You are on page 1of 141

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr.

Louis Brighton

The Significance of Revelation (pp1-3)

The Last Book of the Bible (p1)
Revelation is the culmination of the entire story of salvation that God has given to his church. It
draws all of revelation, both prophetic and apostolic, to it final goal: the exalted reign of Jesus
Christ. It reveals and confirms that Jesus’ incarnation, death and resurrection happened so that
God could restore creation’s glory and righteousness. It provides a sense of urgency for the
church to hold fast and complete its mission.

The Christological Testimony of Revelation (pp1-3)
The heart and center of Revelation is Christological. It focuses on the exalted reign of Christ. It
is assumed that the reader knows of and trusts in Jesus’ humiliation and vicarious atonement.
Revelation picks up where the gospels end – goes from the ascension to the second coming and
into eternity. The Christology of Revelation is presented in the following ways: Son of Man (ch.
1), the Lamb of God (ch. 5), the Angel of the church (ch. 10), the Lord of the church (chs. 2, 3,
22), the Judge of the world (ch. 19), the everlasting God (22:12-13), the Word of God (19:13),
the “source” of the new creation of God (ch. 3:14), the Lord of the cosmos, the Lord of history,
the Lord of the living and the dead, the Lord of angels, the Lord of the world and of all creation

Revelation: A Celebration of the Saints (p3)
The saints in heaven and on earth respond to this revelation with praise and worship of the Father
and the Son (the Lamb). The praise continues throughout Rev. and is most striking when viewed
in contrast to the terrible suffering of the saints on earth. It seems that the more the church on
earth suffers, the more confident and joyous God’s people are in their faith and hope in Christ.
The great Te Deum is sung throughout Rev. It begins in chpts. 4 and 5 and stanza after stanza are
added throughout the prophecy. It reaches it crescendo at Christ’s second coming in 19:1-8, the
end of the earth, and the creation of the new heavens and earth. The one who reads Rev. in faith
will join in with the saints in singing the Te Deum, the hymn of victory.

The Character of Revelation (pp 4-36)

Revelation, a Prophetic Apocalypse (pp 4-6)
Apocalyptic literature reveals divine secrets, is revealed by heavenly beings, and is revealed to a
human recipient in a historical setting. Its characteristics are that it deals with the End Times,

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
uses symbolic language to convey its message, is dualistic in nature – humans in history in a
warfare between good and evil [although not fully dualistic where the forces of good and evil are
equal. Instead, good, which is God, will triumph over evil, which is Satan], and the author
receives the message through angelic beings who appear in visions. Most apocalypses are
prophetic (God’s word is proclaimed). Revelation is prophetic, influencing the hearer toward
repentance. Revelation is not pseudonymous (a fictitious name for the author). John is the author
as it states at the beginning and at the end (1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). Revelation is Christocentric (Christ
centered) and not theocentric (God centered) (as other apocalyptic literature is). Christ is the
chief character around which Revelation revolves. Revelation above all is prophetic in its
intention, in the OT prophetic tradition (22:6, 18-19). Its purpose is not primarily to reveal
secrets, but to call to repentance and faith and worship.

The Purpose of Revelation (p 6-7)
The first words of the text tell us what the purpose of Revelation is: it is a “revelatory-unveiling
of Jesus Christ.” We are to take to heart the words of prophecy for Jesus Christ is coming quickly
(22:6-7). A key word might be “preparation.” Be ready for what is to come. Be ready by hearing
the message. Prepare through sealing (7:2-3), washing (1:5; 7:9, 13-14; 19:13; 22:14), and
cleansing (22:12). As Christians stand ready, they are encouraged in hope (2:10) and inspired in
mission (10:11).
Rev. ends with the promise that the Lord will come quickly (22:20). This is the conclusion and
end that Rev. aims at. The Spirit leads the hearer to pray this prayer now and until it is answered.
Simeon witnessed the Savior and then prayed to be in God’s presence. It is the same here. Based
on what Christians have witnessed, they desire the same. Simeon and Rev. both unveil the glory
of Christ. The revelation to Simeon moved him to witness. It’s the same for the hearer who hears
the prophetic word and now sees the sacramentally enfleshed Word.

The Message of Revelation (pp 7-9)
There are two ongoing phenomena in Rev.: suffering and horror on earth and the reign of Jesus
Christ in heavenly, exalted glory. The [sure] hope of eternal glory encourages God’s people,
which gives strength for the mission.
Plagues and distresses demonstrate God’s wrath against sin in motivating the godless to
repentance (16:1, 8-11).
Man’s sin and rebellion against God lead to tribulations and sufferings (6:1-11). The dragon uses
them and adds to them as he tries to destroy the Gospel witness of the church (11:7-10). God
allows the dragon to do this, so that sufferings bring repentance. For Christians, sufferings
remind of God’s judgment and provide opportunity to witness to the suffering and death of
Christ, who was without sin, but vicariously endured judgment for the salvation of all people
(2:8-11; 11:7-13).
The negative of the suffering of the human race is the backdrop for the beautiful pictures of
heaven in Revelation. Human history is headed for the certain judgment of God. Human life will

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
not improve. Against this is the peace and righteousness of Christ which comes to believers now
and not yet. These encourage Christians to trust and remain faithful in Christ. The end for
believers is not doom and horror, but glory in heaven. The believer prays, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
The dominant theme is the unveiling of the exalted Christ. He rules all for the sake of his church
– all history, all events, all sin and evil, even the devil. The church will accomplish her mission
(10:1-11:1, 9) and then the Lord Christ will come and claim his bride (19:5-16).

The Structure of Revelation (pp 9-11)
Rev. is made up of three main parts: an introduction (1:1-3:22), the prophetic message (4:122:15), and the epilogue (22:6-21).
The prophetic msg. is introduced by a vision of God’s throne and glory with angels and saints
and the exalted and victorious Lamb of God (4:1-5:14). This vision dominates and controls the
prophetic message of Revelation. Jesus Christ the slain Lamb is alive and reigns! The victory has
been won! Salvation is accomplished! Everything in the book is normed by the reassurance of
this opening vision.
The prophecy contains three visions of events on earth – each of the same time period. The first
vision is in 6:1-8:5. The first five seals cover the time from Jesus’ ascension to the End (6:1-11).
The sixth seal is the End (6:12-17). There is then an interlude where we see God’s people on
earth (144,000) sealed for divine protection. This is the church militant (7:1-8). We also see the
church triumphant (7:9-17), the saints in heaven. The opening of the seventh seal leads into the
second seven-fold vision.
In the second seven-fold vision, each time an angel blows the trumpet a scene appears. The first
four scenes are natural disasters that occur during the time from the ascension to the End (8:613). In the fifth scene an angel introduces the terrifying scene of demons from the abyss who
afflict unbelieving mankind (9:1-12). In the sixth scene there is a gathering of evil hosts that will
be unleashed on humanity just before the End (9:13-21). This is the first of three glimpses that
John sees of Armageddon (16:16) and the battle of Gog and Magog (20:8). There is an interlude
between the sixth and seventh scenes (10:1-11:14). In this interlude a mighty angel from heaven
commissions John and the church to proclaim the msg. of God to all people (10:1-11). Then two
witnesses show the church carrying out this mission (11:1-14). The seventh and last scene
(seventh trumpet) is the end of the world (like the 6th scene of the first seven-fold vision). For
Christians this is not about destruction but it is a day filled with joy (11:15-19).
Before the third seven-fold vision, there is a vision of the cosmic war between God and the
dragon (12:1-14:20). This cosmic vision is the heart of Rev., for it reveals the cause of all of the
tribulations and sufferings on earth and the final triumph of Christ’s church. The vision consists
of the woman with child and the dragon (12:1-18), the beasts of the dragon (13:1-78), and the
defeat of the dragon and the beasts, together with the end of the world (14:1-20). Unable to
destroy the woman, the dragon conjures up two beasts, which war against her throughout the
time from the ascension to the world’s end. The vision ends with the defeat of the evil forces of

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
the dragon and with the victory song of the 144,000 at the End, which is pictured as a great
The third seven-fold vision is introduced by seven censer-angels (15:1-16:21). As each censer is
poured out, a scene is presented. The first five scenes refer to God’s anger poured out on the
human race with various plagues (15:1-16:11). The sixth scene with the sixth censer-angel is the
second view of the last battle before the End (Armageddon) (16:12-16). The seventh scene is the
End (16:17-21).
The conclusion describes the end of the world in greater detail and the new heaven and earth
(17:1-22:5). Chs. 17 & 18 describe the evil forces of the dragon (Babylon – the harlot and the
beast). The first beast (13:1-10) is the beast throughout Rev. The second beast (13:11-18) evolves
into the harlot (chs. 17 & 18) and the false prophet (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). “Babylon” (chs. 17 &
18) consists of the harlot and the beast (the first beast), which she rides (17:13).

Literary Style (pp. 23-26)
John’s style in writing Rev. is more of an artist than a technical writer. He thinks and writes more
in visual patterns than in logical axioms. He does some things grammatically that are not
normally done in order to present this artistry. His style also reflects a Semitic background. He
uses the Greek language in unusual ways to express Semitic thoughts.
John’s artistic writing also expresses itself with the use of symbols. Some symbols are based on
real persons, events, or places. When he uses such things, he does not refer to the thing he is
using as a model, but to something new that is explained in terms of something that is already
known. The known thing then points to and gives clues about the thing that is being revealed. In
this case the symbol acts as a metaphor. For this kind of symbol the reader/hearer can draw upon
common human experiences in order to interpret the symbol. If one cannot draw from common
human experiences then the symbol is being used to picture something that is supernatural. An
example of this would be the dragon. A dragon is not real, therefore one must use one’s
imagination. The dragon then refers to Satan who is a supernatural being. Another type of
symbol he employs is that of numbers. Numbers can symbolize or represent other things.
Much of the symbolic imagery of Rev. is taken from the OT, especially from the later prophecies
and the book of Daniel. So knowing the OT helps tremendously in interpreting the symbols of
Rev. Some symbolism is taken from some of the intertestamental books and from Graeco-Roman
John not only uses the OT for symbolism, but more importantly, he also uses it as a basis for
theology. Sometimes he does this rather subtly. He does not formally cite an OT passage, rather
he uses OT imagery, phrases, thought patterns, and theological motifs. The OT furnishes the
vocabulary, mode of expression, and theological mind-set with which Rev. was written. For
instance, in trying to describe the exalted Christ in 1:12-16, he uses the Son of Man of Dan. 7
and 10. Yet, in describing Jesus in this way, he goes beyond the description in Dan. and makes
the description distinctly his own. He build upon it in an innovative way.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

Interpreting Revelation (p. 29)
Throughout the centuries Rev. has been interpreted in two basic ways. One way is in a linear
fashion so that each item in the book follows what came before it. In this way events unfold in an
orderly, chronological way. This is called the millenarian method. The other method is cyclic and
is commonly called the recapitulation approach. In this method the prophecy is viewed as
repetitive, so that the events of the same time period are described several times. This
commentary employees the recapitulation method.

Outline of Revelation
I. Introduction (1:1 - 3:22)
... A. Prologue (1:1-8)
... B. Commissioning of John: Vision of the Son of Man (1:9-20)
... C. Letters of Preparation to the Seven Churches (2:1-3:22)
II. The Prophetic Message (4:1 - 22:5)
... A. The Inaugural Vision of Heaven, Introducing the Message (4:1-5:14)
...... 1. The Throne of God and His Heavenly Court (4:1-11)
...... 2. The Coronation and Enthronement of the Lamb: The Seven-Sealed Scroll (5:1-14)
... B. The Prophecy (6:1-16:21)
...... 1. First Sevenfold Vision of History from Cross to the End (The Seven-Sealed Scroll
Introduced by the Lamb) (6:1-8:5)
...... 2. Second Sevenfold Vision of History from the Cross to the End (The Seven TrumpetAngels: Disorders in Nature Accompanied by Sufferings of Evil Afflict Humanity (8:6-11:19)
...... 3. Interregnum: The Cosmic War between Christ and Satan, between God's Saints and the
Forces of Evil (12:1-14:20)
...... 4. Third Sevenfold Vision of History from the Cross to the End (The Seven Censer-Angels):
Plagues of God's Wrath as God's Judgment Is Poured Out on the Human Race (15:1-16:21)
... C. The Conclusion: The End and the New Heaven and New Earth (17:1-22:5)
...... 1. The Judgment and Overthrow of the Forces of the Dragon (17:1-18:24)
...... 2. Victorious Celebration (19:1-21)
...... 3. The Judgment and Overthrow of the Dragon (20:1-10)
...... 4. The Bodily Resurrection and the Last Judgment (20:11-15)
...... 5. The New Heaven and New Earth Portrayed as the Heavenly City Jerusalem (21:1-22:5)
III. Epilogue (22:6-21)

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

Introduction (Rev 1:1 – 3:22)
Prologue (1:1-8)

The Title and Its Explanation (Rev 1:1-3) p. 37
The first words of the document serve as its title: “The revelatory unveiling of Jesus
Christ.” The rest of the introduction serves as a commentary on the title. Revelation is given to
God’s people, “his slaves,” so they know what is to about to happen quickly. Revelation comes
from God to Jesus Christ who gives it to John through his angel (1:1; 22:16). So the line of
mediators of the prophetic message is: God, Jesus Christ, his angel, John, and the seven
John received the revelation by seeing it (visions) and hearing it. The visions he saw
served the word that he was to communicate to the church. The word being communicated is
God’s Word.
Revelation is a book of prophecy, the only one in the NT and the last prophecy.
The blessing promised, based on the other six instances of blessings in Revelation, is
participation in the heavenly banquet of the bride and the Lamb (19:9). It is a participation in the
first resurrection (now) (20:6) and the second resurrection at the End.

Divine Confirmation of the Message (1:4-6) p. 39
It is a Trinitarian confirmation/greeting/benediction. Rev. is confirmed and revealed by
God the Father (“the One Who Is and Who Was and Who Is Coming”), God the Holy Spirit (“the
seven Spirits”), and God the Son (“Jesus Christ”).
“The One Who Is” – see Ex. 3:14 where God calls himself “I AM the One Who Is” (God’s holy
name, Yahweh). Therefore, here it is expanded and refers to the God the Father. This is an
unprecedented title, an expansion of “I AM.” God has always and will always be present for his
people. He exists from and to eternity.
Similar and yet slightly different titles are given to God in several places in Revelation (1:4, 8;
11:17; 16:5). The differences between them are on purpose; they make theological statements.
“Seven Spirits.” Same level of authority as the Father and the Son. Refers not to angels, but to
the Holy Spirit (Gen 1:1-2; Is 6:3). In the Bible 7=God. 3=God + 4=creation so 7=the God of
creation (Eze. 18:1-2; Is. 6:3). 7 also = perfection. God rested on the 7th day = completion and
holiness of God’s created works.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Seven Spirits reflect the 7 lamps and the 7 eyes in Zech 3:9 – 4:10 where they represent the
Spirit of God by which God sees the whole earth. God is present with his creation through the
sevenfold presence of his Spirit. He is always with his people – fully present. In Revelation,
7=God’s presence by his Spirit. Thus the church, represented by the 7 churches, is always under
the Spirit of God.
Revelation also comes from Jesus Christ, the One who died and rose from the dead and now
rules the kings of the earth. Through his resurrection he set God’s people free and made them a
kingdom of priests.
So the source and authority of Revelation (and by inference the entire Scripture; OT and NT)
comes from the Trinity. It may also indicate that there will be no other word of God spoken until
Jesus comes again.

The Lord’s Return (Rev. 1:7-8) p. 43
“He is coming with the clouds” (1:7) is reminiscent of Jesus’ words to Caiaphas (Mt. 26:64; cf. 1
Thess. 4:17). When Christ returns he will come back as he went up. The time for his second
coming “is near” (1:3).
“Pierced” (Zech. 12:10). John is the only evangelist to tell of Jesus’ piercing (Jn. 19:32-37; 1 Jn.
5”6). Those who pierced him= enemies. “Tribes” = God’s repentant people (see Zech. 12:12-14;
Lk. 2:35; 23:27; Jn. 20:11). The recognition at his second coming of his being the pierced one
confirms the truth that his death and resurrection made him the Savior and Judge (see Jn 19:3335; 1 Jn 5:6-12).
In 1:8, the God himself breaks in to confirm the exalted status of his Son. There is no greater
witness than the Eternal, Almighty Father.
“Alpha and Omega” = the eternity of God. In Rabbinic theology it is the visible presence of God
for his people. The glory of God is revealed through Jesus Christ who entered human history and
time. Here and in other parts of Rev. the Father and Son share this title.
The Father is again identified as “the One Who Is and Who Was and Who Is Coming,” as well as
‘the Almighty.” The “Almighty” in Revelation refers only to God the Father. The Father holds
the prime position while yet being equal to the Son and the Spirit.
The Father’s word here is similar to the transfiguration; it’s a confirmation of his Son. Here in
1:8, the Father confesses that this Spirit-given prophecy about the sent, crucified, and exalted
Son has its origin in himself, the Father, and so it has his authority behind it.

Commissioning of John: Vision of the Son of Man (Rev. 1:9-20) p. 46

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
John on Patmos (Rev. 1:9-11) p. 48
John was “in the Spirit” (1:10), in a moment of worship and meditation on the island of Patmos
where he was being punished for remaining a faithful witness to Christ. He and all Christians
join Christ in suffering. Here he receives a revelation and is commanded to write it down and
send it to the churches. No one else was permitted to see and describe the exalted Christ in such

The Exalted Christ (1:12-16) p. 49
The description of the exalted Son of Man draws on several OT sources, his own experience, and
the memory of the transfiguration. The prophetic promise seen prophetically by Daniel and
momentarily experienced by John at the transfiguration, now stands consummated in all its
everlasting beauty. The Lord is now in his glory because he has completed his mission through
his death and resurrection (1:18).
John gives a detailed description. “Long flowing robe” – a garment of a high priest (see Heb.
4:14-16). “Golden belt or sash” – indicated royalty, kingship (see Dan. 10:5). “Head and hair
white as wool and snow” – a sign of respect and honor (Lev. 19:32), a crown of splendor and
righteous wisdom (Prov. 16:31; 20:29). The Son of Man represents the Father in his rule over
creation. The Son of Man was due honor and glory because through his death and resurrection he
carried out his commission of establishing the everlasting “kingdom” (1:9). Having ascended, the
whiteness (respect and honor) of the Ancient of Days is transferred to the victorious Christ. He
too receives the full worship and glory given to the Father.
His eyes were “like a flame of fire” (1:14; Dan. 10:6). In the OT fire symbolized God’s holy,
purifying presence before whom only the purified can stand. God purifies people so they can
stand before him. God’s holy presence also destroys evil. Jesus is the Son of Man who is
authorized to destroy evil and to purify his people.
Feet like “fiery burnished brass” (1:15; Dan. 10:6) symbolizes strength that conquers enemies
(Dan. 2:33). Death and the grave now stand beneath his feet (1:17-18; 1 Cor. 15:25-27). He had a
voice that was as loud and powerful as the “roar of mighty waters” (1:15; Dan. 10:6; Eze. 43:2).
Given this description, when John stands before the exalted Son of Man, he is standing
before the very majesty and glory of God (see Rev. 10:3).
“And he had in his right hand seven stars.” These are the angels of the seven churches
(1:20).His right hand is one of mercy (Mt.25:34; Rev. 1:17) that blesses the church through the
sevenfold presence of the Spirit (Jn. 14:15-17; 16:7). The churches are represented before God
by their angels. Angels represent the human messengers of Christ’s Word to his church
(pastors?). The “two-edged sword” (1:16) indicates that the Son of Man will execute the
judgment of God according to his Word (Heb. 4:12).
The Son of Man appears “like the sun in its most powerful brightness” (1:16) – In the OT,
the sun is a metaphor for God and his glory by which he blesses his people, giving light which

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
produces life and brings them out of darkness. The Messiah was to be “the Sun of
Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). In the transfiguration, Jesus’ face was like the sun (Mt. 17:2).
In Rev. 1 the face and whole person of Jesus show that the exalted Christ is the person
through whom the glory and the life-giving light of God are now present. Christ brings God’s
light to a world of darkness.

The Gracious Hand upon the Messenger (1:17-20) p. 51
Standing before the transfigured Christ, John willingly bowed down (Mt. 17:1-5). Now standing
before the exalted Christ, John “unwillingly” is forced down. Struck by Christ’s full majestic
glory, John is struck down like a corpse. See other similar instances of Moses at Mt. Sinai and
Isaiah. No sinful person can stand before Holy God. But then Jesus graciously gives John
permission to stand before him.
Alpha and Omega deal with the eternalness of both the Father (1:8) and Son (22:13) who are far
beyond creation. But “the First and the Last” refers to the eternalness of Christ in relationship to
his bride, the church. It is a reflection and fulfillment of Is. 44:6 and 48:12 as he speaks to Israel
as King and Redeemer. Here he assures John that as the Eternal One, he is the Savior, so don’t’
be afraid (Is. 44:8).
He is also “the Living One” (1:18). In the OT there is a contrast between false gods and idols,
which are dead and have no existence, with the living God of Israel. Christ now lives forever,
having conquered death and the grave. The God that is present in the exalted, living Christ is the
only true God (Is. 44:8-10), Creator (Is. 48:12-13), and Judge and Redeemer (Is. 48:14-22).
John is revived and commissioned to “write” (1:19) to the seven churches the prophetic message
of the unveiling of the Lord’s majesty.

Son of Man and Lamb of God p. 53
Rev pictures Christ as either the Son of Man or the Lamb of God. His appearance as the Son of
Man is fearful because he comes to judge the human race on behalf of the Father (Rev. 19:11-16;
cf. Jn.5:22-23, 27). He has the authority to carry out God’s judgment as the Son of Man because
as the Lamb of God he suffered God’s judgment in the place of the human race (5:6-10; 6:15-17;
19:13-15). But as the Lamb he appears only to his own people and there is no fear. They are
God’s people washed in the blood of the Lamb (19:5-9; 7:9-17).

Excursus: Son of Man p. 54
Daniels’ use of the Son of Man provides the theological background for the NT. The Son of Man
represents the Ancient of Days and rules God’s people on his behalf.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Jesus called himself the Son of Man. He used it in connection with his death and resurrection and
his coming again in judgment. Christ has fulfilled the prophecy of the Son of Man in the OT. As
the Man, he has taken Israel’s and all people’s place (Is. 49:3; 49:6) and represents them before
God (Is. 53:12).
Jesus is given the titles of Christ, Lord and Son of Man. As the Christ, he was the chosen one, the
Redeemer. Because of his redemptive activity, he became the Lord of the church. As a result of
his being Christ and Lord, he also became the Son of Man. The Son of Man is the master of all
history, of the human race, and of the final judgment.
He is true man who took the place of the human race in his death and resurrection. He also is the
Man who was elevated to rule.
Dan. 7:13-44 is the seminal passage on the Son of Man who approached the Ancient of Days and
received “authority, glory, and kingship.”

Excursus: The Seven Letters of Preparation (2:1-3:22) p. 56
The Seven Letters within the Book of Rev. p. 56
The seven letters are different than the seven seals, trumpets, and censers. Their purpose
is to prepare the recipients for receiving and applying the message in the visions. They also are a
call to repentance.
The seven letters follow the same literary pattern.
 The recipient is mentioned
 A descriptive phrase that identifies Christ as the author and sender
 Acknowledgement of historical circumstances of the church and the work that the church
is doing for Christ
 The danger the church faces because of sin of its members and the weakness of their
Christian faith
 Author urges recipient to repent, otherwise they will lose their place with him
 Promise of blessing for those who repent, trust, and conquer
 Urgent appeal to listen to the Spirit
The Seven Churches and the Church p. 57
The letters indicate that the Lord Christ knows all about his churches, and that they are
historical churches. The message is relevant for all time to the End. Each church has a particular
sin or failing, which if not repented of, threatens their fellowship with Christ. The letters are
meant to cause repentance, stand firm, and comfort in the promised blessing and hope of victory.
Repentance also prepares the readers to receive the prophetic message of Rev (4:11-22:5).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Each letter is intended for all seven churches, as is all of Revelation. Indeed, the whole church
will benefit from these letters. The seven churches represent the entire church. The seven
churches like the entire church are always under the grace of the Spirit.
“The Angel of the Church” p. 61
Are the angels of each church, the churches themselves or actually angels? In keeping with the
whole character of Revelation, they should be thought of as actual angels. Outside of the angels
of the churches, every time “angel” is used in Revelation, it is speaking of actual angels. That the
Lord should use angels as messengers is not surprising. Angels mediated the Law to Moses at
Mt. Sinai (Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2), announced the birth of Jesus (Mt. 1:20; Lk. 1:2627; 2:8-9), and proclaimed the resurrection (Mt. 28:2-7). But the view that they represent the
pastors of the churches is not out of the question.
The Preparatory Function of the Seven Letters p. 61
Each of the seven letters was written to a specific (historical) congregation. And yet, they all
became a part of Revelation which was received by all of the seven churches and the church
universal. Each of the seven letters ends with “to the churches” (e.g., Rev. 2:7).
“7” = the entire church of Jesus Christ under the motivating influence of the Holy Spirit. In
Revelation, 12 and its multiples 24 and 144,000 represent the church. The number 7 represents
the seven-fold (complete) presence of the Spirit who is with and in control of the church.
The seven sins and failings in the letters are addressed to all churches and Christians. If it can
happen to them, it can happen to other churches too.
There seems to be a sequence to these sins: leave of first love (2:4), which leads to fear (2:10),
which gives way to serving both God and mammon (idolatry) (2:14), which causes errors in
teaching denying the uniqueness of Christianity (2:20), that then leads to deadness of faith and
heart (3:1), and no desire to serve by proclaiming the Gospel (3:8), becoming lukewarm to the
Lord (3:16), which then leads to being cast out of his holy presence. These seven sins are a
constant threat to the Christian’s life. Awareness of these sins is necessary for repentance, which
prepares the heart to receive the message of Revelation.
The letters provide seven identification marks of the speaker. He is
1) Lord of the church and mediator of this revelation (2:1) (holds 7 stars, walks in midst of 7
2) Savior of the church (2:8) (the First and Last, the one who died and rose again),
3) Judge (2:12) (two-edged sword),
4) Omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent (2:18) (flaming eyes and brass-like feet),
5) sends the Holy Spirit and angels for the sake of the saints (3:1) (7 spirits and 7 stars),
6 & 7) governs opportunities to witness the Gospel (3:7) and confirms that witness (3:14) (key of
David and is the agent of God’s new creation).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This detailed description is of the Son of Man (1:13). Thus chapters 2 & 3 interpret the Son of
Man in chapter 1 for the sake of the church, warning and comforting her. It also reminds the
church of her mission and that he will supply every need of the mission as she lives in repentance
and faith.
While each letter focuses on sin and repentance, the goal of each letter is to strengthen faith in
the victory of Christ. Each letter ends with a promise of eternal blessings for the one who
conquers (through Christ). The promises are directed to the future. Christ’s victory finds its full
and final meaning in eternal life in God’s presence. The Christian who conquers endures
temptation and suffering and is faithful until the end of earthly life.
The promises of the letters are:
1) paradise (2:7) (tree of life),
2&3) hell and eternal death are destroyed for the Christian (2:11) and the Christian is sustained
by manna from heaven (2:17),
4&5) Christians will participate in Christ’s reign (clothed in white and name written in the book
of life, 2:26-29, 3:5),
6&7) eternal habitation of the new Jerusalem (3:12), sharing the Father’s and Son’s throne
These promises provide encouragement for the church.
But the church is not there yet. So in the mean time, the prophetic message will guide, instruct,
comfort, and inspire her in her mission until she reaches that blessed end.

To the Angel of Ephesus (2:1-7) p. 65
Who Speaks? (2:1) p. 67
The author of the letter identifies himself as the one who holds the seven stars, the angels of the
seven churches, and is in the midst of the seven lampstands, the churches. This invites us to look
back at 1:12, 16. By this description he identifies himself as the Son of Man (1:13). He is the
church’s Protector (Lord) and her Judge. As her Judge, he calls her to repentance (2:5), because
of his love and concern.

What He Knows (2:2-4) p. 67
The Lord knows the activity of the church, that they are alert to false prophets, who are enemies
of the truth. He recognizes their works and endurance. One mark of God’s people on earth is
their patience in the midst of turmoil and suffering (13:10).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
He sees that they have left their “first love” (2:4).John is the disciple of love: love one another
(Jn. 13:34), love lays down its life for friends (Jn. 15:13), God loved so much he sent his Son (Jn.
3:16). The first love was God’s love in Christ. From it flows all other love and love’s works.
The church had fallen from this love. It was not of first importance in their lives. All the other six
sins evolve and result from this sin.

Call to Repent (2:5-6) p. 68
The church has fallen, and if she does not repent, the Lord threatens to remove her from his
presence (2:5). Remembering that first love will help move her to repentance. Works worthy of
repentance will follow (cf. Mt. 3:8).
Even though they have fallen, they haven’t fallen so far as to embrace the works of the
Nicolaitans. They are commended for their steadfast vigilance against evil and false people (2:2),
but warned and called to repentance.

Promise (2:7) p. 69
Those who repent will receive the blessed assurance of eternal life. The “tree of life” and
“paradise” (2:7) give promise of eternal life in the new heaven and earth, the restored Garden of

To the Angel of Smyrna (2:8-11) p. 70
Who Speaks? (2:8) p. 72
The Lord Christ is the First and the Last because he died and rose again. He is the First because
he is the cause of the Christian’s faith and life. He is the Last because he is the goal and object of
the believer’s faith and life.

What He Knows (2:9) p. 72
They were poor materially (but rich spiritually) and persecuted by the Jews who claimed they
represented the true inherited faith of Moses and the prophets (see Gal. 3:1-14). But the Lord
names them for who they really are: the synagogue of Satan, the followers of his lies (see Jn.
8:37 and Rev. 2:28-29).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Comfort, Exhortation, and Promises (2:10-11) p. 72
The Christians at Smyrna were already full of fear. But he urges them to “stop fearing.” He is
aware of their suffering, but the time and intensity of their suffering is set by God (“ten days,”).
Fear of anything but God is a sin. Fear of other things can lead to idolatry (e.g., offering worship
to Caesar).
If God’s people have lost their first love, fear follows because the heart no longer looks to the
love of God in Christ but to other things (see Mt. 14:28-31).The remedy for fear, then, is to
repent and look with faith to Jesus Christ. Through repentant, faithful focus on Christ there is
reborn that first love (1 Jn. 4:16-19; 5:1-5), which sustains endurance through persecution (cf.
Heb. 12:1-3).
Those who are “faithful,” that repent, and believe in Christ, will receive the crown of life (2:10;
cf. 4:4). Crowns were given to victorious athletes (1Cor. 9:25). The crown is a symbol of victory.
Here it is victory over fear and death and the grave (1:17-18; 2:8). Christ wears the diadem of
victory (14:14; 19:12). Crowns are worn by the 24 elders and the woman in chapter 12 (they
represent the church).
Listen to the Spirit for he provides words of comfort.

To the Angel of Pergamum (2:12-17) p. 74
Who Speaks? (2:12) p. 76
A “sharp two-edged sword” refers to 1:16 to the Son of Man. The sword symbolizes the
judgment of God. Since the Son of Man wields the sword, he will execute the Father’s judgment.
At the End, the Son of Man will bear this sword of judgment (19:15). The Lord will judge the
church, but even more, he will defend the church as he judges his enemies who afflict his people.

What He Knows (2:13-15) p. 77
He knows that the “throne of Satan” is the source of the persecution that his people are enduring.
He knows of the dangerous situation his church is in. He has not abandoned her but will avenge
her by judging her adversaries.
He knows, despite such persecutions, the church has remained faithful. A profound example is
Antipas who lost his life for the Gospel (cf. 2:10).
Yet he also knows a failing of the church in Pergamum is that some held to the “teaching of
Balaam” (2:14).Balaam’s sin was wanting both God and money, serving two masters. This sin
lead to the death of Balaam and to sexual immorality and idolatry and death for many Israelites
(Num. 25:1-2; 31:13-17; cf. 2 Pet. 2:14-15).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
In a pagan society Christians were tempted to compromise their faith in order to receive earthly
honor and security. This sin would cause the loss of their faith and encourage others to follow. So
the Lord has two things against them: they’ve compromised their faith and they’ve done nothing
to correct it (cf. 1Cor. 5:1-13).
To make matters worse, some held to the heresy of the Nicolaitans which encouraged Christians
to misuse their Christian liberty for the purpose of licentious living.

Call to Repent (2:16) p. 78
God leads believers to repent by first seeing the horror of the temptation and the sin. Within the
fear of God’s judgment the Spirit moves the heart to sorrow and contrition bringing sin to the
throne of God’s mercy (2Cor. 7:8-10). In faith the sorrowing heart sees Jesus Christ who took our
sin and guilt on himself and earned forgiveness on the cross (Rev. 7:13-17; cf. Heb. 4:14-16).

Promises (2:17) p. 78
The word of judgment is for those who do not repent. For those who do, who hear the Spirit,
there is the sentence of innocent (the white stone) and the promise of new and everlasting life
(the heavenly manna).
The promises are phrased in language that recalls Baptism (the “new name,” Rev. 2:17) and the
Lord’s Supper (“the manna which has been hidden”). The Lord’s Supper is hidden manna (2:17)
because the future banquet is hidden from view as is the presence of Christ. But they are,
nevertheless, real and certain.

To the Angel of Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) p. 80
Who Speaks? (2:18) p. 82
By identifying himself with fire-like eyes and brass-like feet, he identifies himself as the Son of
Man (Rev. 1:14-15). Flashing, fire-like eyes suggest the Lord’s righteous anger against agents of
darkness, the enemies of the truth. The brass-like feet demonstrate his determination to trample
underfoot those same enemies (cf. Dan. 2:33, 40-41). For the first and only time in Revelation,
Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of God.” He is the Son of Man, the Judge and Savior. But he
is also the Son of God, the mighty and everlasting God. As true man and true God he holds the
destiny of the human race and all history in his hands. He speaks for its eternal well being.

What He Knows (2:19-20) p. 83

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Lord knows the church’s faithful service and patience. But this will be of no avail unless
they realize the grave sin in their midst. Whether Jezebel was actual or symbolic of sin is not
known. Jezebel stands for and represents the sin of syncretism, a universalistic belief that all
religions are of value and are able to be of benefit before God. Greco-Roman society was
pluralistic. Many religions were believed to be acceptable before God. To witness and live the
truth that Jesus Christ was the only way to God was dangerous. So there was the temptation to
tone down one’s witness for Christ in order to avoid persecution.

Call to Repent (2:21-23) p. 83
The Lord is patient and urges those who condone this practice to repent. He leads them to repent
through afflictions. He disciplines those he loves in order that they might avoid the future
judgment (see Heb. 12:1-13; cf. 2Cor. 12:6-10). It is not his will that they die but that they repent
and live (Eze. 18:23, 32).

Exhortation (2:24-25) p. 84
The “depths of Satan” (2:24) is the same as the sin of Jezebel. The lies of Satan are that
Christianity is not unique. In fact, it may be the lie. Those who have held firm against the great
lie will not be tested any longer. Instead, they are exhorted to hold on until the Lord returns (see
Rev. 2:10).

Promises (2:26-28) p. 84
To those who remain faithful a share in his authority and judgment will be given. Jesus Christ is
the bright start, brighter than any of the angels and saints. He promises to share his glory with
those who conquer and remain faithful (Rev. 22:16-17).

To the Angel of Sardis (3:1-6) p. 85
Who Speaks? (3:1a) p. 86
In 1:4 the seven Spirits represent the Holy Spirit of God in his seven-fold presence. Here the
Lord Christ claims the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus is present with his church. In
John’s commissioning (1:16) the Son of Man holds the seven stars in his right hand. The seven
stars represent the seven angels of the seven churches (1:20). So Jesus reminds the church that
he, the exalted Christ, is the Lord of the churches and that he communicates with them through
his Spirit by the prophetic message of Revelation (see 8:1-6).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
What He Knows (3:1b-2) p. 87
Of the seven letters, this one has one of the most severe condemnations. Their works make it
appear as if they are alive, but they are dead works (see Is. 64:6). If they don’t repent, they are in
danger of “the second death” (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). The church, while still outwardly performing
rituals of godly pretense, has lost faith and heart toward Christ and God, or at least is in danger
of doing so.
There are some who are encouraged to guard and strengthen their faith. But the situation is
grave. They have gifts, but they have not “perfected” (3:2) them; they have not [exercised them
and] used them as they should.

Call to Repent (3:3) p. 87
They must remember the Word which they received and heard (see Gal. 3:1-4). The power of the
Spirit is enabled through the Word. It will enable them to repent.

Promises (3:4-5) p. 87
There are a few who are faithful. They have been made worthy by the righteousness of Christ.
Those who are victorious are clothed in white garments (3:5). They have been cleansed by the
blood of Christ. See Rev. 7:13-17 where the saints stand before the Lord in blood cleansed white
garments. The twenty-four elders before God in heaven are dressed in white robes (4:4). And
those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb have authority to partake of the tree
of life and will be inhabitants of the new heaven and earth (Rev. 22:14).
Those in white garments have their names written in “the book of life” (3:5). The book of life is
God’s register of all who belong to him. No one can remove a name that God has entered. It
proves heavenly citizenship.

