A study of Revelation19:11-16
John in Revelation 19 describes the final event of the Second Coming of Christ. This is not to be confused with the rapture of the church. The rapture has already taken place, and they are not the same event. They are different in these key areas to name a few:
· The rapture involves a catching away of the saints meet the Lord in the air; the second coming He returns to earth (1 Thess. 4:19; cf. Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11).
· It is our view that the rapture takes place before the time of the tribulation, the second coming at the end of the tribulation.
· The rapture is a message of comfort; the second advent has a message of judgment (1 Thess. 4:20; Rev. 19:15).
· The rapture affect believers only; while the second coming and an effect on all men (1 Thess. 4:15-16; Rev 19:15).
· The rapture transfigures the saints to imperishable bodies; but evidently at His second coming there is no transfiguration. At least, it is not indicated in Scripture.
Bible students, scholars, and theologians believe that the second coming of Christ is to occur at the end of the tribulation and before the millennium.
The starting point of the at final events on earth is the second coming of Christ. His coming a second time is a necessity. There are five reasons for it:
· To rescue of God’s people.
· To judge the world.
· To display His glory.
· To fulfill His promises.
· To conquer all evil, human and demonic.
Revelation 19:11-16 is the key passage on the second coming of Christ. The starting point of the last events of Scripture and eschatology. It is also the last coming of Christ in this present evil age. However, it is not the end for it leads to other events, i.e. the last great conflict, the Millennium, White Throne judgment, etc. There are five elements revealed about the second coming of Christ:
His Appearing (19:11).
“I saw heaven open” is visionary language. John has referred to it at least 3 times before in this book—4:1; 11:19; 15:5. They each reveal a heavenly scene, involving the throne, or temple, and heavenly beings, and God. Each reveals and features judgement on the earth.
In Revelation 19:11 the heaven open to reveal the coming Warrior-Victor. Jesus Christ as Warrior-Victor brings judgment on evil and the evil ones and vindication for the believing ones. It should be noted that Scripture teaches:
· The return is personal (cf. Luke 21:27)
· The return is visible (cf. Rev. 1:7, Matt 24:27)
· The return will be sudden, without warning (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2)
· The return will be powerful revealing His glory (Matt 24:30)
It reveals the origin of His coming out of heaven to wage war. MacLeod reminds us in those days, horses were not just farm animals, race horses, not modes of transportation; but were thought of as military machines. They were primary used in war. The figure here reinforces the picture that He comes as warrior. The picture here is in contrast to two things:
· His first coming to earth and entering Jerusalem upon a donkey; indicating humility.
· Another white horse and rider in Revelation 6:2. This rider is not the Messiah (Christ), but a counterfeit. Thomas tells us:
“First in sequence among the signs spoken of earlier by Christ was the emergence of many ‘imposter’ christs…. This conclusion agrees with the character of the other three riders.” These riders bring evil to the earth; Christ in Revelation 19 brings victory over evil.
The character of the Warrior-Victor is “Faithful and True” (19:11). This builds on the character of Christ which is a common theme (cf. 3:14; 16:7). He judges in righteousness (cf. Psa. 7:11; 9:4,8; Rev. 16:7). His justice is based on His character of righteousness and truth. Christ is faithful to His word, which is true. He is true in His judgments. Faithful has the thought of trustworthiness: He is trustworthy. True has the concept of truthful in character and in action. The Warrior-Victor has the character that is sharp contrast to the false or anti-Christ, who is a deceiver and a liar. Christ comes to carry out a war that is just and true against evil. Osborne notes, “The whole theme of lex talionis (law of retribution) that has been so prevalent in the book culminates in this passage.” He will hand out what is due. Christ is faithful and true to His Word, will judge the wicked, and vindicate the saints.
His Appearance (19:12-13).
Here John gives us an objective description of the rider of the white horse. It is the Lord Jesus Christ coming in judgment. His appearance is described with the following elements:
· His eyes are “a flame of fire.” The Greek has the idea of a raging fire. It enforces the concept of the second coming of Christ as the avenging one upon evil. “It evokes Christ’s role as divine judge.” The phrase is used in Rev. 1:14 and 2:18-23. In each case judgment is in view. Daniel 10:6 is the prophecy on which this is based. Some see discernment as the major element of the phrase. While I grant that discernment is an element of judgment; the context suggests the concept of judgment as the major element behind the phrase. However, the vision involves a penetration factor by which discernment is made, but the idea does not override the emphasis on judgment of God; rather it reinforces it (cf. Mal 3:2).
