those of whom Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:8, those who will receive a “crown of righteousness” because they have “loved his appearing.”

J. Hampton Keathley, III: This is where God’s kingdom comes to be on earth as it is in heaven. Here God’s program is climaxed; God exalts His Son and puts all creation under His feet, a symbol of His victory and control (Psalm 2; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 1:13; Psalm 110:1).

John MacArthur: So the sum of His names really is a glorious picture, isn’t it? He has a name which no man knew which expresses His essential deity. He has a name, The Word of God, which expresses His incarnate deity. And He has a name, King of kings and Lord of lords, which expresses His sovereign deity. Frankly, the gospel plan is in those three names. He is God who revealed Himself to man and someday will come to reign over the universe. The sum of the names, then, is the sum of the picture of the Conqueror. So the return of the Conqueror.

Sam Storms: According to Proverbs 18:10, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” We are to take refuge and seek our safety and the reassurance of all God’s promises by trusting in the truth of what God’s name embodies. This means that we must put our confidence and hope for the future in what his many names mean.—revelation-1911-21

Kendell Easley: The name Jesus or Christ is never used in this part of the chapter, but the identity of the rider is crystal clear. He is called by four different titles in six verses. (Kings of all times and places have adopted many such titles; not the least of these were the Roman emperors.) It will help us visualize these if we imagine them as banners unfurled flying behind him as he descends.


A.  Victorious Conqueror Returning from Heaven

And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse,

Grant Osborne: God is about to act on earth in a decisive way. . .  The thrust is that the consummation of God’s acts in human history has arrived. The eschaton is here.

The color white does not indicate purity, as it does when describing the garments of the righteous (3:4–5; 6:11; 7:9, 13–14) but indicates a warhorse and shows the one who comes is a conquering king.

John MacArthur: As it did in 4:1, heaven opened before John’s wondering eyes. But unlike 4:1, heaven opens this time not to let John in, but to let Jesus out. The time has come at last for the full, glorious revelation of the sovereign Lord. This is the time to which all of Revelation (as well as all of redemptive history) has been pointing, the time of which Jesus Himself spoke in Matthew 24:27–31:

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

As the dramatic scene unfolds, John stands transfixed, his attention riveted on the majestic, regal, mighty Rider. Jesus, the One who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9–11) where He has been seated at the Father’s right hand (Acts 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22), is about to receive the kingdom that the Father promised Him.

William Barclay: The white horse is the symbol of the conqueror, because it was on a white horse that a Roman general rode when he celebrated a triumph.

B.  Identified as Faithful and True

and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True;

Daniel Akin: “Faithful” conveys dependability, reliability, trustworthiness. “True” affirms that He is authentic, genuine, the real thing. What He says you can believe. When He acts you can trust Him. In fact, as the faithful and true One, He can do what no other King, ruler, or warrior can do: “He judges and makes war in righteousness.” Ladd notes, “The present tense of the verbs indicates the permanent character of Messiah in all his acts” (Commentary, 253). He is always faithful, true, and righteous in whatever He does, including making war.

John MacArthur: The description of Jesus as Faithful and True is in marked contrast with the unfaithfulness and lies of Satan (12:9), Antichrist’s evil empire (18:23), and wicked people (2 Tim. 3:13). The very fact that He is coming again as He promised confirms that Jesus is Faithful and True.

Grant Osborne: In this context, it means that the final war is mandated because Christ is “faithful” to his calling and “true” in his justice (see 16:7 and 19:2, “True and just are your judgments”). This prepares for the description of the words of the book as πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί in 21:5; 22:6. As Jesus is “faithful and true,” and since he is “the Word of God” (19:13), the revelations he has given to John would also be “faithful and true.”

G.K. Beale: The rider on the horse is called Faithful and True. Christ will be faithful and true to fulfill His promise to judge the wicked, and to vindicate His name and His followers. This is confirmed by the use of the same phrase in the plural in 21:5 and 22:6, which refer to the sure fulfillment of the prophecy of the new creation and the new Jerusalem.

