Read the Passage: Revelation 19
Marriage of the Bride (19:1–10)
Rev. 19:1–10 details rejoicing in heaven over God’s final judgment of sin in the world, specifically the enactment of God’s justice. This judgment was mentioned in Rev. 18:20–24 and is detailed in Rev. 19. As this chapter begins a great multitude in heaven cry out, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God (Rev. 19:1). Observe that this passage is the only place in the New Testament where the term “Alleluia” is used, as the word appears four times in Rev. 19:1–6. Note, however, that the Hebrew equivalent of alleluia, which means “praise the Lord,” occurs frequently in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Psalms. The twenty-four elders mentioned in Rev. 19:4 symbolize the twelve patriarchs and apostles. These elders represent the church while the four living creatures in the same verse signify the angels (cf. Rev. 4:2–6; 5:14).
At the end-times celebration that John witnesses, he hears his angelic host proclaim the beginning of the marriage supper of the lamb, which is the formal union of Jesus and the church, for all eternity. The angel proclaims, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Next, John sees the church arrayed in fine linen, which we are told represent her righteous acts, being justified by faith alone in her husband, who is Jesus. Note that it is Christ’s imputed righteousness that makes possible the impartation of righteousness in believers, which is then manifest in good works (cf. Jas. 2:14–17). Indeed, it is surprising that this vision is so overwhelming and glorious, that John mistakenly attempts to worship his angelic host (cf. Rev. 19:10), an error that he will make again at Rev. 22:8–9.
Arrival of the King (19:11–16)
At Rev. 19:11–16 John sees Jesus Christ on a white horse, as he had done earlier at Rev. 6:1–2. In this passage it is noted that Christ is accompanied by the armies of heaven—believers and angels (cf. Matt. 25:31), has eyes of fire, is wearing a robe dipped in blood, and possesses a sharp sword. Here Jesus comes not to preach the gospel, but to judge the world. Observe, during His earthly ministry Christ taught that He “did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Although this sixth cycle of the description of history is brief, this passage is clearly referring to the final battle of Armageddon, the battle between God and Magog. Note, however, that there is no actual battle described here, just victory. Paul wrote of this event, “The Lord will consume the lawless one with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).
In Roman military processions, a triumphant general would ride his white horse through the streets of Rome in victory. While Christ’s first entry into Jerusalem was on a donkey, when He returns at the end of the age, His second entry into Jerusalem will be riding a white horse as He leads a triumphant military procession on the renewed earth. Observe that the “robe dipped in blood” (Rev. 19:13) may depict a military garment spattered with the dried blood of enemies from past victories. As he had done at John 1:1, 14, so here in Rev. 19:13 John refers to Jesus as “The Word of God.” The idea is that Christ is the fulfillment of past prophecies, as well as the One who gives ultimate meaning, purpose, and reason to life. Note only John uses this title of Christ. Further, John reports that Jesus wore a robe, or a sash, with the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev. 19:16).
Defeat of the Beast (19:17–21)
In Rev. 19:19–21 John witnesses the final defeat of the kings of the earth and the capture of the beast and the false prophet. The beast and false prophet, writes John, are cast into the lake of fire, while the kings of the earth are slain with “the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev. 19:21). This sword is the Word of God, which is “living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12; cf. Eph. 6:17; 2 Thess. 2:8) and is the Christian’s only offensive weapon. In Rev. 19:17 Christ invited the birds of the air to eat the flesh of His slain enemies, saying, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God” (cf. Rev. 19:21). Note the irony in this chapter as believers, who are the bride of Christ, are invited to attend the marriage supper of the lamb (cf. Rev. 19:6–7), while unbelievers become supper for the birds of the air.
- Do you think much about Jesus’ victory over sin and the return of Christ to a renewed heavens and earth?
- Is it acceptable to praise God for His judgement of the wicked, as well as for His blessings upon the righteous?
- Why do you think John fell down and attempted to worship his angelic host at Rev. 19:10 (cf. Rev. 22:8–9)?
- How important is the doctrine of God’s final judgment and victory over evil? How does the idea of God’s justice minister to you in the fallen world?
- What are some key similarities and differences between Jesus’ first and second comings as described in Scripture?