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3.19.15 - Revelation 19:15 Open Bible at Rev. 19:15 Listen to Rev. 19:15

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword
Out goes is ἐκπορεύεται [ekporeuetai] : it is presently coming out. The MT text has a two-edged sword.

He should strike the nations
He should strike is πατάξῃ [pataxē] : “Strike down, slay.”1 “As inflicting a heavy or fatal blow.”2 Nations is ἔθνη [ethnē] which can also be translated Gentiles. With one exception (Rev. 11:2+), the context in the book of Revelation indicates that the Jewish nation is included in this term.3 Those among Israel who reject Jesus as Messiah will be included among the slain at His Second Coming (Eze. 20:34-38).

If Jesus literally and physically slays His enemies at His Second Coming (Rev. 19:21+), 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. See commentary on Revelation 1:16.

They are actually slain twice by His word. First, the enemies of Christ are physically killed at His Second Coming (Rev. 19:21+). This is the first death. Next, the enemies of Christ are judged by God’s word before the Great White Throne and cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:12+). This is the second death. See commentary on Revelation 2:11.

He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron
He Himself will rule is αὐτὸς ποιμανεῖ [autos poimanei] : He, He shall rule. Emphasis is placed upon the identity of the One Who will rule in contrast to the thousands of years during which usurpers and unfit substitutes have clamored for that which alone is His. This is the promised rule of the male child which the woman who fled to the wilderness bore (Rev. 12:5+). See commentary on Revelation 12:5. He shall rule is ποιμανεῖ [poimanei] which speaks of herding, nurturing, or tending as a shepherd. But his initial rule is violent because “they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels” (Ps. 2:9):

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (Ps. 110:1-2)

Revelation indicates that the conquest of evil will be a crisis and not a process, nor will the evil be removed by the gradual improvement of civilization. The outward manifestation of the kingdom will occur only when Christ Himself returns.4

See Trouble Ahead.

Rod is ῥάβδῳ [hrabdō] which can be translated by “rod,” “staff,” or “scepter.” Balaam saw this scepter which was to rise out of Israel: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult . . . Out of Jacob One shall have dominion” (Num. 24:17-19). This prophecy of Balaam is widely interpreted of Messiah:

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but he is not near; when a king shall arise out of Jacob and be anointed the Messiah out of Israel. He shall slay the princes of Moab and reign over all mankind.—Targum Onkelos5

I see him, but he is not at the present time, I behold him but he is not near: but when a mighty king of the house of Jacob shall reign, and shall be anointed Messiah, wielding the mighty scepter of Israel. He shall slay the Moabite princes and shall bring to naught all the sons of Seth, the armies of Gog, destined to wage war against Israel, and their dead bodies shall fall before him.—Targum Pseudo-Jonathan6

The scepter (rule) of Messiah from the line of Judah is also the subject of the prophecy of Jacob on his deathbed: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Gen. 49:10). Shiloh means to Him Whose right it is and refers to Messiah:

The transmission of dominion shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children’s children, forever, until the Messiah comes. to whom the kingdom belongs, and whom nations shall obey.—Targum Onkelos7

THE SCEPTRE [STAFF] SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH alludes to the Messiah, son of David, who will chastise the State with a staff, as it says, Thou shalt break them with a rod [staff] of iron (Ps. 2:9).—Midrash Rabbah, Genesis XCVII, New Version.8

UNTIL SHILOH COMETH: he to whom kingship belongs (shelo). Rather than transliterating into English “Shilo” as though it were a proper name, the Rabbis translated the exact meaning of “Shilo” as “to whom it belongs/pertains.”—Midrash Rabbah, Genesis XCIX, 8-9.9

He [the Messiah] will come and set on edge (makheh) the teeth of the nations of the world. . . He will upbraid them and show them how wrongly they had acted.—Midrash Rabbah, Genesis XCVIII, 8.10

As was shown to Nebuchadnezzar in his dream and interpreted by Daniel, Messiah smashes all earthly opposition with His rod of iron:

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold-the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure. (Dan. 2:44-45+) [emphasis added]

Daniel’s night vision also predicted Messiah’s Second Coming. This is the time when all dominion is handed to the Son of Man and to the saints of the Most High:

I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14+)

Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. (Dan. 7:27+)

This is the culminating phase of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and Daniel’s Vision, when the Messianic King will finally reign. See The Arrival of God’s Kingdom.

Jesus promised the overcomer in the church of Laodicea that he would co-rule with Christ (Rev. 2:27+). See commentary on Revelation 2:27.

He Himself treads the winepress
He Himself treads is αὐτὸς πατεῖ [autos patei] : He, He is presently treading. As with His rule, His identity as the One Who treads is emphasized. His rule is future tense whereas His treading is present tense. This indicates He is treading the winepress at His Second Coming before He takes up His rule over the nations. This provides further evidence that His rule upon the throne of David begins after His return (Mat. 25:31).

Although the armies of heaven are with Him (Rev. 19:14+, 19+), it appears that He alone does the work of judgment: “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. . . . I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me” [emphasis added] (Isa. 63:3-5).

Isaiah 63:1-6 made it clear that although the armies of saints and angels will return with him, they will not participate in the fighting. Messiah will fight this battle by Himself.11

He is responding to the command recorded by Joel: “Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:13b-14). When John saw Him in His glory, He had feet like fine brass, “as if refined in a furnace” (Rev. 1:15+). This glowing hot feet foreshadow His trampling the winepress in judgment which John sees now. See commentary on Revelation 1:15. See Grapes of Wrath.

of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God
Fierceness and wrath are τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς [tou thymou tēs orgēs] . Θυμοῦ [Thymou] describes a shorter-term, intense anger. ὀργῆς [orgēs] refers to a longer-term steady smoldering desire for revenge. See commentary on Revelation 14:10.

Almighty is παντοκράτορος [pantokratoros] . See commentary on Revelation 1:8.

This is the “great winepress of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:19+). The NU and MT texts have “fierceness of the wrath.”

Notes

1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 634.

2 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 303.

3 Rev. 2:26+; 5:9+; 7:9+; 10:11+; 11:2+, 9+, 18+; 12:5+; 13:7+; 14:6+, 8+; 15:4+; 16:19+; 17:15+; 18:3+, 23+; 19:15+; 20:3+, 8+; 21:24+, 26+; 22:2+.

4 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 164.

5 Tom Huckel, The Rabbinic Messiah (Philadelphia, PA: Hananeel House, 1998), Num. 24:7.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid., Gen. 49:10.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 352.


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