Merrill C. Tenney: Because He is faithful [Rev. 19:11+] He must discharge His office as judge, not shrinking from the administration of discipline or punishment where it is needed. Because He is true [Rev. 19:11+] He cannot alter the standards of God which condemn sin. Favoritism and laxity cannot be found in Him, for He is the perfect administrator of justice in a world where injustice has long since reigned. . . . The meekness of Calvary and the sternness of Armageddon may seem inconsistent, but wherever sin exists, they may both be found.

C.  Righteous as Judge and Warrior

and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

John MacArthur: Unlike other conquerors the world has seen, covetousness, ambition, pride, or power will not motivate this Conqueror. He will come in utter righteousness, in perfect holiness, and in strict accord with every holy interest. Heaven cannot be at peace with sin, for God’s “eyes are too pure to approve evil, and [He] can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). There is a limit to God’s patience. Justice cannot always tolerate injustice; truth cannot forever tolerate lies; rebellion cannot be permitted to go on forever. Incorrigible, incurable, hardened sinners will face destruction; mercy abused and grace rejected will ultimately bring judgment. . .

So the promises of God, the statements of Jesus, the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, the plan for the church, for the nations, for Israel, the humiliation of Christ, the exaltation of Satan temporarily, all of those things demand the return of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom. . .

The Lord is a man of war. In righteousness, He judges and makes war. Frankly, the judging has already been going on in the breaking of the seals and in the blowing of the trumpets and the pouring out of the bowls. But now He makes a final war. He who for long centuries had endured the scoffings patiently, the insults, the bad manners of men who contemplated Calvary and, as it were, spit on Him, who displayed human hatred and contempt, who through millennia have rejected the peace that He made through the blood of the cross. They’re now going to find Him a warrior King. But there’s not going to be much fighting on their part, the end will come in a split second.

William Barclay: Again, John finds his picture in the prophetic words of the Old Testament, where it is said of the chosen king of God: “With righteousness he shall judge the poor” (Isaiah 11:4). The people of John’s time knew all about the perversion of justice; no one could expect justice from a fickle tyrant. In Asia Minor, even the tribunal of the proconsul was subject to bribery and to maladministration. Wars were matters of ambition and tyranny and oppression rather than of justice. But, when the conquering Christ comes, his power will be exercised in justice.

James Hamilton: No one will question his decisions; no one will doubt the justice of his cause; no one will be able to refute the utter clarity of his motives and purposes. They may rebel against him, but there will be no unrighteousness in him.


A.  Supreme in Judgment and Authority

  1. Penetrating Judgment

And His eyes are a flame of fire,

Daniel Akin: penetrating judgment and insight (see 1:14; 2:18; see also Dan 10:6).  Jesus peers into the depths of our souls.  He sees every act, every thought, every emotion.  He knows you as no one else knows you.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  Such a reality should thrill you and terrify you.  It should humble you.  He knows you in all of your sin, depravity, and wickedness.  And yet He loves you and cares for you.  To know you and me as He does and yet still love us is simply another evidence of His amazing grace.

Grant Osborne: There is a distinct aspect of omniscience (sees all) and judgment (repays all) behind this image.

  1. Preeminent Authority

and upon His head are many diadems;

Buist Fanning: representing his royal authority that eclipses the ruling power of the dragon and his beast (cf. 12:3; 13:1).

John MacArthur: Many indicates His collecting of all the rulers’ crowns, signifying that He alone is the sovereign ruler of the earth. Collecting the crown of a vanquished king was customary in the ancient world. After defeating the Ammonites, David “took the crown of their king from his head … and it was placed on David’s head” (2 Sam. 12:30). Christ alone will be sovereign, since He alone is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (v. 16), and “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (11:15). The many crowns Christ will wear are indeed a fair exchange for a crown of thorns (cf. Phil. 2:8–11).

B.  Identified as the Transcendent Deity

and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.