To the Angel of Philadelphia (3:7-13) p. 89
Who Speaks? (3:7) p. 91
There is no explicit criticism, but there is a veiled indication of the Lord’s disquiet with them.
The Lord’s anxious concern is shown in the words “opened door” and “you have a little power”
(3:8). They have recognized the “open door,” but they have not taken full advantage of it. This
letter to the church of Philadelphia has to do with the mission of the church.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
His description of himself as “the holy one, the true one” (3:7) directs our attention back to the
prologue (1:1-8) in which Jesus Christ is called “the witness, the faithful one” (1:5). Jesus Christ
is the true witness of God to the human race (Jn. 3:31-36; 8:13-18; Rev. 1:2). As the holy and
true one, his witness is valid. It is now the mission of the church to carry that witness to the
He is also “the key of David” (3:7). In the commissioning, Jesus has “the keys of death and the
grave” (1:18). The expression “key of David” in Is. 22:22 is used with the same words as here in
Rev. 3:7, “what he opens no one can close, and what he closes no one opens.” These words were
spoken to the chief steward of Hezekiah. The steward was directed to exercise complete control
over the household of the king (Is. 22:15-24). Jesus uses the words of Isaiah to proclaim that he
is over the household of God, and that he alone has the authority to control entrance into it. He
earned this authority through his death and resurrection. He has the key to open the grave so that
his followers can be raised and he has shut the door of eternal death forever to believers. The key
of David symbolizes his authority now by which he has opened to all people the door of his
Father’s kingdom.

What He Knows (3:8-9a) p. 92
The “opened door” (3:8) represents opportunities to bring the message of Christ’s victory to
others. (For more on “open doors” for the preaching of the Gospel see 1Cor. 5-9; 2Cor. 2:12-13;
and Col. 4:3).
The Lord has taken special measures to open the door, to provide a special opportunity to
proclaim the Gospel. He expects his people to enter and exploit those opportunities.
The Christians in Philadelphia recognized the open door and used it to proclaim the Gospel, but
not to full advantage. They were weak in their mission activities.
The Jewish people who claimed to be the Israel of God but who did not believe in Jesus as their
Messiah had forfeited their membership in the covenant with Abraham (Gal. 3:6-14). The true
Israel was those Jews and Gentiles who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, the fulfillment of the
covenant with Abraham. The proclamation Jesus as the Messiah, stirred up opposition from the
unbelieving Jews. Yet the church at Philadelphia remained faithful in their witness of Jesus.

Promises (3:9b-11a) p. 93
The unbelieving Jews will one day be forced to admit (through conversion or in judgment) that
Christians are recipients of God’s love which comes through Christ.
Because they have kept Christ’s word and endured in it, the Lord promises to defend them when
great trial and tribulation come upon the whole human race (the terrible times before his second
coming). No matter how much suffering they face, the Lord will see his people through the hour
of trial (Mk. 13:20; Jn. 17:14-17; Rev. 7:13-17).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
His last promise is “I am coming quickly” (3:11). The mission of the Church and Christ’s second
coming are connected. When God decides that the mission is complete, the Lord will come (Mt.
24:14; 28:16-20). There is an element of urgency here.

Exhortation (3:11b) p. 94
Christians hold to their faith in the midst of suffering as they go about the mission of the church.
Christians pray for the Lord to come quickly that they might receive “the crown of life.”

More Promises (3:12-13) p. 94
Victory is assured by becoming “a pillar in the temple of my God” (3:12), a part of the church.
This victory will be complete in the new Jerusalem, the place of perfect, everlasting life with
God in the new heaven and earth. God will descend to dwell with his people. The Holy of Holies
will be as it was in the Garden of Eden (21:1-22:5).
Citizenship in the heavenly kingdom of God is confirmed by the name of God, the name of the
new Jerusalem, and by Christ’s new name. In Baptism the name of God is conferred (Mt. 28:19;
1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 2:13). One is registered in and assured of entrance into the new Jerusalem
because one’s name is in the book of life (21:27). Christians always bear the name of Christ in its
new glory.

To the Angel of Laodicea (3:14-22) p. 96
Who Speaks? (3:14) p. 98
Christ speaks of himself as “the Amen, the witness, the faithful and true one” (3:14). Again it
points back to the prologue where he is called “the witness, the faithful one” (1:5). The prophetic
message of Revelation comes from the Triune God, from the “One Who Is and Who Was and
Who Is Coming” (Father), and from the “seven Spirits” (Holy Spirit) and from Jesus Christ (1:45). The Father is the prime source of the message (1:1); the Holy Spirit moves the hearer to
receive the message (Rev. 2:7, 11, 29; 3:6, 13, 22); and Jesus Christ is the witness to the
truthfulness and validity of the message that he mediates to John and to the churches (1:1-2).
When God speaks he provides a witness. By virtue of his incarnation, baptism, ministry,
miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension Jesus is the witness whose witness is faithful and
true (Jn. 5:31; 8:14).
Jesus is “the Amen.” Amen usually comes at the end and means “this is most certainly true.” So
Amen affirms the truth. But Jesus is “the true one.” And so everything he is about to say is true.
Saying amen in the beginning then affirms that Jesus is the truth and that he speaks the truth with

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Jesus is also “the source” of God’s creation (3:14). The source is the first (cause) or the
beginning. In John Jesus is the Word. God created through the Word. In Revelation Jesus is the
Word (19:13) who is coming to judge. So Jesus is the first word and last word of creation.
As he was the source of creation, so he is the “first” and “source” of the new creation. He was
the first to permanently rise from the dead and he is the source of power for those who believe in
him to rise (see Col. 1:18). “Creation” here refers primarily to the new creation, the new heaven
and earth (21:1-22:5). Jesus is not only the Word, the causing power, the agent of creation, but he
is the Word, the “first,” the power-“source” of this new creation of God.

What He Knows (3:15-17) p. 101
The Lord speaks no commendation over the church in Laodicea, only judgment. The sin is
apathy. The church was living primarily for earthly wealth and selfish desires. Their lives were
self-centered. The Lord forgives those who repent, but if one has no need for the biting Law and
the comforting Gospel, then there can be no repentance and no forgiveness (cf. Lk. 12:16-21).
This is the condition of this church. In response, the Lord speaks a terrifying word of Law. They
are in danger of being spit out into eternal death.

Call to Repent (3:18-20) p. 101
The stinging word of Law he spoke to them was preparatory for the Gospel. He invites them to
purchase refined gold from him. In Is. 55:1-3 God urged his people to purchase bread and wine
from him at no cost. Whether it be refined gold or bread and wine, what the Lord provides is
satisfying and has lasting (eternal) value. The Lord calls his church to come to him for spiritual
wealth – spiritual sight and clothing. He wants them to see the garment of salvation that he
offers, which will cover the shame of their sin.
His words of severe judgment and gracious invitation are motivated by love. He disciplines like
parents discipline wayward children, in order to bring repentance and forgiveness, for full
restoration in his Father’s love. When we are wayward, he comes seeking us out; he comes to the
very door of our hearts and seeks to enter. The one who hears and knows the voice will open the
door and welcome his Savior and Lord (Jn. 10:1-5; 14:23). This is caused by the Holy Spirit for
only he can open an ear to hear and move the heart to respond (Ro. 10:17; 1Cor. 12:3).

Promises (3:21-22) p. 102
This letter concludes with an eschatological confirmation of the victory of the Gospel. To the
victor go the crown and the right to sit on the Lord’s throne. Jesus told his disciples that once he
assumed his rightful place, that they too would sit on thrones (Mt. 19:28). In Revelation and John
we see the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise as the 24 elders sit on thrones around the great
throne (4:4; cf. 20:4).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This letter reinforces the same message as the others: the Lord Christ reigns as the Son of Man
and will come again soon to judge and to save. Repent and trust in his promises!

The Prophetic Message (4:1-22:5) p. 103
The Inaugural Vision of Heaven, Introducing the Message (4:1-5:14)
Excursus: The Inaugural Vision of Heaven (4:1-5:14) p. 107
The purpose of the vision in chapters 4 and 5, while focusing on the heavenly glory of the
Father, is to demonstrate the enthronement and exaltation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was
In chapters 4 and 5, John views the throne and the glory of Yahweh. Around him are the
24 elders, 4 winged creatures, and angels. He then hears praise to God in the Te Deum (4:8, 11).
While seeing and hearing this, he also witnesses the exaltation and enthronement of Jesus Christ,
the Lamb of God. God’s glory is made full by the Lamb and one praises God rightly only when
one acclaims the enthronement of the crucified and risen Son of God.

Vision of God’s Glory p. 107
There are 4 extended descriptive visions of God’s enthroned heavenly glory in Scripture:
Eze. 1:4-28 (cf. 8:1-3; 9:3; 10:1-22); Is. 6:1-8; Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14; and Rev. 4:1-5:14. When
compared, there are similarities and dissimilarities. 1) No saints in OT. In Revelations the saints
are prominent. 2) The Son of God is not mentioned in Isaiah and Ezekiel. The Son of Man is
mentioned in Daniel. The Lamb is mentioned in Revelation and is worshipped equally with the
Father. 3) The throne scene in the OT centers on the Father. Revelations centers on Christ.
The purpose of chapters 4 and 5 is to see the victorious Lamb raised to the position of
power, ruling all things on behalf of his church. This vision not only introduces the prophetic
message of Revelation, but it also dominates and shows the direction and conclusion of it.

The Throne of God and His Heavenly Court (Rev. 4:1-11) p. 110

A New Vision (4:1-2a) p. 113
The opening words “after these things” introduce a new section and a new vision. The phrase
“these things” refers to the first vision in which John was commissioned by the exalted Christ to
write Revelation (1:9-20) and the letters to the churches. After this John experienced the vision –
the sight – of the opened door of heaven through which he saw God’s heavenly glory.
The “first voice” which John heard was the exalted Christ. Now the exalted Christ speaks again
as the mediator of the vision of God’s heavenly glory and he will do so until 8:1, when angels
take over the mediation. The purpose of this vision is to reveal to his saints on earth “what things
are necessary to come about quickly” (1:1; cf. 1:19).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
By his own strength John could not obey the call to come up to the door of heaven. He was
immediately “in the Spirit” (4:2). In 1:10 John was described as being “in the Spirit” on the
Lord’s day. This is the spirit by which all Christians participate in God’s Word and Sacraments.
Here in 4:2 there is the mystical sense that this is beyond the normal human experience and
reality. It may be similar to what Paul experienced in 2Cor. 12:1-4. The prophet Ezekiel had a
similar experience in Eze. 8:1-3 (see also 11:1). By the Spirit, John was lifted up so that he could
receive the vision of God which he was to share with the church (cf. Rev. 21:10).

The Throne and the One Sitting on It (4:2b-3a) p. 114
The God of Israel is enthroned. He is the object of worship and is addressed as Yahweh, God
Almighty (4:3). John describes God as majestic, in appearance like the precious stones of jasper
and sardius. As light reflects with beauty and brilliance through precious stones, so the glory of
God flashed forth from the appearance of the One seated on the throne. He is like the sun. One
cannot look directly at it but by viewing the reflection of its rays through precious stones, one
can catch a glimpse of the beauty of the sun’s light. Looked at directly the sun’s brilliance is
blinding. (See God’s appearance in Ezekiel’s vision [Eze. 1:26-28].)

The Rainbow-Like Halo, in Appearance Like an Emerald (4:3b) p. 114
The rainbow-like halo in Revelation and Ezekiel (Eze. 1:28) fulfill the same function, that of a
token of God’s heavenly glory and majesty. The only other place in the Bible where a rainbow is
mentioned is Gen. 9:13-16. There it is given as a sign that God will not destroy the earth again
with a flood. It is also a visible sign that God will bless the earth and sustain its life with bounty
and fruits (Gen. 8:20-22; 9:12-17).
Besides being a sign of the earth’s and human’s physical well being, the rainbow was a sign of
God’s salvation by grace for humankind. In Is. 54:8-9 the promise and covenant made to Noah
reminded the prophet of God’s saving mercy. For Isaiah, as God had mercy in saving Noah, so
God in his mercy would have compassion for Israel (his wife), because Yahweh was Israel’s
Redeemer (Is. 54:8).
The rainbow then reflects the majesty of God, the Supreme Being and Creator, and it reminds of
God’s mercy toward his [fallen] creation. It is God’s majestic mercy that the rainbow-like halo
signifies. God is the almighty Creator, but his almighty creative power is controlled and
motivated by his love and mercy toward his creation.
In the OT, these stones were part of the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest (Ex. 28:15-21).
The 12 stones represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Wearing these stones, the high priest
represented Israel before God as he offered sacrifices of atonement (Ex. 28:29; 1Chr. 6:49). The
reference to these stones then, like the rainbow, suggests God’s mercy towards his people.

The Twenty-Four Elders (4:4) p. 116
The 24 elders on the 24 thrones were positioned around the throne of God! Some believe that
these are angels but no where in Scripture is an elder anyone but a human being. Also angels are

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
never pictured in Scripture as sitting on thrones or wearing crowns. In the Bible only Jesus and
God’s saints are ever pictured on thrones or wearing crowns. The crown signifies victory. Christ
won the victory and shares it with the saints. Each Christian is promised the crown of life (2:10).
In 12:1 the woman (the church) wears a crown. The church is promised victory because of
Christ’s victory.
In Revelation it’s usually the Father who sits on the throne. But in 22:3 the Lamb sits on the
throne. Similarly in Mt. 25:31 when Christ returns he sits on the throne of glory. Also God’s
saints will sit on thrones (cf. Mt. 19:28; Lk. 22:30).
Also in Revelation God’s saints are pictured frequently wearing white robes (7:9-17; like Mt.
22:11-12; cf. 1Jn. 1:7). So the elders are elevated saints of God, but why 24? They represent all
of God’s people – both OT and NT. They are the 12 elders (patriarchs) of the 12 tribes of Israel
(OT) and the 12 apostles (NT). In the OT the number 12 was used to represent Israel before God
(breastplate, 12 spies, 12 loaves, etc.). 12 carries over to the NT too (12 apostles, 12 thrones, 12
gates (3:12), 12 foundation stones (21:12-14)). These 24 elders pictorially represent the heavenly
Jerusalem, the totality of God’s people. They sit on thrones and wear crowns because Christ
shared his victory. They were dressed in white because Jesus’ blood cleansed them and made
them righteous and holy (7:14). They are in God’s holy presence by grace. The exalted Christ’s
rightful place is with God the Father. And so his bride, as represented by the 24 elders, is
rightfully with him in God’s holy presence.

Phenomena Around the Throne (4:5a) p. 120
The “lightning flashes and noises and thunders” (4:5a) that come out of God’s throne are
reminiscent of the thunder and lightning that accompanied God when he met Moses and Israel at
Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:16). These natural forces are symbolic of and a part of God’s majestic and
creative power. They are a reminder of God’s awesome and fearful presence (8:5; 11:19; 16:18).

The Holy Spirit (4:5b) p. 120
The Holy Spirit is present in the “seven lamps of fire” (4:5b) which burn before God’s throne
(see Trinity in 1:4-5). In the tabernacle, the lamp stand with its 7 lamps (Ex. 25: 31-40; Num.
8:1-4) stood before the place where God was present (Num. 7:89-8:2). So the lamps are the Spirit
of Yahweh. In Zech. 4:1-10 the lampstand and its 7 lamps remind the people that it is by the
Spirit of Yahweh that God is active for his people and the 7 eyes illustrate the truth of God’s
omnipresence by his Spirit. In Revelation the Spirit of God is symbolized by both the 7 lamps
(4:5) and the 7 eyes (5:6).

The Sea, Like Crystal (4:6a) p. 121
Before God’s throne was “something like a glassy sea, like crystal” (4:6). One thing this suggests
is a distance between John and the Throne. Moses and the elders of Israel saw a pavement made
of sapphire when they appeared before God on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24:9-10). The sea in Rev. 4:6
reminded John that while he and God’s people resided on earth, they were separated from God’s
eternal glory which in faith they longed to inherit (see Rom. 8:23-25; 2 Cor. 5:1-10; 1 Pet. 1:3-9).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The waters could be interpreted as a reminder of God’s judgment over his creation (the flood) or
of the separation that exists because of sin between God and his creation.
In the OT a sea monster (Leviathan) inhabited the sea and caused it to churn in a boiling rage.
Humanity was helpless before him. Only God could conquer and control him. In Is. 27:1
Leviathan is called the “serpent” which on “that day” of judgment and deliverance Yahweh
would slay. In Revelation the serpent is the devil, Satan. The raging sea then is a symbol of the
fury of human sin as stirred up by Satan. Only God can slay the enemy and quiet the fury of
human sin.
But the sea in Revelation is transparent and quiet, not the raging sea of evil and chaos of the OT.
What it tells John and us is that the turmoil of sin and God’s judgment has been stilled. Christ has
conquered Satan and has taken away the raging torment of the guilt of sin and wrath of God’s
judgment (cf. Mt. 8:26-27; 14:25-29).
On earth the sea still rages and God’s people still suffer. In Rev. 13:1, the dragon conjures up
from the sea a beast to war against the woman, the church. The battlefield is “a glassy sea mixed
with fire” (15:2). In the End, the dragon and his evil forces are defeated and cast into the “lake of
fire” (20:10). In the new heaven and new earth there will no longer be the sea; it is gone forever
(21:11). No longer will people be reminded that they were once separated from him.

The Four Winged Creatures (4:6b-8a) p. 122
“In the midst of the throne and around the throne” John sees “four winged creatures” (4:6). These
creatures are closer to God than any other creature. They are the inner circle around God’s
These winged creatures are similar to the cherubim and seraphim in Isaiah (6:1-3) and Ezekiel
(15:5-26; 10:3-22). In the three visions they are described as either above, before, with, or
bearing the throne of God.
The description of the faces of the winged creatures differs. In Isaiah it is not mentioned. In
Ezekiel each creature has four faces (man, lion, ox, and eagle). Later in Ezekiel, the face of a
cherub has replaced the ox. Perhaps John saw only one of the faces because they were stationary
where Ezekiel saw all four because they were moving.
In all three visions each creature has wings. In Isaiah and Revelation they have six wings each.
In Ezekiel they each have four.
In John’s vision the winged creatures are full of eyes. Isaiah doesn’t mention eyes. In the second
appearance in Ezekiel the creatures are full of eyes.
Isaiah and John both have them singing a hymn of praise(a Te Deum). Ezekiel has no hymn, but
he does hear a loud rumbling-like sound or voice, which says, “Blessed is the glory of Yahweh
from his place” (Eze. 3:12-13).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Who or what are these winged creatures? In the OT two cherubim stood over the lid in the Holy
of Holies of the ark. That is where God promised to meet and speak with Moses (Ex. 25:22;
Num. 7:89). Cherubim were woven into the curtains of the tabernacle and temple. Cherubim
were also carved into various places in the Holy of Holies, the Holy Place and in various other
Cherubim also served as God’s throne, the place of his majestic presence. They are said to be
God’s chariot (1Chr. 28:18). Therefore Yahweh rides upon them (Ps. 18:10; cf. Eze. 9:2).
Also God placed cherubim east of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:24).
The OT picture then is that wherever God is, there the cherubim are attending to his presence and
singing his praises.
The four-winged creatures that John saw are, then, a particular order of angels. They are closer to
God than any other creature. Their task is to lead the heavenly host in praising God. They initiate
worship (Rev. 4:9), and the saints and angels in heaven follow their lead (4:10-11; 5:11-12).
Different commentators have ascribed various meanings to the four faces (4 gospels, different
aspects of Christ’s work, 4 directions of the earth, 4 elements of the earth, 4 stages of Christ’s
life). Scripture does not give evidence for the interpretation of the faces, but it does for the
number 4 being symbolic. 4 suggests the totality of God’s animate creation, “the 4 corners of the
earth” (Rev. 7:1; 20:8). Therefore the winged creatures are, properly, representatives of God’s
total creation in worship before his heavenly throne (see 5:13-14). That they are full of eyes
suggests that God in his ceaseless vigilance oversees his creation. 4 could symbolize the gospels
as the gospel message of the Lord Christ is sent into “the four corners of the earth” (7:1).

The Great Hymn of Praise Begins (4:8b-11) p. 128
The winged creatures serve as heaven’s choirmasters. They praise God day and night. John hears
the same “Holy, holy, holy” as Isaiah.
The One worshipped is “Yahweh, the only God” and “the Almighty, the One Who Was and Who
Is and Who Is Coming” (4:8). These are the same titles for God the Father in 1:4 and 1:8. Thus,
because he is the holy Creator, God is to be recognized and worshipped as the Almighty, the AllPowerful One.
“Holy, holy, holy” is the opening refrain of the Te Deum. Throughout Revelation this hymn is
sung with stanzas being added a various points. Different stanzas are sung by different groups
(angels, elders, creation, saints in heaven, heavenly hosts, the church on earth, the church
triumphant). This is the hymn by which all the heavenly host praises God, even the suffering
church on earth joins with them in praising God.
Rev. 4:11 is the first stanza of this great hymn. The entire people of God (24 elders) respond to
the refrain, with a verse that praises God as their Creator. They fall down in worship, casting

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
their golden crowns before God’s throne, indicating that they share in Christ’s victory only
because of his grace. And then they sing in worship. So all glory and honor and power is
attributed and given to God because he has created them and has now restored them through
In the ancient creeds of faith, the first article confesses God the Father and his work of creation.
The second article concerns Christ’s work of redemption. Creation came first, and then, after the
Fall, came the redemption wrought by Christ. Likewise, John first reports the praise of God the
creator and then he describes the enthronement of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ (Rev. 5).

The Coronation and Enthronement of the Lamb: The Seven-Sealed Scroll

The Victorious Lamb and the Opening of the Scroll (5:1-7) p. 134
The Scroll (5:1) p. 134
The scroll is in God’s right hand. God’s right hand works salvation for his people (e.g., Ex. 15:6,
12). So the ultimate purpose of the scroll will be for the good and glory of God’s people.
That the scroll is written on both the inside and back indicates that the contents of God’s works
are complete and extensive (see also Eze. 2:9-10).
The scroll is sealed with seven seals. The seals secure the scroll (see Is. 29:11 and Mt. 27:66).
To start with the scroll is closed to everyone, but Revelations beings with the idea that a
revelation was about to be given concerning events that must soon happen (1:1-3). It will remain
closed until someone who is worthy claims it and opens it.

“Who is Worthy?” (5:2-5a) p. 135
A mighty angel sends out a call for someone worthy to open the scroll. But in God’s creation no
one is worthy. John sensed the great need and when no one was found he began to weep. With
the future of God’s people at stake, someone had to open that scroll.
Throughout Revelation John receives help understanding the visions from angels. But in two
instances an elder attends John (Rev. 5:5; 7:13-14). Why? In the two visions that have most to do
with the redemption and salvation of God’s people and with the resulting triumphal reign of
Christ, an elder attends John, not an angel. Who better than an elevated saint of God, who has
gone through suffering, but who is now at peace and in God’s holy presence, to tell John to stop
weeping and look at the Lamb of God? This is the same honor God gives to the church on earth
in its proclamation of the Gospel, an honor that not even the angels have the same measure of
(see 1 Pet. 1:2).

The Victorious Messiah (5:5b) p. 136

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The elder introduces the victorious Lamb by titles that describe Jesus by way of his human
nature. “The Lion who is from the tribe of Judah” and “the Root of David” (5:5) refer to Christ’s
human origin and descent. From the tribe of Judah the Messiah would come and the lion
symbolized his royal reign and power (Gen. 49:8-10).
Jewish people looked for the Christ but failed to recognize Jesus as the Christ. But Paul and John
and others did because of his resurrection (2 Tim. 2:8; see also Ro. 1:2-4; Acts 2:29-32; Rev.

The Lamb Who Has Been Slain (5:6) p. 137
Jesus is the Lion and the Root. He has conquered and has earned the right to take the scroll and
open it. Jesus is the Lamb that was slain. He won the victory by his death and resurrection. And
he shares his victory with his followers (e.g., 12:11). This victory determines the Christian’s life
on earth (2:26) and guarantees life forever with God (21:7).
The phrase “in the midst” is used again (as in 4:6). It refers to the closeness of the Lamb to God
and the heavenly host. The Lamb is now the center of attention and the recipient of honor and
worship (see 5:9-12). From the midst of the throne the Lamb will care for the saints in heaven
and lead them to the fountains of living waters (7:17).
As the Victorious Lamb lives, he exercises total power on earth (cf. Mt. 28:19), with the “7
horns” and the “7 Spirits” showing that he is all seeing and all knowing (5:6). In the OT, the
“horn” is a symbol of power on earth in human affairs. In Daniel the beast has 10 horns; he had
supreme power over human affairs. But the number 7 points to supreme power over all life,
human and spiritual. The number 7 also says that the exalted Lamb exercises this supreme
authority through the Holy Spirit (“7 Spirits of God”). The Lamb uses his supreme power to
defend God’s people (revealed in chapters 6-16). This is great comfort to suffering Christians.
No matter what they experience and suffer, he is the “horn of [their] salvation” (Ps. 18:2-3; cf. 1
Sam 2:1; Lk. 1:69).
By the “7 eyes” (5:6), the exalted Lamb knows and sees all things. In Zech. 4:10 Yahweh knows
and sees all by 7 eyes. The 7 eyes and 7 lamps symbolize the Holy Spirit and Yahweh’s presence
through the Holy Spirit. But now this authority over all things by the Holy Spirit has been given
by God to the Lamb because of his victory. He now rules on behalf of the Father and for the
benefit of God’s people. This is entailed in Jesus being the “light” of the world (see Jn. 1:4; 8:12;
12:25-36, 46). So the 7 horns and 7 eyes demonstrate the close relationship between the
triumphant Christ and the Holy Spirit. In his exalted state Christ and the Holy Spirit are
inseparable, especially as Christ works with his church on earth through his Word and with the
Spirit (Rev. 2:1, 7, 11, etc.; Jn. 14:17; 20:22; Rev. 4:5).

The Significance of Receiving and Opening the Scroll (5:7) p. 139

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The taking of the scroll by the Lamb recalls the Son of Man before the Ancient of Days in Dan.
7:13-14. As the Son of Man approached the Ancient of Days, he was given authority and glory
and power over all people and his dominion would be an everlasting reign.
The content of the scroll was the prophetic message of Revelation (6:1-22:5). The prophetic
message is about events on earth from the time of Christ’s victory and ascension to the End, the
trials and tribulations of people on earth, and most importantly Christ’s reign and the church’s
faith and mission in the midst of agony and death. As each seal is opened the events are
displayed (from 6:1 to 22:5). The first 6 seals control 6:1-7:17 and the 7th seal controls 8:1-22:5.
The ultimate purpose of Christ receiving the scroll is to strengthen and encourage the church in
the midst of its sufferings to remain faithful to Christ. That faithfulness involves carrying out the
mission Christ has given her. The entire destiny of the church, of the human race, and of all
history is revealed as the scroll is opened.
No one anywhere with authority could be found to take the scroll, no evil force and no creature,
angelic or human. Only Christ is worthy to take the scroll and open it. Therefore, the destiny of
the human race is completely under the control of Jesus Christ. The Lord rules on behalf of the
Father and for the benefit of his church.
The receiving of the scroll is the coronation of Jesus, the slain but risen Lamb who is the King of
kings and Lord of lords. It is his exaltation. It is the enthronement of God’s holy Son. It is the
beginning of his everlasting reign.

The Worship of the Lamb (5:8-14) p. 140
When the Lamb took the scroll and had been enthroned the heavenly host fell before him. The 24
elders prepared for worship. Part of worship is the prayers of the saints, which are symbolized by
the censers of incense.

“A New Song” (5:9) p. 141
The scene of adoration of the Lamb is the greatest scene of worship in the Bible, for it is through
the worship of the Lord Christ that the heavenly Father receives his highest glory from his saints
(cf. Jn. 5:23; 8:54). This hymn, sung by the saints in heaven, is called a “new song” (5:9). In 15:3
the church militant (144,000) sings a similar song. In 15:3 the church on earth sings “the song of
Moses … and the hymn of the Lamb.” In contrast to the “new song,” this song gives hope in the
midst of conflict, assurance of victory despite suffering. The new song voices the peace of the
ultimate victory.
This “new song” is new because it has never been sung before. It contains no OT quotes.
The stanzas of the new song (5:9-10, 12-13) echo the stanza in 4:11, joining the new song to the
Te Deum (4:8, 11). While such a hymn may have been sung before, it would have only been in
anticipation. Now it is being sung because the promise has been fulfilled, for Christ has won the
victory. The hymn explains that the Lamb is worthy because he has ransomed for God with his
blood a people from all quarters of the human race (5:9).

“A Kingdom and Priests” (5:10) p. 142

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
These people purchased by Christ are now the “kingdom” of God and serve as his “priests” on
earth (5:10). The royal priesthood of Christ is one of salvation through his shed blood and
proclamation of the Gospel (cf. Heb. 4:14-5:10; 9:11-28; 10:19-25). And as Christ is the image
of God, so these people purchased as royal priests become the image of the royal priesthood of
Christ. When these royal priests proclaim the redemptive victory of the Lamb, they hold up
before his heavenly throne the atonement or blood covering (Ro. 3:25; Heb. 9:5; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10),
as they point people through it to the mercy of God. This priestly reign is now. The kingdom of
God is present now, but it can only be seen through faith.

The Heavenly Host and All Creation Join in Praise (5:11-14) p. 142
The glory, honor, and worship given to God the Creator is now given in equal manner to the
victorious and elevated Christ (5:12) (compare 4:11 with 5:12). But even more is added to the
Son. The creative activity of the Father can only be seen in full measure [in the work of Jesus
Christ who restored humanity by recreating her].
Jesus Christ is both “the Word” (Jn. 1:1) and “the Wisdom” of God (1Cor. 1:21). While God’s
creative power can be seen by natural knowledge (Ro. 1:18-23), God’s Word is incarnate and his
Wisdom is embodied and recognized only (by faith) in Jesus Christ. Wealth in this context refers
to spiritual, not material, wealth. It sums up everything that Christ has done to redeem and save
the human race. It is only in Christ that the human race receives and acknowledges the “wealth”
of God’s saving grace, and it is only in the Lord Christ that the “wisdom” of God is received and
acknowledged, especially that wisdom which leads the human heart in repentance to a saving
faith. Thus “wisdom” and “wealth” are credited alone to Jesus Christ for these can only be
received through the knowledge of and faith in Jesus Christ.
“Amen” (this is most certainly true) is the affirmation of all of God’s creation (4 winged
creatures) and along with this affirmation the saints of God conclude their worship by falling
down before him (5:14).

The Enthronement and the Celebration p. 144
Chapters 4 and 5 are a glorious vision and the end result of God’s creation and restoration of
fallen humanity. The whole purpose of God’s activity as Creator and Savior is that people may
praise and worship him through his Son. The actual conclusion of this vision is when the new
heaven and earth come about at the End (20:11-22:5).
When did the enthronement in Rev. 4-5 take place? It took place at the ascension of the Lord
Christ. The Lamb who was slain is alive. Stephen saw Jesus in his glory before he died.
According to Peter, the exaltation of Jesus came after the resurrection and before Pentecost (at
his ascension) (Acts 2:32-35; cf. Jn. 7:39; Acts 3:12-13).
The description of Jesus’ exaltation in Rev. 4-5 is from heaven’s point of view. The description in
Acts 1:6-11 is from an earthly perspective. At his ascension, Jesus was taken up from the

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
disciples and was received by his Father where he was enthroned and crowned. And the
celebration, “the new song,” which began, continues now and into eternity.
Jesus gave many illustrations of the kingdom. One that stands out is the prodigal son. The whole
human race became lost. Would the Father ever receive back the son who shamed him, denied
him, and disowned him? Yes! He wants all to repent and live (Eze. 18:32). To make that possible
he sent his own Son to take the place of the prodigal. Jesus became the prodigal for us.
There must have been sorrow as the Son left the Father’s house and ended up at the “pig’s
trough” of the cross. But when the Son arose, heaven burst forth in jubilation. The Son came
back and the party began. Now all of us real prodigals can return to the Father, knowing we will
be received. And each prodigal who in repentance and faith comes to the heavenly Father is
received in joy and honor just like the Son did; it brought reconciliation with their Father.

The Enthronement and the Prophetic Message p. 146
The enthronement not only introduces the prophetic message, but it also dominates and controls
it and shows how it is all going to end. After his coronation (Rev. 4-5), he himself (6:1-7:17)
introduces the message to John. (The message from 8:1-22:5 is from Jesus through angels.) Its
purpose is to strengthen the saints, help the church carry out its mission and judge the power of
evil. Everything seen and heard in the prophetic message is to be interpreted in view of this
inaugural vision of Christ’s coronation, for then and only then, will the individual components of
the message yield their proper interpretation.

Excursus: The Lamb of God p. 148
The Lamb as well as the Shepherd are concepts in Rev. that are derived from the OT. Jesus is the
Lamb of God, our Passover Lamb, who becomes our Shepherd. His blood cleanses us of all sin.
While the Christology of Revelation deals primarily with the exaltation of Jesus Christ and his
glorious reign, the foundation for the exalted Christology is the theology of the Lamb of God,
who suffered and died and rose again. Throughout Revelation the exalted Christ is the focus of
the prophetic message. But also throughout the message of Revelation there is a constant
reminder that he achieved the exalted status because he was and is the Lamb of God, who was
sacrificed for the sins of the God’s people.

Excursus: Three Prophetic Visions of History. Each from Christ’s
Ascension to the End (6:1-16:21) p. 150
The prophecy begins in chapter 6. It consists of three visions of events taking place on earth (6:116:21). Each vision has seven scenes (for a total of 21).
 The first five scenes of all three visions cover Christ’s ascension to the last great battle
(Armageddon, 16:16) just before the End.
 The sixth scene in the second and third visions covers this last great battle.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

The sixth scene in vision one and the seventh scene in the second and third visions
picture the end of the world.
Even though they cover the same period of time, they are not repetitious. Each displays its own
particular events.
The events are not given to predict events in human history. Rather, they are presented so as to
portray conditions, circumstances, situations, environments, and contexts in which people find
themselves during the time period covered. The conditions revealed in this prophetic message are
prevalent throughout all of human history. The purpose of the prophecy is to give a predictable
view of the suffering human condition because of man’s rebellion, and a predictable knowledge
of God’s terrible judgment. The purpose is to move all people to repentance and faith before the
Many events are displayed by means of symbols. These symbols used grip the heart, mind and
emotions. They strike fear in the human heart and they fill the heart with peace and joy and hope
for those who repent and trust in the Lamb.
Why three visions? Couldn’t the 21 scenes be presented in just 1 vision? Possibly so the message
is easier to digest. This may be true, but there are also two other possibilities.
1) The literary structure is controlled by the number 7. It’s modeled after the 7 day creation. 7 is
reserved for God, his holy presence, and his perfect creative activity. If there were 1 vision of 21
scenes, the sevenfold literary structure would be lost. By the sevenfold pattern, Christians know
that the message is from God’s holy presence and that it is his holy and complete revelation.
7 is a common motif in the Jewish tradition. Structuring it around the number 7 would help his
readers/hearers understand it better.
2) A second reason has been offered for the presentation of the prophecy in 3 visions. John and
his hearers would have three opportunities to understand and apply the message. By breaking it
into 3 parts, they would have time to digest and understand each portion of it.
The purpose of each vision is to work repentance and give encouragement. Each of the
three provides a warning, with each warning growing more dire. God’s people must heed his
warnings and put their trust in the reigning Christ. The ultimate purpose of Revelation for the
Church is to inspire her to pray with John, “Amen, Come now, Lord Jesus” (22:20).
A biblical precedent for the three warnings and the seven-fold warnings is found in Lev. 26 (1.
earthly plagues [26:14-22], 2. sword of enemies [26:23-26], 3. destroy children and exile [26:2739]). The three warnings aimed to move the people to constant repentance, so that they/we might
live under the grace of God according to his faithful covenant (26:40-45). Four times in Lev. 26,
God says he would afflict and punish his people “seven times over” if they did not repent (26:18,
21, 24, 28).
The same is true in Revelation. They receive three visions in which he urges them “seven times
over” to heed his message of warning and hope. This is in order that they enjoy the “Sabbath
rest” (Heb. 4:9) of God’s covenant with them in Christ.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The First Six Seals: Tribulations and the End (6:1-17) p. 155

First Four Seals: The Four Horseman (6:1-8) p. 160
The 4 horsemen go forth to spread terror and sufferings. The tribulations they bring are the kind
that humans frequently experience in a fallen world. They are common and natural, not
supernatural. This can be seen from the symbols that are used. They are symbols that are from
everyday earthly life.
In the opening of the first 4 seals, the 4 winged creatures invite John to look at the 4 horsemen.
The first 4 seals represent tribulation and sufferings under God’s permissive will and are carried
out at times by his heavenly angels (e.g., 2Ki 19:35-37). Ultimately Christ allows these
tribulations for the good of his people and the Gospel message that they proclaim. Angels can be
used to mediate the announcement of such judgments of God (first four seals, and see also Gen.
19:1-15; cf. Heb. 1:14). But no mediating angels are used in the opening of the 5th and 6th seals,
for these last two seals and what they introduce are for the hope and comfort of God’s people.