· His head has many diadems (19:12). He no longer wears a crown of thrones. A diadem is a crown of royality. These types of crowns are not limited to Christ; but found on the dragon (Rev. 12:3) and the beast (Rev. 13:1). However, the crowns are in contrast and different from those of Christ. Christ and the saints are four wearing stephanos; the victors crown (cf. 14:14). The dragon, the beast, and Christ here are a ruler’s crown. “His multiple emblems of royalty are appropriate because He is King of kings,” says Thomas. It denotes His all-encompassing sovereignty and authority. While Christ here wears many ruler’s crown, he also has a victor’s crown. The victors crown is never spoken of in reference to the beast or dragon.
· His unknown name (19:12). He has a name written on Him that no one knows except Himself. This is a perfect passive participle indicating the name was given to Him in the past, but never revealed. This statement has spurred all kinds of speculation. It is best not to do so. Although Beale suggests it is connected with the new name given to Israel and points to Isa. 62:2-3, in connection with Isa. 63:1-3. Upon the coming of going into the kingdom Israel is given a new name to indicate their intimate relationship with God (Isa 62:4-5). This unknown name was unrevealed to the readers, and it is not revealed to us. The name is incomprehensible to us. It will not be revealed until He comes in power in the end times. Mounce suggests it “expresses the mystery of His person.”
· What He wears— “a robe dipped in blood” (19:13). There have been a number of ways the reference to blood has been understood including His own blood; the blood of the martyrs; or the blood of the wicked. The context however, is very clear; it is His coming in judgment of the wicked (cf. 19:11) This description is of the Warrior-King coming in judgment. It is natural, therefore, to take the bloody robe in connection with this judgment. One should not overlook Isa 63:1-3 in this regard. At the time of His coming in judgment He will tread the winepress with His enemies. His garment is stained from the process. Notice he treads it alone. The work of judgment is His alone. Walvoord observes, “Christ as the slain Lamb in Revelation speaks of redemption by blood; here blood represents divine judgment upon wicked men.”
· His known name— “and His name is called The Word of God.” This is a name in addition to the unknow name (cf. 19:12). This ties the coming warrior to the human Jesus, who was the Word (John 1:1, 14). The word called is perfect passive, thus it indicates “having been called.” The same Jesus who came is the same Jesus who is the coming one. It is the same person who has the name of The Word of God.
His Army (19:14)
The rider on the white horse, the Word of God, the warrior-victor brings with Him an army. We are told three things about this army:
· It is a heavenly army: “the armies which are in heaven.” Like much in the Revelation, the identification of the army is open to debate. The identification of the army has three views—angelic beings; the saints; and a combination of both. The view that these are angelic seem to be supported by both the Old and New Testament. An angelic army is mentioned in Psalm 103:20-21 and associated with the second coming and the kingdom (cf. Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 24:30-31; 2 Thess. 1:7). This is in concert with the most basic and primitive subject of prophecy. “These are angelic host who are accustomed to make war, and fight against Satan and his host.” It is hard to argue otherwise.
· Yet, most seem to take this as the saints. This views argues more from the book itself. Their arguments are mainly two: First, those who come with Christ are those who are “called, chosen, and faithful (Rev. 17:14). We cannot overlook the book of Daniel concerning this. Daniel 7:21-22 that judgment is given to the saints of the most High. The saints of the Old Testament are the believers of Israel. Second, in Rev. 19:8, the bride is dressed in “fine linen, bright and clean.” The bride wears the same clothing as the army. It also indicates that this relationship are works related, for righteousness is not reckoned by faith, but works earned; it refers to righteous acts. Still many associate and identify the bride as the church based on Ephesians 5:22-32. However, there are significant differences that must be pointed out:
o The righteousness in Ephesians is not work-based as in Rev. 19. It is redemptive and sanctified righteousness which comes about by the work of Christ. In Rev. 19:7 these make themselves ready. It is by their work.
o Although the marriage imagery is used by Paul, nowhere is the church specifically called the bride of Christ, or wife for that matter.
o The church is identified specifically as “members of His body.” This connects the church as part of the groom. He is the head, we are the body of Christ.
His Activities (19:15)
It is clear that at the second coming, Christ is coming to conquer evil. He is the warring Messiah. This verse is clearly couched in Old Testament prophecy, which is climaxed in the activities of His coming. These activities fulfill prophecy. Notice the prophecies:
· Isaiah 49:2 predicts that the Messiah is coming the “mouth like a sharp sword.”
