Song of Victory and Wedding Day of the Lamb.[a] 1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven, shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great harlot
who corrupted the earth with her harlotry.
And he has paid her back
for the blood of his servants.”
3 Once again they shouted:
Her smoke will rise
forever and ever.”
4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures threw themselves to the ground and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, and they cried:
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great alike.”
6 And I heard what seemed to be the sound of a vast multitude, like the sound of a torrential stream or of great peals of thunder, crying out:
The reign of the Lord our God,
the Almighty, has begun.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory.
For the wedding day of the Lamb has come,
and the bride has made herself ready.
8 She has been permitted to wear
a bright and clean garment of fine linen.”
(The fine linen represents the righteous deeds of the saints.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed[c] are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb.’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
10 I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brethren who have given witness to Jesus.[d] Worship God! For the witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Recapitulative Visions of the History of Salvation[e]
11 The White Horse and the King of Kings.[f] Now I saw heaven opened, and a white horse appeared. Its rider was called “Faithful and True,” for with righteousness he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes were like fiery flames, and on his head were many crowns. The name inscribed on him was known to no one but himself.
13 He was clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and he was known by the name The Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 Coming out of his mouth was a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter, and he will tread the winepress[g] of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh[h] he had a name inscribed: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
17 The Great Booty.[i] Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying in midair, “Come here! Gather together for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders, and the flesh of warriors, the flesh of horses and their riders, the flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.”
19 The Beast and the False Prophet.[j] Next I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the one upon the horse and against his army. 20 The beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had performed the signs by which he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped its image.
These two were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed by the sword that came forth from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
- Revelation 19:1 No other image could better evoke the fulfillment of all the expectations of believers than this vast heavenly liturgy and the vision of the wedding feast (see Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13).
The plea of the martyrs (see Rev 6:9) has been heard; the immense throng, along with the twenty-four elders and the four living beings, makes up the entire Church, reunited at last. The Kingdom of God reveals itself in all its reality. It is described as Christ’s marriage to the Church and as the complete manifestation of the Covenant, which is God’s ardent, jealous love for his people (see Isa 54:1-8; Hos 2:16-18) and Christ’s nuptial love for his Church (see Eph 5:23, 25, 32; see also Jn 3:29).
- Revelation 19:1 Alleluia: an important exclamation of praise in the Psalms that is found only here in the New Testament. It is derived from two Hebrew words meaning “Praise the Lord.”
- Revelation 19:9 Blessed: the fourth beatitude (see note on Rev 1:3).
- Revelation 19:10 Witness to Jesus: the proclamation that the predictions of the Prophets have been truly fulfilled.
- Revelation 19:11 There now follows a new series of six tableaus, which the imagination projects onto the destiny of the world. Is it necessary then to foresee a new series of events in an ever more distant future? And is the history of God’s judgments something that is forever beginning again? The author has no intention of setting forth an indefinite series of calendars of the future. But before sketching the tableau of the new heaven and the new earth, he wishes one last time to interpret the drama of the world; for he has at hand other materials, some of which greatly resemble those that he has already used. He organizes them to compose this rapid sequence: a powerful summary of the whole History of Salvation. It begins with Jesus and takes us well beyond the fall of Rome to the resurrection of the dead and the last judgment—a kind of tragic prelude whose contrast heightens the dazzling joy that will later inform the grand symphony of the heavenly Jerusalem.
- Revelation 19:11 To describe the victory of Christ, the author uses the classic images of the warrior Messiah who establishes justice (Isa 11:4), annihilates hostile powers (Isa 63:3), subjects the nations (Ps 2:9), and traverses the world as the efficacious Word of God (see Wis 18:14-18). Through him justice reigns upon the world. He is the truthful and faithful one who fulfills God’s promise and makes his justice a reality.
- Revelation 19:15 Will tread the winepress: the image was commonplace in the Prophets for symbolizing God’s destruction of the enemies of his people on the great day of his wrath (see Gen 49:9-12; Isa 63:1-6; Jer 25:30; Joel 4:13); the wine is the blood of the enemies.
- Revelation 19:16 Thigh: this should probably be “standard”; the two words are quite similar in Hebrew and can be confused. King of kings and Lord of lords: see note on Rev 17:14.
- Revelation 19:17 In a final, gigantic combat, the forces of destruction will be annihilated (see Rev 14:6-13). This is the terrible sacrifice of which Ezekiel speaks (39:2, 17-20).
- Revelation 19:19 The beast and the false prophet are thrown into the fiery lake and destroyed. The vision sums up in a single scene all the tableaus of the fall of Rome, and corresponds to that in Rev 14:14-20. The beast, the false prophet, and the entire campaign aimed at imposing emperor worship are described in ch. 13.