The First Horseman p. 161
The first horse is white. Its rider has a battle bow and wears a crown. His purpose is to conquer
and be victorious. The bow is a symbol of intention to conquer by military might and prowess.
The crown says he will be victorious. The white color indicates that the horseman believes it is
his divine right to conquer. White is the color of God’s majesty, wisdom, holiness, and
righteousness. He believes his victories are by the authority of God.
Who is the horseman and what does he represent?
 Is it Jesus Christ? In 19:11-16 Jesus, at the End, wears a diadem and rides a white horse
as a conqueror executing God’s justice. Is this a preview of Christ in 19:11?
o No. This horseman is an equal to the other horsemen. Each of the four is
introduced by one of the winged creatures. They ride together carrying out their
tasks. No where is anyone presented in Revelation as an equal to Jesus. He sits on
the throne. No one can claim to be equal with him. [He is the King of kings and
Lord of lords.]
o It’s hard to imagine bloodshed, famine, and death following Jesus. Christ’s victory
brings peace and victory over evil and death for those who believe.
o Jesus never carries a battle bow in Revelation or the NT. In Rev. Jesus is pictured
with a sword. In Revelation the sword is what is connected with God’s judgment.
The battle bow symbolizes earthly warfare. In a rare instance God uses a country
to defeat another country with “the bow” to carry out his will. This is how God
uses the horseman in this instance (6:2). Christ is never associated with or
pictured as fulfilling earthly warfare.
 Is it the Antichrist? The Antichrist is the human archenemy of the Church and Christ. He
is deceptive and imitates God (white) and uses earthly power against the church (bow).
But the crown speaks against this interpretation. It means total, real victory through
conquering. The only forces of evil that wear crowns in Rev. are the demons (12:3) and

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

Satan (12:9). But their claims of victory over the church are deceptive and delusional and
they are of the spirit world. The rider of the white horse wears a real crown here on earth.
In Rev. 17-18 the Antichrist (the harlot) never wears a crown. In Revelation the
Antichrist, the human archenemy, is never pictured as a horseman but as a harlot. So it is
not the Antichrist.
The rider of the white horse represents tyranny. He represents every form of tyranny
which is won and acquired by power and force. Usually warfare is a form of it, and which
then, by a dictatorial rule, exploits, enslaves, dominates and terrorizes. It also refers to
any human entity – institutions or individual, lawful or unlawful – which misuses
authority to exert tyranny. It can be governmental, educational, or economic system; a
spouse, parent, or any person or agency in authority in any sphere of life. Such tyranny
often dominates by claim of divine authority, hence the color white. It uses force – of
arms, of mind, of wealth, or any other resource – to establish it authority; hence the bow.
And it will be victorious; hence the crown. Tyranny will be the rule throughout the time
from the ascension to the End. It depicts humanity’s inhumanity towards one another.

The Second Horseman p. 165
What follows tyranny (1st horseman) is bloodshed (2nd horseman), which is followed by famine
(3rd horseman) and death (4th horseman). They accompany each other as they ravage the earth.
When tyranny is present, there is also bloodshed, famine, and death.
There is no question of identity of the next three horsemen. The opening of the second seal
reveals a red horse with its rider destroying peace with a “great sword.”
That the sword was given to him indicates that he is acting under someone’s permission. It is the
exalted Christ who gives permission. In the 3rd 7-fold vision of the events of the earth (15:116:21) everything that takes place on earth occurs under God’s permissive will (see 15:1).
Besides representing warfare, this rider also represents any sort of unlawful killing and murder.
The general rule during the time of the church will be wars and rumors of war, violence, murder,
and insurrection (see Mt. 13:7-9). This is why Paul urged Christians to pray for peace and order
(1Tim. 2:1-2), for he knew that only God could grant such.

The Third Horseman p. 166
The rider of the 3rd horse has a scale to measure food. When there is not enough food there is
death (black horse). The voice that speaks is not identified. Most (if not all) times an unidentified
voice in Revelation is an angel speaking for God or the voice of God (the voice comes from the
midst of the 4 winged creatures). The voice speaks for God and is under his authority.
The grain is costly, a daily wage (denarius). Specific prices suggest price controls to counter run
away inflation that comes when vital good are scarce. Price controls are usually used in time of

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
There may have been an over abundance of olive oil and wine. The farmers were not to
purposely let them spoil in order to raise the price.
There is both scarcity and plenty, an economic imbalance in the food supply and necessities of
life. Despite human attempts to adjust, the end result will be hunger and starvation.
So there will be hunger and famine throughout the entire period from the Lord’s ascension to the

The Fourth Horseman and the Four Together p. 168
At the end of such hardship the only victor to the human eye is death. The result of tyranny,
bloodshed, and famine is death. Death reigns. At any given time, one fourth of the earth’s
population may be dying because of sword, famine, diseases, and wild animals.
When all 4 have been presented, John sees them together. And together they will ravage the
earth. We certainly see it today. How long will it go on? Until the end of time!
This vision may have reminded John of two visions in Zechariah. 1) Colored horsemen and
horses (Zech. 1:7-17) were sent out by God where they discovered that the whole world was at
peace while Jerusalem and Zion suffered. But God announced that he was going to judge the
world and comfort Jerusalem, a great reversal.
2) Four colored chariots (Zech. 6:1-8) were sent out to the 4 corners of the earth from the
presence of God. In the OT God often meted out his anger through diseases, warfare, and famine.
In his vision John may have recalled the visions in Zechariah and the ways used by God to
punish those who opposed him.

Fifth Seal: The Saints Beneath the Altar (6:9-11) p. 169
At the opening of the 5th seal John sees martyred Christians underneath the altar of incense
asking how long until he avenges those who put them to death (cf. Heb.12:24). Notice the
avenging is left up to God. God’s vindication of his oppressed people is common in the OT.
While Christians don’t take revenge, they do pray for justice in God’s own time. God may not
execute judgment immediately. The reason for a delay is to give the sinner time to repent. The
request does not rise from a personal desire for revenge, but out of concern for the reputation of
God, for the honor of the exalted Christ, and the confirmation of the truthfulness of his Word.
The altar of incense is a reminder of the prayers of all of God’s people. And so the heavenly
saints pray below it, letting their prayers arise to God. In answer to their prayers, the saints are
given the “white robe” of righteousness and salvation (6:11). Christ’s righteousness, received in
Baptism, mercifully covers them and it will also judge those who put them to death. Wearing the
white robes vindicates them.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
They are told to “rest yet a little time” (6:11). This rest was promised in the OT Sabbath rest and
it is given to all those who “labor and are heavy laden.” This rest is experienced on earth in faith
and is completed in heaven. They are to rest confidently knowing God is just and in his own time
(giving time for repentance) he will avenge their blood.
God has determined that a certain number will be martyred and a certain number saved. When
these numbers are fulfilled, God would avenge their blood in the great judgment. Or when the
mission of the church is “fulfilled,” then God will vindicate them and carry out his justice.
When that time is complete, God will vindicate their faith and trust in the Gospel of Christ; he
will display his church; and he will judge and destroy her enemies. This vindication will appear
at the End, not before (see Dan. 7:21-22). The execution of God’s judgment will be carried out
by God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:22-23, 27; Acts 10:40-42; 17:31), for the Father gives him
authority to do so.
Those slain and those who will be killed represent the suffering church. The church follows
Christ in persecution, shame, and death, the way of the cross (Rev. 11:7-8; 13:7). The martyred
saints portray the suffering church during the time the 4 horsemen ravage the earth (ascension to
the End). All Christians are martyrs in the sense that they remain in their faith witnessing even if
it means death. Martyrdom not only delivers the church from the world, but is also the
culmination of the church’s witness to the world. In doing so, they glorify the cross and the
resurrected and exalted Christ.

Sixth Seal: The End of This World and Its Terror (6:12-17) p. 172
The 6th seal pictures the End together with cosmic disturbances. Hag. 2:6-7 speaks of God’s
shaking the heavens, earth, and nations one more time. Most would be destroyed, but there
would also be that “which could not be shaken,” the kingdom of God (Heb. 12:26-28). John sees
the heavenly bodies shaken. With that the imagery of Joel 2:20-31 and 3:15 comes to mind (sun
dark, moon blood). Is. 34:1-4 also comes to mind (sky rolled up, stars fall like dried figs fall with
a strong wind). In Joel, Mk. 13:24-27, and then Revelation (6:12-17) the cosmic shaking takes
place both just before and at the great day of wrath.
The disintegration of the earth will strike people with terror and hopelessness. No one can hide
from God’s wrath. Even the rocks are under God’s command (Lk. 19:40). If anything, they will
testify to the Lamb and his victory (Mt. 27:51-53; 28:2). All people – king and subject, free and
slave, rich and poor – who do not heed the call to repentance and the invitation of the Gospel flee
in terror, but there is no place to hide (cf. Gen 3:8-10).
They flee from “the One sitting on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb” (6:16). While one
expects mercy from “the Lamb,” here there is only “wrath.” Christ will judge and in that role he
is usually called “the Son of Man” (e.g., Jn 5:27; cf. Mt. 26:64) and not “the Lamb.” As “the
Lamb” who was slain, Jesus earned the right to save people from God’s judgment. But also as
“the Lamb,” who was slain, Jesus earned the right to judge unrepentant people, because he is the
One who received God’s judgment.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“The great day” (6:17) is the “day of the Lord,” “a day of wrath” to the world, but for the people
of God it is a day of vindication and deliverance. It will come suddenly (2 Pet. 3:10) and the
present heaven and earth will be destroyed (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2).
The opening of the 6th seal introduces to John and the reader to the 1st view of the end of the
world, and thus it concludes the 1st vision of events taking place on earth (the seals, Rev. 6). The
whole vision is nothing but woe and lament, even for God’s own people. The sufferings are
concluded by death and the judgment of God. This could lead to hopeless despair. And of course
Jesus told them that they would suffer and die for his name. So to remain hopeful they must
remember the glory of the exalted Christ (Rev. 4-5) with the 24 elders (the church) enthroned
around him (4:4).
The prophetic message now continues with a message full of hope and comfort (Rev. 7, an

Interlude: The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant (Rev. 7:1-17) p.

Interlude: A Vision of Comfort p. 180
Between the 6th and 7th seals (6:12-17 and 8:1-5) there is an interlude in which John sees two
scenes (7:1-17). In the 1st scene the 144,000 is the people of God on earth in perfect order ready
to march to carry out the mission (the church militant). In the 2nd scene there is a great multitude
before the throne of God. This is the church triumphant, the saints in heaven.
In this setting, in contrast to the horror and death of the first six seals, these two scenes appear as
beautiful and comforting.
The 144,000 (the church militant) are ready for their mission, ready to enter the valley of the
shadow of death (see 14:1-5; 15:2-4). But before they do, they are sealed. This is encouraging
because no matter how they suffer, they will remain in the faith and will fulfill their mission. In
the 2nd scene those who came through the great tribulation in faith (the church militant) become
the church triumphant. And as the church triumphant, she will be elevated and glorified as their
Lord Christ was.

The 4 Angels Holding Back the 4 Winds (7:1) p. 181
The “four corners of the earth” refers to the entire earth (see Is. 11:12; Rev. 20:8).
The 4 winds are to be identified with the 4 horsemen of Rev. 6 and thus are another symbol of
destruction and suffering. In Zechariah 6:1-8 the 4 chariots and their horses are interpreted by an
angel as the 4 winds of heaven sent out by God over the earth (see also Dan. 7:2-3). Thus the 4
winds express God’s righteous anger and judgment on the sinful human race.

The Fifth Angel and His Work of Sealing the Saints (7:2-3) p. 183

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The “4 angels” hold back the “4 winds” until “the slaves of our God” had been sealed. The winds
of eschatological wrath are restrained for the sake of God’s people. A 5th angel comes from “the
rising of the sun” (7:2), from the east. In Ezekiel (43:1-4; 10:18-19), the glory of God left by
using the east gate and then returned, first lighting up the whole land (Eze. 43:2) and then
entering through the east gate. In Malachi 4:2 the Lord said, “The Sun of righteousness will
dawn with healing in its wings.”
The east, the place of the rising sun, is a symbol of God’s permissive will to judge sinful people,
but at the same time his coming brings the glory of Yahweh to God’s people. So here the angel
coming from the east indicates that there will be suffering, but that God’s grace, the sealing,
would protect God’s people.
A “seal” is like a signet ring. It authenticates documents and protects people in their service to
the king by marking them as his property. Here God’s slaves are identified as God’s personal
property and are under his authority, care, and protection. How does God identify and mark his
people? (see Jesus’ baptism, Mt. 3:16-17; Jn 1:32-34)).
God’s seal is his Word. The Christian is absolutely certain of his salvation and faith because it
rests on the truth of God’s Word. So the Holy Spirit using God’s Word seals his people.
Does this sealing take place through the Sacraments too? At his baptism, Jesus was “sealed”
audibly and visibly. In the OT, circumcision was a sign; it visibly identified God’s people. Paul
connected the “sign” of circumcision with the “seal” of righteousness (Gen. 17:11; Ro. 4:11). So
God uses visible signs in the sealing of his people.
In the NT, Jesus’ ministry and the ministry of the apostles was accompanied by signs –
perceptible activities of the Spirit – which confirmed their ministry (Acts 2:14-35; 2:38, 41, 42).
The Holy Spirit uses God’s Word and Sacraments to seal people in their knowledge that they
belong to God and that he will take care of them through all of their tribulations.
Sealing is also mentioned in Rev. 9:1-6. There God’s people are defended and kept safe from
demon-like afflictions.
God’s people also bear his name upon their foreheads in Rev. 14:1, 3 (as a seal) and 22:4 where
they are in God’s presence. Satan also marks his people, not for protection as in a seal, but that
they bear his image and are used by him for his evil purposes. So throughout the whole time
from Christ’s ascension to the End, the slaves of God and the slaves of Satan have a mark that
identifies who they belong to. There are no “neutral” people; every person serves either God or
The sealing of God’s people in 7:2-8 does not refer to their initial sealing (conversion). They are
already his people. It refers to the on-going work of the Holy Spirit which keeps them in the faith
through all sufferings. God will not allow his people to be lost.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The 4 horsemen and 4 winds are held back – restrained – until God’s slaves are sealed. During
the NT time, each Christian and church is protected from destruction until they have matured in
the faith and are ready for the onslaughts of the world as they carryout Christ’s mission (cf. Eph.
4:11-16; 1 Pet. 1:3-7).
At any given time, the horsemen may either be restrained or let loose. During the time of
restraint, through the Word and Sacraments, Christians grow and mature in Christ. When
Christians are sent out into the world (the horseman are let loose) they are bombarded by the
enemy. And if not for the seal, they would be overwhelmed.

The 144,000 from the Twelve Tribes: The Whole Church on Earth (7:4) p. 188
The number of slaves of God sealed is 144,000. Some believe this refers to believing Jews, but
most believe it refers to the whole body of Christians, Jews and Gentiles, on earth throughout the
whole time period. They are the church militant on earth.
That those sealed are from “every tribe of the sons of Israel” (7:4) would suggest that they are
Jewish Christians. The 144,000 are described in OT terms, as 12 the tribes of Israel. But it’s not
uncommon for the NT church to be referred to in OT language (Jesus – Mt. 19:28; Lk. 22:28-30;
Paul – Ro. 4:1-12; 9:6-8; 11:11-27; Gal. 3:26-29). In Christ the church has become the true Israel
of God.

The 144,000 p. 190
What does 144,000 mean? The number is a multiple of 12: 12 tribes times 12,000 people from
each tribe. It suggests a total completeness. One can picture God’s people in perfect marching
order as it advances to the battle in the mission given, fully equipped and ready to do God’s
There is a biblical precedent for this picture of God’s people in perfect marching order. The
Israelites camped in a perfect numerical pattern around the tabernacle. Israel marched
(journeyed) in this order and went to war from this order. Israel was thus organized as a military
camp “in the wilderness for the conquest of the promised land.”
The 144,000 is a picture of the church militant throughout the prophetic period of Rev. at any
given moment in time. It is a number of perfection. But to the human eye the church looks
anything but perfect as it is persecuted and rent asunder. Yet God has sealed her so that she will
not lose faith or deny her Lord. She will always remain faithful to the Lamb of God.

The Twelve Tribes (7:5-8) p. 191
In the OT, the list of tribes was either by birth order, birth mother, or allotment of land. In this
list, two tribes who were allotted land are missing – Ephraim and Dan. In Revelation Levi and
Joseph have replaced Ephraim and Dan; no explanation as to why is given. Judah is probably
mentioned first because the Messiah came from this tribe. Dan is probably missing because she
erected graven images and therefore became associated with idolatry (Judg. 18:1-31; cf. Gen.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
49:17). Later on Dan was one of the places where king Jeroboam set up a golden calf to worship.
The Testament of Dan states that the prince of Dan was Satan (5:6). Ephraim was connected with
this apostasy and idolatry because it was in league with Dan (Judg. 17:1-13; cf. Judg. 18:1-7,
18). The list has been cleansed of any association with idolatry. It emphasizes faithfulness to
God, hence the inclusion of Joseph and Levi. It particularly focuses on the Messiah because of
Judah’s position.
The 12 tribes represent the church of Christ. The 144,000 represent the church militant ready for
mission in marching order. She has been cleansed of idolatry and sealed in her faith as she
witnesses the tribulation.

The Countless Host (7:9) p. 193
The second scene of the interlude begins in 7:9. “After these things” indicates something new.
The church militant (the 144,000) of the previous scene seems to be a much smaller crowd than
the great host of heaven that is too numerous to count (7:9). The church militant was ready for
mission, but the great multitude stand before God at peace and at rest. The 144,000 is about to be
launched into a world of suffering though they are sealed by God’s protection. The church
triumphant has already experienced tribulation and persecution, but they never will again.
There are “countless” people before God’s throne. This is reminiscent of God’s promise to the
patriarchs, where their descendants would be as numerous as the sand on shore. But the crowd is
made up of people from all over the earth, all of who have the same faith as Abraham, both Jews
and Gentiles. That faith alone is what justifies them before God (Ro. 3:21-31; 9:7-8, 30-31).
The crowd is “arrayed in white robes.” In Revelation we see both the saints in heaven (4:4; 6:11;
7:9) and the saints on earth (3:4-5; 3:18) dressed in white garments. White robes symbolize the
purity and righteousness of Christ that has been given to his people (7:14).
This crowd dressed in white carries “palm branches.” This is the only time John sees heavenly
figures with palm branches.
Palm branches were quite prevalent in the Near East. Palm branches decorated Solomon’s temple
and Ezekiel’s visionary temple. In the OT palm branches were used in the Feast of Booths or
Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:13-17). Of course the people welcomed Jesus with palm
branches as he triumphantly rode into Jerusalem (Jn. 12:12-13). They received the promised
King, the Son of David. So John views the results of Christ’s victory on earth: a host waving
palm branches in heaven celebrating the redemption their King won.

The Hymn of Praise (7:10-12) p. 195
The multitude shouts a “hymn of praise” in which they attribute their salvation to God and to the
Lamb (7:10). This is the greatest praise that can be given to God. This is another stanza in the
great Te Deum. (1) Praise to God for creating all things (4:11), (2&3) to the Lamb for Salvation
(5:9-10, 12), (4) to God and the Lamb (5:13), (5) and now praise to God and the Lamb for

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
salvation (7:10). Notice the similar words used in 5:9: “from every tribe and tongue and people
and nation.” Is this the same people he saw earlier?
This stanza is similar to the stanzas in 5:11-12, 13. Here praise is given to God and the Lamb.
But there praise is given only to God and not the Lamb. Why? Perhaps the Lamb (now the
Shepherd) was presenting the crowd to the Father for the first time and they therefore praise the
Father as the source of their salvation.
In 5:12 the angels sing praises to God and the Lamb. Now the angels sing only to God the Father
(7:11-12). What does this mean? The angels continually praise God. But it points to the fact that
since the creation, God’s act of redemption in Christ is God’s most important act. The angels
rejoice in it.

The Identification of the Countless Host (7:13-14) p. 196
One of the 24 elders asked John who are they who wear the white robes and where did they
come from? Of course the elder knows. One would have thought John would have asked this
question. Based on the perfect tense John may have indeed asked himself that very question and
the elder sensed it. In the earlier vision of the Lamb’s enthronement (Rev. 4-5) John saw elders
and angels but no multitudes of people. So he might have wondered who they were and where all
these people came from.
This is the second time an elder and not an angel attends John in interpreting a vision. The
previous time (5:5) and the present one (7:13) both point to the victory of the Lamb – the victory
won for God’s people. So both times, God gives one of the elders, representatives of God’s
people, the honor of helping John interpret and understand the vision.

The Great Tribulation p. 197
John has already seen the tribulation of the horsemen (6:1-8), the martyred saints praying for
vengeance, and that vengeance will come only after the saints on earth face persecution (6:9-11).
Are these things in the vision in chpt. 6 “the great tribulation” spoken of here in 7:14?
Christians constantly undergo tribulations. In fact “through many tribulations” it is necessary for
us to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22; cf. Jn. 15:20; 2Tim. 3:12). But are these “the great
“The great tribulation” seems to indicate that even worse tribulations than these normal
tribulations will occur. The great tribulation will occur toward the end of the “thousand years”
when Satan will be let loose for a short while (20:7).
Jesus talked about the “great tribulation” in Mt. 24:15-31. The evil days immediately before
Christ’s second coming, together with their persecutions, are called the “great tribulation” (Mt.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
So is the “great tribulation” of Mt. 24:15-31 the same as in Rev. 7:14? It would certainly seem
so. However, the elder’s words speak of “those who are coming out of the great tribulation” (“are
coming” is a present participle) suggest that this could be a condition from which all the saints
are being delivered, not only from the “great tribulation” just before the End, but also the
tribulations that occur over the entire period from the first to the second coming of Jesus.
Thus this vision provides comfort to all Christians. Every tribulation points forward to the “great
tribulation” at the End. At that moment it becomes the “great tribulation” for that person. Jesus
used the destruction of the temple and the days that preceded it as an example (Mt. 24:1-14). It
served as a prophetic type for the End and the preceding days of the “great tribulation.” For the
people of Jerusalem and Judea, this was their “great tribulation.”
Every Christian will face tribulation. So this picture of eternal glory is for the comfort of all

The Complete Church in Its Eschatological State p. 199
The crowd John sees has already gone through the “great tribulation” and have come out of it
(7:14). The present participle suggests that this is an ongoing event. This crowd then represents
the whole church as if it is already the church triumphant. In contrast were the souls John saw
earlier below the incense altar. Their number was not complete (6:9-11). Also 6:9 mentions only
their souls, which implies that the resurrection has not taken place, while here it does not. John
sees here the entire church triumphant, an uncountable number of people.
The crowd has “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14). The
crowd stands pure and holy in the presence of God (cf. Ro. 3:21-26; Heb. 4:14-16). The active
Greek verb suggests that the saints did the washing. In faith and by the means of Word and
Sacrament they “washed” and “made white.” There is no contradiction between washing
themselves and being washed. It is impossible for someone to wash himself, actively achieving
forgiveness (e.g., Jer. 2:22; Job 9:30-31). Therefore when God calls people to wash themselves
(Is. 1:16) it is a theological understanding that God is the one who instills the desire, prompts for
action (Phil. 2:13), and accomplishes the result: forgiven sins and eternal glory.

Life Eternal in Communion with God (7:15-17) p. 201
Like the 4 winged creatures, the saints worship God continuously. The detail of their worship is
not noted. Their relationship to God and the Lamb is emphasized.
The One who sits on the throne “will spread his tent over them” (7:15). Living in a tent involves
intimate family living on earth. In the Bible, the incarnate Word of God tents (tabernacles) with
his people (Jn. 1:14). Even when the verb is used for those in heaven dwelling with God (Rev.
12:12; 13:6), it emphasizes family and intimacy. There is an earthly, sensory connotation to it. It
may be that this word points us to our eschatological existence where we will live intimately in
the flesh with God. He will live with us sensately, that is, in a manner that we can experience
with our human senses (see 1 Jn. 1:1-3). The future tense emphasizes the “not yet” aspect of this
promise. Now it is experienced and understood only by faith. After the resurrection it will be a

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
sensory reality (see Job 19:25-27; 2 Cor. 5:1-5; cf. 2 Pet. 1:13-15). Here in Rev. 7:15 John is
assured that God will dwell with his saints who have come out of the great tribulation. He will
dwell with them as the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14).
The description of life in heaven is to be taken eschatologically and incarnationally. There will
be no more tears or thirst (7:16), no more pain, sorrow, or death (21:4). This is true now for the
souls in heaven, but it will be complete after the resurrection of the body.
Hunger, thirst, and burning, scorching heat are especially applicable to living in the desert as the
children of Israel did (Ex. 16:1-3; 17:1; cf. Rev. 12:6). They touch the core of human life. These
also refer to the promise God made after he restored OT Israel from exile (Is. 49:8-10). John
must have thought of the miraculous manna and water in the desert (Ex. 16:4-5; 17:3-7). Maybe
he remembered Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Jn. 6:1-15) and the living water Jesus supplies (Jn. 4:715). Jesus also said he was the bread of life, whoever comes to him will never hunger again, and
whoever believes in him will never thirst again (Jn. 6:35).
God always keeps his promises and the promises of God and Jesus are being fulfilled right
before John’s eyes. In the end, God’s people will never again be pained by the harshness of life.
Jesus identified himself as the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11-14). He is the One that Yahweh
promised in the OT (Ezekiel 34:11-16; cf. Pss. 28:8-9; 78:52; 80:1; Jer. 31:10-11; Micah 7:14)
that would rescue and care for them. In 7:17 John sees the final outcome of the promises from
the OT and from Jesus himself. Through his death and resurrection he has rescued them (5:5-6).
And he cares for them leading them through “the great tribulation” (7:14) to the “quiet waters”
(Ps. 23:2-3) of eternal life.
“Fountains of the waters of life” (7:17) is an expression for the source of life. In order to give
God’s people life, the Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep (Jn. 10:11). In the resurrection he
received his life back (Jn. 10:17-18) in order to lead his followers to God, the source of life.
Finally, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (7:17). Tears are part of the experience of
God’s faithful people. Tears are shed over sins, over sufferings, when alone, over the death of
loved ones, over Jesus’ death. Tears are part of the earthly experience. God in his grace turns
weeping into joy (Jn. 16:20; Ps. 126:5). God promised to “wipe away tears” (Is. 25:8) and now
John sees the fulfillment of that promise; he sees the peace and joy that the saints will live in
forever before God in heaven.

Conclusion: An Interlude of Comfort and Encouragement p.204
The purpose of Rev. 7, the interlude between the 6th and 7th seals, is to encourage John and his
readers – despite the fears and horrors already introduced by the 1st 6 seals and also in view of all
the tribulations yet to be revealed. The glory of God and the Lamb is to be their end, not the
sufferings of this earth.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Excursus: Angelic Mediators in Jewish Tradition and the Book of
Revelation p. 205

The Seventh Seal and the Second Vision p. 205
The opening of the 7th seal does not introduce another scene, but instead introduces the 2nd vision
of events on earth between Christ’s ascension and return (8:6-11:19).

Angels as Mediators of the Visions p. 206
Angels now take over the mediating role from the Lamb. But because the 7th seal introduces the
remainder of Revelation, this indicates that Jesus Christ is still the overall mediator. He mediates
directly the 1st part of Revelation (2:1-8:5) and he mediates through angels the remainder of the
prophetic message (8:6-22:5).

The Reason for Angelic Mediators p. 206
No sinful human being can see God in all his majestic holiness. God must condescend to meet
with and communicate with people in some other way or form. God used natural forms (bush,
cloud, fire). He appeared as an angel in human form (angel of Yahweh). The Law was given
through angels (Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2).
Jewish tradition held that God communicated through angels because this is the only way sinful
man could receive his Word.
Christ was now in his exalted state. Was this why he used angels? Because sinful man could not
stand before him? John could only stand before the exalted Christ because of the special grace
given him by Christ (see Rev. 1:17). Christ in his exalted status communicates through angels as
God did in the OT.

The Reason Why Jesus Himself Mediates the First Part p. 208
If this is true, why does the exalted Christ begin mediating the 1st part of the message of
Revelation? One could conjecture that the exalted Christ first wanted to establish beyond doubt
that this revelation came from God and himself. Once this was established, he could turn the
mediation over to angels.
Another reason might be that Jesus wanted John to know that their relationship had changed.
John could no longer stand before Christ because he was now in his exalted state. He allowed it
for a moment so that John would know for certain that the message of Revelation had come from
God. John could not continue to stand before the holy, majestic presence of Jesus. John would
have to wait to do that at the resurrection.
The angels that now continue the revelatory message of Revelation are introduced in 8:1-5.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Seventh Seal Introduces the Second Sevenfold Vision (8:1-5) p. 210

The Silence for About Half an Hour (8:1) p. 212
The silence for about half an hour seems to be a short intermission between the 1st act of the
revelatory drama (Rev. 6-7) and the second (Rev. 8-11). But for what purpose? Perhaps the
silence is an antitype of the 7th day of rest after the 1st creation (Gen. 2:2). If so, it then portends
the eternal rest of the heavenly Sabbath (cf. Heb. 4:1-11). Or perhaps the silence is similar to the
silence that precedes God’s original creation [as now he is about to create the new heavens and
Maybe more to the point would be a similarity to the silence that preceded the revelation of his
judgment on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Like the plagues of God’s judgment (Ex. 7-11) so the 1st
4 trumpet angels reveal natural plagues that will strike the earth (Rev. 8:6-12). The purpose of
those plagues was to serve God’s people (cf. Ex. 7:1-5; Rev. 8:6-13; 16:1-9).
Many times in the OT God’s people are commanded to be silent (for instance, see Israel at the
Red Sea [Ex. 14:10-14]) and watch what Yahweh would do. The silence enjoined upon God’s
people in the OT was an act of faith and worship before the awful majesty of God’s action of
judgment towards their enemies, which actions would also save his people. The judgment and
salvation of the Great Day of Yahweh moves God’s saints to a fearful and awe-inspiring silence
before the mighty God who acts for his people. All the acts that the angels will reveal will be for
the assistance of his church on earth.
The silence lasts “for about half an hour” (8:1), that is, for a relatively short period. John uses the
word “hour” as a designation of an interval of time. In 1 Jn. 2:18 the word is used in an
eschatological sense to refer to the time before the End, probably the time between the ascension
and the return. The half hour would suggest that while in the last “hour,” the End will not come
until the 7 angels have sounded their trumpets. And throughout this time period Christians are to
stand before God in faith, in fear and silence, as he witnesses the judgments of God. This aweinspired silence is to be a part of the Christian’s daily worship of Christ, in which we
contemplate God’s acts of judgment which serve the Christian’s eternal hope.

The Seven Angels (8:2a) p. 214
By saying “the seven angels” John speaks of a specific group who his readers recognize. Jewish
tradition points to seven archangels. There are only two archangels identified in the Bible
(Michael and Gabriel). These angels stood in the presence of God. Is. 63:9 does mention an
“angel of his [God’s] presence” (see also Ex. 33:14). John says that they are “the seven angels
who stand in the presence of God.” This suggests that the seven angels are like Gabriel, “the one
standing in the presence of God” (Lk. 1:19). Most commentators agree that these angels are the
angels of Jewish tradition, but there is another possible interpretation.
There are 3 groups of 7 angels in Rev.: the 7 angels of the 7 churches, the 7 trumpet angels and
the 7 censer angels. Does this mean there are 3 groups of angels or 1 group that fulfills all 3

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The article (“the”) is first used with the 7 trumpet angels (8:2, 6). They are a definite, known
group. The article is a pointer. In this case it points its hearers either to the 7 angels of Jewish
tradition (a known group) or back to the group of 7 mentioned earlier (the 7 angels of the 7
churches). The 7 angels of the 7 churches is the group of angels that this commentary believes
John is referring to.
The 7 censer angels are not introduced with the article. This may mean that this group of angels
is not the same group as the trumpet-angels. This may mean that they are so well known because
of previous appearances that the article is not needed.
The interpretation of this commentary is that there is only one group of 7 angels fulfilling 3
different roles.
The first vision assures that God will defend the church and keep her in the faith no matter what
suffering she endures. The second vision assures that God will defend the church so that she will
carry out her mission in spite of the suffering. Who better to introduce these scenes than the 7
angels of the 7 churches?

The Sounding of the Trumpets (8:2b) p. 218
Trumpets in the ancient world were used for initiation of events, like battles or they accompany
the announcement of important events. Trumpets are used frequently in the OT in this way. But
particular attention should be paid to trumpets used to announce eschatological events (e.g.,
Zeph. 1:14-16). In these cases the sounding of the trumpet serves to draw attention to the coming
judgment and salvation from God, the vindication of his faithful people.
In the NT, at Christ’s second coming, angels will sound a great trumpet to gather God’s elect
(Mt. 24:29-31). There will be another trumpet at the resurrection at the End (1Cor. 15:22;
1Thess. 4:16).
The trumpets of the 7 angels here in 8:2 are used to announce various plagues (both natural and
demonic), which strike humanity (especially unbelievers). The purpose of the plagues is to move
people to repentance (9:20-21). They help the church proclaim the Law which in turn helps in the
proclamation of the Gospel (Rev. 10:11; 11:3-12) to the repentant. Thus the trumpets and the
plagues of God’s judgment point to the great day of judgment and deliverance at the End (Rev.
10:7; 17:1; 21:9).
Why do the angels use trumpets and not loud voices (as in 5:2)? Because the exalted Son of Man
speaks with a trumpet-like voice and these angels represent him.

“Another Angel”: Prayers Go Up and Fire Goes Down (8:3-5) p. 219
Before the 7 angels can mediate the second earthly vision, another (not one of the seven) angel
enters. He stands by the incense altar. He has a large quantity of incense. The burning of incense

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
was connected with the prayers of the saints. Like the smoke and sweet odor, prayers rise up to
God. As God loves the smell, so he loves the prayers.
This other angel fills his censer with fire (a symbol of God’s judgment) and he then pours it on
the earth. He will continue pouring while the 7 angels blow each of their trumpets. Then the
angel’s censer will be empty and God’s wrath will be complete.
A similar act of judgment takes place in Eze. 10:1-8. Coals of fire are scattered over Jerusalem
(Eze. 10:2, 6-7). This represents God’s judgment resulting in punishment and suffering (Eze.
As the fire hits the earth, it will tremble and shake under God’s judgment resulting in all manner
of suffering for the human race (8:6-13).
The thunder, lightning, and earthquake remind one of God’s awesome and fearful presence on
Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:16-18). This was a display of God’s holy presence through natural phenomena.
John saw similar phenomena earlier as he beheld the glory of the One sitting on the throne (Rev.
4:5). Here it attests to God’s anger being poured out on the earth. The whole earth will violently
shake when the plagues strike at the blowing of the trumpets (Rev. 8:6-13). That these
phenomena accompany the fire attests that these judgments are not only permitted by God, but
that they are sent by God. They will serve his purpose and benefit his people as did the ten
plagues that shook ancient Egypt.

The First Four Trumpet-Angels: Upheavals in Nature (8:6-13) p. 222

Concerning the prayers of the saints (incense censer, 8:3-5), God provides an answer as each
angel blows his trumpet. The first 4 plagues are like the plagues that struck Egypt.

The First Trumpet-Angel (8:7) p. 225
The first trumpet brings hail and fire mixed with blood (8:7) poured out on earth. In Ex. 9:13-33
a plague of hail struck Egypt. It was accompanied by thunder and lightning and it was very
destructive. No blood is mentioned in Exodus. Maybe blood was the color of the storm or blood
may refer to warfare where blood is shed. In any case the land is ravaged. It is left unproductive
for years (8:7). From the ascension on, the land on earth is unable to produce fruit as
productively as it did in Eden.
“A third” (8:7) suggests partial, not total destruction. An example from the OT is Eze. 5:8-12
where in God’s judgment 1/3 of Jerusalem was killed by famine, 1/3 was killed by the sword,
and 1/3 was scattered. So at any given time after the ascension some of the earth’s vegetation
(1/3 of it) is affected. In each of the first 4 plagues “1/3” of natural life is destroyed as well as a
good portion of the human race.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Second Trumpet-Angel (8:8-9) p. 226
The 2nd trumpet brings something like a gigantic mountain of fire being cast into the sea (8:8).
The result is that 1/3 of the sea turns to blood; there is death and destruction. A 1/3 of man’s
commercial activity as well as human life are affected. This is like the first plague in Egypt, the
plague of blood (Ex. 7:14-24). The waters turned into blood and the fish died.
The fiery mountain probably symbolizes natural events (volcanic eruptions) that strike the earth’s
seas. It too brings death and destruction to the marine life in the earth’s bodies of water and to
humanity itself.

The Third Trumpet-Angel (8:10-11) p. 227
The 3rd trumpet brings a burning star that strikes bodies of fresh water. The water becomes bitter
and poisoned. Since the star comes from heaven, the plague comes from God as did the Egyptian
plagues (Ex. 9:1-3; 11:1). After the ascension a portion of the fresh water will be polluted. The
star’s name, Wormwood, which often means bitter poison (see Jer. 9:15). Receiving God’s
judgment is bitter. However, God in his mercy can restore bitter waters (Ex. 15:24-25). In this
plague God allows a portion of the waters to be embittered at any give time, but he also limits it
to only a portion of the waters (1/3).