· Isaiah 11:4 predicts the Messiah will “smite the nations.”
· Psalm 2:9 predicts His smiting of the nations.
· Isaiah 63:1-3 is alluded to the coming to carry out wrath.
The overwhelming voice of prophecy is that the coming of Messiah is to judge the world of the wicked and evil. To vanquish them and set up His earthly kingdom.
There are three main activities that fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament:
· “He may [should—KJV] strike down the nations.” Strike down is a strong word and indicates inflicting a fatal blow. While the word nations can mean gentiles, it is not used in Revelation in that context, which shows that the unbelieving of the Jewish nation is included (Rev. 2:26; 5:9; 10:11; 11:2, 9, 18; 12:5, 13:7; 14:6, 8; 15:4; 16:19; 17:15; 18:3, 23; 20:3, 8; 21:24, 26; 22:2). They are slain because they are judged according to the righteous word, which is likened by John as the sharp sword (cf. Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12). Paul confirms this in 2 Thess. 2:8. It speaks of His irresistible power. Interestingly, these ones are slain twice. There is the first death which speaks of physical death (Rev. 19:21). They will also experience the second death, cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:12).
· “He will rule them with a rod of iron” (cf. Ps. 110:1-2; Rev. 2:27). The emphasis is on the one who will rule. The intensive pronoun (Himself or He) enforces the Messiah’s personal, unassisted role in his victory over His enemies. The word rule has the idea of herding, nurturing, tending as a Shepard. The word rod can mean not only a rod, but a staff, or scepter. The picture is a shepherd that “guards His flock by destroying the predators that would harm it.” It reminds one of the prophecy of Numbers 24:17-19. By the rod in the shepard’s hand has a twofold purpose: First, to care and lead the flock. Second, to defend the flock from raiding beasts who want to destroy the flock. Beside destroying the beast and his armies, He will rule nations as an inherence to rule (Rev. 12:5). It speaks of His protecting power.
· “He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” This image combines two concepts—the winepress (cf. Rev. 14:19) and the cup of wrath (14:10). The word He specifies a personal identity and act—Christ Himself treads the winepress. It is at the winepress God will carry out His fierce anger. The word anger or wrath is found 13 times in Revelation 6 to 19. It speaks of His powerful judgment against what He hates. Mounce correctly declares: “Any view of God that eliminates judgment and his hatred of sin in the interest of an emasculated doctrine of sentimental affection finds no support in the strong and virile realism of the Apocalypse.”
His Authority (19:16).
He has all authority for He is the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. This tile is written on His robe and thigh. It is a title already applied to Christ (Rev.17:14). It is the title of deity. It carries the idea of being supreme; that no King or Lord is above Him. His authority is above all. It speaks of His universal sovereignty.
 J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1969], 206-207; C.F. Baker, DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY [Grand Rapids MI, Grace Bible College, 1971], 585.
 G.K. Beale, REVELATION: A SHORTER COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 2015], 409.
 David J. MacLeod, “The First “Last Thing”: The Second Coming of Christ,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, April-June 1999.
 Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION: AN EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY, 2 Volumes, [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1992], 1:423.
 Grant R. Osborne, BECNT: REVELATION, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2002], 680.
 G. K. Beale, REVELATION, 410.
 David J. MacLeod, “The Second Coming of Christ,” BIB-SAC, April 1999, 212.
 Grant R. Osborne, BECNT: REVELATION, 680-681.
 Ibid, 681.
 Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION, 2:395.
 Tony Garland, A TESTAMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, Electronic media, Spirit & Truth. Org., 2004, 2:92.
 G.K. Beale, REVELATION, 410.
 Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: THE BOOK OF REVELATION, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1998], 353.
 John F. Walvoord, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1974], 277.
 E.W. Bullinger, THE APOCALYPSE, [London, Samuel Bagster & Sons, reprint 1972], 600.
 Interestingly, Bullinger omits any reference to who these are. He simply says they are God’s chosen forces. THE APOCALYPSE, 545.
 The word righteous is dikaiomata, meaning righteous deeds or acts and in the plural. It is clearly related to human works. James C. Healan II, THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB, [Grand Rapids MI, BIBLE DOCTRINES PUBLICATION, 1992], 41.
 John F. Walvoord, REVELATION, 272.
 Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION, 2:389.
 Tony Garland, A TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, 2:95.
 David J. MacLeod, “The Second Coming of Christ,” 217.
 Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION, 2:390.
 Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: REVELATION, 365.