Grant Osborne: This builds on 2:17, where the victorious saints of Pergamum are promised “a white stone, [on which] there will be a new name written that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Both passages utilize Isa. 62:2, “You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow” (cf. 65:15). In addition, Christ promises the overcomers in Philadelphia, “I will write on them the name of my God . . . and my new name” (Rev. 3:12). . .

a title reserved for eternity, the name that will reveal the true nature of the Godhead in a way beyond our finite ability to grasp. As Moses could not see the face of God and live (Exod. 33:20), so we cannot at this time know the true essence of God. That awaits his final revelation.  When we combine this with Rev. 2:17, a new, exciting truth emerges. At the parousia, we will first learn the new name of Christ (19:12) and then will be given that new name for ourselves (2:17). It is written on Christ, and then he will write it on us!

James Hamilton: This points to the divinity of Christ because it shows that there are aspects of God that we will never know. God is infinite, which means that we will never exhaust him. There are attributes of Jesus in this passage that can be known, and there are aspects of who he is to which we have no access. He is transcendent. He reveals himself to us, but he is ultimately beyond our ability to comprehend.


A.  Victorious – Having Trampled Out the Life Blood of His Enemies

And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood;

Buist Fanning: In a gruesome and sobering description he is said to be “clothed in a robe dipped in blood” (v. 12a).  The image of a garment that has been “dipped” or stained completely with “blood” is drawn from Isaiah 63:1-6, a picture of the Lord’s wrath against the nations of the world, using the imagery of someone treading out grapes in a winepress (cf. Rev 14:19-20; 19:15).  But his garment is stained not with dark grape juice but with the lifeblood of those he has judged.  The close dependence on Isaiah 63 shows that in this context “blood” refers not to Jesus’s atoning sacrifice of himself (as in 1:5; 5:9; 7:14) but to the blood of his enemies that will be shed in his overwhelming victory against all resistance that hostile earthly powers mount against him at his return (as in 14:17-20).

B.  Identified as the Word of God

and His name is called The Word of God.

Daniel Akin: As the Word of God, He is God’s perfect communication and revelation.  When you look at Jesus, you are looking at God.  When you listen to Jesus, you are hearing the voice of God.  As the author of Hebrews reveals, in these last days, God “has spoken to us by His Son” (Heb 1:2).

John MacArthur: He is the full expression of the mind, will, and purpose of God, “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3).

Kendell Easley: In the first chapter of Scripture, the Creation progressed because of the powerful and active word of God. When God said “let there be,” it happened according to his word (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). Both John and Paul taught that through Christ the worlds were made at the beginning (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). At the end of the age, the same “Word of God”—the Lord Jesus Christ—is the active agent accomplishing the will of God for the universe.

William Barclay: To a Jew, a word was not merely a sound; it did things. As Dr John Paterson puts it in The Book that is Alive: “The spoken word in Hebrew was fearfully alive. It was not merely a vocable [word] or sound dropped heedlessly from unthinking lips. It was a unit of energy charged with power. It is energised for weal or for woe.”

It is the active word which carried out the commandment of God. Here is the idea in Hebrews 4:12: “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”

Philip Hughes: As the Word of God the Son is both the revealer of the divine mind and also the agent of the divine will. Since the word of God never fails to effect what it decrees (cf. Isa. 55:11), it is through him who is the eternal Word that the will of God is brought to pass.


A.  (:14) Commander of Impressive Forces

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,

were following Him on white horses.

John MacArthur: The Lord Jesus Christ will not return alone, but will be accompanied by the armies which are in heaven (cf. 17:14). Four divisions make up these glorified troops.

  1. Earlier in chapter 19 the bride of the Lamb (the church) was pictured wearing fine linen, white and clean (vv. 7–8). Those glorified believers will accompany Christ.
  2. So will the Tribulation believers, who are also pictured in heaven wearing white robes (7:9).
  3. The third group is the Old Testament saints, who are resurrected at the end of the Tribulation (Dan. 12:1–2).
  4. Finally, the holy angels will also accompany Christ (Matt. 25:31).