The Fourth Trumpet-Angel (8:12) p. 227
At the 4th trumpet 1/3 of the sun, moon and stars are struck so they could not give off their full
brightness. 1/3 of the day and night were darkened. In the 9th plague that struck Egypt, there was
total darkness for 3 days (Ex. 10:21-23). Here the darkness is not total, nor is there a time limit.
It lasts the entire period of the prophecy. Eclipses don’t seem to fit the bill. Perhaps it’s a
reference to clouds or smog and pollution that make it difficult for the light from the heavenly
bodies to reach the earth.
Darkness sometimes is a symbol of God’s judgment. But here it seems to be less of a symbol and
more of a sign that the actual heavenly bodies have been struck and cannot give off their full
light and mankind will suffer for it.
In the 1st 4 plagues, nature is being physically struck and it causes humanity to suffer. It is a
display of God’s anger and is intended to move human beings to repentance before it is too late
(see Rev. 10:5-7, 11; Jn. 9:4) when repentance is no longer possible when there will be total

The Eagle in Mid-Heaven (8:13) p. 228
8:13 is a transition from the divine warnings of the 1st 4 trumpets to the demonic woes of the last
3 trumpets. The transition is from natural calamites to calamites that are demonic which are
terrible and horrifying.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
God uses an eagle and not an angel (as one might expect) to proclaim the woes. In Mt. 24:38
Jesus refers to an eagle in connection with the finality of God’s judgment. An eagle is a natural
creature corresponding to the natural disasters. But an eagle talking points to something beyond
the natural.
What the eagle cries out is “woe, woe, woe” (8:13), one woe for each of the last 3 trumpets, the
5th and 6th trumpets and the final judgment of the End. The situation is very very grave.
“The trumpet” that the angels will blow is singular. The plural might have been expected. The
singular might refer to the one trumpet, the trumpet-like voice of the exalted Lord Christ (1:10;
4:1). They blow their trumpet on behalf of Jesus Christ, for it is in his stead that they mediate the

The Fifth and Sixth Trumpet-Angels: Demons from the Abyss and the Last
Battle (9:1-21) p. 231
More detail is given to this trumpet than the previous ones. The images and symbols of the 5th
and 6th trumpet-angels are other-worldly and not earthly. They have both human and animal
features and are visible only to the human imagination. They are supernatural in nature.

The Fifth Trumpet-Angel (9:1-12) p. 235
The Commentary p. 235
The fifth through seventh trumpet-angels are called woes. They are set apart from the first four
trumpet-angels. The first four trumpet-angels are described in terms of earthly reality. The fifth
through seventh trumpet-angels are described in other-worldly terms. The creatures have both
human and animal features. Only by human imagination can one see them; they are not natural,
but supernatural. They are only understood in the spiritual realm.

The Star with the Key to the Abyss (9:1-2) p. 235
John sees a star that had fallen and it is given the key of the abyss. This is not the same star as in
8:10-11 (named “Wormwood”). This star represents a personality. The star has a personal name
and is identified as the “angel of the abyss” (9:11). The star is the same as the dragon in 12:3 and
is identified as the devil and Satan in 12:9.
There is a connection between this star and Is. 14:12 and Lk. 10:18. In Isaiah the star falling
typified the fall of the king of Babylon and by way of analogy, the casting out of Satan out of
heaven (Is. 4:11-15; cf. Rev. 12:7-9). In Lk. 10:18 Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven like
Satan is introduced here into the prophetic message of Rev. and plays a prominent role
throughout the remainder of the message. In Rev. 12 he appears as the dragon, the archenemy of
God, Christ, and the church on earth.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The fallen star unlocks the depths of hell and from it comes smoke so thick that the sun is unable
to fully penetrate it. The world is darkened. The smoke and darkness graphically portray the
spiritual darkness that is perpetrated by the angel of the abyss, a darkness that covers the whole
earth (cf. Gen. 19:27-28); 2Cor. 6:14; Eph. 2:2).

The Locust-Like Creatures from the Abyss and Their Purpose (9:3-12) p. 236
Out of the smoke come locust-like creatures who have the authority and power like that of
scorpions on the earth. Their purpose is to afflict the human race and not plants. Plant life was
afflicted by the plagues of the first 4 trumpet-angels. Those who do not bear “the seal of God”
(9:4) are singled out for affliction (see 7:1-8).
Swarms of locusts can wipe out entire crops. This is what happened in Joel (1:1-2:11). It was a
portend of the coming fury of God’s judgment (Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2, 11). As no one can stop the
swarm of locusts, so no one can endure the dreadful day of the Lord (Joel 2:11).
In Revelation the locust-like creatures portray the hordes of demons from hell which fall upon
the human race. The locusts are like scorpions in that they can injure people.
These demons afflict only those who don’t belong to God. In the same way the children of Israel
were protected from the plagues that hit the Egyptians (Ex. 8:20-23; 9:1-7, 25-26; 10:21-23).
This does not mean that God’s people will not suffer at all from the onslaught of demons (that is
portrayed later in 12:13-18; 13:1-18). God permits this affliction in order to move people to
repentance (9:21).
Who gives these locust-like, scorpion-like demons authority? The passive voice “was given”
says it was God. If their king and ruler (the devil) had his way, they would kill rather than injure
(consider Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6). God set limits upon them.
The period of time is “five months” (9:5). This may be the life span of locusts. When they die a
new generation takes over. So these sufferings come and go; they are not constant. At any time
they might hit. The sufferings will be like the sting of a scorpion. They are not fatal and do not
last a life time, but they cause excruciating pain to the point that one wishes to die. But death will
not come. God has placed that limit on the demons in order that through such pain people may
become aware of their lost condition.
An example of one longing for death might be Job. The despairing soul looks to death as a
hidden treasure (Job 3:21). But instead of the grave, one receives only fear and despair (Job
3:26). For Job, a man of God, relief would come not in death but in earthly restoration. He
longed for death not so much for relief, but instead to be reconciled to God. For the unbeliever
though, death does not bring relief, instead it only leads to the “second death” (20:6, 14; 21:8).
Death flees from him so that he might have time to repent.
These creatures are like a cavalry of horses ready for battle. On their heads are what appear to be
gold crowns, which give the false impression of victory. They are warriors of Satan employed by

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
God for his purposes. Their description is like that of the locusts in Joel 2. They overwhelm
everything in their path (Joel 2:5-10).
The demons have faces, hair, and intelligence like humans. They have teeth like a lion. They do
not physically tear apart their victims, but they do so (possibly) mentally and spiritually. They
have armor. So in their attacks they are protected. The noise of their attack instills fear and terror.
Like scorpions their sting is torturous. They have the ability to torture for 5 months (9:10).
The leader of the demons is “the angel of the abyss” (9:11). He is the dragon (12:3-9), the devil,
Satan. He is the Destroyer (9:11). He attempts to destroy all that is holy and godly. He tried to
destroy the Christ child (Rev. 12:3-4; cf. Mt. 2:16-18; 4:1-11). But now he concentrates on the
church, the body of Christ (Rev. 12:13-18). He falsely accuses them to cause them to doubt their
But here in 9:1-11 his victims are not the church, but the ungodly, those not sealed. The emphasis
here is on his destructive character and not on his slanderous accusations. He wants to destroy
the human race. But he is restrained from achieving total destruction (Rev. 9:3-5). The Lord
Christ is still in control.
The 1st woe has sounded (9:12). Two more are to come.

The Sixth Trumpet-Angel: The Last Battle (9:13-21) p.241
At the sound of the 6th trumpet John hears “one voice” coming from the horns of the golden
incense altar which “is before God” (9:13) (see Ex. 30:1-10). The voice could be the angel of the
altar (8:3-5) or the collective voice of the praying saints. Maybe its both coming together as “one
voice” (9:13). The voice speaks under the authority of God and for the sake of his people.
The voice says to “release the 4 angels” (9:14). The first five trumpet-angels merely blow their
trumpets. The 6th angel, possibly the angel of the 6th church, is not only a herald, but also a
participant acting on behalf of God’s people and for God.
The 6th church was Philadelphia. The contents of its letter fit and relate to what is now revealed.
In the 6th trumpet we see the whole earth being tested just before Christ’s return. Christians will
experience it but will be kept safe no matter how much they suffer.

The Four Angels from the Great River Euphrates p. 242
The Euphrates river runs through the territories of the Assyrians and Babylonians, Israel’s
ancient enemies who invaded from the north (see Is. 43:5-6; Jer. 1:13; 4:5-6). Because Israel’s
historical enemies came from the north and the Euphrates, this symbolized the eschatological
place where the End Time enemies of God’s people would come from.
Who are the “4 angels” (9:14) who are held back at the great river Euphrates? They stand
prepared (9:15). They are not operative all through the whole time period covered by Revelation.
They will work in a set time defined as an “hour and day and month and year” (9:15).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The article “the” suggests they are a definite, particular group of 4. Whoever they are, not that
they do not operate during the entire time from Christ’s ascension to his return. They are given a
particular time to do their work (hour, day, month, year). Are they fallen angels (based on their
association with evil forces that assault the human race)? Not likely, because “angel” in
Revelation always refers to holy angels of God unless identified otherwise. Rather they are holy
angels who act under God’s will. The only other place in Revelation where 4 angels are
mentioned is in Rev. 7:1-3 where they hold back the 4 winds until God’s people on earth are
sealed. Here they have a similar task of holding back the forces of evil until the appointed time
of their release. They seem to be the same or at least have the same roles.
The angels in 7:1-3 and 9:14-15 are angels of judgment and punishment. In ch. 7 the punishment
of God is inflicted by people. In ch. 9 it is inflicted by demonic forces of evil. This brings to
mind the angels that punished Sodom and Gomorrah on behalf of God (Gen. 19:1-29). Here the
four angels act based on God’s authority for the benefit of the church and her mission (see 8:1-5;
They will act in a definite period of time, not the whole time. Time periods within Revelation are
significant. This time period appears only here in Revelation. Yet it is introduced with the
definite article “this.” But no where in the Bible is a time period described in this way. The time
period could suggest that the sufferings perpetrated by the evil forces let loose on the human race
will occupy every moment of every day, everyday of every month, and every month of each year
in the evil times just before the Lord’s return.
Up until now man has suffered from natural forces and demonic forces, but was not killed. But
now a large portion – one third of the human race – is killed. Before it was so bad they sought
death, but it eluded them (9:6). Now death seeks them out. Those who escape death will live
under its terror (cf. Heb. 2:15).
The forces here are demonic in character (9:16-19). Their numbers were countless. The horses
had heads like lions, demonstrating that they would terrorize and conquer and kill. From their
mouths they breathe out fire and smoke and brimstone, by which they will plague and kill a third
of the human population. Again fire and brimstone remind one of the destruction of Sodom and
They kill by the fire, smoke, and brimstone that comes from their mouths. But they also strike
with their tails. With their tails they injure and torment people. They attack coming and going.
No one escapes them.
Tragically, those who do not die, do not repent (9:20). They do not allow themselves to be turned
away from worshipping lifeless idols, including the activities of life and their occupations.
Worship of the things they have fashioned is really worship of demons. The intended purpose of
idolatrous worship is always the betterment of one’s own fortunes in life. Therefore it seeks to
glorify creatures instead of the Creator and Redeemer.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Therefore any alternative to Christ and faith in him alone is idolatry (1Jn. 5:21). Idols are their
own creations and cannot respond in anyway (see, hear, smell, or walk). They are fashioned in
man’s image.
Because they are unrepentant they commit all kinds of evil acts. These vices are produced by
This 6th scene here is related to the 6th censer-angel (16:12-16). The 6th scene in the third earthly
vision depicts the battle of Armageddon just before the End and Christ’s return. Here in 9:13-21
John gets the first glimpse of the last battle before Christ’s return. In the 2nd view of the last battle
(16:12-16) he sees the same demonic host pouring out from the Euphrates gathered for battle and
engaged in battle at a place called Armageddon. And there will be a third view of the last battle
just before the End, the vision of God and Magog (20:7-10). The 3rd view depicts the battle’s
conclusion and the final defeat of the evil forces.

First Scene of the Interlude: The Mighty Angel from Heaven Commissions
John (Rev. 10:1-11) p. 249
There is an interlude between the 6th and 7th scenes. In the 1st vision the interlude (7:1-17) had to
do with the protection and comfort of the church in the midst of her sufferings. The interlude for
the 2nd vision pictures the church in mission and God’s protection of her in that mission.
This interlude has two scenes: 10:1-11 and 11:1-14.
Another Mighty Angel from Heaven (10:1) p. 252
The first thing John sees in the interlude is an “angel coming down out of heaven” (10:1). This
angel is not one of the 7 trumpet-angels. This is “another” angel. The 7 angels mediated the
prophetic message. This angel commissions John on behalf of the exalted Christ.
“Mighty” p. 253

This angel is a “mighty” angel (10:1). There are 3 mighty angels in Revelation (5:2; 10:1;
18:1,21). This is not the same angel as in 5:2; this is “another” angel.
“Mighty” connotes strength from God. In the LXX (Greek translation of OT) version of the OT
in the heavenly sphere only God is mighty, not angels. In the NT no angel is called mighty
except for in Revelation. John would know that “mighty” is reserved for God and yet he
describes angels in this way. Some believe this mighty angel is Gabriel (which means “mighty
one of God”), but he is never identified as such.
The mighty angel does not possess divine power. Instead he possesses divine-like power. He is
identified with God. God has given him certain powers. He is acting under the divine power of

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
God. He is close to God in the heavenly realm and is sent out by God and is given authority by
“Coming Down Out of Heaven” p. 255

Heaven is the dwelling place of God (11:9). The angel comes down “out of heaven”; he comes
from God. Two other times John sees an angel descending from heaven (18:1-2, announces
judgment on Babylon, and 18:21, the same angel throws millstone into the sea; 20:1-2, binds
Satan). In all three cases the angel acts under God’s authority and in his stead.
“Clothed About with a Cloud” p. 256

In the OT a cloud is often associated with God, in particular with his presence among his people
(pillar of cloud, spoke to Moses from a cloud, covered the tabernacle, in Ezekiel God’s glory in
and out of the temple, God’s heavenly vehicle). The significance of the cloud is carried over to
the NT (God speaks from the cloud in the transfiguration, Son of Man will return on clouds, a
cloud received Jesus as he ascended.) Clouds then were associated with God.
The angel is not conveyed by the cloud; he does not speak from the cloud. He is clothed [by
God] with the cloud. This means that the angel came to John by God’s authority.
God used clouds to conceal himself (Lam. 3:42-44) and to exhibit himself and his glory (Eze.
1:4, 28).
Other than God, the angel of Rev. 10:1 is the only figure in the Bible who is clothed with a
cloud. In the case of the angel, the cloud conceals his identity and person and it demonstrates that
he acts on behalf of God. His mission is a godly and glorious one. The angel wears the mantle of
God as he commissions John to proclaim the message to all people (10:11).
“The Rainbow-Like Halo” p. 258

A rainbow-like halo surrounded the heavenly throne of God (4:3). There the rainbow was a
reminder of God’s gracious covenant of salvation with mankind and creation (Gen. 8:22; 9:1317). The definite article “the” suggests that it is identified with or related to the rainbow around
God’s throne. God has placed on the angel the visible token and sign of his covenant of grace.
This angel is a true messenger of the one true God, not the false gods of Greek mythology. He
represents the Creator who has bound himself with his creation in a covenant. He reflects God’s
glory as the Creator and his mercy in his covenant with humanity. His mission is to proclaim
God’s glory and his saving mercy.
“Face … Like the Sun” p. 259

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This third identifying factor suggests a relationship with Jesus Christ. In 1:16 Christ’s appearance
as the Son of Man was like the sun. There are no descriptions of a “face like the sun” in the OT.
Matthew describes that Jesus’ face “shone like the sun” (Mt. 17:2) in the transfiguration. In Rev.
1:16 the exalted Christ appeared to John with his face and person appearing like the sun.
Three differences between the angel and Christ are:
1. Jesus’ whole appearance was like the sun where only the angel’s face was like the sun.
2. In 1:16 Christ’s appearance “was like the sun” when it shines in its full power. The
angel’s face is only “like the sun” (10:1). Jesus is God’s full glory. The angel reflects
God’s glory.
3. At the Mount of Transfiguration the disciples voluntarily fell down in worship. When
Christ appeared to John to commission him to write Revelation, John was knocked down
because he was overwhelmed by the brilliant glory of the exalted Christ. Before the angel
John did not fall down at all.
The angel is not Christ, the “angel of the Lord.”
“Legs Like Pillars of Fire” p. 261

No one else is described this way in Scripture. It does remind one of the feet of Jesus Christ
(1:15) and the Son of Man (Dan. 10:4-6). The only pillar of fire mentioned in the Bible is the
pillar of cloud and fire by which Yahweh led and protected Israel in the wilderness. These legs
suggest stability and power. The mission that God sends the angel on will be accomplished. As
God’s people carry out that mission God will guide and protect them.
An Opened Small Scroll (10:2a) p. 262
The contents of the small scroll are not made known but it might be the same as the 7-sealed
scroll or contain part of it. The 7-sealed scroll contained the prophetic message of Revelation.
John was to receive the message (eat it) and proclaim it to all people.
The scroll of the angel is open. Its message was not a secret. If it is the same as the 7-sealed
scroll, it has been opened by the Lamb. This small scroll is a symbol of the 7-sealed scroll’s
message. John is to consume it and proclaim it to the world.
Standing Astride Sea and Land (10:2b) p. 263
In the OT “sea” and “land” express the totality of God’s creation; in this case it means the whole
earth. By straddling the entire earth, the angel shows that he and his mission will dominate the
earth, its present, and future – everything. God places the earth under the dominance of the angel
and his mission. In particular, the angel dominates the two beasts that come out of the sea and the
land in Rev. 13.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Since the angel stands astride the entire earth, he must be gigantic. The size of the angel draws
attention to the importance of his mission. No power, human or demonic, could push him aside.
The entire dress, demeanor, and size of the angel says that he has come from God with authority
given to him by God to commission John and the church on earth to carry out a mission from
God. No one and no power can resist this angel and the mission he represents.
A Voice Like That of a Roaring Lion (10:3a) p. 266
In the OT God is likened to a lion, in power, in inciting fear, in hunting down prey (judgment).
The angel speaks with the voice of God. As the roar of a lion induces fear, so the mission will
induce fear because the message is one of judgment – judgment that serves the purpose of
repentance if heeded.
The Seven Thunders Speak (10:3b-4) p. 267
What are the 7 thunders and what is their purpose? Again there is a definite article “the,” so this
is a definite, familiar entity. In the OT God’s voice is likened to thunder (see Amos 1:2; Ex.
19:16-19; Joel 3:16; Ps. 29:3). The angel acts under the authoritative command of God, as if the
thunder-like voice of God himself was speaking. 7 is used in Scripture to symbolize God’s
presence through his Holy Spirit. Therefore this message is holy and complete and will
accomplish its purpose.
John “was about to write” about what the thunders were saying when he is told not to.
Apparently what they said God did not desire that it be included in the prophetic message.
The impression given that John “was about to write” is that John saw and heard these visions, he
immediately recorded them.
John hears a “voice from heaven” telling him not to write. Whether this voice is the Father, Son
or an angel is not known. Ultimately though, it must be the authoritative voice of God. He alone
would have authority to tell John not to write when in the beginning he was told to write. Only
God could counter his original command.
The purpose then for the voice from heaven is not further revelation but to make stand out the
lion-like voice of the angel and the importance of his mission. The voices here are like the voice
of God at Mt. Sinai. As God spoke there, so now he speaks here through his angel.
The Angel’s Oath (10:5-7) p. 269
The overall intent of the oath is to dramatize the certainty and truthfulness of the contents of the
scroll in the angel’s hand, the message that John is to proclaim.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This incident may have reminded John of a similar oath in Dan. 12:7. The oath there assured
Daniel that there would be a completion of the things prophesied to him.
Similarly here in Rev. 10:5-7 the angel takes an oath in order to assure John and all Christians
that there will be a fulfillment of the revelation of the 7 trumpet-angels, as well as the whole
prophetic message of Revelation. In particular the events of the 7th trumpet will come to pass.
The mystery of God will be finished.
[What is this mystery?] It is qualified by “graciously promised to his own slaves, the prophets”
(10:7). The mystery and its completion were “graciously promised” to the prophets. There were
other mysteries in Revelation and they’ve been explained (see Rev. 1:20). Here it is not
explained. Paul uses the word “mystery” to refer to God’s whole plan of saving grace in Christ. It
is the same here. Revelation reveals the goal and end result of God’s saving grace in Christ – the
The end result is God’s rule forever in his eternal kingdom (11:15-19). According to 1 Pet. 1:1012 the prophets knew of the mystery and searched what had been prophetically spoken
concerning the Christ, his suffering and his glory. It was a mystery because it had been kept
secret from those of the human race who were enemies of Christ (Col. 1:26; Acts 2:23; 1 Cor.
John and the Small Scroll (10:8-10) p. 270
The image of a scroll was symbolic of a message. Scrolls were also used to confirm the
truthfulness of a message given by a messenger. The action of eating and digesting a scroll is
similar to Ezekiel. He ate it; it was sweet; and, though it was not bitter in his stomach, later he
encountered bitterness as he embarked on his mission and proclaimed the message of God (Eze.
Before proclaiming God’s Word, both Ezekiel and John had to digest it themselves. They had to
hear it and apply it to themselves first. For the hearers, the message would be both bitter and
sweet. The woes and judgments of God are not pleasant. But the comfort of the Gospel –
forgiveness, deliverance from suffering, and participation in the new heaven and earth – are part
of the message too and they bring joy.
John Is Told He Must Proclaim the Message of God (10:11) p. 271
The whole purpose of the gigantic angel and his scroll is that John must proclaim God’s message
to all people of the earth. The church must be engaged in the mission that Christ gave to his
church on earth (Mt. 28:16-20). In his first commissioning by Jesus, John was to give the
message to the church (1:11). In this second commissioning (ch. 10), John is instructed to
proclaim the message to the whole human race.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The colossal angel standing over the whole earth symbolizes that the church’s mission will
dominate all human life, events and history. Nothing can stop the church in her godly mission on
earth (11:1-13). No matter what she suffers, the church will complete her mission.
The angel’s dress further signifies that he speaks with God’s authority. And as the church carries
our her mission, she is accompanied by thundering voice of God almighty.
The angel does not have commanding authority. Rather it is the voice from heaven which gives
the command. The voice comes from God and possibly is seconded by the heavenly host or it is
the voice of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (note the plural, “they say”). The angel
then stands in for God serving as a symbolic affirmation of the church’s mission on earth.

Excursus: The Identity and Function of the Mighty Angel of Revelation 10 p.
The identity of the angel of Rev. 10 has always created interest. The earliest commentators
believed it to be a created heavenly messenger. Most Latin commentators believed it was Jesus
Christ, the exalted Lord (based on Latin versions of the Bible which were based on the LXX
where Isaiah 9:5 reads, “angel of the great council” and where Mal. 3:1 says, “the angel of the
In the OT the “angel of Yahweh” plays an important role. He turns out to be Yahweh himself
come down from heaven to save his people (Eze. 3:4-8). The LXX renders Yahweh as Lord
which is Jesus’ title in the NT.
In the OT there is a strong connection between the “angel of Yahweh” and God’s covenant mercy
which finds fulfillment in Jesus Christ. So this angel provides a vivid image of the “angel of the
covenant” (Mal. 3:1).
Since the Reformation, commentators have been divided.
Whoever the angel is, he is acting on behalf of God and Christ.
This commentator believes it is not Jesus Christ, but an angel acting on his behalf. If it was Jesus
Christ, would not John have fallen down (cf. 1:17)? In the OT when the angel of Yahweh
appeared, people bowed down in worship. John did not.
Jesus communicates through angels because man cannot stand before God or hear his voice
because of his holy glory and presence. So Jesus makes this revelation known through angels
who project his image as the mediating Angel of God and the Angel of the Covenant (Mal. 3:1).
Thus this angel reminds us that Jesus now plays the same role as the angel of Yahweh in the OT.

Excursus: The Mediator of Revelation: Guides to the Structure of the Book
p. 279

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Jesus is the mediator of the entire book. In the first half (2:1-8:8) he mediates directly. In the
second half (8:6-22:5) angels mediate in his stead. Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator
between God and the human race (1Tim. 2:5).
Jesus Christ is the prime revelator of Revelation. The secondary revelator is the mighty angel of
Rev. 10. Christ first commissioned John to proclaim the message to the churches (1:1-2, 9-10).
The mighty angel (in the place of Christ) commissions John to proclaim the message to the world
(10:9-11). The recommission reminds John that though the revelatory message now comes
through angels, it is still from Christ and he must proclaim it. The message is not only for the
church but also for the world.
The line of communication of the message of Revelation, as stated in1:1 and 10:11, is this: God
the Father (the source), Jesus Christ, Christ’s angel (angel in Rev. 10), John, the churches, and
finally all people. This order is demonstrated by figure 4.
Figure 4
Outline of the Mediating Structure of Revelation
Prologue (1:1-8)
Jesus Christ Himself Commissions John (1:1-20)
Jesus Christ Mediates
…Letters of Preparation to the Seven Churches (2:1-3:22)
……I. Heavenly Vision of the Throne of God (4:1-11) and of the Exaltation of the Lamb, the
Seven-Sealed Scroll (5:1-14)
………A. First Sevenfold Vision: The Seven Seals of the Scroll (6:1-8:5)
…………1. Rider of the White Horse (6:1-2)
…………2. Rider of the Red Horse (6:3-4)
…………3. Rider of the Black Horse (6:5-6)
…………4. Rider of the Ghostly Green Horse (6:7-8)
…………5. Souls of the Martyrs (6:9-11)
…………6. The End: Terror (6:12-17)
…………First Scene of the Interlude: Sealing of the 144,000 (7:1-8)
…………Second Scene of the Interlude: Heavenly Multitude of the Saints (7:9-17)
…………7. Silence in Heaven: The Seven Angels of God’s Presence (the Angels of the
…………Seven Churches) Are Given Trumpets; the Angel at the Incense Altar (8:1-5)

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Angels Mediate: The Mighty Angel (10:1-11) Stands in the Place of Christ and Represents All
Angelic Mediators
………B. Second Sevenfold Vision: The Seven Trumpet-Angels (8:6-11:19)
…………1. Hail and Fire (8:6-7)
…………2. Great Mountain of Fire (8:8-9)
…………3. Bright Star, Wormwood (8:10-11)
…………4. Sun, Moon, and Stars Darkened (8:12)
…………Three Woes Announced (8:13)
…………5. First Woe: The Angel and the Hosts of the Abyss (9:1-12)
…………6. Second Woe: Evil Host at the Euphrates (9:13-21)
…………First Scene of the Interlude: The Mighty Angel Commissions John (10:1-11)
…………Second Scene of the Interlude: The Temple Measured and the Two Witnesses (11:1-14)
…………7. Third Woe: The End, the Kingdom of God (11:15-19)
……II. The Vision of the Woman and Her Child: The Dragon Expelled from Heaven (12:1-18)
………The Two Beasts (13:1-18)
………Saints Prevail and the Harvest at the End (14:1-20)
………C. Third Sevenfold Vision: The Seven Censer-Angels (15:1-16:21)
…………Preparation for the Last Plagues (15:1-8)
…………1. Suffering and Evil of Humanity (16:1-2)
…………2. Sea Becomes Blood (16:3)
…………3. Rivers and Waters Become Blood (16:4-7)
…………4. Sun Burns People (16:8-9)
…………5. Throne of the Beast Darkened (16:10-11)
…………6. Armageddon (16:12-16)
…………7. All Is Finished (16:17-21)
……III. The Parousia (17:1-22:5)
…………Judgment of the Harlot and Fall of Babylon (17:1-18:24)
…………Song of Victory and Marriage Feast of the Lamb (19:1-10)
…………“King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (19:11-21)
…………Millennium and Gog and Magog (20:1-10)
…………Resurrection and Judgment (20:11-15)
…………New Heaven and New Earth (21:1-22:5)
Epilogue (22:6-21)
Notes on Figure 4 p. 281

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The three cycles, each with a 7-fold vision (A, B, and C of the outline), are the heart of the
prophetic message. They all refer to the same time period (ascension to second coming).
The three visions of (I) the throne of God and the exalted Lamb, (II) the woman and her Child,
and (III) the parousia overshadow the three 7-fold visions (A, B, and C). Thus the three cycles of
7-fold visions are to be interpreted in view of the tree overarching visions.
The 7 letters to the churches (chs. 2 and 3) are preparatory, calling hearers to repentance in order
to prepare them to receive the message, which begins in ch. 4.

Second Scene of the Interlude: The Temple Measured and the Two
Witnesses (Rev. 11:1-14)

The Measuring of the Temple and the Trampling of the Outer Court (11:1-2)
p. 284
In Rev. 10:8-11 John becomes an active participant in the Revelation as he is told to eat the scroll
and proclaim its message. Now his active participation continues as he is told to “measure the
temple of God” (11:1). John is to not only view the events but he is to also take part in them.
This is not surprising because chs. 10 and 11 have to do with the church’s mission on earth,
witnessing about Jesus Christ to the world, of which John has already been an active participant
and will continue to be until his death.
John is given a “measuring rod” to measure the temple. The prophet Ezekiel had a similar
experience (Eze. 40:1-5). The measuring of the temple was a promise that the temple would be
rebuilt and Yahweh would live among his people forever (Eze. 43:1-7; 48:35). (The temple
described in Eze. 40-48 is different than the Solomonic and second temples. This is because the
fulfillment is not some rebuilt earthly temple but God’s people, the church, is the temple that
John sees.) God’s promise was so certain that even now it could be measured as a physical
reality. The prophet Zechariah also used a measuring line (Zech. 2:1-5). He measured Jerusalem
symbolizing God’s promise to protect the city. (This promise too was something more than an
earthly city, for God was its wall.) Thus John stands in the prophetic line. His measuring
indicates that God’s people, his holy dwelling, will be protected to carry out the mission given
them – the proclamation of the Gospel.
The incense altar is also included in the prophetic and protective measuring. The praying and
worshipping people of God are a part of the mission and will be protected in their worship of
The outer court is not to be measured because it will be given over to pagans who will trample it
(11:2). Over time the outer court became known as the house of prayer for the Gentiles (see Mk.
11:17; cf. Is. 56:6-7). John is told that the outer court is not to be measured, that is, not protected
by God. Pagans will try and destroy it and the temple, that is, the church. The people of God will
be under severe attack. Though protected and able to carry out her mission, she will suffer
persecution and even death. (If the whole thing is the church, then the distinction between the

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
outer court and the sanctuary is a way of pointing out the limitations placed upon pagan
The outer court and “holy city” (11:2) will also be trampled. Later it is identified as the “new
Jerusalem” (21:2, 10). But in 20:8-9 it is under siege by the hosts of evil. The holy city represents
God dwelling in the midst of his people. It is the symbol of the church of Jesus Christ. The
temple and its outer court symbolize God’s presence in the worship life of the church. The
church is sustained by God’s presence. She will carry out her mission, but she will suffer. She
will not be destroyed, for the incense altar is measured, is protected by God. Outwardly she may
appear destroyed, but inwardly her faith and soul are nourished by God through Word and
Sacrament. So even in dying, she will still witness and complete her godly mission.

Forty-Two Months or 1,260 Days (11:2-3) p. 287
The time that the outer court is trampled is “forty-two months” (11:2). The same time period as
represented as “one thousand two hundred sixty days” (11:3) is the length of time the two
witnesses will prophesy. The two time periods are the same. While the outer court is being
trampled, the two witnesses will prophesy. The same time period is mentioned 3 more times in
Revelation (12:6-woman protected for 1260 days; 12:14-woman protected for “a time and times
and half a time,” 3 ½ years; 13:5- beast will afflict the woman and her seed for 42 months).
Why the same time period is referred to in three different ways is not known. But they are
derived from and patterned after Daniel (Dan. 7:25-4th beast will dominate the saints for 3 ½
years; 12:7-saints endure “astonishing things” for 3 ½ “seasons” or years; 12:11-saints endure
the “abomination of desolation” for 1290 days).
Daniel sees this time period as Revelation does, as a time when the church on earth will be
trodden under foot by the pagan nations. Daniel sees prophetically in the future, while John sees
it first hand in his time and into the future until the End. According to Mark (13:1-26; cf. Mt.
24:1-31; Lk. 21:5-28) this time period begins with Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection and
extends until he comes again. The entire church age is an age of tribulation, which will increase
to the point of becoming the great tribulation. Though the church (the outer court) be trampled
during the time of the Gentiles (42 months), it will be protected (temple measured) and enabled
by God to carry out her mission (two witnesses testify for 1260 days).
Why three different designations for this time period? It’s not explained. Perhaps it’s because it
was the amount of time of the drought that took place during the prophetic ministry of Elijah.
The drought that occurred during Elijah’s ministry lasted 3 ½ years. During that time God took
care of Elijah. And like Elijah, God took care of and protected and provided for Israel in the
desert after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. 42 could stand for Israel’s 42 years in the
desert. There the Israelites got to know Yahweh by depending solely on him. The same is true for
the church, who journey through the wilderness of life towards the Promised Land of heaven.
Three and a half is only a portion of the total (7). The prior 3 ½ year period may correspond to
the OT. Together they make up the total time of God’s grace under God’s covenants of mercy.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Two Witnesses (11:3-13) p. 291
The Two Witnesses Prophesy (11:3-6) p. 291
The two witnesses are clothed in sackcloth (11:3). Sackcloth is a coarse, hairy garment worn as a
sign of grief or of sorrow and repentance over sin. That the two witnesses are dressed in
sackcloth shows that they will carry out their prophetic ministry in a penitential attitude of
humility. The prophets of old dressed and carried out their ministries in like manner.
The two witnesses are further described as “the two olive trees and the two lampstands which
stand before the Lord of the earth” (11:4). This description is similar to Zech. 4:2-14. Zechariah
saw a golden lampstand with 7 lamps (Zech. 4:2). On both sides of it were two olive trees, one
on the right and one on the left (Zech. 4:3). The lampstand represented the omniscience of
Yahweh through the sevenfold Spirit (Zech. 4:10, 6). The 2 olive trees were 2 individuals
anointed to serve Yahweh (Zech. 4:11-14). So in context, the lampstand was Israel under the
sevenfold guidance of Yahweh’s omniscience as exercised by the Holy Spirit. The two olive trees
represent the anointed priesthood and the anointed royal house of David (Zerubbabel). The Holy
Spirit would use the priesthood and royal house to care for Israel.
Rev. 11:1-4 employs some of the imagery from Zech. 4, but in a new context. The lampstand
now represents not OT Israel, but rather (as 2 lampstands) “the temple” and “the holy city” (Rev.
11:1-2), that is, the NT church. The 2 olive trees represent the 2 witnesses anointed by God to
proclaim the prophetic Word throughout the new covenant era.
Note that the 1 lampstand in Zechariah has become 2 in Rev. 11. God’s people can be
represented by 1 lampstand supplied by 2 olive trees (Zech. 4:2-14). The church can be
represented by 7 lampstands because she is under the 7-fold omniscience of God’s Holy Spirit
(Rev. 1:20). And she can be symbolized by 2 lampstands as seen by the priestly and royal
functions, the royal priesthood of the two witnesses (Rev. 11:1-4).
In Rev. 11:1-4, the church is represented by 2 witnesses who in turn are symbolized by the 2
lampstands and the 2 olive trees, for the church is the royal priesthood as she carries out her
prophetic ministry. So the 2 lampstands represent the royal, priestly witness and the 2 olive trees
represent the anointed prophets and ministers who nourish the church in her witness to the world.
Who are the 2 witnesses? They belong to God (“my two witnesses”, 11:3). The article indicates
that they are well known. Many commentators look to OT figures: Moses, Elijah, Elisha,
Jeremiah, Enoch, etc. If they were specific people, Moses and Elijah would fit best (fire, exodus,
water to blood, no rain). Yet they are only models for the 2 witnesses, who are symbols of the
entire church with its witnessing mission.
The church is symbolized by 2 witnesses because of the OT requirements for 2 or 3 witnesses
(Deut. 19:15). Jesus followed this practice (Jn. 8:16-18; Mk. 6:7; Lk. 10:1; cf. Acts 15:39-40). It
was also illustrated at Jesus’ Baptism and at the Mt. of Transfiguration. The church today
continues to witness and attest to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it preaches and
proclaims both Law and Gospel.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The 2 witnesses “stand before the Lord of the earth” (11:24). Standing before the Lord, they are
protected in their witness. Their ministry cannot be stopped or destroyed.
Fire from their mouths is reminiscent of Elijah as fire came from heaven destroying those who
came to arrest him (2Ki. 1:1-15; 1Ki. 18:38-39). It is to be taken metaphorically, as the word of
Yahweh that would consume ungodly people who try and stop them from witnessing, like fire
consuming wood (Jer. 5:14). God is in control.
Stopping rain is also similar to Elijah (1Ki. 17:1). At the Lord’s word it stopped. God controls
even how nature will aid the ministry of the church (see Amos 4:6-10).
Like the witnesses, Moses exercised his authority to turn water into blood and to execute other
plagues (Ex. 7:19-20; 8:1-11:10). Again God is in control to aid his people.
The point is that no one and no power can stop the church from completing her prophetic
mission (like Moses and Elijah). God, ruling through the exalted Christ, provides and protects
her. John and the church “must” (10:8-11) witness.

