7* “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
The church is the bride of Christ (Rom. 7:4). We are married to him who was raised from the dead and because we are married to him we bring forth fruit unto God.
The gospel of Christ has been given and the church has been established and we who are members of the church are married to Christ. We are to rejoice and be glad and give him honor because the church has been established. All men now have the opportunity to become part of that church and receive forgiveness. This is in contrast to the law of Moses which was given exclusively to the Jews. It was not capable of offering forgiveness of sins. The establishment of the new law gave us cause to rejoice and be glad because we now have forgiveness of our sins immediately available by becoming members of His church. By the establishment of the church of Christ man now has a new and better law which offers forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ. The children of Israel did not enjoy these blessings. Only the priest were allowed to enter the most holy place to offer sacrifices for sins on behalf of the people. Today, all Christians are priest of God, let us rejoice and be glad.
We are also told “His bride has made herself ready.” The church has been established and is prepared to be taken to heaven to be with Christ for all eternity. We do not know when this will happen, but we know that the church is married to Christ and is available to anyone who is willing to be obedient to the law of Christ. When men obey the law of Christ, they become members of his church and put on white robes of righteousness (v.8). By putting on these robes, the wife makes herself ready to meet her husband when he returns.
8* It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
The Jewish customs of marriage are important to keep in mind when reading this section (Cf. Matt. 22:1-14). According to Jewish tradition the betrothal, which could last as much as a year before the actual marriage, was full equivalent legally to the marriage itself. This was a period of waiting during which time the bridegroom was absent preparing a place for the bride to live (Cf. Jn. 14:1-13).
Any infidelity on the part of the bride was considered as adultery. The marriage supper came when the bridegroom and the bride began to live together, it comes after a long period of waiting. The church today is in that waiting period. She is married to Christ, but he is away preparing a place for them to live together eternally. When he returns for her at his second coming she will have made herself ready by being clothed in fine linen, bright and clean, and will partake of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (v.9).
Christians wear their white robes of righteousness in the church today. Many think these symbols only apply to Christians in heaven. Obviously in heaven the saints will figuratively wear white robes of righteousness, but the point being made here is that Christians receive those white robes here on earth when they obey the gospel.
Rev. 16:15 admonishes Christians to keep their garments. We, obviously, cannot “keep” something we do not already have. These white robes demonstrate the difference between people in the world who live in sin and those who have forgiveness of sins in the church.
White is used symbolically to represent purity, cleanliness, sunlessness, or holiness. Consider the following passages
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
7 ¶ Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
4* ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
5* ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his
18* I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
14* I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
When one obeys the gospel, he puts on the white raiment of righteousness. This means he is living in a state of righteousness on this earth. This is possible because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from our sins (1 Jn 1:7). This doe snot mean that Christians cannot sin or do those things which fall short of God’s will. It means that we are his children, and he will forgive us those shortcomings as long as we continue to strive to follow his commands (Cf. 1 Jn. 1:7).
9* Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”
As people hear the gospel of Christ, they are being invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The meaning of the marriage supper can be derived from the parable of the wedding feast of Matt. 22:1-14. Matthew 22:10 says:
10* “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
Those wedding guests are those people who have heard the invitation of the gospel and have answered its call. They have come to the marriage (Mt. 22:4). They are the bride of Christ. They are waiting the return of the bridegroom to live in the place he has prepared for his bride. In this parable we never observe the actual eating of the supper. It is logical to assume that this took place after the king came to see his guests (Mt. 22:13). This represents the time when the king will divide those who are faithful from those who are not (Mt. 22:12, 130. We know this will take place at judgment. Therefore, this marriage feast must represent the final feast for all Christians which will be our eternal life in heaven.
This also is in agreement with the teachings in the parable of the great supper as recorded in Lk. 14:16-24. In this parable, the Lord has sent his servants out into the highways and the hedges to compel any who would come into his house to eat the great supper he had prepared.
In Lk. 14:22, 23, many men had been invited, but there was still room available, so the lord sent the servant out again in order to fill the house. Those people, the ones who accepted the invitation to the great supper, represent those who accepted the invitation of the gospel, became Christians, and enter into the house of the Lord, his church. Verse 24 states for certain that those who were bidden to come, but chose not to, will not partake of the great supper. We also know that only those who are in Christ, or in his church, will receive the inheritance he has prepared for us (Eph. 1:11). The requirement for partaking of the great supper was to come into the house, and the requirement for receiving the inheritance of God is to enter into his house, the church. This enable us to conclude that the marriage supper of the Lamb is referring to the final reward which those will receive who are faithful to him. The invitation to this marriage supper represents the invitation of the gospel to come into the Lord’s house. Those who accept this invitation are of all men most blessed.
10* Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
We have been introduced to several angels in the book of Revelation. This must be the angel we are first introduced to in Chapter 17:1. Exactly who this angel is is not important to our understanding verse 10. The point of verse 10 is this: we are to worship no one except God, not even another heavenly being. Worship to God must also include Jesus Christ because he has ascended to heaven to sit on his throne at God’s right hand.
If we are not to worship another heavenly being, then, certainly, we should not worship another man or some image created by man, or some dead person who has posthumously been given the title of “saint” (a term that actually applies to living Christians). The only being which we should worship is God.
The angel tells John that he is simply a fellow servant who holds to the testimony of Jesus, and he also says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. We are told that it is our responsibility to “prophecy” (Rev. 10:11) which means to teach God’s Word. Any Christian who teaches the Word of God has this “spirit of prophecy” which is the testimony of Jesus.
11* ¶ And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
This is the beginning of a new vision. Verse 16 identifies this rider as Jesus Christ because he is King of kings and Lord of lords.
This vision presents a symbolic explanation of how Jesus CHrist spreads the gospel throughout the world during the Christian dispensation. This vision has nothing to do with our eternal abode in heaven. Remember that in Rev. 6:2 the first of the seven seals introduces a rider upon a white horse. This vision is parallel to the vision in Rev. 6. We know the rider in chapter six is Christ because he goes out “conquering and to conquer.” In this verse it says in righteousness He judges and wages war.” They both describe the spreading of the gospel throughout the world.
This rider is called “Faithful and True” while in 3:14 Christ is referred to as the faithful and true witness. In 1:5 he is called “the faithful witness.” When Christ came to earth and carried out his Father’s will, he was the faithful and true witness of God. He did the will of his Father in heaven. For a Christian to be faithful and true witnesses of Jesus Christ today we must keep his commandments.
It is in Righteousness that Christ judges and makes war today. Jesus said in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” It is the Word which will judge all men. We have already received the Word in written form. To know the fate of those who are disobedient to God all we must do is read the Bible. God’s judgments have been given.
This war is a spiritual war. Christians do not (like the Muslims) declare physical war on those who refuse to obey the gospel. We do not gather armies to literally destroy dens of sin and iniquity. We war against evil by preaching the gospel. This is exactly how Christ desires it to be done. In verse 15 Christ has a sharp sword coming from his mouth which He uses to strike down the nations. We know that the sharp sword is the Word of God (Heb. 4:12). As we teach the Word of God around the world today, we strike evil with a great sword. As the church preaches and teaches God’s Word Christ is figuratively going throughout the world on a white horse making war against the forces of evil.
12* His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.
The beginning of verse 12 takes us back to the very first chapter of Revelation. In 1:14 Jesus eyes were flames of fire. Fire symbolically represents the consuming nature of God (Deut. 4:24) He goes forth in the world today making war against evil and nothing will escape his sight. He knows the acts of every individual whether they are for him or against him.
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit: “Revelation Illustrated”
On his Head are many diadems or crowns which symbolizes the power and authority of Christ. He wears “many” of them to show that his authority is greater than any earthly king. This takes us back to the image we saw of Christ in Chapter six, leading Christians into battle on his white horse.
He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. We know who rides this white horse, it is Christ. The point of this verse is to remind us that no man could wear this name but Jesus Himself. Jesus came to earth in the form of a man (Phil. 2:8) after he emptied Himself. He lived a sinless life and became the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 5:8,9). No one else could know his name simply implies that no one else could wear this name because he is the only one who could, and did shed his blood to atone for our sins.
13* He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
This verse is a reference to the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus is the Word, John 1:1, and that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us”
14* And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
One of the reasons many miss the proper interpretation of this verse is because they forget the proper application of the term “heaven” as it is used in the New Testament and in the book of Revelation. In the New Testament “heaven” is used to refer to the “spiritual realm” or the church.
Remember Ephesians 2:6, Christians are: “ raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We know that this is a reference to the church because when we are “in Christ,” we are in his church (Gal. 3:27). Heaven is intended to be used in a symbolic sense in this verse. The armies following Christ represent the church of Christ.
15* From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
The sword comes out of His mouth to represent the words that He speaks. We have the “sword of the Spirit” today in the form of the Word (Eph. 6:17). Christ uses this sword to smite the nations of this world. This is similar to the statement found in 11:6. There the church uses the Word of God to smite the earth with plagues. What this reminds us is that the hearing of the gospel is not a pleasant thing for those who refuse to obey it because it condemns them.
Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron. This statement is made in 2:27 and 12:5. The rod of iron represents the almighty power of Christ. We know that the gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16), and this rod represents the gospel.