The white horses ridden by the heavenly cavalry are not literal horses, anymore than those ridden by hell’s cavalry in 9:7 and 16. Unlike the Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly army is unarmed; He alone will destroy His enemies. The saints will come not to fight with Jesus, but to reign with Him (20: 4–6; 1 Cor. 6:2).

B.  (:15) Unparalleled Dominion

  1. Wielding a Sharp Sword

And from His mouth comes a sharp sword,

so that with it He may smite the nations;

Grant Osborne: The sword was the symbol of Roman authority over life and death, an authority that only the emperor and his governors held (see on 2:12). The message here is that Christ alone has the final authority of life and death. As in 1:16 and 2:12, 16, this language echoes Isa. 11:4 and 49:2. In Isa. 11:4 the branch from Jesse “will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,” referring to the justice with which he will rule the earth; and in Isa. 49:2 God has anointed the servant of Yahweh and “made my mouth like a sharpened sword,” referring to the power of his word to save Israel and “strike the nations” (Isa. 11:4d) so as to deliver God’s people. This theme occurs frequently in Jewish apocalyptic that also builds on Isaiah to say “the word of his mouth will do the sinners in” (1 Enoch 62.2), or the Messiah will “destroy the unlawful nations with the word of his mouth” (Ps. Sol. 17.24; cf. also 17.35–36), or the Messiah “sent forth from his mouth as it were a stream of fire” and burned up those “gathered to wage war” (2 Esdr. [4 Ezra] 13:8, 10–11). This is continued in 2 Thess. 2:8, which says the Lord will “overthrow” the man of lawlessness “with the breath of his mouth.” Here in Rev. 19:15 this idea flows out of the description of Christ as “the Word of God” and refers to Jesus’ proclamation of judgment on the forces of evil.

Tony Garland: How is it that the sword is figurative—coming out of His mouth? It represents the sword of the Spirit, the word of God: that which God has set forth as His spoken will (Eph. 6:17). Those who are slain meet their doom because they are judged by God’s righteous word (Heb. 4:12). They have consistently violated its precepts and standards and their destruction has been prophesied. In many ways, the action of their slaying is the unavoidable result of what God has said. This is why Jesus slays His enemies with His lips: “He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked” (Isa. 11:4). His mouth is like a sharp sword (Isa. 49:2). Hence, when Antichrist is destroyed, he is consumed “with the breath of [the Lord’s] mouth” (2Th. 2:8). The ultimate reason they are slain is found in God’s testimony—the law written in stone found in the ark of the covenant (Rev. 11:19+; 15:5+). The written law is His word, thus the weapon is said to come forth from His mouth.

  1. Ruling with a Rod of Iron

and He will rule them with a rod of iron;

John Walvoord: The expression of ruling “with a rod of iron” is also found in Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:27, with a similar expression, “the rod of his mouth,” in Isaiah 11:4. It represents unyielding, absolute government under which everyone is required to conform to the righteous standards of God.

Albert Mohler: The fact that he rules over his domain with a scepter or iron or a rod out of his mouth indicates he is the true Messianic King.

  1. Treading Out the Wine Press of the Fierce Wrath of God

and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

C.  (:16) Identified as the Sovereign King

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written,


J. Hampton Keathley, III: There is no article with either of these titles which emphasizes the character and quality of His rule. It emphasizes the qualities of kingliness and lordship. “Of kings” and “of lords” means over all others, and like no others. This declares both His authority and quality. He is the epitome of a King and a Lord.

John Walvoord: Finally, Christ wears the title “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Here at last has come One who has a right to rule the earth, whose power and majesty will demonstrate His authority as He brings to bear His sovereign judgment on a wicked world. It is in anticipation of this ultimate triumph that God the Father holds the nations of the world in derision in their rebellion against the Lord’s Anointed (Ps. 2:1–4). God will indeed break the nations with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces and give the uttermost parts of the earth to His Son as His rightful possession. In view of this consummation, how pertinent is the invitation of Psalm 2:10–12 to serve the Lord and kiss the Son while there is yet time to claim the blessing of those who put their trust in Him.