The Two Witnesses Are Killed (11:7-10) p. 297
While the church carries out God’s mission, the enemy will persecute and attack her. But not
until the mission is complete will the fury be unleashed to destroy the witness of the church.
John has already seen demonic forces and their leader (9:1-11). In ch. 9 these forces afflict the
unbelieving human race. In chs. 12 and 13 they afflict the church. Here “the beast” (definite
article) is clearly the angel of the abyss (9:11) and the dragon and Satan (12:9). He symbolizes
all the enemy forces who are under demonic influence and control (see 11:9-10).
When the mission is complete, the church will be put to death and her witness will be silenced
for a moment. When God allows it, they will be killed. And it will be an illustration of the Lord’s
death. They will be on display as their Lord was.
Any who oppose the church are evil – like Sodom and Egypt. Judah was once compared to
Sodom because of her evil ways (Is. 1:8-15). Egypt was the place of Israel’s slavery. Every place
the message of redemption is carried is holy ground. But when the witness is rejected, that place
becomes like Sodom and Egypt. To reject the message is to become depraved and results in
spiritual bondage.
The denial of proper burial was an insult intended to heap shame on the dead witnesses. This is
to be interpreted symbolically. The description metaphorically suggests the ongoing shame and
ridicule that the unbelieving world heaps on the testimony of the church.
The bodies of the witnesses are left unburied for “three and a half days” (11:9, 11). The 3 ½ days
can be compared with the 3 ½ year ministry of the church. At any time for a short period of time
during the NT period (3 ½ years), the church may be silenced (3 ½ days). But even in death, her

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
unburied body gives witness. The silence of the church in any given place at any time throughout
the NT period is also a warning that when the End comes, there will be no more opportunity to
hear the Gospel voice of God.
The people also celebrate over the bodies. They no longer have to listen to them and hear about
their sins and that the only way of salvation is through the cross of Christ. The world hates the
Gospel message and tries to shut the church up forever.

The Two Witnesses Come Back to Life (11:11-12) p. 300
The celebration is short-lived. After 3 ½ days the 2 witnesses come back to life. The resurrection
of Christians at the End is the final resurrection. But before then the Spirit will raise up the
church again and again to witness after a time of persecution.
Perhaps when the 2 witnesses were brought back to life John thought of Eze. 37:1-14 where the
dry bones were given life and raised to their feet (Eze. 37:10). In Ezekiel this is the raising of
Israel from captivity to live in the Promised Land again. In Rev. 11:11 the church will be brought
back to life in the great resurrection at the End and each time it “dies” before the End God will
resurrect her to once again be the witnessing church.
The resurrected witnesses are called to come up to God’s presence and they went up in a cloud
(11:12). The ministry of the 2 witnesses comes to the same end as their Lord’s: death,
resurrection, and ascension into glory (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7-15). As Jesus ascended in the cloud, so do
his witnesses. “The cloud” (definite) probably refers to the cloud of Jesus’ ascension (Acts. 1:9)
or to the cloud of his return (Mt. 24:30; 26:64). In either case, the unbelieving world shames
them, but God envelopes them in His glory.

“A Great Earthquake” (11:13) p. 301
Already in fear because of the resurrection and ascension, the enemies of the church are struck
with even more fear when they experience “a great earthquake” (11:13). Earthquakes often
accompany God’s mighty acts and fearful judgment. In Ezekiel 38:19-20 an earthquake precedes
the End. According to Hag. 2:6-9, a great shaking will occur in the heavens and earth, causing
the nations to tremble. When Jesus died there was an earthquake (Mt. 27:51) and when he was
resurrected there was a great earthquake (Mt. 28:2). Also Heb. 12:26 says that before the End,
God will once again shake the earth and heavens.
In Rev. an earthquake is mentioned 7 times (Rev. 6:12; 8:5; 11:13 (twice); 11:19; 16:18 (twice).
While sometimes connected to God’s glory or the raising up of the church, it normally is a
pointer to God’s majestic and fearful judgment. God’s shaking of the world not only causes
geophysical tremors, but also political, economic and social shakings, which shows his
displeasure over how the pagan world treats his witnesses (Examples: Imperial Rome, USSR and
its communist satellites). They wished to trample the church, but God raised it up and preserved

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“Seven thousand men of renown” (11:13) were killed by the earthquake. This number is
symbolic indicating the control of the 7-fold Spirit and the will of God (see 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
Whatever the actual number of those who perish, it is according to God’s will and judgment and
is not arbitrary or accidental chance. The quake does damage to a large part of the city (a tenth).
The catastrophe causes some to repent and believe (“give glory to God”) the church’s witness.

Announcement about the Second and Third Woes (11:14) p. 302
The second woe, revealed by the sixth trumpet-angel, is 9:13-21 (the last battle). Rev. 11:14
bridges 9:13-21 (6th trumpet angel) and 11:15-19 (the 7th trumpet-angel, the End). The 7th trumpet
is also the third woe. The 3 woes are the last 3 scenes on earth as seen in the 2nd seven-fold
vision: demonic forces against humanity (9:1-12); the last battle (9:13-21); and the end of the
world (11:15-19). Between the 6th and 7th scenes (or the 2nd and 3rd woes) is an interlude of two
scenes (10:1-11 and 11:1-14).

Conclusion p. 302
The interlude of Rev. 7:1-17 encouraged Christians that God would keep them in the faith no
matter what they suffered. The interlude of Rev. 10:1-11:14 shows that although the Church in
mission will be persecuted, it will be protected and the mission will be completed.
The 2 witnesses symbolize the whole church over the entire NT period. They are also applicable
to a congregation and individuals.
As was their mission, the 2 witnesses (the church) witness. As they do they are persecuted and
protected. Yet they will accomplish their mission. When it is accomplished they are killed; their
witness is silenced. Yet the church is heard from again because it is resurrected. The church is
raised so that it might witness again. And so the pattern goes on to the End.
The final assault on the church is Armageddon (16:12-16) and the battle of God and Magog
(20:7-10). The final raising up of the church will be the resurrection to eternal life at the End
(19:1-21; 20:11-15; 21:1-22:5). Each revival of the church to witness again or of an individual
person to heavenly glory when they die throughout the NT period is a type, a foreshadowing of
the great and final revival – the resurrection at the End.

The Seventh Trumpet-Angel: The End and Its Joy (Rev. 11:15-19) p. 304

The Victory Song of the Great Voices (11:15) p. 306
At the 7th trumpet “great voices in heaven” sing in celebration of the victory of God and his
Anointed One.
There is a contrast between the 7th seal and the 7th trumpet. At the opening of the 7th seal there
was silence. The silence suggested an anticipation of that which the mighty God was about to do.
Now God’s mighty acts of judgment have been completed and his people have been vindicated

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
when God openly begins his reign. The “great voices in heaven” recognize the final triumph of
God through his Christ, a triumph for the church as well.
The voices are not identified. Some believe them to be angels, or the 4-winged creatures, or the
saints. The author believes it to be the saints (the church triumphant) as in 7:9-10 where they
shout their praise of God and the Lamb. Here they praise him for his reign.

“The Kingdom of the Cosmos Has Become Our Lord’s and his Christ’s” p. 308
Saints and angels celebrate that all of creation once more belongs to the Creator because of his
Christ’s redemptive work. He is the true Owner. As promised in Ps. 2:4-9 and Zech. 14:9,
Yahweh through his Anointed One will become king of the earth and on that day the whole earth
will acknowledge that there is but one God, whose name is Yahweh, and one anointed King
through whom he saves and is known (cf. Acts 4:10-12).
“Cosmos” may refer to the entire created universe or to the earth and the human race. Here in
11:15 the cosmos is that part of God’s creation that was contested by the forces of evil. At the
End in an open display of victory, God will openly claim all of his creation as his own, especially
the part that was contested. He is the Lord of all creation.

The Song of Celebration (11:16-18) p. 309
The cause of the celebration is God’s everlasting reign through Christ over his cosmos. The 24
elders continue the hymn. The 24 elders represent all the people of God from the OT and the NT,
the church universal. They praise him now because he has assumed the position of King.
When God takes his position as King, it means judgment for the pagan nations. This is why it is
designated as the 3rd woe. As Christians eternally worship God, unbelievers suffer their woe,
their eternal judgment (cf. 2 Thess. 1:6-7).
In “destroying the earth” (11:18), unbelievers participated with the devil in an attempt to usurp
the power of God. In the OT, the land of Israel was moved to vomit out the pagans because of
their depravity (Lev. 18:28; cf. Ezra 9:11). Because of their uncleanness God judged them. Here
it is the same.
As God takes back his reign, the pagans seethe with anger. But their fury at God for his
vindication of his people [and his repudiation of them] turns into a terrified fear, for the time has
come for the judgment of the living and the dead.

The Appearing of the Temple and the Ark (11:19) p. 310
After the judgment the heavenly temple is opened in plain view of all. God’s saints, now raised
in perfect righteousness (see 1 Cor. 15:52-55), see God’s glory and presence face to face (cf. 1
Jn. 3:2; Rev. 22:3-4). In the OT, the temple and the ark were symbols of God’s covenant presence
with his people. Here in 11:19 the promise of God’s saving mercy, as represented by the ark

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
[covered with the “mercy seat,” sprinkled with the blood of atonement], has come to its glorious
conclusion before his heavenly presence.
The lightning, noises, thunders, earthquake and large hail attend God’s holy presence (as at Mt.
Sinai) and are a majestic manifestation of God.

Excursus: The Missiology of Revelation p. 312
There are two purposes for Revelation. 1) Proclaims the exalted Christ. 2) Presents a theology of
the church and her mission.
Christ reigns in order for the church to carryout its mission. He reign in glory is for her comfort
and empowerment. All history is controlled by Christ for the church. The eternal destiny of the
human race depends upon its hearing and believing the message of Christ crucified and risen.
The entire book of Revelation can be interpreted in view of the mission of the church.

The Woman with Child and the Dragon (12:1-17) p. 317

Introduction to Revelation 12-14, an Interregnum p. 324
An interregnum is a pause. It is a pause between the 2nd and 3rd 7-fold visions. It is more than an
interlude (7:1-17; 10:1-11:14). In a lengthy pause, the portrayal of events on earth is suspended
in order to permit John to see a cosmic vision expounding events that overarch what he has been
seeing happening on earth. These chapters visually explain to John why events on earth are
The events of chapters 12-14 are cosmic, happening both above and on the earth. It is a war
between God and the prince of darkness, a war that takes place in the heavens and then drops
down to earth. This warfare between God and Lucifer is the source and cause of the warfare
between God’s people and the forces of evil. It explains the events on earth from the time of
Christ’s first advent until his second advent.
Ch. 12 presents the awesome scene of the woman with Child, the dragon’s attempt to destroy the
Child, the war in heaven which results in the dragon’s expulsion, and the dragon’s fury against
the woman and her offspring. The vision continues in ch. 13 with the two beasts conjured up by
the dragon for use in his warfare against the woman and her seed. The vision concludes in ch. 14
with scenes of victory and rejoicing over the judgment and overthrow of the evil forces of the

A Great Sign in Heaven: A Woman (12:1-2) p. 325
By calling the woman “a great sign” (12:1) it tells us that who she is and what she represents is
of great importance. The woman appeared “in heaven” indicating she is from God and is related
to his saving presence.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
She is clothed in the brilliance of Christ, but she herself does not shine like the sun. That is
reserved for the Son of Man (Rev. 1:6; cf. Mt. 17:2) and for the angel that represents him (Rev.
10:1, 11). Because she is clothed with Christ (the sun), she is enabled to stand in God’s presence.
While the sun indicates glory, the moon underneath her feet suggests dominion (because of its
position under her feet). She has dominion and authority as he carries out God’s mission (see
10:1; 11:1-13).
The woman wears a crown or wreath. The wreath was a reward for winning a contest. Her crown
has 12 stars. The 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of OT Israel before the child is born. After the
child is born and goes up to heaven, the 12 stars represent the 12 apostles, the NT church. So in
total the 12 stars represent all of God’s people from both the OT and the NT. Salvation is from
the Jews, but Christ came for the Gentiles too. His people, both Jews and Gentiles, are his crown
jewel, his prized possession in Christ.
The woman is glorified because she will bear a child who is the Messiah. Mary was highly
“favored of God” and God’s grace was on her (Lk. 1:28-30). Mary is blessed among women
because she would bear the Christ child (Lk. 1:31-33, 42). In Rev. 12:1-2 God’s favor for the
woman is shown in the glory of being clothed with the sun and a crown, and in the dominion of
her feet on the moon.
Mary is a model for the woman in Revelation 12:1-2. And both the woman and Mary represent
the church. The OT people of God gave birth to the child in their expectant faith. And the NT
people of God put their complete faith in the child who is their Savior, Christ the Lord.
The glory and authority given the church shows that she is the dominant earthly entity in
creation. All creation is governed for the benefit of the church, to increase it, to care for her, and
protect her while in her earthly pilgrimage.
There are three women in Revelation who play important roles. The woman in 12:1 illustrates
the church in her beauty and position before God. The harlot of 17:1-18:24 in her deceptive
beauty represents the anti-church, the archrival of the woman. The bride of the Lamb in 19:7-8,
who is the woman of 12:1, meets her husband, the Lord Christ at the End.

Another Sign in Heaven: A Dragon (12:3-4a) p. 328
“Another sign,” an important figure appears: “a great red dragon” (12:3). The dragon too is in
heaven [before God]. He has “7 heads,” “10 horns,” and “7 diadems” (12:3). The Lamb in 5:6
had 7 horns (all-powerful) and 7 eyes (all knowing, all present). 7 is God’s number. It represents
God’s 7-fold presence through his Holy Spirit (1:4; 3:1; cf. 1:20). In the OT the horn symbolized
earthly power (e.g., Deut. 33:17; Dan. 7:8, 24-25). The dragon deceptively claims all power and
knowledge and authority on earth. The number 10 means that he is the dominant power over any
other powers that exist. Of course all this is a lie (Jn. 8:44). The color of this liar is red, the color
of bloodshed and murder (see Rev. 6:4). Believing his lies bring death.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The dragon sweeps down with his tail “the third of the stars of heaven” and throws them “down
to earth” (12:4). Stars represent angels (1:20). In 9:1, the star that fell from heaven was the devil
(9:11; cf. Lk. 10:18). Here the dragon pulls down with him other angels in rebellion against God.
A third suggests not a majority, but a sizeable minority of angelic host.

The Dragon and the Child (12:4b-6) p. 329
The dragon waits for the child to be born so he can destroy him. At first, the focus of the dragon
is on the Child (Jesus Christ) and not the woman (the church). Only after the child escapes and
returns safely to heaven does he vent his anger on the woman (12:13).
Ancient mythologies have a number of stories of a woman with child who is pursued by a
dragon. Even though much is false in these myths, they do give evidence that ancient peoples
heard the truth of a woman whose child would deliver the human race from the forces of evil. Of
course the origin is the original promise God made to Adam and Eve that a Seed would crush the
serpent’s head (Gen. 3:14-15).
The woman gives “birth to a Son, a male Child” (12:5). This Child is the one who will be
“Shepherd” and “King” (Ps. 2). He will reign with an “iron rod.” The iron rod looks past Christ’s
hidden reign in grace to the future and his revealed reign in power and glory, when all opposition
to him will be shattered. He will begin his revealed reign at the End, at his return. In view of that
future reign, all peoples and kings are invited now to fear, love and have faith in him and escape
God’s future wrath (Ps. 2:11-12). That invitation is not extended to the dragon though [as his
eternal outcome has been decided].
Jesus was the good Shepherd who came to lay his life down for his sheep (Jn. 10:11-15; cf. Eze.
34:15-24). With his staff he shepherds, cares for his sheep. But also with his staff he has
authority to judge as he separates the sheep from the goats.
The Child is “snatched up to God and to his throne” (12:5). Here the life of Christ from
incarnation to ascension is compressed. John’s purpose is to emphasize the final outcome – the
dragon failed to kill the Child. The Child was victorious over the dragon. He is exalted and
enthroned, not the dragon.
The dragon tried to destroy the Child by using King Herod. But the Child was snatched away to
Egypt. Mt. 2:13-18 is a type of the final snatching at Christ’s ascension. In the desert and
throughout his life, the dragon attempted to destroy the Child, but he was unsuccessful.
After Christ ascended to God, “the woman fled into the wilderness” (Rev. 12:6). The woman
here typifies Israel. Once Israel received salvation by the lamb (Egypt) and went into the
wilderness where she was cared for by God. Then Mary had to flee to Egypt with the Child to
escape Herod’s murderous threats. There God kept them safe until they returned. Now the church
(the woman) has received salvation through the Lamb but does not immediately enter eternal
glory. Instead she, under God’s care, stays in the wilderness.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The time period of her stay in the wilderness was 1260 days. This was the same time period for
the 2 witnesses to carry out their mission. It is the same time period (“42 months”) in which the
church is trampled. It is the entire time from Christ’s ascension to Christ’s return.

War in Heaven (12:7-9) p. 332
That there should be war in heaven seems utterly out of place. Didn’t Christ come to bring
peace? Christ brought peace between God and man. But that peace is being contested and it is
contested in the heavenly realms by evil powers. Satan and his angels seek to sever the peace
between God and people achieved by Christ. This warfare is one where the dragon attempts to
displace the Christ Child, the victorious Lamb, in order to reestablish himself again in God’s
presence as the prince of angels who has dominion over humanity on earth and as one who has
authority to accuse people for their sins.
At the center of this war in heaven is Satan’s ability to stand in God’s presence and accuse the
saints of God (12:10). It’s a war of words. Satan claims that he, rather than Christ, speaks the
truth about God’s saints. If Satan’s accusations are validated in the heavenly court, then God’s
justice would cause him to deny his own people because of their sins. And for that to happen,
God would have to deny the claim of his own Son that he rightfully represents God’s people. But
the Lamb has earned that right and in the end Satan’s accusations are thrown out of court and he
is thrown out of heaven (12:8-10). This war took place when Christ ascended into heaven (see
5:1-14). There was no room for two opposing advocates, each claiming to be humanity’s rightful
representative. Since Satan’s accusations were false, at God’s command, he was thrown out of
heaven by Michael and the faithful angels. This took place at Christ’s coronation when he
ascended into heaven. After that the dragon could never again appear before God.
The “angel of the great council” (Is. 9:5, LXX) (the name of the holy child to be born) has come
back to take his place as the Lord of the “council of angels.” The devil could no longer claim that
Because of Christ’s victory in his death, resurrection, and ascension, Satan had to be thrown out.
Christ’s vicarious atonement and justification of the saints made Satan’s accusations a lie and an
offense to God’s justice in Christ. The slanderer was held in contempt of God’s court and “was
thrown out” (12:9).
The dragon is clearly identified as “the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan” (12:9).
Satan means adversary, enemy, or accuser. Devil means “slanderer” or “false accuser.” True to
his name, the devil “deceives the entire inhabited [world].” Having been thrown out of heaven,
he and the host of evil angels are now confined to the earth and its sphere.
When did this war and expulsion take place? At Jesus’ ascension, when he “was snatched up to
God and his throne.” Apparently before this Satan was free to stand before God and accuse
God’s people (for examples of this see Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5; Zech. 3:1-7). From the original
rebellion to Christ’s ascension, Satan was able to take his place in the council of angels before
God in heaven. But at Christ’s enthronement, Satan was banished forever from God’s presence
and his place in the heavenly court.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This war is not from the devil’s original rebellion, which happened before the Fall (Gen. 3:1).
The war and expulsion described in Rev. 12 happened as a result of Christ’s victory and
elevation. As a result of Jesus ministry Satan fell “like lightning from heaven” (Lk. 10:18). And
when Christ returns at the End, Satan and his fellow evil spirits will be cast forever into hell
(Rev. 20:10; cf. 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).

The Song of Victory (12:10-12a) p. 336
“A great voice in heaven” declares victory for God and his Christ. Most likely this great voice is
spoken by the 24 elders. They represent OT Israel and the NT church and for a long time they
had to suffer the accusations of the devil. But they now suffer no longer.
They shout because God’s salvation, power and kingdom are present realities and the devil can
no longer bring accusations against the saints (See Rom. 8:31-39).
The full authority of God’s Christ has come and is complete. While on earth Christ only partially
exercised his authority. Now at his ascension to the right hand of God and at the expulsion of the
devil his full power is seen. Because of his great authority and power, no enemy can stand
against him and his followers are exonerated for their faith in him (cf. Phil. 2:7-11).
The saints of God are not destroyed by his accusations. A Christian’s faith clings to the truth that
because of the blood of the Lamb, their sins are washed away. They know this truth because of
God’s Word of promise (cf. Jn. 17:15-17). The blood of the Lamb caused their acquittal. As a
result, they give witness to this truth. This truth is so precious that they are willing to witness
even unto death.
The “great voice” calls upon everyone in heaven to “break out in celebration” (12:12)! The
angels, the elders, and all the people of God are invited to praise God.

The Dragon and the Woman on Earth (12:12b-18) p. 338
According to the “great voice” the expulsion of the devil means woe to the earth and sea for he
has come down to them (12:12). Since he couldn’t overtake the Child, he instead goes after the
human race. And he knows his time is short to destroy God’s creation (12:12; the time of the
While he assails the whole human race (9:1-11), he especially goes after the woman (the church).
He goes after her because she gave birth to the Son and puts her trust in him and refuses to
worship the dragon. The woman is cared for and protected by God as she is given eagle’s wings.
This reminds us of Israel in the wilderness where the Lord carried Israel “on eagle’s wings” (Ex.
19:4). The woman (the church) like OT Israel is on a desert pilgrimage as the devil tries to hunt
her down. But God will protect and sustain her until she reaches the promised land – heaven.
Her time of fear and anxiety in the wilderness is “a time and times and half a time” (12:14). This
probably is equivalent to the “42 months” in 11:2 (trampling); the 1260 days in 11:3 (two

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
witnesses carry out the mission); and the 1260 days in 12:6 (woman in the desert). These all
represent the time between Christ’s first and second coming. A model and type for it is the
wilderness sojourn of Israel, 42 years from the first Passover to the entrance into the promised
land. During this time the dragon, here called “the serpent” (12:14-15), will tempt her to leave
the truth of Christ, as he successfully did to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-6), to be her own god.
Although the serpent is restrained, he causes the woman much pain. He tries to drown the
woman in “water like a river” (12:15). In danger of being overwhelmed by the flood of evil, she
cries out to God. This was also common in the OT (see, e.g., Pss. 18:4-5; 32:4-7) and God heard
their prayers and rescued them (Ps. 124:2-5; Is. 43:1-2; cf. Ps. 18:6). We also remember the
Jordan River (Jos. 3), the Red Sea (Ex. 14-15), and the flood (Gen. 6-9) where God protected his
The earth swallows the water. This reminds us of how the earth opened and swallowed Korah as
he and others rebelled against Moses (Num. 16:1-3, 28-34). By doing this God delivered the
faithful Israelites from the sin of apostasy. God will preserve the church by grace from the
onslaughts of evil.
Having been foiled, the dragon’s fury now focused on “the rest of her seed” (12:17). He couldn’t
destroy the Child or the woman, so he goes after the woman’s offspring, individual Christians,
“those who are keeping the commandments of God and who hold the witness of Jesus” (12:17).
The next stage in the dragon’s warfare against the children of the woman is to conjure up the
beast from the sea (13:1) and the beast of the earth (13:11).The two beasts under the control of
dragon will cause all the tribulations and sufferings that the church and her children will endure
throughout the prophetic period.

The Evil Forces of the Dragon: the Beast from the Sea and the Beast from
the Earth (Rev. 13:1-18)
The Beast of the Sea (13:1-10) p. 348
The Appearance of the Beast from the Sea p. 348

The first “beast” comes up “out of the sea” (13:1). “Beast” is also used in 11:7. There the beast
makes war on the two witnesses. That beast was Satan. Here the beast is not Satan, but is
identified with Satan; he is under Satan’s control.
As Satan arose from “the abyss” in 9:11 and 11:7, so this beast arises from “the sea,” which is the
place of chaos and evil on earth (OT). He has a sinister origin. Only God can control the fury of
the sea – as exhibited in Jesus’ stilling of the tempest (see Ps. 74:13; Mt. 8:26).
The beast comes from the tumultuous sea when the dragon calls it. Similarly Daniel saw 4 beasts
come up out of the raging sea (Dan. 7:2-3). The first beast has “10 horns and 7 heads” (13:1)
exactly like the dragon. The identifies the beast as an agent of the dragon. It also has diadems but
they are not upon the monster’s heads (as with the dragon), but are on its horns. The dragon is

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
the mastermind. He motivates the beasts. It is through the heads of the beast that the dragon will
motivate the beast to carryout his craftily devised schemes. The beast may think they are his own
but they’re not; they are implanted by the dragon.
The horns symbolize earthly power. Since he has 10 horns like the dragon, it will be the
dominant earthly power. Each horn is an individual authority. Its heads wear the title of
“blasphemy.” The heads of the beast (individual rulers) are directed by the dragon to blaspheme
God, to ridicule and mock God (see Mt. 12:31).
This beast appears to be a composite of the 4 beasts Daniel saw in Dan. 7:2-7. The 4th beast in
Daniel has 10 horns and an additional horn which supplanted 3 of the 10; all the horns represent
kings through whom the beast exercised his destructive power (Dan. 7:7, 24-25). The additional
horn would also war against the saints and (temporarily) defeat them (for “a time and times and
half a time” (Dan. 7:21, 25; cf. 11:36-45; 12:7, 11-12)). This horn also spoke arrogantly against
God (blasphemy??) (Dan. 7:8, 20, 25; cf. 11:36).
The beast in Rev. 13:1-2 is similar to the 4th beast of Daniel. John sees only 1 beast because the
other 3 had come and gone. The last beast would remain active for the hold period of times, a
“time, times and half a time” (Dan. 7:25) – the same period that the beast in Rev. 13:1-2 would
be active (42 months, 3 ½ figurative years). This 4th beast had come by the time of John, for
Jesus’ had ascended and the dragon had been cast out of heaven, which initiated the war against
the woman on earth (12:5, 7-9, 13). This warfare of the devil (using the beast) on the church
began at Jesus’ ascension and will continue until Christ comes again.
The beast John sees has the characteristics of a leopard, bear, and lion (13:2). Those same
animals are mentioned in Daniel, but in the opposite order. So through this one beast John looks
backward in time toward the first 3 beasts in Dan. 7.
One difference between this beast and the 4th beast in Daniel is the “7 heads” that John sees
(13:1). This is further evidence that the beast is a minion of the 7-headed dragon. (12:3).
The 4th beast is the Roman Empire for during this era comes “one like a Son of Man” who
establishes an eternal kingdom (Dan. 7:13-14, 18, 22, 27). The Son of Man is of course Jesus
Christ. He established God’s kingdom during the era of the Roman Empire.
Identification and Interpretation of the Beast from the Sea p. 352

In John’s day the beast of Rev. 13:1-2 was the Roman Empire. But it was also a type of the other
tyrannical powers that would arise in the future. The beast represents every human authority and
everything in human nature that the dragon can use in his warfare against the woman and her
seed. This includes: political, governmental, social, economic, philosophical, and educational
systems, as well as individuals. Satan will use any means possible anywhere in the world at any
time to destroy the church. The Roman Empire was so terrifying that it became the model for all
succeeding powers that oppose the church.
The Power and Authority of the Beast from the Sea p. 353

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The dragon gave the beast its authority and power. He is a tool of the dragon for waging war.
The head of the beast represents kings or rulers. The fact that one head was killed shows that
these rulers don’t live forever. Many human powers are represented by the beast and used by
A head that was healed may refer to someone like Caligula or Nero who were “dead” but rose
back to power. Or it may refer to someone the people wished would come back.
The dragon and the beast are worshipped. Roman emperors were worshipped as if they were
gods. Whenever one worships a person or state or puts their trust in them instead of God, one
actually worships the dragon who encourages idolatry. Even if one opposes the dragon, one can
not stand up to him. Christians don’t worship him but suffer at his hands as they obey God and
not the men that the dragon controls. As she suffers and is killed, she turns the other cheek (Mt.
5:39; cf. Ro. 13:1-10) because she is not called to wage an earthly war, but a spiritual war (Eph.
The beast goes after the church. He sets out to destroy her. Throughout the time of the church,
she will be isolated and tormented. But the church will not perish for the names of God’s people
are indelibly written in the book of life; their names cannot be removed (13:8).
Comfort for the Saints p. 357

The names of God’s people are written in his heart and mind and no one can pluck them out of
his or the Lamb’s hand (Jn. 10:28-30). It is called the Lamb’s book of life (13:8) because of the
Lamb and his victory (Rev. 5:5, 9; 7:3, 14). These names were written in the book before “the
foundation of the world” (17:8). It was before then that the Lamb of God, the Messiah, was
chosen to be the slain and risen Savior of God’s people.
“If anyone has ears, let him listen” (13:9) was also Jesus’ admonition (e.g., Mt. 11:15; 13:9, 43).
The question of who is given ears that hear is bound up in the mystery of the doctrine of election
(Mt. 13:10-17). Earlier in Rev. the churches were called to hear that they might repent (chs. 2
and 3). Here the admonition is for the purpose of instilling patience and faith (13:9-10). Their
sufferings will be short and are derived from God’s permissive will (13:7). Therefore Christians
are not to resist their “persecutors” (13:10). No human can stand against the beast. The woman is
destined to suffer the warfare of the beast. The Christian suffers patiently in faith. It is in such
trials that the faith of the Christian shines forth to the world. As it says in 11:7-13, God uses their
persecution for the sake of the church’s gospel mission. The church entrusts herself to God’s care
and trusts that in his own time he will mete out justice upon her foes.
The Beast from the Earth (13:11-18) p. 357
The second beast comes “up out of the earth” (13:11). The first beast forced its tyrannical rule on
people. The second wins people’s confidence and leads them astray.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This monster has 2 horns like a lamb (13:11), but he speaks like the dragon. So he appears to be
the Christ but in reality is a false Christ (cf. 2Cor. 11:13-14). While the first beast represents
every political, social, economic, and educational tyranny (in short the “political beast”), the
beast from the earth represents religious tyranny (the “religious beast”).
This beast is the “false prophet” of Rev. 16:13; 19:20; and 20:10 and is also the harlot of Rev. 1718. At first the beast represents all false religions and gross idolatry (“the false prophet”), but
then it develops and evolves into a more deadly form, the apostate church (“the harlot”), the
Antichrist (see 1 Jn. 4:1-3).
Activities of the Beast from the Earth p. 358

The beast of the sea is the dragon’s prime agent in his war against the woman. The beast of the
earth is a spiritual power that aids the beast of the sea in its effort to destroy the church. The
second beast acts with and under the authority of the political beast. Political powers die out and
new ones arise (died and return to life, Rev. 13:12). The state uses religion to legitimize itself.
This was obvious with Rome and Germany. But this happens all the time. Political and social
structures call on religion to boost themselves in the eyes of the people.
The beast of the earth is capable of producing “great signs” (13:13) in support of the political
beast. The word “signs” suggests miraculous activities or psuedo-miracles. Miraculous signs
accompanied the true church. But false prophets produce psuedo-miracles in order to try and
validate their spiritual authority. God allowed Elijah to call down fire from heaven to prove his
authority and the heresy and idolatry of the priests of Baal (1 Ki. 18:36-40; see also 2 Ki. 1:1014; cf. Rev. 11:5). In a similar way this beast calls down fire to prove his spiritual power and
Many people are deceived “by the signs” (13:14) of the beast. Few can resist the worship of the
state or human powers when religious powers sanction them.
The religious beast is given the ability to give breath to the image so that it can speak. And if one
did not heed its speech and worship it, the penalty was death.
Magic, spiritism, and witchcraft were common in John’s day. The dragon uses the beasts to try
and deceive all people but especially Christians (1Jn. 4:1-3). The world’s religious system aligns
themselves with the secular powers in an effort to destroy the church. As the church resists, she
will pay the price.
The Mark of the Beast from the Earth p. 361

The religious beast marks or brands those under his control. They are identified as his property,
his slaves. Some people in Roman times got tattoos to show their devotion to a particular god.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
This “mark” may not be visible. As the mark of baptism is not visible, so neither may Satan’s. As
in baptism the Christian is marked with the sign of the cross on the forehead, so Satan marks his
own people on the forehead (3:16). This means that one’s mind and intelligence belong to the
one who the seal represents.
Seals also protect. God’s people are protected from being destroyed by the dragon and his beasts
(see 7:1-3; 9:4). OT precedent is set in the Passover and in Eze. 9:3-6. The beast’s followers are
protected too by the beast. Their seal may also be on their “right hand” (Rev. 13:16) signifying
what they do has been sanctioned by the beast. Christians do not have such a mark and therefore
may have difficulty in transacting earthly affairs; they will be persecuted. [Of course the great
reversal says that followers of the beast will have difficulty transacting business in the spiritual,
heavenly realm.]
The mark is identified with the name or the number of the name of the beast. The practice of
assigning a number to a name is called gematria.
The Number of the Beast p. 362

This number is perplexing to us, but apparently it wasn’t to John (13:18). How does one figure it
out? Through wisdom and intelligence (13:18). Possibly those with the gift of gematria could
figure it out. Or possibly it takes a special spiritual gift to figure it out. This wisdom that John
speaks of is the knowledge of Jesus Christ which is given by the Holy Spirit.
The number of the beast “is a human number” (13:18). It is expressed in human language and it
represents human life. Man was created on the 6th day (Gen. 1:26-31). 6 represents humanity just
as 7 represents God. 666 may represent a particular person
If Nero is the person then he is a type or model. He is not the final fulfillment. He was an
example of what the beasts represent: all anti-Christian forces. What the number 666 signifies is
the unholy trinity of the dragon (Rev. 12), the beast of the sea (13:1-10), and the religious beast
of the earth (13:11-18). Each digit refers to one entity.
If 777 was used it would apply to the holy Trinity. The evil trinity (666) always falls short of the
holy Trinity. The wisdom referred to in 13:18 is from God and enables Christians to see that evil
forces, both secular and religious, are always at war trying to destroy the church and her witness.
This wisdom is graciously given by God to all of his people in Christ.

The Conquering Lamb and the Victory Song of the Saints (Rev. 14:1-5) p.
The Lamb and the Saints on Mount Zion (14:1) p. 367
This is John’s second vision of the Lamb. In 5:6 he saw the Lamb exalted, as he alone could
receive and open the 7-sealed scroll.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Now John sees the Lamb on Mt. Zion leading the 144,000. The 144,000 (the church on earth, the
church militant), although defeated by the dragon and the 2 beasts (13:7, 15), ultimately have the
Mt. Zion is the place where the temple and its sacrificial altar once stood. This was a place
associated with divine deliverance. And now this Lamb comes there to deliver God’s people
from the dragon and 2 beasts. This scene signals the beginning of the end of this present world,
which is pictured in 14:14-20 as a harvest.
The 144,000 (the church militant in 7:1-8) is about to join the church triumphant in heaven. The
seal that they bore in battle is now identified as the names of the Lamb and the Father (14:1). The
church has stood with Christ in faith and now she stands with him as he is about to judge her
enemies. The prayers of the saints (6:9-11) before the incense altar are about to be answered. The
church militant will be delivered from its tribulation and the saints on earth will join the church
triumphant in heaven.
The Saints and Their New Song (14:2-5) p. 368
The Lamb and the 144,000 hear “a voice from heaven” (14:2). Since the voice comes from
before God’s throne and before the 4 winged creatures and the elders (14:2), it is the voice of the
church triumphant. As they sing this “new song,” the 144,000, who represent the church on earth,
hear the song and learn it (14:3). Only those who have been “purchased” by the blood of the
Lamb (cf. 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:8, 9) can learn it.
In our worship on earth we begin to learn and sing and join in the hymns of our glorified brothers
and sisters in Christ. As the Preface says, the entire church in heaven and on earth worships God
(“With angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your
glorious name, evermore praising you and saying …”).
They were singing a “new song” (14:3). The author believes the “new song” is the same song
that began in 5:9, the Great De Teum. It is new to the 144,000 (the Christians still on earth). As
saints are added in heaven, they learn what is for them a “new song.” (See Ps. 96:1-2 for a song
celebrating the salvation of Yahweh (cf. Pss. 98:1; 144:9-11); see also Ps. 33:2-3 and Ps. 40:3.)
The new song is accompanied by harp-like sounds. The volume of the harps is like the roaring of
rushing waters and loud thunder crashes. In 14:1-3 all the saints in heaven and the church on
earth (144,000) sing the song.
The 144,000 are identified as “[male] virgins” (masculine Greek), who “were not made unclean
with women” (14:4). Scripture often portrays the church as a pure virgin bride. The church is
made up of sinners but they have been washed and cleansed by him (Eph. 5:25-27); she is holy
to her Lord. In the OT sexual abstinence was required when dealing with things consecrated to
God (1 Sam. 21:5; cf. 2 Sam. 11:9-13, also Ex. 19:15). In the NT, Paul says that those he
converted had been pledged to Christ as a virgin bride betrothed to her husband (2 Cor. 11:2;

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Eph. 5:25-27). Therefore the 144,000 “virgins” are all those on earth who have been redeemed,
washed and pledged to Christ.
Why are the virgins male? Many times God’s people are described using the female gender, but
there are times where the male gender is used to represent the church (Israel, Jacob, Judah, and
some of Jesus’ parables [Lk 15:11-32; Mt. 20:1-6]). Because the 144,000 is the church militant,
God’s army in war, the male gender is appropriate. In the ancient world armies were almost
entirely composed of men, virgin men consecrated for battle (cf. Deut. 20:7; 24:5; 1 Sam. 21:5; 2
Sam. 11:9-13; Lk. 18:28-30).
The 144,000 follow the Lamb (14:4). Following the Lord Christ begins at his invitation (Mt.
4:18-22; 11:28; Jn. 15:16). Christians follow their Lord no matter when he calls and where he
goes (e.g., Gen. 12:1; Heb. 11:8-10). And finally the follower is called into the presence of God
(Jn. 14:1-4).
The 144,000 were “purchased” “as a firstfruit for God and for the Lamb” (14:4). In the OT
firstfruits were a thanksgiving offering to God of the first of the harvest (Ex. 23:19; 34:22, 26;
Lev. 21:1-16; 23:9-14; Deut. 26:1-15). The saints on earth are therefore an offering to God.
Christians offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God (Ro. 12:1). It places at God’s disposal
one’s whole being.
The 144,000 are also described as ones who are pure and speak the truth (14:5). In the OT
speaking the truth was important for God’s prophets and people. It demonstrated the truthfulness
of Yahweh, the only true and faithful God (see Zech. 3:13, 17). God himself and his Word are
truthful and blameless (Ps. 18:30 (Mt. 18:31); cf. Jn. 17:17; Heb. 6:18). The Suffering Servant
was not deceitful (Is. 53: 7-9; Jn. 8:40, 45-46). In contrast is the devil who is the father of all lies.
Christians speak the truth. They are not tainted by lies (14:5). They stand unblemished witnesses
to the truth because of the blood of Christ and stand in sharp contrast to the “perverse” and
“depraved” people of this sinful world (Phil. 2:15).