Christ rules his kingdom (the church) today through the gospel which will not break or bend. This gospel is the same today as it was in the first century. Men today may want to make the message more “acceptable,” or more “accommodating,” or “softer” that we may not ruffle to many feathers, but the truth is we must teach and proclaim the same message that is preached in the New Testament today whether or not it is acceptable in the culture in which we live. Church “experts” today tell us we must use a softer approach when dealing with certain subjects found in the
Scriptures, but God’s Word requires us to be firm. The gospel of Christ will not bend. The Lord’s church must obey the gospel as God designed it in spite of what mere men say will be the consequences in our “enlightened” times.
16* And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
This name identifies the rider as Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 6:15). Jesus is our King and Lord now. He is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God today in the kingdom, the church. We are not to look forward to some time in the future when Jesus becomes King of kings and Lord of lords.
King of kings means that Jesus is the supreme ruler of all things. Everything on earth is under his power and control. He is “King” over his Kingdom the church, which is made up of “kings and priests” (i.e. KJV of Rev. 1:6). A Christian is a “king” in the sense that he reigns with Christ in the church kingdom today (Rev. 1:5, 6, 20:4; 1 Cor. 4:8).
17* Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God,
Verse 17 now takes us to the time of judgment. Verses 6-16 have given us a description of the church as it exists in the world today. Christ is our leader. He rides throughout the world today on a white horse, and Christians follow on white horses dressed in white robes fighting a spiritual war against the forces of evil.
Verse 17 removes us from that period of time and takes us to the judgment. The angel invites the birds to come to the “great supper of God.” In the Old Testament enemies of God’s people were often described as “birds” (i.e. Ez. 17). In other places the birds of the air bring complete destruction (i.e. Gen. 40:16-23). This “great supper of God” is in contrast to the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” The marriage supper of the Lamb represents the eternal feast which Christians will eat in heaven. This “great supper of God” represents the eternal destruction which those who have disobeyed God will suffer.
18* so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”
Men and women of all walks of life will be subject to the destruction of judgment. The position a person holds on earth will not make any difference in judgment. The small and the great will suffer eternal punishment. This is parallel to the sixth seal.
The mention of mighty men and horses is a reference to those who have persecuted Christians. They will be destroyed. This is the symbolism of the seven seals.
19* And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Let me remind you. We are studying the book of Revelation. Revelation uses graphic physical symbols to represent spiritual things. The war described here is not some literal physical war to be fought on earth. This is the war which the forces of the devil constantly wage against Christ and his followers as pictured in verse 11. There is a constant war taking place here on earth between the forces of the devil and Christians. The devil uses all types of weapons to attack Christians, everything from actual physical persecution to subtle enticements which war against the soul.
The beast and kings of the earth gather their armies to bring war against Christ and His church. These are the powerful civil forces which persecute God’s people. This is the same beast that rises up out of the sea discussed in Rev. 13, and these are the same kings described in Rev. 17.
This verse is telling us that all forces which have persecuted Christians throughout the ages will end in eternal destruction. They will suffer complete destruction. Just as a dead carcass is picked clean by the birds of the air, when the final judgment comes to the enemies of God’s people there will be nothing left of their former greatness.
20* And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit: “Revelation Illustrated”
Here is the fate of the beast and the false teacher. The “false prophet” is one who claims to know Christ and follow him but does not follow according to the way of God as revealed in the New Testament. He goes about convincing others to follow him in his error. The New Testament has many references to false prophets (Mt. 7:15; 24:24; 2 Pet. 2:1-22; 1 Jn. 4:1-3). See the remarks given for Chapter 13 here.
The point that we must remember is this: The beast and the false prophet are alive and well in the world today, waging war against Christians and deceiving many people. Christians need to wake up to the spiritual reality being described in the book of Revelation. The symbols used in the book of Revelation should help us to see that the forces of evil are operating today in the “religious world.” The church of Christ must remain faithful until our Lord returns. We are following our Lord who sits upon the white horse.
21* And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit: “Revelation Illustrated”
The “rest” is a reference to people who do not even pretend to associate themselves with any religious organization. They will be destroyed by the sword which proceeds out of the mouth of the rider of the white horse. This is the Word of God. God has given man a law which we must obey. For those who want to distort it, or simply refuse to obey it, the Word itself will be used as a means of their destruction.
48* “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”
“The birds are filled with their flesh” shows the complete destruction of those who refuse to obey God. There will be two suppers at judgment time. The “great supper of God” and the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” Only those who attend the “marriage supper of the Lamb” will escape the eternal consequences of everlasting destruction.