Excursus: 144,000 p. 373
144,000 in Revelation is a numerical symbol of the church militant (7:4; 14:1-3). According to
7:4-8 the number results from 12,000 each from the 12 tribes of Israel, but there is no tradition
for 12,000. However, in Num. 31:4-6 Moses chose 1,000 fighting men from each of the 12 tribes
for a total of 12,000.
While a smaller number other than 12,000 could have been used (1000 (Num. 31:5), the much
larger number (12,000) from each tribe symbolizes the entire number of the people of God on
earth, the church militant.
Looking within Revelation,
 12 represents the people of God (4:4; Rev. 12; 21:9-17).
 12 squared = 144 (21:9-17 where area = 12,000 x 12,000 = 144,000,000 square stadia and
the city wall measures 144 cubits).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

1000 is used only once in Revelation (20:1-6). It is the time that the church has to
complete its mission and the time that Satan is bound and cast into the abyss. In the OT,
1,000 is the number for perfection or completeness.
Thus, 144,000 = 12x12x1000.

So 12 represents the church patterned after the 12 patriarchs and patterned after the 12 apostles.
144 represents God’s people as his dwelling place. 1000 represents the whole period during
which the NT church has to carry out its mission of witness. Therefore 144,000 represents the
church militant – God’s dwelling place here on earth, built on the foundation of the 12 apostles
(Eph. 2:20), the heirs of the 12 patriarchs of Israel. And time allotted for the church to finish her
mission is symbolized by the 1000 years, the NT era.

The Defeat of the Dragon and the Beasts Announced (Rev. 14:6-13) p. 376
3 angels announce the judgment of God. Each of the 3 angels is “another angel,” a different
angel from the 7 trumpet-angels [and different from each other].
The “Eternal Gospel” (14:6-7) p. 380
At first the proclaiming of the Gospel and the announcement of judgment (14:7) seems
incongruous. But besides announcing judgment (Law), it also calls and invites worship of God
(Gospel). The surrounding context is explicitly Christological. 14:1-5 depicts the victorious
Lamb in the victory song of the saints. The judgment will occur at Christ’s second coming,
which is also the final deliverance of God’s people from the dragon and beasts (19:1-6). The goal
in proclaiming the “eternal Gospel” is the repentance and salvation of all people. Thus the
“eternal Gospel” is both judgment and grace based on the person and saving work of Christ
The purpose of proclaiming the “eternal Gospel” is to move people to “fear God” and “give to
him glory” and to “worship him” in view of his coming judgment (14:7). Fear of Yahweh, the
beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10), is learned from his Word (Deut. 4:10) and is an essential part
of contrition over sin and repentance (Acts 2:37). Glory is given to God in and through Jesus
Christ (Jn. 17:5, 22-24; cf. 13:31-32). In particular, God is glorified when people come to him
and thank him in Jesus’ name (Jn. 14:13-14; 15:7-8; Acts 4:21-22; 11:17-18). God’s exalted Son
is God’s glory (Acts 7:55). To worship God as the Creator is the end result of fearful repentance
and giving glory to God through the redemption of Christ. The heavenly hosts worship God as
their Creator (Rev. 4:8-11). The saints do the same as a result of the victory of the Lamb (5:9-14;
1:5-6; 4:11). For the end purpose of God’s redemption is to restore his creatures so that they may
recognize and worship him as their God and Creator (Rev. 3:14; 11:15; 21:1, 5-7; cf. Ro. 8:1825).
The Fall of Babylon (14:8) p. 382

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The second angel announces the judgment of Babylon (14:8). This first appearance of Babylon is
sudden and unexplained. John must be assuming that the audience knows who he is referring to.
In Revelation Babylon is always the name for the evil enemies of Christ’s church on earth.
Babylon is the symbol of the 2 beasts (both political and religious) in Rev. 17-18, but now (in
Rev. 14) it represents the harlot and a single beast, both of which carry out Satan’s plan.
While the number 666 represents the religious dimension of the 2 beasts, Babylon symbolizes
the social political dimension of the 2 beasts. This is why the first beast (political and social) is
the beast that the harlot rides. Therefore Babylon is a symbol of the 2 enemies in their most
deadly form: when the harlot sits on the beast, that is, when false religious entities, and in
particular apostate Christianity, attempt to use or work with the existing political and social
powers to destroy the church of Christ. For John, Rome was the epitome of the enemy of the
church. Rome became a type of all the future enemies of God’s people and is called “Babylon.”
Fire and Brimstone (14:9-11) p. 383
The third angel announces God’s judgment on anyone who worships the beast and has the mark
of allegiance on his forehead or hand (14:9). All the followers of the political beast are to be
judged at the End and “will be tormented in fire and brimstone” (14:10).
Eternal suffering is God’s anger meted out as undiluted wine (14:10), that is, anger not tempered
with any mercy. Those who follow the beast will be shown no mercy. Wine is a metaphor for the
judgment of God. In Jer. 25:15-16 the nations are to drink the cup of God’s wrath (cf. also Is.
The torment of “fire and brimstone” (14:10) will last forever; there will be no relief “day or
night” (14:11; cf. Lk. 16:22-24). The judgment will be witnessed by the “holy angels and the
Lamb” (14:10). The exalted Christ will oversee the judgment of God as the heavenly angels
observe it.
The Patient Endurance of the Saints (14:12) p. 384
As the saints continue their warfare and suffering they wait in patience for God to avenge their
blood (cf. 6:9-11). They do not execute justice. Elsewhere in Revelation, their patient endurance
in faith is equated to wisdom (from God) (Rev. 13:18; 17:9). Through such wisdom the Christian
can interpret events in view of the end time judgment (James 1:2-5). This wisdom tells them that
despite being defeated by the beasts on earth (Rev. 13:7), they will be victorious as they follow
the Lamb (15:2-4; cf. 1 Jn. 5:4-5).
The saints keep God’s commandments and have faith in Jesus (14:12). In Jn. 10:17-18 it is the
Father’s commandment that Jesus lay down his life and take it up again. To those who follow
him, Jesus gives “eternal life” (Jn. 12:50). The faithfulness of Jesus is the cause of the believer’s
faith in Jesus (14:12 and in Ro. 3:22, 26). In temptation and persecution Christians cling to

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Christ. Moreover, they persist in Christian love, the “new” commandment Jesus speaks of (Jn.
A Blessing (14:13) p. 385
After the 3 announcements of God’s judgment by the 3 angels (14:6-12), John hears “a voice
from heaven” which speaks a blessing to all “who are dying in the Lord” (14:13). The voice is
from heaven and therefore speaks of God’s blessing on his people. The Holy Spirit also affirms it
(14:13b). While Christians do suffer and die for their faith, they also have a certain hope of
eternal rest. This is the second of 7 beatitudes in Revelation. In contrast to the “eternal torment”
of unbelievers (14:9-12), believers have eternal comfort and rest because they die in the Lord.
Those who are blessed because of their dying in Christ, “receive rest from their labors” (14:13).
During life on earth they heard Jesus’ gracious invitation, “Come unto be all who are laboring
and who are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). In dying for the Lord, this
promised rest becomes a reality. They will have rest while their enemies never rest. Instead they
have eternal torment (14:11).
Those entering rest are accompanied by their works (14:13). The persecutors of the saints are
never separated from their sin and guilt (cf. M. 25:41-46). But the saints are separated from their
sin and guilt but not from their godly works. God will not forget what they have endured in
loyalty to the faith.

The Son of Man and the Harvest at the End (14:14-20) p. 387
The Appearing of the Son of Man (14:14) p. 388
The scene of the harvest at the End begins with the Son of Man on a cloud. This scene concludes
the interregnum (12:1-14:20), the war between God and the dragon, and between the beasts and
the church. It culminates with the great harvest, which is the judgment of God. The One “like the
Son of Man” (14:14) is the same person as in 1:13. This phrase also recalls the glorious
appearance of the Lord Christ at the transfiguration (Mt. 17:2l; cf. Rev. 1:16).
Clouds often signify God’s presence. Jesus ascended into heaven in the clouds (Acts 1:9-10) and
he and Scripture said that he, the Son of Man, would return on the clouds (Mt. 24:30; 26:64;
Dan. 7:13; Rev. 1:1-18). In the OT God was present and spoke to his people from the cloud (Ex.
19:9; 24:15-18; 34:5-7). God spoke from the cloud at Jesus’ transfiguration (Mt. 17:5).
The cloud in 14:14 is white. In Ps. 97:2 a cloud and deep darkness surrounded God in his
majesty, suggesting the inscrutable mystery of God. The whiteness of the cloud may signify the
righteousness of God in judgment (Rev. 20:11) and particularly the righteousness of Christ. In Is.
11:4-5 the Branch of Jesse would judge with righteousness. In Rev. 19:11, in Revelation’s second
vision of the Parousia, the Son of Man “in righteousness judges and wages war” and rides a
“white horse.”

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Son of Man wears “a golden crown” (14:14). Once before he wore a crown, a “thorny
crown,” which mocked him (Mk. 15:17). A crown of mockery has been replaced by a crown of a
conquering victor (see also Rev. 19:11-16).
With a “sharp sickle” (14:14) he comes to reap and gather the End time harvest in righteous
retribution. A sickle is used to cut the grain. As it is cut, weeds are also cut. But then the grain is
separated and the weeds are put into the fire (see Mt. 13:24-30).
Reap the Harvest (14:15-16) p. 390
The moment for the harvest to begin is signaled by the voice of “another angel.” The angel
instructs “the One sitting on the cloud” to begin the harvest (14:15). This seems rather strange for
an angel to command the exalted Lord Christ. But the angel is a messenger of God the Father.
The command to begin the harvest comes from the Father. The harvest and judgment are
executed by the exalted Christ because he won that right by his death and resurrection (see e.g.,
Jn. 5:19-23; 12:31-33). But he does them under the authority of the Father and it is the Father
who determines the exact hour that it will be carried out (see Mk. 13:32; cf. Acts 1:7).
A similar command to “send out [the] sickle” was made in Joel 4:12-13. In Joel the command
initiated the harvest and the trampling of the grapes as God was seated to judge all the nations.
“And the One sitting on the cloud cast his sickle into the earth” (14:16) to execute the judgment
of God. Jesus may have attendants (see Mt. 13:24-27), but he who suffered the judgment of God
for the sin the entire human race, is alone worthy to judge.
In both the OT and NT the harvest is a symbol for the judgment of God. When he judges he has
either condemnation or compassion. From Christ’s first advent to the End is the harvest season.
During this period the church takes every opportunity to increase the harvest. The church’s work
is not done until she hears that final call to send forth his sickle.
Get in the Vintage (14:17-20) p. 391
Now, the picture changes. The grain harvest (14:14-16) symbolized the ingathering of believers
and unbelievers, but in 14:17-20 the harvest is only the unbelievers, those who worshipped the
beast and its image (14:9-11). In the judgment, the vintage will be trampled and their blood will
provide the wine of the cup of God’s wrath. In 14:9-10 unbelievers will drink from the cup. In
14:17-20, their blood fills the cup of wrath.
While Christ metes out mercy to his saints, he delegates to an angel the task of separating the
unbelievers from the believers, preparing them for the terrifying judgment of God (cf. Mt.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
An angel “from the incense altar” who has “authority over fire” (14:18) gives the command to
begin reaping. This maybe the same angel who introduced the 7 trumpet angels of the 2nd 7-fold
vision of events on earth (8:6-11:19).
The prayers of God’s martyrs (symbolized by the incense that rises) for vindication (6:9-11) are
now answered. Those prayers were partially answered by the natural and demonic plagues on the
human race and in particular on those who were not sealed. The beginning of those plagues was
signaled by the angel of the incense altar (8:3-5). Now the same angel signals the final judgment.
God’s judgment was carried out when “the winepress was trampled underfoot” (14:20). This
judgment takes place “outside the city” (14:20). (The city is most likely Jerusalem, the holy city,
which symbolizes the church on earth.) Pagans once trampled the holy city, but now the pagan
nations are trampled. God’s Son was “trampled” outside the city (Heb. 13:12) by God’s judgment
for the sins of the world. Isaiah saw one person take the vengeance of God’s wrath (Is. 63:1-6).
There it was Edom (the enemies of Israel) who received punishment. Edom rejoiced over the
destruction of Jerusalem (Obad. 8-14), but now the tables are turned as “Edom” (all the enemies
of God’s people) is made to drink the cup of God’s wrath (Obad. 15-16).
How bad was God’s judgment? The blood was up to the bridles of the horses for 184 miles (1600
furlongs, Rev. 14:20). This is beyond our comprehension.
What does 1600 mean and how is it derived? Possibly 4 (corners of the earth) squared times 10
(completeness) squared. However it is derived, it is a number of completeness. This number
along with the depth of blood points symbolically to the completeness of God’s judgment.

Preparation for the Last Plagues: Introduction of the Seven Censer Angels
(Rev. 15:1-8) p. 395
The Third Sevenfold Vision of Events on Earth p. 398
Chs. 15 and 16 are the third and last vision of the events on earth. It has 7 scenes, like the first
two earthly visions (6:1-8:5 and 8:6-11:19). Each scene is introduced by an angel with a censer.
The first 5 scenes of the third vision (16:1-11) take place concurrently. They occur from Christ’s
first advent up to Armageddon. The 6th scene (16:12-16) describes the last battle (Armageddon)
which occurs just prior to the end of the present world at Christ’s second return. The 7th scene is
the End at the second coming of Christ (16:17-21).
A Sign in Heaven (15:1a) p. 398
This is the 3rd sign in heaven that John saw (see also woman with Child in 12:1 and the dragon in
12:3). Initially the 7 angels with 7 plagues are the “sign.” But one may also think of the whole
vision as a sign.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

The Seven Censer-Angels and Their Task (15:1) p. 399
Who are these 7 censer-angels? They could be the 7 angels of the 7 churches (Rev. 2-3) and the 7
trumpet-angels. But if they are, there is no definite article. But the absence of the article doesn’t
rule them out either. They could be so well known that a definite article isn’t needed. Because
John does not use the modifier of “another,” the author believes them to be the same 7 angels
that appeared twice earlier.
The purpose of the 3rd earthly vision (15:1-16:21) is similar to that of the 2nd vision (8:611:19), namely, to show God’s wrath against the enemies of his church. Who could better
announce these judgments than the 7 angels of the 7 churches?
The task of these 7 angels is a godly one. They represent the last great effort of God to
move the human race to repentance before it’s too late.
A Vision of the Battlefield (15:2) p. 400
The battlefield John sees is like “a glassy sea mixed with fire” (15:2). John probably remembers
the “glassy sea, like crystal” in 4:6. There it reminded that the saints in heaven were at rest and
had peace from their warfare. Here it is mixed with fire. Fire represented warfare and suffering.
God’s people suffer and even die, but they will come out of the struggle victorious just as their
Lord did (19:15; cf. Is. 63:1-6). So throughout the time of the church, the church exhibits
victorious faith by confidently singing the hymn of salvation, even as she goes into death.
The beast and idol have already been mentioned in Rev. 13. The number of the beast was 666
(13:18) and it represented the unholy trinity.
The church is defeated by the beast (11:7; 13:7). Yet the church is victorious. The victory is not
apparent on earth except by faith. It will be fully exhibited at the End for all to see (see 19:1-10;
20:11-15; cf. 7:9-17). Confident of victory even in defeat, the church voices her faith in a song of
victory-even as she goes into death.
The Victory Song (15:3-4) p. 401
Her song is first called “the song of Moses” (15:3). This was the song that was sung after the
great deliverance of the Israelites at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:19-31). It is a song of thanksgiving to
God for salvation (Ex. 15:1-21). That act of deliverance pointed forward to the deliverance that
Jesus Christ would work.
The “new song” in 14:3 celebrated the final deliverance at the End. But this song celebrates
deliverance from the enemy at any time. This song is also called “the hymn of the Lamb” (15:3).
It joins the OT church (“the song of Moses”) with the NT church (“the hymn of the Lamb”) in

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
one grand unity. The Lord is always delivering his church in times of trouble and death so she
can continue to witness. The church is always being defeated and always being delivered and she
always (while on earth) sings this song of salvation and thanksgiving until she reaches her final
destination. Then she will sing a “new song” (14:3).
The song glorifies God as the Lord and Judge of the nations. The hymn is taken from the OT (see
Ps. 111:2-3). It praises the righteousness of God (Ps. 111:3; cf. Ex. 34:10; Ps. 139:13-15). His
name is praised (see Amos 4:13; Mal. 1:11; Ps. 86:9; cf. Ps. 102:15).
Not only is Yahweh’s name feared because he is holy and his works are marvelous, but also his
actions are “righteous and true” (Rev. 15:3) (see Deut. 32:4 and Ps. 145:17).
The Lord’s “righteous judgments” are displayed (15:4). His righteousness is what motivated his
“righteous judgments” which are revealed in Christ. His righteousness is the standard for human
kind as it is expressed in the Torah (OT teaching, revelation, Law and Gospel). So Paul in Ro.
2:26 speaks of the righteous requirements of the Law. Mankind cannot fulfill them, but God has
done it himself in Christ for all people. He has fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law in
“Righteous judgments” here refers to those actions by which God shows his anger at the sins of
all people who refuse his gracious invitation to his mercy in Christ. They are followers of the
beast and enemies of his saints on earth. These judgments will be poured out in the form of
plagues from the 7 censer-angels (16:1-21). The purpose of these righteous judgments is to move
the unbelieving world to repentance before it’s too late (16:9, 11).
These righteous judgments not only vindicate the faith of the saints but confirm their witness. In
the midst of these judgments God’s people witness to Christ that people may be moved to fear
and glorify his name (15:4).
The Tabernacle and the Censers (15:5-8) p. 404
“The sanctuary of the tabernacle of the testimony” (15:5) refers to the tabernacle, the tent of
witness, the place where God dwelled with his people in their wilderness wanderings after their
exodus from Egypt (Ex. 25:8-9; 40:34-38). It was sometimes called “the tent of testimony”
because it contained the “testimony” of the Law in the Holy of Holies (Ex. 40:20-21). It was also
called “the tent of meeting” because God spoke to Moses there and the people would gather there
to hear Moses speak God’s testimony to them.
As the tabernacle was the focal point of Israel’s life with God, so God’s holy presence is the
center and core of the life of the saints in his heavenly glory. The earthly tabernacle was a type of
the heavenly one, which Christ entered as high priest with his own blood as the ransom for the
sins of God’s people (Heb. 9:11-12). As God was with Israel and protecting Israel in the
wilderness, so God is with his saints on earth with his “righteous actions” (15:4) protecting his
church and judging her enemies. These plagues come from the presence of God and express his

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
unalterable opposition to sin. And his opposition to sin is witnessed to by the “testimony” of
God’s Law.
The 7 angels with the 7 plagues of God’s righteous judgments come from the opened tabernacle,
from God’s holy presence. They are clothed in “shining linen” (15:6). They are his servants who
shine from his holiness. The “golden cinctures” (15:6) (belts) indicate royalty. In Rev. 1:13 the
Son of Man is girded with a “golden sash” around his chest. The 7 angels, clothed in God’s
holiness, act on behalf of God and his Christ.
One of the 4 winged creatures gave the 7 angels the “seven golden censers filled with the fury of
God” (15:7; cf. Is. 6:6; Eze. 2:9). The 7 censers do not originate with the angels. They contain
the anger of God. The angles are merely dispensers. Besides here, only the 24 elders in
Revelation hold censers and they are full of incense. That incense is associated with the prayers
of the saints which petition God to judge those who persecuted them. The prayers were answered
in 8:1-11:19 and now again in 16:1-21.
Smoke filled the sanctuary after they received the censers (15:8). In the OT smoke was part of
the Divine Presence. For instance God descended on Mt. Sinai in fire and smoke and spoke to
Moses (Ex. 19:18-20; cf. 40:34). When Yahweh of hosts appeared to Isaiah, the temple shook
violently as smoke filled it. And so here the smoke indicates the awesome and terrifying presence
of God as the 7 angels stand ready to pour out his anger and fury upon the earth.
“No one was able to enter into the sanctuary until the 7 plagues of the 7 angels were finished”
(15:8). In the OT Moses could not enter the tabernacle as long as God’s glory rested in it (Ex.
40:34-35; cf. 1Ki. 8:10-11). As no one could penetrate the thick smoke of God’s holy presence at
the OT tabernacle, so here no can penetrate God’s righteous actions until they are complete at the
End. God’s just actions are concealed from humankind until the Lord comes again.

The First Five Censers of God’s Wrath (Rev. 16:1-11) p. 407

A Great Voice from the Temple (16:1) p.408
Whose voice is it in 16:1? Since it comes from the temple where God’s holy presence (filled with
smoke) prevents anyone from entering, it is probably God’s voice. The “great voice” comes from
God and commands the angels to pour out the censers filled with God’s wrath.
The 7 plagues are similar to the 10 plagues on Egypt (Ex. 7:14-11:9) and the calamites that the
trumpet angels introduced (Rev. 8:6-9:21; 11:15-19). In all three cases God’s purpose was to
move hardened hearts to repentance.
While some of the plagues are similar, the emphasis is on the intensification of the judgments.
Through these plagues God warns of the seriousness of his judgment at the End. In previous
plagues only 1/3 was affected. In these plagues all are affected. The message is: repent for no one
can escape the final judgment.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
In 8:1-5 the trumpet-angels acted on behalf of God at the behest of the saints (prayers). The
censer-angels act on behalf of God and at his direct command and at his initiative (not primarily
in response to prayer).

The First Three Plagues (16:2-4) p. 409
The 1st plague strikes those who worship the beast and its image and bear its mark (16:2). It is
described as “painful sores” (16:2) and is reminiscent of the plague of boils that struck Egypt
(Ex. 9:8-12). While the plague of boils in Egypt was for a short time, this plague of sores is for
the entire time from Christ’s first coming to his second coming. These sores may be painful,
repulsive or stink (see Job 2:7-9). Not all people at all times will be plagued by them. In general,
the plagues will grow worse as the time of Christ’s return draws near, even as the 10 plagues on
the Egyptians grew worse before the exodus.
The 2nd plague strikes the seas so they become “blood as from a corpse” (16:3). While not
striking the human race, this plague kills all life in the sea. The 1st plague in Egypt turned the
waters of the Nile into blood (Ex. 7:19-21). As a result the fish died and it stunk. In Rev. 8:8-9
1/3 of the seas became blood and 1/3 of the fish died. How exactly this takes place is left to the
imagination. For example, the sea is part of the food chain and its cycles evaporate water and
provide rain water. As we get closer to the End, more and more seas will be plagued. [And the
results of this plague are inescapable.]
In the 3rd plague the rivers and bodies of fresh water also become blood (16:4). In 8:10-11 1/3 of
the rivers and springs became unfit to drink. Here all fresh water is plagued. It’s hard to imagine
how this is possible. It is suggested that at any given time during the time of the church that the
waters will become increasingly affected at places around the world so that life cannot survive
there. As with the seas, the closer to the End, the more fresh water supplies will become
unhealthy and many people will die. Whole regions of the earth will become uninhabitable.

A Response (16:5-7) p. 411
Between the 3rd and 4th plagues John hears “the angel of the waters” (16:5). Apparently this angel
had some responsibility for the oversight and care of the waters (as Judaism taught?).
In the angel’s cry of worship, the angel acknowledges the justness of God pouring out his anger
similar to the song of the earthly saints in 15:3-4, where they acknowledged that God was
righteous and just in declaring his punishing judgments on their enemies.
The angel confesses that God, “the One Who Is and Who Was, the Holy One,” is “righteous” in
so judging the human race. The name given is an explanatory form of the name of Yahweh. The
full name includes the One “Who Is Coming.” It is probably absent because he is no longer the
Coming One because the angel realizes that these are the last plagues which are the final set of
warnings which illustrate and inaugurate the final judgment at the End.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Yahweh is right in judging the enemies of the saints because they have shed the blood of his
“saints and prophets” (16:6). They will be punished in the same way that they persecuted the
“saints and prophets” (cf. Mt. 7:2). This is a righteous judgment.
An angel from the incense altar speaks an “amen” to the angel of water’s cry of worship. Being
connected to the incense altar, this voice speaks for the saints and their prayers. God is indeed
righteous in his judgments.

The Fourth and Fifth Plagues (16:8-11) p. 413
In the 2nd vision, the 4th scene, 1/3 of the sun was struck (8:12). In this, the 4th scene of the 3rd
vision, people are burned with extreme heat from the sun. It is the opposite of the plague of
darkness (8:12). But in both cases part of the created order is disrupted so that human kind is
One can only imagine how this might take place (one might remember the dust bowl of the
When people suffer in this way under God’s judgment, people blaspheme the name of God and
do not repent. They either express hatred toward God or ascribe their suffering to fate, random
chance, or a false god or religion (idolatry describes all of this). They do not have the wisdom to
see that God is doing it for their eternal well-being. Instead they blaspheme God and his name –
the only name by which mankind can be saved (Acts 4:12; cf. Phil 2:10-11).
This describes humanity as a whole. It does not mean that none will repent and believe in the
true God. It also generally describes unbelievers. Believers too will suffer, but they will do so
penitently. Most people however will mock God and not repent. They will harden their hearts
[like Pharaoh did].
The 5th angel pours his censer on the throne of the beast and darkens his kingdom. Since they
will not repent, God strikes the object of their worship and allegiance. This will occur at various
places and times throughout the whole period of Revelation in an effort by God to warn people to
turn away from the beast and turn instead to him, the only true God and Savior of the human race
(cf. 18:4-5).
Those in the beast’s kingdom are struck, but they do not repent. “They blasphemed the God of
heaven” (16:11).

The Sixth Censer of God’s Wrath: Armageddon (16:12-16) p. 415

The Sixth Scene (16:12) p. 416

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The scene of the 6th censer-angel (16:12-16) is parallel to the 6th scene of the trumpet-angel
(9:13-21): the last battle between the forces of evil and the church. The devil’s war against the
church continues throughout the entire NT period, but culminates in one last great battle before
the End at Christ’s return. In the 6th trumpet-angel a host of evil forces are gathered at the
Euphrates River. They will be let loose at a particular time just before the End. Here in 16:12-16,
John receives a second view of the last battle, but in greater detail. A third view will be given in
20:7-10 when the forces of God and Magog (the devil’s forces) are destroyed.
Since God strikes the Euphrates River (9:14) where John previously saw the evil host gathered ,
it suggests that God will use the occasion of this last battle to judge and destroy the enemies of
his saints on earth (cf. 20:8-9). This defeat will be followed by their eternal punishment in hell
The “great river” is dried up (16:12) to prepare the way for the evil hosts from the east to invade.
This is reminiscent of the drying up of the Red Sea for the Israelite escape and for the Egyptian
army to follow in pursuit (Ex. 14:21-31). Through it, the army was destroyed. Rev. 16:12 also
fulfills the prophecy of Is. 11:15 where God promised an even greater exodus.
The enemies of ancient Israel often came from the “east”, from Mesopotamia. At the time of
John the Parthians were a constant threat in the east. John may have remembered that Cyrus
captured Babylon by marching across the dry river bed of the Euphrates.
The phrase “from the rising of the sun” (16:12) reminds one of the east. And again the great
enemy to the east for Israel was Babylon. It was Babylon who destroyed Judah and took her into
captivity. What is being suggested then is 6:12 is that another and greater enemy will come at the
church in one last battle and attempt to destroy her.
The sun can be used as a metaphor for God and his blessings because he gives life. His Messiah
(“the Sun of righteousness”) is described in this way also (Mal. 4:2). In a deceptive way the
enemy of God’s people comes from the east, “from the rising of the sun” (16:12), but instead of
bring life and healing, it brings torment and death. But God’s people will not be deceived and
they will be protected from the deceptive enemy by God.
The Unholy Trinity (16:13) p. 419
The power behind the kings is “the dragon … the beast …and …the false prophet” (16:13). This
is the same unholy trinity as in Rev. 12-13 (symbolized by the number 666). The dragon is Satan
himself. He attempts to destroy the male Child (Jesus Christ), the woman (the church), and the
offspring of the woman (Christians) (12:13-17). “The beast” (16:13) is the “beast of the sea”
And then there is “the false prophet.” This is the first time that the “false prophet” is mentioned.
It appears as if the “beast of the earth” (13:11) is here called “the false prophet.” This becomes

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
certain when one compares 13:13-14 with 19:20. Later in Rev. 17 this third part of the unholy
trinity is called the harlot. So the dragon and first beast remain the same throughout Revelation.
But the beast of the earth is also described as “the false prophet” and the harlot.
The dragon is the mastermind. And he uses the beast and the false prophet (the beast from the
earth) to deceive the people of the earth in his warfare against the church (12:13-13:1). The beast
from the earth was called the religious beast by this commentary. That designation is made
clearer when it is referred to as “the false prophet.”
The unholy trinity powers its human hosts. It does so by means of “unclean spirits like frogs”
(16:13). In the synoptic gospels a person possessed by unclean spirits act at times as if he is one
with the demons; he is under their control. That they are likened to frogs maybe due to the fact
that in Lev. 11:9-11 (cf. 11:41) all creatures living in water without fins and scales are considered
unclean and unfit for human consumption. John would also remember the plague of frogs in
Egypt (Ex. 8:1-15). Like the frogs that covered everything in Egypt (Ex. 8:3-4), so this host
under demonic influence will cover the entire earth.
The Unclean Spirits Gather Kings for Battle (16:14) p. 421
In Mt. 24:6, 13-14, 23-28 Jesus warned that false messiahs and false prophets would produce
“signs” before the End that would deceive many. Here the kings are deceived by the “signs” of
the demons. Rev. 20:9 makes clear this deception and the war it provokes is against God’s saints
and against his beloved city. The war takes place on “the great day of God, the Almighty”
(16:14), the day in which God will reckon with the ungodly nations. In the OT it talks of such a
day and of how terrifying it will be (e.g., Eze. 38-39; Joel 2:11; cf. Zeph. 1:14; Joel 3:2). All
previous persecution and destruction will pale in comparison.
A Word from the Lord Christ (16:15) p. 422
John hears a voice speaking in the first person, “Behold, I am coming as a thief” (16:15). This is
the voice of the Lord Christ. In 3:1 he said, “I am coming quickly.” In 3:3 he says, “I will come
as a thief.” In Mt. 24:36-44 and 1 Thess. 5:2 the thief imagery is also used.
While Christ’s sudden coming is a warning to be prepared, for Christians it is also a promise of
hope (3:11). This is why Revelation concludes with the promise, “Yes, I am coming quickly,”
and John’s response is, “Amen, come now, Lord Jesus” (22:20). Here (16:15) it is attached to a
beatitude. The Christian is encouraged to watch and guard his garments, the clothes washed in
the blood of Christ (7:9, 13-14), the garment of righteousness that all those baptized into Christ
wear (Gal. 3:27; Eph. 5:26; Col. 2:12; 3:10; cf. Acts 2:38). It encourages Christians to remain
faithful even in the fearful days of the last battle before the End. Fear could cause one to
surrender and forfeit his garment and stand “naked” in one’s “shame” (16:15) (see also Rev.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
3:18). But mostly this is a word of hope. The battle will be over soon and victory will extend
throughout eternity.
Armageddon (16:16) p. 423
The enemy hosts are gathered at Armageddon, which is used as a symbol for the last battle.
Megiddo was a place that offered fresh water, forage, and space. Armies could and did deploy
themselves there (see Judg. 4:14-24 and 2 Ki. 23:29-30; 2 Ki. 9:27; 2 Ki. 9:23-29). As mountains
have often witnessed great events, so the mountain of Megiddo would witness the final battle on
the great day of the Lord.
Armageddon is therefore not a geographical place but a terrifying metaphor for war that will
cover the entire earth (see 20:9). The enemy’s intent will be to destroy God’s people (20:9; cf.
Eze. 38:7-16). But the enemy will not prevail (Rev. 16:19; 20:9-10).

The Seventh Censer of God’s Wrath: The End (16:17-21) p. 424
The Seventh Censer (16:17) p. 425
When the 7th plague is poured out, “a great voice” from “the throne” within the temple is heard
(16:17). This seems to be the voice of God. In 21:6 God is explicitly named as the speaker. There
he used a similar phrase, “It has come into being.” The voice shouts out that this is the End.
“It is completed”; all preparation for the End has been accomplished. Now comes the End itself.
This is John’s 4th view of the End (6:12-17 is 1st vision-terror; 11:15-19 is 2nd vision – joy; 14:1420 is Interregnum – great harlot; 16:17-21 is 3rd vision – terror).
The 7th plague is poured out “upon the air” (16:17). This affects the entire atmosphere of the
earth. Obviously all people need air to breathe. 16:18-21 describes the results of the “air” being
The phrase, “It is completed” (16:17) refers not only to the 7th plague, but to everything, all 7
plagues. During the first 6 plagues God gave time and reason to repent. But now, with the 7th
plague, all is complete. The End is here. It’s time for the final judgment. When Jesus said, “It is
finished” (Jn. 19:30) from the cross, it signaled the end of Jesus’ suffering and all that was
necessary for new life. So here it is the end of the time of repentance and mercy. The Judgment
has come and begun.
Theophany and Judgment (16:18-21) p. 427

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The voice is accompanied by phenomena similar to when God descended and spoke on Mt.
Sinai: lightning, thunder and shaking (Ex. 19:16-20). When these storm-like phenomena occur in
Revelation in the heavenly sphere of God’s presence (4:5), the “earthquake” is not present. But
when God’s actions of judgment strike the earth (8:5; 11:19), the earthquake is the result. Since
the earthquake happens here, this means that God is now present to execute his judgment of the
human race (at Sinai, God was Lawgiver and Judge). But this earthquake is much larger than all
the rest. It portends the enormity of God’s final reckoning in the judgment at the End.
As God’s judgments strike “the cities of the pagan nations fell” (16:19). “Babylon the great” is
singled out in particular. At the End, all civilization and culture comes to an end. For John, Rome
was the “Babylon the great” of his time. Babylon was a type of all human institutions which
were under the dragon’s influence. As Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and brought
about Israel’s captivity, so she is a type of all the enemies of God’s people. Rome’s destruction of
the temple and its persecution of Christians became a type of all future enemies of Christ and the
church. Rome was the modern Babylon.
That “the great city was broken up into three parts” (16:19) indicates the totality of its
destruction. (See Eze. 5:2, 12 where unfaithful Israel is divided into three parts, each of which
would die because of God’s judgment.) In Rev. 11:12, only “a tenth of the city fell” because of
an “earthquake.” Here the entire city was demolished. It was sudden, total and left no time to
Not only were the pagan cities destroyed, so also was the topography leveled (islands and
mountains, 16:20). As it was figuratively at Christ’s first coming (Lk. 3:5, quoting Is. 40:4), so it
will be at his second coming. Exactly how the earth will be altered is not known. The old will go
away to make room for the new (Rev. 21:1-22:5).
As the earth is shaken and destroyed, so humans are destroyed by gigantic hail stones. There is
no escaping God’s judgment (whether the size of the hail is real or metaphorical). God
sometimes used hail in the OT to punish the enemies of his people. The imagery is similar to
what Ezekiel saw when God destroyed Gog and his evil host just before the End (Eze. 38:18-23).
Despite all the evidence furnished by God’s plagues, the enemies of his saints do not repent.
Even to the very End there is no change of heart. Their allegiance to the dragon is so unshaken
that they blaspheme God (16:21).

The Judgment of the Harlot (Rev. 17:1-8) p. 421
The Final Vision of the End (17:1-22:5) p. 434
This fifth, lengthy vision of the End summarizes and concludes all that John has seen in the four
previous visions. It concludes the entire prophetic message of Revelation.
First he sees the destruction of the two henchmen of the dragon, the beast and harlot (also called
Babylon) (17:1-18, 24). John then sees the victory celebration of the Lord Christ and his second

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
coming (Rev. 19). Then comes a prophetic picture of the judgment and overthrow of the dragon
himself (20:1-10). This is depicted in two scenes, the millennium and Gog and Magog (20:1-6;
20:7-10). In 20:11-15 John receives a glimpse of the resurrection of the dead and the final
judgment of the human race. Lastly he sees a glorious picture of the new heaven and new earth
The Vision of the Harlot (17:1-6) p. 435
The Great Harlot Sitting on Many Waters Controls the Nations (17:1-2) p. 435

One of the censer-angels invites John to see “the judgment of the great harlot” (17:1). How
appropriate that one of the 7 angels, who are the angels of the church, who mediated the message
of revelation, would now show John the judgment and overthrow of the enemy which causes the
church to suffer and show him the heavenly Jerusalem, the church at rest with God forever.
This is the first time that the enemy of the church is called “the great harlot” (17:1). In 17:7 she
rides the beast “which has the seven heads and the ten horns.” This beast is clearly the same
beast from the sea in 13:1 (“ten horns and seven heads”). In 13:11-18 another beast arises which
plagues the church. This beast imitated Christ (two horns like the lamb) but spoke for Satan
(speaks like the dragon). This beast was also called “the false prophet” (16:13; 19:20; 20:10) and
now the second beast is called “the great harlot” (17:1).
The beast of the sea remains “the beast” throughout Revelation. But the second beast, the beast
from the earth, changes guise and form.
The first beast with 7 heads and 10 horns represents all human elements (society, government,
economies) that the dragon uses against the church (this is the political beast). The lamb-like
beast on the other hand stands for every spiritual and religious entity that the dragon uses against
the church (the religious beast). It evolves and develops from all false religions into the apostate
church. It changes from all religions into a psuedo, false Christianity, its most deadly form.
In Rev. 17, the use of “harlot” is reminiscent of God’s complaint against his people Israel for
their idolatry, which was represented by sexual immorality (Hosea). In contrast, Israel’s call to
worship the one true God included a call to sexual purity (e.g., Ex. 20:14; Lev. 18; 20:10-24).
Not just the idol-worship of the pagans nations, but especially the unfaithfulness of the Israelites
was portrayed as idolatrous harlotry (see Is. 1:21-23). So the harlot represented the false people
of God, those who outwardly claimed to be a part of the church but who inwardly were
spiritually apostate.
The harlot, the psuedo-church is presented as an attractive alternative to the woman of Rev. 12
who is the bride of the Lamb (the true church) in 19:7. While the woman who bore the child is
hunted down and assaulted (12:13-18), the harlot is honored by the world (17:2, 4; 18:3). Both
women are set forth as representatives of the church. One is true and the other false. The harlot is
accepted by the world because she encourages the lifestyles of the ungodly. Her time is now, but
later she will be judged (cf. 18:1-2, 5-6). The other woman is despised and rejected as she

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
denounces the world and its ungodliness. But in the End she will be raised up as the bride of the
Lamb, the Son, Jesus Christ (19:6-8; cf. 11:11-12).
The harlot “sits upon many waters” (17:1; see Jeremiah’s prophecy against Babylon, the city of
many waters, in Jer. 51:1-64). According to 17:15 the “waters” symbolize “the peoples and
crowds and nations and tongues” over which she holds sway. In Rev. 17 and 18 Babylon upon
the “many waters” (17:1) is to be judged by God.
The kings of the earth (and their people) commit adultery with her and she exercises influence
over them because they have become drunk on the wine of her immorality (17:2). In the OT
adulterous behavior was equated to idolatry as Israel was enticed by the pagan nations that
surrounded them. Here people and nations are enticed by false religions, committing spiritual
adultery as they desert the one true God.
John Is Taken to the Desert and Shown the Harlot (17:3a)

It is the Spirit that carries John into the desert. This is the third time John is caught up into “the
Spirit” (17:3a) (see 1:10 (John’s commission); 4:2 (throne of God); 17:3 (harlot’s judgment)).
John is mystically made not only to see the scene but also to experience it. (See also 2 Cor. 12:14 and Eze. 8:3; 11:24).
In 17:1 the harlot sits “upon many waters” (nations under her control). In 17:3 she sits upon a
beast in “a desert.” In 12:6, 14 the woman “fled into the wilderness.” There the wilderness
experience of the Israelites reminds of and symbolizes the wilderness-like experience of the
church, a pilgrimage in which she can survive only if God sustains her. While in 12:13-18 the
dragon pursues the woman in the desert, here the harlot is stationed in the desert. Why? The
harlot pretends she is the church and in her immoral deceptiveness she pulls people away from
the true church of Christ. But God provides comfort for his desert pilgrims. They “will find grace
in the desert” (Jer. 31:2).
The imagery of a desolate desert may also symbolize the end of the harlot. For the woman, in
chapter 12, the desert typifies earthly life, but not the end of her life. Her journey will end in
heavenly glory. Jeremiah prophesied of Babylon’s ruin which is symbolized by “the desert” (cf.
Is. 13:21; Jer. 50:12; 51:43), the place where no one can live. So the harlot and beast will face the
judgment of God in total desolation.
The beast is “scarlet” and has “7 heads and 10 horns” (17:3), which clearly identify this beast
with the beast of the sea (13:1). The dragon himself originally had the “7 heads and 10 horns”
(12:3). But he delegated his wisdom and power to the beast from the sea. The dragon claimed all
spiritual wisdom and supreme power and dominion over human affairs. Now Satan’s deceptive
claims are the boast of the beast.
The Harlot Sits on a Scarlet Beast (17:3b) p. 440

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“Scarlet” is the color of the magnificence of Rome and it is the color of the harlot (17:4). That
the beast is red indicates that the harlot dominates it and that it acts on her behalf magnifying her
Since the woman rides the beast, the beast serves the purposes of the harlot. At other times the
relationship is reversed. Sometimes the two are equal. And at times they fight among themselves
(the dragon cannot completely control them). Near the End the beast turns upon the harlot to
destroy her (17:16), most likely as part of God’s judgment on her.
The Beast is “Full of the Names of Blasphemy” (17:3c) p. 441

Not just the beast’s head bore “names of blasphemy” (13:1), but its entire body is covered with
such names (17:3). In John’s time the beast was Rome as it reeked of blasphemous emperor
worship. Throughout the NT era the political beast (like Rome) will carry out and sponsor a
program of idolatry to deceive the people on earth as the dragon wars against the church of
The Harlot Is Sumptuously Dressed (17:4a) p. 442

The color and jewels that the harlot is dressed in were seen in Rome as the luxury, splendor and
dominion of Rome over kings and nations, a lifestyle that she drew them into.
The Harlot Holds a Cup of Abominable Things (17:4b) p. 442

It symbolizes all the evil influences she has over the people she rules (cf. Jer. 51:17). She is very
successful in enticing kings and their people to drink from her cup, inebriating themselves with
wealth and sensual immoral lifestyles (cf. Rev. 18:3, 9, 11, 15), presenting them as godly and
The Mystery of the Harlot’s Name (17:5) p. 442

The woman is “Babylon the great.” It is written on her forehead (17:5). As ancient Babylon was
the enemy of God’s people and defeated them and took them into exile so this new Babylon
seeks to do the same to God’s NT people. She wishes to make war, destroy them and carry them
into the bondage of her immoralities.
The name “Babylon the great” is called a “mystery” (17:5), something that can be known only
by special revelation. God makes her known to Christians. The mystery is made known to John
in 17:7. Only Christians know that she is not the true church, that she is in fact the harlot.
The Harlot Is in a Drunken Stupor (17:6) p. 444

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The harlot is drunk “from the blood of the saints” (17:6). This is not a one-time event for the
harlot. This is her lifestyle. This is her diet. “Saints” and “witnesses” describe the same people.
All saints are witnesses. She drinks the blood of those who sacrificed their lives witnessing the
John marvels at the harlot. He may be in awe of her appearance or her drunken stupor or her
power or her lifestyle.

The Angel’s Explanation (17:7-14)
During John’s time the woman and beast represent Rome and her empire. But the religious
power (harlot) and the political power (beast) as represented by Rome are merely types of all
enemies of God’s saints throughout the NT.

The Beast (17:7-8) p. 445
The angel sees John’s amazement and begins to explain the mystery. The angel starts with the
beast. It was the same beast as the beast from the sea (7 heads and 10 horns). He further
describes the beast as the one who “was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss, and
it goes away into destruction” (13:8).
Either one of its heads or his whole being has been resuscitated (13:3; cf. 13:12, 14) and people
are awestruck by it. The beast and what it represents comes and goes until Christ returns. It
disappears from one disguise and shows up in another. Human “-isms” (institutions) come and
go. Satan uses them as he needs them and abandons them when he’s done.
The abyss is the abode and place of origin of all demons (9:1-6) and of their leader, “the angel of
the abyss” (9:11), Satan.
At the End Satan and his two partners will be thrown into the “lake of fire,” the abyss. Thus the
abyss is both the place of origin and the prison of the beast. Satan is successful now in the world,
but in the End he will fail to destroy the church and will be destroyed. In the mean time, the
unbelieving world will be amazed at how it has the ability to resuscitate itself. But if not repented
of, this amazement leads to eternal ruin (see 13:8; 14:9-10; cf. 18:4).

The Beast’s Seven Heads (17:9a) p 447
As “wisdom” was needed in 18:18 to figure out the number of the beast, 666, so here “wisdom”
is needed to figure out that the 7 heads represent 7 hills, which represent Rome, “the city of 7
hills.” Knowing that doesn’t seem to take much wisdom. But it might take special wisdom to
make the connection between Babylon and Rome, and that the 7 heads and hills point to 7 kings,
and to understand which kings. But more likely, it means that it will take special wisdom to
understand what all this means for the saints of God (past and present) in their earthly
pilgrimage. Only God can grant such wisdom (James 1:5-6; Prov. 2:1-6; cf. Job 12:13).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Seven Kings Plus One (17:9b-11) p. 447
Throughout the centuries many attempts have been made to identify the kings. Usually, but not
always, the kings are matched with Roman emperors. But looking at specific kings is looking for
the wrong solution.
The 7 kings are types for all earthly powers and rulers who claim spiritual authority by which
they justify their despotic dominion over their subjects, especially as it opposes the church.
Rome was especially such a type with imperial power along with spiritual and divine-like
authority of its emperors.
That the beast itself is the 8th king might best be understood as a summary statement. Kings come
and go, but the real power behind them is the beast. Therefore Rome itself is the 8th king. Its
power goes on throughout the centuries through various countries and kings, who rule with an
iron fist and who claim religious authority.
For John, the beast was Rome, but it was a type of all future powers that would persecute the
church. It represents all earthly powers that exercise tyrannical authority under the pretense of
divine sanction. These powers come and go and change appearance and will continue until, in
God’s judgment, it is destroyed at the End.

The Ten Horns Will Wage War Against the Lamb (17:12-14) p. 450
The “10 horns” represent “10 kings who did not yet receive a kingdom” (17:12). How do the 7
kings represented by the 7 heads relate to the 10 kings? 7 is the number for divine authority and
the head is the seat of wisdom. The 7 kings rule with divine sanction and wisdom. 10 horns
represent total earthly power without a claim to divine authority. They are not therefore Roman
emperors. They must be other lesser kings who are dependent upon the ruling emperor, such as
the Herodian kings were dependent upon Rome.
The 10 kings represent all earthly rulers throughout the NT era who obtain and maintain their
rule through unadulterated power. They are legitimate only because they have the power. The
beast then, with its 7 heads and 10 horns, symbolizes all earthly powers of whatever sort
(religious or not) which are under the influence of the dragon (Satan) in his warfare with the
followers of Christ (see 12:13-18; 13:1, 11). This is the beast upon which the harlot sits and is
called “Babylon the great”.
The 10 kings “act with one mind” giving “their power and authority to the beast” (17:13). They
support the goal of the beast, which is to destroy the church. But in waging war against the
church, they actually “wage war with the Lamb” (17:14), for the conflict has always been
between the dragon (Satan) and God. The cross was the climax of the war, for there the Lamb
won the victory (Jn. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18-21; Rev. 5:5-10). For when he was lifted up on the cross,
“the prince of this cosmos was cast out” (Jn. 12:31-32). At Christ’s ascension Michael and his
angels made war against the dragon and he was thrown out of God’s heavenly presence (12:9).
Kicked out of heaven, unable to destroy the child (Christ), and no longer able to stand before

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
God and mock the saints, he took his anger out on the woman (the church) and her seed
(individual Christians). He set out to war against the church of Christ on earth (Rev. 12:13-18).
When the war shifted to this earth, the dragon enlisted the help of allies: the political beast (7
heads and 10 horns, 13:1-10) and the religious beast (666, 13:11-18). The warfare’s purpose is to
shame and belittle God and his Christ. The Lamb is the Champion and Defender of the church.
He meets Satan’s challenge not like a lamb being led to slaughter in weakness, but as the
almighty God, who is King of kings and Lord of lords (17:14). His “called and chosen and
faithful ones” (17:14) always face the enemy with the conquering Lamb before them. The Lamb
won victory by the cross and resurrection and always stands between the forces of evil and his
witnesses in order to keep his saints safe and to finally deliver them (cf. 14:1-5; 15:2-4).
It is as “the Lord of lords and King of kings” that the Son of Man will come in judgment at the
End (19:11-16).Even though Satan was defeated at the cross, he continues his warfare against the
saints. Finally, at the Lord’s return, he will be totally defeated, never to rise up again to threaten
God’s people.
The Ultimate Demise of the Harlot (17:15-18) p. 452
Having explained the woman and the beast, the angel tells John how the woman will be
destroyed. The waters upon which the woman is sitting are “peoples and crowds and nations and
tongues” (17:15). This grouping stresses the universality of the human race. She seeks to
dominate all of humanity. At John’s time, the Roman Empire was made up of people from all
over world. Imperial Rome dominated people of all classes and races. It was a picture of what
the beast always seeks to do. It also seems to include God’s people, for when Babylon’s
judgment comes, God calls his people out of her midst (18:4). (That calling, parallels the call of
Abraham out of Ur [Gen. 12:1-3] and the calls of the exiles out from historical Babylon [Jer.
In 17:1-14 John sees the awesome and fearful description of the harlot’s beast’s immoral reign.
But then the angel tells John of the harlot’s destruction. The one who dominates the people of the
earth (many waters) will be judged.
Rev. 17:15-18 is a brief and partial description of her judgment. It serves as an introduction of a
more detailed account in chapter 18. Here it tells that the beast with the 10 horns turns on the
woman under God’s sovereign motivating power. The ruling earthly powers had been cohorts
with the woman, but now they become agents of God against her. God has a plan on how he will
tear her apart and bring about her total destruction. These verses (17:15-18) reveal the beginning
of this plan.
It is interesting to note that the beast turns to “hate the harlot” with the 10 horns and not with its
7 heads. The loss of her ruling powers, which are under the pretense of divine sanction, is
brought about by brute force of the 10 kings (17:12).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
When they turn on the woman in hatred, they will shame her, eat her, and burn her (17:16). This
grisly description is reminiscent of God’s judgment on the 2 adulterous sisters in Ezekiel, which
represent Israel and Judah (Eze. 23:1-34). In God’s judgment their former lovers of the sisters
turn on them and rip them apart. A similar thing happens here. As her former her former
associate in immorality rips her apart.
The beasts act this way because God has them carry out his will. God once again uses the powers
of evil to carry out his purposes. As God did with Babylon of old (brought it to ruin by other
pagan nations), so he does with the forces of evil at the End. In the end all powers of wickedness
serve God’s ultimate purpose: the salvation of his people. And this happens according to “the
words of God” (17:17) which were spoken by his prophets.
Ancient Babylon and imperial Rome dominated “the kings of the earth” (17:18). There will
always be such magnificent and depraved mistresses which are under the dragon’s (Satan’s)
control for the purpose of warring against the woman and her seed, the church (12:17). But all
such “mistresses” will be brought to total destruction in God’s judgment on behalf of his saints

The Fall of Babylon and the Rejoicing of the Saints (18:1-24) p. 456
The Final Judgment of the Harlot (18:1-8) p. 462
The first words of ch. 18, “after these things” is a formula in Revelation for connecting two
sections. But it can, as in this case, be used to move the subject at hand to its final conclusion. In
this case it points John to expect the conclusion of what he has just seen, the final judgment of
the harlot.
In this scene John sees “another angel,” not the angel attending John (a censer-angel). This angel
has “great authority” and his presence lights up the entire earth “by his glory” (18:1).
This angel is like the angel of Rev. 10 in his authority, in his voice, in his glory, in his coming out
of God’s presence. Because of these similarities, he may be the same angel of Rev. 10. The
angels in Rev. 10 and 18 stand in for God and his Christ. They are God’s heralds, announcing the
mission of the church (ch. 10) and the final judgment of the enemies of the church (ch. 18).
In the OT, the angel of God’s presence is described in Is. 63:9 as having been sent to save Israel
in her sufferings and redeem Israel from Egypt. This is a reference to Ex. 14:19 where “the angel
of God” moves between the Israelites and the Egyptians to protect God’s people and deliver
them from the Egyptian army. The movement of the angel corresponds with the movement of the
pillar of cloud, which is the presence of Yahweh himself (Ex. 14:24). Is. 63:9 evidently joins
together “the angel of God” in Ex. 14:19 and God’s “presence” in Ex. 33:14-16 and thus coins
the concept of “the angel of God’s presence.”

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The angel “cried out in a mighty voice” (18:2), a voice like that of God. The word “mighty” in
scripture (outside Revelation) is never used of angels, but only of God. He cried out that Babylon
had fallen. Rome (John’s Babylon) would not fall during John’s lifetime, but it would surely
come to pass. Though a “Babylon” will always afflict Christians in this life, they know the
certainty of her overthrow.
Babylon’s judgment would turn her from a house of wealth and pleasure (Rev. 17:4; 18:11018) to
a house of destitution full “of demons and …of every unclean spirit … and hated beast” (18:2).
Isaiah (13:19-22) prophesied that ancient Babylon, once a jewel, would be destroyed and become
a dwelling place of jackals and hyenas (cf. Jer. 50:39-40). As happened to old Babylon, so it
would also happen to the harlot and beast, Babylon the great, at the End.
The harlot’s devastation would be so complete, that it would be devoid of human life. Only
scavengers such as the “unclean birds” and the “unclean and hated beasts” are left.
The reason for her judgment is her immorality and luxurious and sensual living (18:3). The
nations bought in to her deceptive piety.
Two groups are affected especially by the spiritual and powerful dominance of Babylon: the
political rulers and the mercantile class. These two classes were empowered and made wealthy
by the harlot and beast.
John hears “another voice from heaven” calling God’s people to come out of Babylon so they
would not “participate in her sins” and suffer “from her plagues” (18:4). The voice is not
identified. But since the voice refers to “my people,” the speaker is God himself or an angel
speaking on his behalf. The first person, possessive language points to God the Father being the
speaker. And yet, based on 18:5, it seems that it certainly is not the voice of God the Father.
Could the source be Jesus Christ? Whatever the source, the speaker speaks for God.
God’s people are urged to come out of Babylon lest they perish with her in their sins (18:4). This
is similar to Isaiah and Jeremiah calling God’s people to come out of Babylon to escape
destruction (Is. 48:20; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 45). Moses warned the people to get away from the tents
of Dathan and Abiram, lest they be swept away with them (Num. 16:25-27). Jesus warned his
followers to flee when the abomination of desolation stood in the temple (Mk. 13:14-16). Paul
warns Christians not to be in fellowship with unbelievers in their pagan idolatry and lifestyle (2
Cor. 6:14-17; Is. 52:11; cf. Eph. 5:6-11). At all times God’s people are to not associate with those
who deny the truth of Jesus Christ. God’s judgments for Babylon are near.
The sins of the apostate church, Babylon, are so great they reached God (18:5). Sodom and
Gomorrah and ancient Babylon’s sins also reached God (Gen. 18:21-22 and Jer. 51:9). And as
God destroyed them, so he would destroy the harlot.
Her punishment would be that she would be forced to drink from the poisonous dregs she mixed
for others and it would be a double portion (18:6).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Who is to pay her back twice? Not God’s people, for vengeance is the Lord’s (Heb. 10:30). God
would use the beast (political powers) and the forces of nature to carry out his justice. The angels
might participate also (see censer-angles [9:4; 16:10]). Whoever administers this justice, she will
be made to drink from the “cup which she mixed” which has now become the cup of God’s
wrath (cf. Eze. 23:32-34).
As much as she glorified herself as queen, she would receive “torture and grief” (18:7). Ancient
Babylon also boasted that she would last forever as an eternal queen and would never be a
widow (Is. 47: 7-8). The same was true for Rome. Yet God destroyed both, and likewise he will
destroy the harlot.
Suddenly plagues would come upon her, “death and mourning and famine” (18:8) and she would
be consumed by fire (18:8) (see Jer. 51:25, 30, 32, 58 for the destruction of ancient Babylon and
see cf. Eze. 23:25-31 for the destruction of the apostate church by fire and see Rev. 19:11-16
where at the End “the beast” and “the false prophet” will be thrown into “the lake of fire”
“One day” emphasizes the suddenness of the harlot’s destruction. “One day” could also refer to
the day called “that day” (e.g., Is. 27:1-2), for on “that day” Almighty Yahweh will judge her
(Rev. 18:8). At the End God himself will be the harlot’s judge and executioner.
The Lament Over Fallen Babylon (18:9-19) p. 470
Political rulers (18:9-10), merchants (18:11-17a), and mariners (18:17b-19) mourn over the
destruction of Babylon. They mourn not only her end, but they mourn over the end of their own
luxurious and sensual livelihood. They depended on her. Her end will be their end.
This dirge is similar to that which is voiced in Eze. 27:1-36, the lament over the judgment and
destruction of the city of Tyre. Kings (Eze. 27:35; cf. 2615-11), mariners (Eze. 27:29), and
merchants (Eze. 27:36) mourn for the queen of commerce.
The kings of the earth who committed sensual immorality with her stand at a distance terrified
that their “moment,” when they will receive the fire of God’s judgment, may come at any time.
The kings cry out in fear; their situation is hopeless. Their illicit love affair and its pleasures are
gone forever. Ezekiel announces the same certain judgment on apostate Jerusalem (Eze. 16:23).
She committed an adulterous affair (idolatry) under the guise of righteousness before Yahweh
(Eze. 16:1-19). Yet to apostate Jerusalem, God promised an eternal covenant. God himself would
make atonement for her sins and those who repented would receive forgiveness (Eze. 16:59-63).
Christ made that atonement at his first advent. But Babylon is being judged at the End when the
time for repentance has run out. She has no possibility for forgiveness.
The merchants join the woeful dirge (18:11-17a). They lament the one who made them rich. But
now their wealth will disappear. No one will buy their merchandise.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The list of merchandise here is similar to that in Eze. 27. The lists illustrates the wealth earned by
the merchants of Tyre/Babylon. The list includes several categories: money, produce from earth,
and living creatures.
Noteworthy are the last two items in 18:13, “slaves and the souls of men.” It is estimated that the
Roman Empire had as many as 60,000,000 slaves. The whole economy was dependent on them.
Slavery was not based on race, but upon the areas conquered by Rome. Slaves were treated like
any other piece of merchandise. God will do away with such Babylonian practices at the End.
“The souls of men” is not easy to understand. It may be another way of saying slaves. This
would emphasize the evil of the slave trade, human beings being traded like any other
“The souls of men” could have another meaning. In 1Chr. 5:21, “souls of people” refers to
captives taken in warfare. Captured, ordinary citizens were taken and sold as slaves. Slaves were
one form of merchandise and captives were another. Slaves received a greater price than
captives. This is what the evil of the harlot brings about.
When “fruit” is ripe it is ready for picking. Fruit here refers to the harlot’s treasure. It has been
stored up to be used in times of leisure or retirement for easy, luxurious living. Those things are
now gone. When these costly things have been destroyed, their passion for life fades away and is
replaced with dark despair of the eternal abyss (cf. Rev. 19:20).
The kings uttered “woe” twice at the instant destruction of the great city. The merchants, who
also utter “woe” twice, are in fear over the devastation and ruin of the wealth of the city. The
suddenness of the destruction of her wealth is marked.
The sea farers also take up the dirge over fallen Babylon (18:17b-19). Just as God once destroyed
Tyre (Eze. 27:29-32), so John knew with certainty that Babylon, the harlot, would be destroyed
in God’s anger and wrath.
“Everyone who sails for a place” (18:17) is probably the passengers on the ship, those who do
business at seaports. They watch as she burns up and join the lament.
How could this happen to “this great city?” they ask. They asked a similar question about Tyre
(Eze. 27:34).
And again “they threw dust on their heads” (18:19) as did the mariners of ancient Tyre (Eze.
27:30). The seamen also shout a double woe. Not only is “the great city” destroyed, but so also is
there own wealth. And again they acknowledge the suddenness of her judgment and destruction.
The Call to Celebrate (18:20) p. 476

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
In contrast to the mournful dirge of the kings, merchants, and mariners (18:9-19), the people of
God are called upon to break out in celebration. Throughout their earthly lives, the “saints”
(18:20) have been persecuted and killed by the harlot and the beast, but now they rejoice over
their fallen enemy. They have been vindicated. God has avenged their blood (see Deut. 32:43).
The Mighty Angel (18:21-24) p. 477
In dramatic fashion, an angel illustrates the total and final destruction of Babylon. He does so by
throwing a large millstone into the sea (18:21). The angel is “one particular mighty angel.” He
may be the same “mighty” angel that introduced the victorious Lamb (5:2). Or he may be the
“mighty” angel of 10:1 that commissioned John and the church to proclaim the message of God
and his Christ to all people (10:11). These “mighty” angels may be angels that stand in God’s
presence, sent out by God on a mission, commanding attention. They represent God.
There are five “mighty” angels in Revelation (5:2; 10:1; 18:1, 21; 19:17). They stand out because
of the roles they play: introduces the Lamb, commands the message be proclaimed, announces
the judgment of Babylon, dramatizes the fall of Babylon, and announcement of the banquet of
God at the End. All involve the mission of the church. They represent God and Christ in
connection with the saints on earth and their mission.
The millstone would sink into oblivion, never again to rise. The ancient enemy of the church
now sinks into the bottomless pit, “never again to be found” (18:21). The Egyptian army, in a
similar way, sank like a stone in the Red Sea (Ex. 15:4-5, 10). Also Jeremiah’s casting of a scroll
into the Euphrates River, symbolized Babylon’s sinking (Jer. 51:60-64). At the time of John,
historic Babylon had been turned into a great desert.
The once lively and active city (18:22-23) is now dead and silent and dark. (Again see Eze.
26:13 for Tyre and Jer. 25:1-11 for Babylon).
Rev. 18:23b-24 summarizes the reasons for the judgment of the harlot Babylon. Commercial
gain was the god that drove and controlled the human race under the influence of the harlot. In
particular, apostate Christianity sanctioned such self-indulgent living. By false spirituality, signs
and miracles (“sorcery”), the harlot deceived people to put there trust in her. People trusted in the
great empires of Babylon and Rome for their spiritual well-being. And finally she is condemned
for her persecution and execution of the “prophets” and “saints” of God and all those slain
(18:24). Their blood cried out for vengeance (Rev. 6:9-10; cf. Gen. 4:10; Heb. 12:24) and now
God will exact vengeance (cf. Rev. 19:1-2) by judging her.

A Song of Victory and the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (19:1-10) p. 484
The First Stanza of the Hallelujah Chorus (19:1-4) p. 487

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
John now hears the “Hallelujah Chorus” of the great Te Deum, the continuing song of praise to
God in Revelation. This is its climax.
Who is the “immense crowd that shouts the Hallelujah Chorus: (19:1)? Angels? Saints? The
church triumphant? Since the Hallelujah Chorus continues through 19:8, it seems that the whole
heavenly host of both angels and saints make up this chorus, with the 24 elders and 4 winged
creatures as the choir masters.
They celebrate that the bride is now ready to marry the Lamb. The one who threatened and hurt
her is gone forever. God himself delivered her through the Lamb, thereby protecting her and
safeguarding his redemptive plan.
This is why the Chorus attributes all “the salvation and the glory and the power” to God (19:1);
he has accomplished it. Because the Christ suffered in the stead of God’s people and received
their judgment, God is “righteous” (16:5) and “just” (19:2) in handing down a sentence of eternal
death to Babylon, for she “corrupted the earth” (19:2) and motivated the people of the earth to
worship false god of self-indulgence as if it were the true form of Christianity. She shed the
blood of the saints and now it comes back to her in double measure (18:6). Vengeance comes
from God who alone has the right to judge and punish the enemies of his people.
As the heavenly choir sees evidence of the harlot’s destruction (“her smoke ascends,” 19:3), a
second hallelujah is raised. Her judgment will endure “forever and ever.” There will be no early
release on good behavior. This hallelujah is not a repetition, but a climatic encore given that the
harlot’s judgment is final. In similar manner, Isaiah prophetically uttered how the smoke of
Edom would never be quenched and would rise forever (Is. 34:8-10).
The response by the 24 elders and the 4 winged creatures was to fall down and worship and
praise God. Earlier in Rev. 4-5 at the worship of God on the throne and of the Lamb the 24 elders
prostrated themselves while the 4 winged creatures led the whole heavenly host in the opening
stanzas of the Te Deum. Here in the singing of the Chorus the 24 elders once again prostrate
themselves. But this is the first time the winged creatures prostrate themselves before God.
Perhaps this indicates the end of the hymn and that nothing more is to be added.
All God’s People Are Invited to Join in the Worship (19:5) p. 490
Again John hears a voice from the throne inviting all of God’s people, both “small and great,” to
worship and praise him (19:5). And again the source is unidentified. In this case, it is most likely
an angel speaking on behalf of God.
The “small and the great” include all people no matter what their status. It includes all the saints
and all the unbelievers [as in “every knee will bow”?]. A dramatic illustration of this happened at
Jesus’ first advent, when shepherds and Magi both came to adore the Child (Mt. 2:1-12).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Marriage Feast of the Lamb (19:6-10) p. 491
John hears anther “voice.” This time the voice comes from an immense crowd (19:6). In 19:1-3
the heavenly hosts celebrated God’s judgment on the harlot. Now in 19:6-8 the same heavenly
host (angels and saints) rejoice at the pending marriage feast of the Lamb.
The voice of the heavenly crowd is so loud that it sounds like the roar of rushing waters and the
noise of crashing thunders (19:6). The loudness of “many waters” has been heard before in
Revelation (the voice of the Son of Man [Rev. 1:15], the new song of the church triumphant
[14:2-3]). Now the whole people of God shout out in a loud voice in anticipation of the marriage
of the Lamb and Christ’s immediate second coming to receive his bride (19:11-16).
The adjective “crashing, mighty” connotes divinity in several places in Revelation. The shout of
the heavenly host for the marriage feast of the Lamb was like the shouting, mighty voice of God
himself, as if he were announcing the marriage of his Son (cf. Mt. 22:2-3). But God gave this
honor to the church triumphant.
The second stanza of the Hallelujah Chorus (19:6-8) celebrates the inauguration of the royal
reign of Yahweh, God Almighty, which comes about by means of the marriage of the Lamb and
the marriage feast (see cf. 1Cor. 15:24-28; Phil. 2:9-11).
The first thing mentioned in the second stanza is that Yahweh, God Almighty, “has taken his
reign” (19:6). He enters his reign as the only King. Of course God has always been King. But his
gracious reign over the human race was interrupted by humanity’s rebellion. But God would win
back mankind and again exercise his reign of grace and love and thus take back his kingdom. He
did this through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of his Son.
Yahweh reigns when he acts in history to save and deliver his people. He reigns on Zion, the
place where the Temple, sacrifices and his Word are. He also installs his Son as King on Zion.
Jesus announced the kingdom of God (e.g., Mt. 3:2; 4:17) and was crowned King on the cross
(Mt. 27:29, 37). At his resurrection, he was given the throne of David (Is. 9:6-7).
Revelation begins with God regaining his reign through the victory of his Son (1:5-6). Through
his blood he has made a kingdom of priests (see also Rev. 5:9-10). Without faith God’s reign is
not evident, but at the End, at Christ’s second coming, his reign over the entire human race will
be in full view for all to see (Mt. 24:29-31; 26:64; cf. Phil. 2:6-11). In 19:6 the Lord God comes
into that visible reign.
Yahweh is “the Almighty, Yahweh of hosts.” Yahweh is the God over everything, the heavens
and earth and all their hosts (Gen. 2:1) – physical and spiritual. He is the sovereign power over
all of history. He alone is King and the only God. He is particularly over his people, “the hosts of
Yahweh” (Ex. 12:41). But here at the End he uses the wedding feast of the Lamb to openly
display his lordship over the entire universe; he is “the Almighty.”

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The heavenly hosts “rejoice” and “celebrate” (19:7-8) because their God has shown that he is the
only God who is over all. This becomes clear to all at the marriage feast of the Lamb where he
openly enters his reign. The marriage feast then brings “glory to him” (19:7).
The concept of divine marriage is deeply rooted in the OT. In the OT Israel was Yahweh’s wife.
This “marriage” took place at the exodus (e.g., Hos. 2:14-16 envisions a remarriage like the first
one). In Hosea God has been faithful, while Israel has committed spiritual adultery. Though they
were unfaithful, God would call them back to himself and renew the marriage vow of
faithfulness (as Hosea did in Hos. 3:1-3). He temporarily his face from her, but later called her
back and showed mercy to her.
The NT picture of divine marriage is one of a period of engagement and a future wedding. In the
NT Jesus is the bridegroom (Mt. 19:15) and John the Baptist is “the friend” (best man). In 2 Cor.
11:2 Paul speaks of the church as a “chaste virgin” who is pledged to one man, Jesus Christ. Also
in Eph. 5:22-23 Paul compares the relationship between a husband and wife to that of the church
and Christ (cf. Rom. 7:1-6).
Marriage among the Jewish people at Jesus’ time was made up of two major events: the betrothal
and the wedding with its feast. During the betrothal the couple did not come together and live as
husband and wife until the wedding and feast. The wedding ceremony and feast usually took
place at the house of the bridegroom and would last for a week. Often the groom would pay a
betrothal price to the bride’s father (Gen. 34:12; Ex. 22:16; 1Sam. 18:24-27; 2Sam 3:14; cf. Ruth
The seed of Abraham (Israel) became God’s bride. She proved unfaithful and adulterous, but
amazingly God promised to pardon her and to betroth himself to her again forever at a price he
himself would pay (see Hos. 2:19-20). Christ paid the betrothal price in his death and
resurrection and therefore Christians belong to him (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10). His
righteousness was the cost that God paid to make his chosen people his betrothed wife.
So Christ has purchased his betrothed and made her to be his promised bride. The promise will
be fulfilled when he returns at the End. Now John hears that it is time for the wedding and that
the bride has prepared herself (Rev. 18:7). How does she make herself ready for the wedding? In
actuality it is God who clothes his chosen one with his garments (see Eze. 16:8-10; Is. 61:10).
Jesus has clothed her with the garment of righteousness and has washed her in his blood, making
her pure and holy (see Rev. 5:9-10; 7:14-15). [So she passively allows herself to be cleansed and
clothed by Christ.]
The wedding garment is pure linen, “the righteous deeds of the saints” (19:8). This garment is
not the same as the robes of the saints in heaven (7:9-17), for they were made white by the blood
of the Lamb (7:14). This garment of the saint’s righteous deeds is like an outer cloak worn over
the robe of Christ’s righteousness.[The inner cloak it the cloak of is the cloak of justification
(Christ’s righteousness), The outer cloak is the cloak of sanctification (the righteous deeds of the
saints wrought by the Holy Spirit.]

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Ever since she was betrothed and covered, she has adorned herself with works that demonstrate
that she belonged to Christ and no other. These works are the works of the saints as they were
moved by the Holy Spirit. These works of sanctification are as much a gift as the saving status
they now live in. And these works are the evidence that God will use that they are his faithful
people (Mt. 25:31-40).
These “righteous deeds” (the wedding garment) are really made by God. Jesus’ set her free to do
these works and the Holy Spirit empowered her to do them. All during the betrothal period she
wore the robe of his righteousness which covered her sin and prepared her wedding garment
through “righteous deeds.” She is now ready for the wedding and its feast to begin (cf. Mt.
22:11-14; Rev. 21:2).
Who tells John to write? Most likely the same angel who has been John’s guide since the vision
of the End began in 17:1.
The bride is ready and the guests have been invited. But who are these guests? In reality, the
guests and the bride are one and the same. Some are invited but don’t accept. Those who do
accept are blessed. Those who accept the invitation become the guests of honor, the bride, as
they sit in the very presence of God.
The rich banquet that Isaiah prophesied about in 25:6-8 is coming true. People from every corner
of the world join the patriarchs at the feast (Mt. 8:11; cf. Lk. 13:28-30). (Also see Mt. 22:1-14
and Jesus’ words in Mt. 26:29).
This beatitude, passage (19:1 – 19:8) and section (17:1 – 19:9) are all affirmed as “the [emphatic]
true words of God” (19:9).
Why John fell at the feet of the angel is hard to understand. No true son of Abraham would ever
knowingly worship anyone save God alone (cf. Deut. 5:6-10; 6:4-5; Is. 42:8). And especially
since the Logos became flesh, John would always worship God only through Jesus Christ (see
John 1:18; 14:6-11; cf. Col. 1:14-20; Heb. 1:1-3). John was probably overwhelmed by what he
had just seen and heard (from 17:1 to 19:10) and fell before the angel in awe.
No matter what the reason, John should not have worshipped the messenger, even if his message
was awesome (see Col. 2:18). The angel sharply rebukes John and rejects his worship (19:10).
Angels are never to be worshipped for they are created beings, far lower than Jesus Christ who is
the Son of God (e.g., Heb. 1:4-13). The angel calls himself “a fellow slave” of God just as John
is and all the saints are (19:10). The angel and John play different roles, but they both stand
before and under God as slaves equally.
Does the “witness of Jesus” mean “the witness about Jesus”? or is it “the witness from Jesus”? It
may be both, the witness Jesus gave concerning himself (e.g., Mk. 2:10-11) and the witness he
continues to give by the Holy Spirit Jn. 15:26) through God’s people on earth (e.g., Jn 15:27;
Acts 1:8). It is also the witness which tells about Jesus’ victory, the Gospel (see, e.g., Rom. 3:2126; Gal. 2:15-21; cf. Acts 2:32-38). Here in Rev. 19:10 it is the message about Jesus’ saving

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
work, that which Christ gave to the church to hold and proclaim to others, namely that Jesus
Christ is the Savior of the world.
This message about Jesus (“witness of Jesus”) began in the OT by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ death
and resurrection were foretold by the work of the Holy Spirit through the prophets. This same
Spirit continues to give witness of Jesus through these “true words” of the Gospel(19:9).

The Second Coming of Christ at the End (Rev. 19:11-21) p. 504
The Appearing of the Word of God (19:11-16) p. 507
It is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who is described as the “King of kings” and the Lord of the
hosts of heaven at the end of this world. Though he is not specifically called the Son of Man, “his
eyes … like a flame of fire” (19:12) together with the “sharp sword” (19:15) point out that he is
indeed the Son of Man (see 1:13-14, 16; 14:14; cf. 2:18). This is the second time in Revelation
that Jesus second coming is portrayed (the first time was in 14:14-20, the Lord of the harvest).
Here he is the mighty warrior who comes at the End to execute God’s judgment (19:17-21).
The vision begins with “heaven opened” (19:11). In 4:1 the visionary revelation began with “an
opened door in heaven” and the prophetic message was given. John sees Christ coming to
inaugurate the events of the End. Christ’s return concludes the mission he began with his life on
earth. First Jesus completed his mission of sacrificial atonement for the world’s sin. Then he set
in motion the church’s worldwide mission to proclaim the Gospel. Now the time for the church’s
mission is over. Now he comes again in fulfillment of the angel’s promise (Acts 1:10-11).
While 14:14 said Jesus would come sitting on a white cloud, here he comes sitting on a “white
horse” (19:11). White clouds are a sign of God’s heavenly glory, but a white horse is a sign that
he comes as a warrior who has been victorious in battle and now comes to claim the spoils (Is.
40:10; 53:12; 62:11).
He is called “faithful and true” (19:11) (see 1:5 and 3:14). He is from God and he gives a true
and faithful witness about God and the human race. In fact he is the only one who is faithful and
true to God and therefore he alone has the right to judge humanity on behalf of God, determining
everyone’s destiny.
Christ comes in righteousness to judge and make war (19:11). The “sharp sword” of 19:15 is a
symbol of judgment and war. In the OT it is Yahweh himself who was the all-conquering warrior
who came with a sharp “sword” (e.g., Josh. 5:13; Is. 27:1; 31:8; 66:16) and with his hosts to
make war (Is. 13:4) against his enemies and those of his people.
But even in the OT the role of Yahweh as a warrior (Ex. 15:3; Deut. 10:17; Is. 42:13) was
delegated to the Messiah (see Is. 11:1-5 [Branch of Jesse]; Is. 49:2 [Suffering Servant]; Josh. 6:2
[Commander]). Now Jesus continues that role as he comes to destroy the beast and false prophet
by casting them into hell (19:19-21).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“His eyes were like a flame of fire” (19:21). This is one of the characteristics of the Son of Man
in 1:9-20. Nothing is unknown or hidden from such searching, searing eyes (Heb. 4:12-13).
“Upon his head were many diadems” (19:12). In the first vision of the Second Coming, the Son
of Man wore a crown (14:14), which represented victory. Because of his victory he was the Lord
of the harvest. Here he wears “many diadems” (19:12) because he comes as an absolute Ruler to
execute judgment as God’s mighty warrior.
In 12:3 Satan wore 7 crowns, falsely claiming all spiritual power. In the wilderness and
temptations Jesus refused to ascribe such sovereignty (Mt. 4:8-9), for such sovereignty was given
to God’s Son by the Father (cf. Pss. 2:6-8; 110:1-2). The beast from the sea wore 10 diadems,
claiming to be the supreme earthly ruler (13:1). But now the Lord Christ wears “many diadems”
(19:12), far more than the dragon or the beast. Instead of “many diadems,” it could be rendered
as “all diadems”, which are now on the head of the Son of Man, for at his coming to judge no
one will dare wear a diadem of any sort.
What was the name of the rider on the white horse? John did not ask. Had he, he might have
received the same response that Jacob received in Gen. 32:22-32 when he wrestled with God. It
may have been the sacred name “Yahweh,” which Jews refrained from pronouncing. In the NT
Jesus is identified as the visible presence of Yahweh.
But the name of Yahweh was known and is therefore probably not the name. The name was
written but could not be deciphered (19:12). Whatever the name, it expresses the mystery of
Christ’s own person and exalted status as the Son of Man. Believers will understand it after the
Second Coming and after their entrance into the new heaven and earth (cf. 1Cor. 13:12).
In 1:13 the Son of Man was dressed like a high priest. Here (19:13) he is dressed as a warrior
whose garment had been dipped in blood. In Is. 63:1-6 the Messiah comes from Edom, Israel’s
enemy. In Edom he tread upon the enemy as one treads upon grapes in a winepress (Is. 63:2).
While fighting the enemy he shed his blood (the blood of redemption) and was spattered by the
enemy’s blood (the blood of judgment). The main emphasis of Is. 63:1-6 is judgment.
The emphasis in 19:13, like Is. 63:1-6, is that the blood on his garment is the blood of the
enemies crushed in God’s judgments executed by the Son of Man. When he comes, he comes as
the Redeemer of his own people and as the judge of unbelievers. He comes to tread upon the
enemies of God (19:15). And yet he comes as the Lamb of God. He shed his own blood as he
tread upon the enemy. He defeated the enemy by shedding his own blood and also brought
salvation to God’s people. The first blood to cover his garment is his own, but at his Second
Coming, the blood of the enemy will stain it.
The “faithful and true” (19:11) one on the white horse has the name of “the Word of God”
(19:13). Only John calls Jesus the personal name of “Word.” (See chpt. 1 of John.) The Word
was made flesh. The Word is the agent of creation. The Word is the only begotten Son of God.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
In the OT the prophets spoke “the word of the Lord.” As the Word, Jesus is the ultimate
spokesman of God. He is the perfect revelation of God to man. At this point in Revelation, he is
“the Word of God” that speaks, reveals, and executes God’s judgment.
As the Word of God he will judge. But the name “Word of God” also suggests that he will be
active in a new creation. In John’s books, the Word is always powerful and creates and brings
life. So at the End, Christ will judge, and then he will do something more. He will do something
positive by the grace of God, something creative and new.
“The hosts which are in heaven” (19:14) attend the Lord Christ as he comes. “Hosts” in Greek
designates soldiers, armies. In the OT we hear it used in a title for God, “Yahweh of hosts.” Here
in Rev. 19:14, it refers to angelic hosts who attend and serve the Lord Christ (cf. Zech.14:5; Mt.
The word “hosts” is used twice in Neh. 9:6. The way it is used says that “Yahweh of hosts”
expresses the idea that Yahweh was the only God of creation, and that the angelic hosts worship
him as such. He is over all of creation, including the physical universe that he created.
The angelic heavenly hosts are “dressed in pure, white linen” (19:14). Their dress indicates
righteousness. The Son of Man is holy and as he comes to execute God’s righteous judgment, he
is attended by his holy angels. Some think these hosts could be the saints of God (cf. Rev. 7:14).
The 144,000 do follow Christ as an array, but for a different purpose. Here the divine Warrior
comes from heaven to earth followed by his heavenly host to execute judgment. The church
never follows Christ in order to execute judgment. (Mt. 19:28 and Lk. 22:30 are often
misunderstood. “To judge” is used there in the sense of “to lead, guide, administer God’s people”
or to deliver Israel as did Israel’s judges.)
The sharp sword which comes out of the mouth of the Son of Man (19:15) is reminiscent of his
appearance in 1:16. There the purpose was to chastise those inside the church (2:12-17), but here
it is to strike those outside the church (“the pagan nations”) (19:15). His sword represents the
deadly power of the Word of judgment that issues from his mouth, as in Is. 11:4 where the
Branch will strike the wicked “with the rod of his mouth” (11:1). He earned the right to wield
this sword because he himself has been struck by it in order to deliver God’s people from such a
In addition to the sword, the Son of Man will also use “an iron rod” to “shepherd the pagan
nations” (19:5). Is the rod the same as the sword? The fact that the Son of Man is described as a
shepherd implies that as he come to judge and destroy (warrior) the nations, he first , like a
shepherd separating his sheep, separates them from his own followers with the “iron rod” and
then strikes them with the sword (see Ps. 2:6-9). And so at the End, the Son of Man comes as the
Warrior (using the sword of justice), King (who rules), Shepherd (using his staff as a rod to
separate) and Potter (who shatters the ill formed earthen vessels).
As the Son of Man treads the winepress with righteous wrath, his already blood stained garment
(stained with his own blood) is spattered by the blood of the nations. Any view of God that

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
eliminates his judgment and his hatred of sin is not supported by the book of Revelation. God
will destroy all those who reject him and his Son.
The Son of Man “has on his garment and on his thigh a name” (19:16). The garment is probably
the same blood stained garment. The word “thigh” reminds us of Jacob’s thigh in Gen. 32:25.
Jacob fought with God and won. Yet God touched Israel’s thigh so that he limped (Gen. 32:31).
God did this to remind Jacob that while he fought and overcame God, he did so (only) because of
God’s condescending love and mercy to him.
Does the name on the thigh identify him as the real “conqueror of God” – the one who
successfully endured the judgment and anger of God the Father, similar to Jacob? Or does it
recall the humility of God in Christ, who became a mortal man in weakness and allowed himself
to be “defeated” by human adversaries for the purpose of atonement? Or both? In any case, Jesus
Christ is the ultimate “Israel,” who overcame God’s judgment and overcame sin and death by his
death and resurrection. Matthew paints Jesus as the true Israel (come up out of Egypt, Mt. 2:15;
Hos. 11:1). And so the true Jacob that overcame and the true Israel that came up out of Egypt has
his conquering name written on his “thigh.”
For the third time in 19:11-21 the Son of Man is given a name (unknown name [19:12]; the Word
of God [19:13], and “King of kings and Lord of lords” [19:16]).
In the OT Yahweh is declared to be “the God of gods and the Lord of lords” (Deut. 10:17; Ps.
136:2-3; Dan. 2:47). In the NT Paul makes a similar statement of Jesus (1 Tim. 6:14-15).
This title of Yahweh is here applied by John to Jesus Christ as he comes at the End to call all to
account. This name shouts out that he is the universal Ruler over all creation and the human race
(Phil. 2:6-11). He will determine the end result and destiny of all peoples of the world. So for the
saints of God who struggle and suffer defeat, they know the Lamb has won the victory and in the
end the victory will be theirs as well because he is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Conclusion of the Warfare (19:17-21) p. 519
In the OT, “the commander of Yahweh’s army” (Josh. 5:14) met Joshua to encourage him to
know that the hosts of Jericho would be destroyed. Similarly, the Son of Man as the commander
of the heavenly hosts comforts John with the knowledge that the hosts of the enemies of God’s
people would be overcome and destroyed. Victory would belong to Christ and his church.
The “one particular angel standing in the sun” (19:17) is apparently the same angel that John saw
in 18:1 and 18:21. In those verses he is described in a similar way. Previously, as he announced
the coming judgment of the beast and harlot, he lit up the whole earth with the glory of Christ.
Now he stands in the majesty of Christ (the sun), from which he shouts and heralds the final and
complete victory.
The angel commands birds of prey to gather “for the great banquet of God” (19:17). Earlier John
saw an eagle (bird of prey) in the mid-heaven cry out 3 woes because “the moment” of judgment

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
had come (14:6-7). Now the angel commands the birds of prey to gather in the part of the sky,
the high point in the arch of the sky over the earth.
They are to gather as invited guests at “the great banquet of God” (19:17). This feast is a
counterpart to the marriage feast of the bride and the Lamb. Both feasts occur at the same time.
“The great banquet of God” in which the birds feed on the corpses is terrifying compared to the
joyful wedding feast. It is God’s feast because he has planned it and brought it about by his
judgment. He set it up and provided its provisions. In hearing this, John may have remembered a
similar banquet in Eze. 39:17-20. The forces of Gog and Magog were defeating God’s people
(Eze. 38:1-23). But God would intervene, destroy the hosts of Gog and Magog (Eze. 39:1-29),
and prepare a banquet where every bird and all the wild animals would feed on the corpses. The
point is the terrible fate that awaits those who oppose God and the comfort of knowing that these
fallen hosts will never again rise up to hurt God’s people.
The fallen ranks are identified in 19:18 as all kinds and ranks of people, mighty and lowly, slave
and free. It includes all those who followed and believed in the beast and the harlot. They are
shown no respect as they lay unburied to be prey for predators. Horses are also mentioned as part
of the banquet’s fare (19:18 and Eze. 39:20). When the riders fall in battle so do their horses. In
NT times, whatever vehicle is used to bring evil, it will be destroyed with him who used it.
The battle is described in 19:19-21. The hosts of the beast and harlot had already fought the
church and defeated it. They now take on the Lord Christ himself and his angelic hosts. As in
Eze. 38:22-23; 39:3-6, when Gog and Magog had nearly destroyed God’s people, God intervened
with fire from heaven and annihilated their forces. This is the same battle as Armageddon (16:1216). Here the forces of evil are immediately thrown down and laid waste. John will see it again
one more time in 20:7-10. The emphasis here is the overthrow and destruction of the beast, false
prophet and their human hosts. The emphasis in 20:7-10 will be on the casting of Satan into hell.
Concluding Thought: Three Women p. 523
Three women play prominent roles in Revelation: (1) the woman who gave birth to the “male
Child” (12:1-6, 13-17); (2) the harlot who sits on the beast and is called “Babylon” (17:1-19:3);
and (3) the bride of the Lamb (19:7-8; 22:17; cf. 21:2, 9).
The woman in Rev. 12 represents both the OT and NT people of God (the wife of Yahweh and
the bride of Christ). She is embodied in the Virgin Mary, an OT woman who gives birth to the
Lord and becomes a NT believer. She suffers great pain in an exile-like existence in wilderness
of life on earth. She is hunted down and pursued by the dragon, causing her untold pain and
The harlot of Rev. 17-18 is the antichurch. She and the beast are used by Satan to war against the
church. She is beautiful, powerful and wealthy. And she uses it all against the church. She
deceives people into thinking that she is the true bride of Christ and therefore is also called “the
false prophet.”

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The woman of Rev. 12 becomes the bride of Christ in Rev. 19. Now she is no longer in exile
tormented by the dragon through the beast and harlot. During her earthly life, she was destitute,
dressed in rags and mocked. But in the End, she is publicly honored by God for all to see as the
bride of his Son. The day that she has long waited for has arrived. She comes to her Lord arrayed
in her wedding garment in joy, joining the angelic choir in singing the Te Deum to her God and

Excursus: The Use of the Definite Article with “God” p. 525
Except for three times, in Revelation “God” is always attended by the definite article (93 times).
In most cases it is not needed, but is used to emphasize there is only one, true God. He is not one
out of many; He is it, period. Jesus is referred to in a similar manner, pointing out that he is the
only Messiah and Savior of the human race. The definite article is also used with “Word” and
“Lamb,” showing that there is only one Lamb and one Word of God. The Word is God in human
flesh. The Lamb is the second person of the Trinity, who is coequal with God the Father.

Excursus: The Great Te Deum of Praise in Revelation p. 527
It is a hymn of praise to God for his acts of creation and salvation. Its stanzas are spread
throughout the book. It is an act of worship, a response to God. In Revelation it is one grand
service of worship with a timeless quality and is corporate.
The themes of the Te Deum include: God’s holiness (4:8), his creation (4:11), his salvation
through the Lamb (5:9-10, 12; 7:10, 14-17; 12:10-12; 19:6-8), and his judgment upon his
enemies, who are also enemies of his church (11:17-18; 15:3-4; 16:5-7; 19:1-3). Doxologies
about throughout.
The Opening Refrain (4:8) p. 527
It is ceaselessly sung by the heavenly choirs, perhaps antiphonally before and after each stanza or
continuously along with each stanza throughout the entire Te Deum.
The Hymn of the Heavenly Choir (4:11; 5:9-10, 12-13) p. 528
The first stanza is sung by the 24 elders sitting around the heavenly throne (4:11). The next
stanza was sung at the enthronement of the Lamb (5:9-10), praising the Lamb as the Savior of
God’s people. In the next stanza the hosts of angels praise the Lamb for his redemptive work
(15:12). And finally all creation joins the heavenly choirs in praising God and the Lamb (15:13).
The 4 winged creatures add an “Amen” (5:14). They continuously say or sing amen.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Hymn of the Church (7:10, 12; 11:17-18; 15:3-4) p. 529
The church triumphant sings a verse (7:10) as the Lamb opens the 7 seals and reveals to John the
1st vision of the events on earth (6:1 – 8:5). The angels in heaven add their own stanza (7:12).
These two stanzas are sung for the comfort and inspiration of the church on earth in the midst of
their sufferings.
In the 2nd vision of the events on earth (8:6 – 11:19), at the 7th trumpet, which is also the 1st scene
of the End, the 24 elders at a stanza for all the people of God that celebrates the judgment of God
The final stanza sung by the church is sung at the beginning of the 3rd vision of the events on
earth (15:1 – 16:21) as part of the introduction to that vision. It is sung by the church militant as
she wars with the beast. It is called “the song of Moses” and “the hymn of the Lamb,” and it
celebrates the righteousness of God in his judgments of his enemies, who are also the enemies of
the church (15:3-4).
The Hymn of the Bride (19:1-4, 6-8) (climax and conclusion) p. 530
The last part of the hymn is the hymn of the Lamb’s bride as she is received by her Lord at the
End (19:1-10). It is sung by a great crowd in heaven and celebrates the judgment of the harlot
and the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride. It is the Hallelujah Chorus and it is the climax
and conclusion (19:1-4, 6-8).
Comments of Other Voices (7:14-17; 11:15; 12:10-12; 15:3-4) p. 531
There are several places in the Te Deum where another voice (an elder, an angel, or a voice
speaking for God) adds to the stanzas. They are like a cantor whose solos are interspersed with
the choirs in order to explain what is happening.
In 7:14-17 one of the 24 elders identifies the great crowd in heaven who is dressed in white and
who is singing a stanza of the Te Deum.
In 11:15, when the 7th angel sounded his trumpet, “great voices in heaven” introduced the stanza
sung by the 24 elders in which they celebrated the judgment of God.
In 12:10-12 a great voice in heaven explains why the church is so joyous as she sings her hymn
as part of the Te Deum.
And in 16:5-7 “the angel of the waters” affirms the last stanza of the hymn of the church (15:34), in which the church had celebrated the righteousness of God in his judgments.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton

Excursus: The Millennium p. 533
How one views the millennium is dependant on how one views the whole book. It should be
interpreted based on its relationship with other events that precede it and follow it in this section.
Before these verses is the overthrow of the beast and false prophet at Christ’s Second Coming
(19:11-21). After it is the last great battle and Satan being thrown in hell (20:7-10). Therefore the
millennium began when Satan was bound at Christ’s first advent and it will conclude when he
returns in glory.
There are 3 primary views of the millennium. The different views (pre-millennium, amillennium, post-millenium) have come and gone and come again over the centuries.

The Millennium: The New Testament Era: When the Dragon’s Power Is
Restricted (20:1-6) p. 542
Satan Thrown in the Abyss (20:1-3) p. 546
Apparently the angel John sees is not any of the previous angels he saw.
Frequently John uses “After these things I saw.” This indicates an order of time. Here he does not
use it. Therefore we do not necessarily understand 20:1-10 to follow in time what was in Rev. 19,
the marriage feast (19:1-10) and the second coming of Christ (19:11-21).
The angel has “the key to the abyss and a heavenly chain” (20:1). In 19:1 Satan (see 9:11) was
given “the key of the shaft of the abyss.” He opened the shaft and demons come out and afflicted
the human race (9:3-6). But this time the angel is from heaven (the presence of God) and the key
is to the abyss, not the shaft of the abyss. And this time “the angel of the abyss” (19:11) will be
thrown into the abyss. He is named “Satan” (20:2); he is thrown into the abyss; and he is locked
away and he cannot unlock the abyss (cf. Is. 22:22; Mt. 16:19; Rev. 3:7).
To ensure that Satan cannot escape, he is bound with “a heavy chain” (Rev. 20:1). An ordinary
chain may be broken (see the Gerasene demonic, Mk. 5:3-4), but this is a heavy chain. This
heavy chain is not physical but a metaphor for God’s power, exercised by the angel in the
binding of the dragon.
The Binding of Satan p. 548

When does the binding of Satan take place? When Jesus was casting out demons, he made a
parabolic statement. To rob “a strong man” (Mt. 12:29; Mk. 3:27; Lk 11:21), one must first

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“bind” him. Of course the devil is the strong man and the one who had come to rob him by first
binding him is the stronger man, Jesus.
By exercising demons, Jesus was binding Satan, showing his power and authority over him and
them. There is no other place in the NT that speaks of binding Satan. John does speak of Satan
being “judged” and “cast out” when Jesus was lifted up on the cross (Jn. 12:31-33; cf. 16:11).
Therefore Satan was bound during Jesus’ earthly ministry, during his life, death, resurrection and
ascension, which was the beginning of the 1000 “year” period (20:2).
Two other helpful references as to the when the binding took place and the millennium began are
2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6. “Chain” in 2 Pet. means a chain or rope by which someone is bound in
order to be carried off to prison. The place of confinement in 2 Peter is hell. Having been bound
with “chains of darkness” in hell, they are “being kept [there] for the purpose of judgment.” 2
Pet. 2:4 may very well be describing the same event depicted in Rev. 20:1-3. However, it gives
no indication as to when this binding took place, except that it happened before the End.
Jude 6 is similar to 2 Pet. 2:4. The fallen angels are bound by chains and are kept in the darkness
of hell until and for the purpose of judgment at the End. If these 2 references refer to the same
event in Rev. 20:1-3 (and they probably do), then Rev. adds a time element during which the
demons are bound, “a thousand years” (20:2), and a description of what is taking place on earth
during that time period.
The “abyss” has been mentioned several times in Revelation. The demons pour out of “the shaft
of the abyss” (9:11). The beast who makes war with the 2 prophets comes from the abyss (11:7).
And in 17:8 the beast that bears the harlot comes out of the abyss. The demons in Lk. 8:31 beg
Jesus not to send them back to the abyss. The abyss seems to be the temporary abode of the
demons until the End. On the other hand, “the lake of fire” (19:20; 20:10, 14-15; 21:8) appears to
be their permanent abode at the End (20:10).
The angel closed and sealed the abyss (20:3). Seals were used to keep people from entering or
leaving (e.g., Matt. 27:66), to keep documents from being seen by unauthorized personnel (Rev.
5:1), and to make sure no one could enter or leave a prison. The dragon remains confined until
the seal is broken and the cover of the abyss removed. And only God has the authority to do it
since he was the one who had it closed and sealed.
The “Thousand Years” p. 551

The dragon is confined to the abyss for a “thousand years” (20:2-3). Ps. 90:4 speaks of a
thousand years as a day or night to God. 2 Pet. 3:8 is similar. Neither of these two references
refer to the 1000 years in Rev. 20:2-3. But they do suggest the hermeneutical method for
interpreting the length of time represented by the 1000 years. In both cases, it is not a specific
length of time. Rather, the 1000 years is a general reference to a lengthy period of earthly time,
which is brief in God’s estimation. God will accomplish his plans according to his time table.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Also illuminating is the use of the word “thousand” in Ps. 50:10. There 1000 hills is not an exact
number of hills. It is a general reference to a large number of hills and it points to all the hills in
creation (1000 is the number of completeness). This completeness is true in Is. 7:23 as well (“a
thousand vines” = vines in any and every place).
A 1000 years then is a length of time in which God will accomplish and complete his purposes
and plans.
The reason for the confinement of the dragon for a thousand years was “so that he could no
longer deceive the nations” (20:3). It was done so that the church could complete her mission of
proclaiming the Gospel to all people. The confinement of Satan in the abyss is not so much a
punishment as it is precautionary measure to prevent him from lying to and deceiving people
(remember Adam and Eve in the Garden) about God and his plan of salvation.
Before his imprisonment in the abyss, the devil could deceive people (Ge. 3) in order to destroy
them. He could even accuse God’s saints before God’s heavenly throne (Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5; Zech.
3:1-5). But Satan was thrown out of heaven when Christ won victory on the cross and his exile
from heaven began at Christ’s ascension (Rev. 12:5, 7-9).
When Satan was thrown out of heaven, was he also bound at that time? This seems to be true.
When Satan was cast from heaven to earth, he then took his wrath out on the woman and her
seed, the church (Rev. 12:13-18). But he was restrained and hindered in his attempt to destroy
her, for God protects her (Rev. 12:5-6, 14-16). This restraint is here visually depicted as Satan
being bound and cast into the abyss. Jesus’ ministry resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven
(Lk. 10:18) and his binding to set people free (Mt. 12:22-29; Mk. 3:20-27).
When the 1000 years is complete, Satan must “be released for a short time” (20:3). Satan will not
be released until God’s divine purposes have been fulfilled. When the church's mission is
complete, Satan will “be released for a short time.” This short time is described in 20:7-10. No
answer is given as to why this is necessary. Ususally when the word “necessary” is used in
scripture, it has something to do with God’s plan of salvation.
The “First Resurrection” (20:4-6) p. 555
Rev. 20:4-6 describes those who come to life and rule with Christ during the period of the
“thousand years” (20:2-7). Rev. 20:4 says 3 things about them: (1) They sit on thrones and are
given authority to execute judgment; (2) they suffer martyrdom because of their witness to Jesus;
and (3) they do not worship the beast nor bear its mark. Is this 3 different groups of people or
just one?
Those that sit on thrones could refer to a select group of people such as the 24 elders or the 12
disciples. But it could refer to all of God’s saints. In 3:21 it is “the one who conquers” that will
sit with Christ on his throne (all saints conquer through Christ). Dan. 7:9, 22, 27 seems to point

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
to all saints being enthroned and judging. Paul too says that the saints, who have the free gift of
righteousness in life, will judge and rule (1 Cor. 6:2; Ro. 5:17).
This reigning with Christ is God’s gift to all the saints, which are represented by the 24 elders
(4:4; 11:16). Jesus rules and judges all on he Father’s behalf (despite appearances) and so does
the church through its witnessing of him to the nations and through the authority given to it by
Jesus to baptize and teach. But how does the church judge? According to Mt. 16:16-19 and Jn.
20:21-23 Jesus authorizes the church to open and shut heaven by forgiving or retaining sins. The
announcement of forgiveness or condemnation is the judgment of the church in the stead and on
behalf of God.
John saw those who participate in “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5-6) as the ones who were
beheaded on account of Jesus and God’s Word (20:4). Does this refer only to those who were
actually beheaded or does it have a wider reference, to those killed because of their faith or to all
Christians because all suffer for their witness? If it represents all, then it is like the souls under
the altar who represent all who have died in Christ (6:9-11).
Most likely it is all Christians. Those beheaded serve as epitomes or types of all sufferings that
all Christians suffer because of their faith and witness. So this is a violent reminder that all who
live for and with Christ during the 1000 years would suffer intense persecution.
“Martyrs” are witnesses who give “testimony” to the “witness” of Jesus and the Word of God.
Those who were beheaded were beheaded because of their “witness” to Jesus (20:4). When the
“two witnesses” (representing the whole church) had finished their witness, they were conquered
and put to death. John himself suffered on the island of Patmos because of his “witness” to Jesus
(1:9). John didn’t suffer death, but he was known as a martyr (Eusebius). A martyr of Jesus, then,
is a Christian who witnesses to the truth of Jesus and the Word of God. And for this he will suffer
persecution. Christian witnesses (martyrs) back up and confirm their testimony with their lives,
which may or may not be taken from them.
Who are those who have not worshipped the beast or received his mark (20:4)? This refers to all
Who is the beast (20:4)? It is the same beast as in 13:1-10, the beast from the sea, that is,
all earthly and human powers that the dragon uses to war against the church. The second beast is
the religious beast who makes an image of the first beast for people to worship. It also places a
mark on those who follow and worship the beast. Christians do not have the mark and they have
nothing to do with the beast. They have their own mark on their foreheads (7:3; cf. 9:4) with the
seal of the Lamb and the name of God the Father (14:1; 22:4). Those who bear the mark of the
beast are destined for hell (19:19-21) and those who bear the mark of Christ and his Father are
destined for eternal life with God in the new heaven and earth (22:1-5).
So who are the people who live and reign with Christ? They are all the people of God, the church
militant (on earth) and the church triumphant (in heaven). But the emphasis here in 20:1-6 is on
the church on earth. They live and reign with Christ even as they suffer during the 1000 years.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The Two Resurrections p. 560

Those who come to life and live and reign with Christ during the millennium participate in “the
first resurrection” (20:5-6).
In Revelation John uses the words “and I saw” as a formula to introduce a new scene in a
vision or a new vision. The use of this phrase in 20:1 and 20:11 indicates that 20:1-10 is a literary
unit, which is followed by 20:11-15, another literary unit. Therefore 20:1-10 should be
interpreted first on its own merit and then related to what comes before and what follows.
Rev. 20:5-6 mentions “the first resurrection”; 20:11-15 describes the second resurrection. The
second resurrection is the physical resurrection of all bodies at the End. The first resurrection is a
spiritual resurrection. When believers come to faith they are given life. To emphasize the
difference, they are spoken of in different ways, the first in just a couple of words and the second
in more graphic detail.
By speaking of a first resurrection, he strongly implies that there will be a second resurrection.
This could be two physical resurrections but no where else in scripture does it speak of two
physical resurrections. The first is spiritual and the second is bodily. And this is consistent with
the rest of the NT. Jesus’ words in Jn. 5:19-30 are similar to those here. Those who are “dead” [in
their trespasses and sins] “will come to life” when they hear “the voice of the Son of God” (Jn.
5:25). They are going from a spiritually dead state to a resurrected state of life. This is
conversion. At the end of the discourse, Jesus speaks of physical resurrection where those in the
“tombs will hear his voice and will come forth” (Jn. 5:28-29). As here, Jesus speaks of two
resurrections, one through conversion to faith and the other a physical resurrection at the end of
the age.
Paul also refers to two resurrections, one present and spiritual and the other future and physical.
In Eph. 2:1-6 Paul says they were formerly “dead” in their sins, but they have now been “made
alive with Christ” and they have been “raised together in Christ Jesus.” In Col. 3:1-4 Paul says
they “have been raised with Christ.” In Ro. 6:1-5 Paul says they “have been baptized into his
death” and “raised” even as Christ Jesus was raised. Paul uses “Death” to characterize the state
of unbelief and separation from Christ, as does John in Jn. 5:19-30. And “resurrection” is used
for conversion and new life.
Paul also speaks of physical resurrection at the End (1 Cor. 15:12-28). For this bodily
resurrection he uses the words “to raise”, “to make alive” (1 Cor. 15:22), which are also used
elsewhere for present, spiritual resurrection 1 Cor. 15:4, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20).
When viewing the first resurrection as spiritual and the second as physical, we interpret and see
that John’s view of two resurrections is in agreement with other part of the NT.
One problem with viewing the first resurrection as a spiritual resurrection is that the word for
resurrection in almost every NT occurrence is used for the physical resurrection. But the same
word is used in Eph. 5:14 where it refers to a spiritual resurrection from the death-like state of

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
unbelief. Therefore Christ’s physical resurrection is to be a constant reminder to them of their
spiritual resurrection and the call to live as new creatures.
The blessing that those receive who have gone through the first resurrection is that “the second
death does not have authority” over them.
The Two Deaths p. 565

The second death is defined in 20:14 (see also 2:11; 21:8) as the “lake of fire.” Those who have
received the first resurrection with Christ will not be touched by the torments of hell. Instead
they are priests of God (see 1:6 also) throughout the millennium.
John speaks of the “first resurrection” and a “second death.” This implies a first death and a
second resurrection, even though it’s not stated explicitly stated. When one receives life from the
first resurrection, death no longer holds sway over him. On Judgment Day the second death will
hold sway over all unbelievers; they will be thrown into the lake of fire.
It is possible for Christians to fall away faith in Christ. Those who fall away have fallen back into
a spiritually dead state. They too will fall victim to the second death.
The beatitude in 20:6 is given in order to instill hope and joyful confidence that God will
preserve his people in true faith until “the day of Christ Jesus” (his return) at the End (Phil. 1:6).
The beatitude attempts to strengthen faith in God’s grace in Christ.
Rev. 20:5a is a negative statement in the midst of the glorious scene of the millennial life of the
first resurrection. It might seem out of place. However its contents and position certainly
emphasize that under no circumstances will those who are now spiritually dead, and who remain
dead in the state of unbelief, live with Christ during the 1000 years.
So “the dead” in 20:5 are all those throughout the 1000 years who never come to faith in Jesus
Christ. While they are alive physically, spiritually they are dead in their trespasses and sins (cf.
Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13). Those who died physically while being dead spiritually have no hope. They
will rise to eternal damnation. While not mentioning the first death, John speaks of “the rest of
the dead.” Those who are physically dead will rise at the End, only to be cast into “the second
death,” the lake of fire (Rev. 20:6, 14).
Summary of Rev. 20:1-6 p. 568
In summary, the 1000 years is a metaphor for the era from Christ’s first advent to his second
advent. It is the Sabbath day (Heb. 4:7-9) during which the human race has an opportunity to
hear the Gospel. It is designated as 1000 because it is the time when the Lord God will carry out
and complete the mission he has given to the church: to witness to Christ throughout the entire

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
world. The dragon is bound so he cannot destroy Christ’s church. But he can cause much agony
and suffering through the two beasts.
The millennium began at Jesus’ incarnation, death and resurrection. Satan was bound during
Christ’s earthly ministry. And his binding was complete when he was cast into the abyss at
Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. All Christians live and reign with Christ during the
millennium because of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5-6). The millennium will be complete
when the church’s mission is complete. At that time Christ will return and bring this present
world to a close.
Those who come to life spiritually (first resurrection) will reign during the church age (1000
years) with Christ. They sit on thrones in judgment and suffer persecution because of their
witness. The second death will have no authority over them. They are priests of God who have
the privilege of serving God throughout the millennial Sabbath, as they mediate the Christ and
his redemptive work to an alienated world. This is their mission as they reign with Christ (cf. 1
Pet. 2:9-10).

The Battle of God and Magog and the Final Doom of Satan (20:7-10) p. 571
The Commentary p. 571
These verses describe the last battle in which the dragon desperately attempts once and for all to
destroy the church and her mission. This is the third and last view of the last great battle. The
first was in 9:13-21 (the sixth trumpet-angel). The second was in 16:12-16 (sixth censer-angel,
At the conclusion of the 1000 years Satan is let loose from his prison, from the abyss (20:7).
While in his confinement he could not directly attack the woman, the church. But through the
two beasts he could cause suffering. But at the end of the millennium he is released to directly
confront the church. The opposition to the church becomes worldwide and deadly.
The last great effort by the dragon is described in an attack by Gog and Magog. These terms
became associated with evil forces on earth that oppose God and godliness. They seek to destroy
God’s people (Eze. 38-39). In Ezekiel Gog is the prince and leader of the evil forces from
Magog, a land in the north (Eze. 38:2, 15; 39:2). But God promises to deliver his people just
when they are about to be annihilated, by striking the forces of Gog with fire from heaven (Eze.
39:3-6). The number of fallen hosts of Gog is huge (Eze. 39:9-10, 12, 17-20). (See also Rev.
19:17-21 for the great banquet for the birds on the dead bodies of the enemies of God.) In
overthrowing Gog, God would display his glory to the nations and to his own people (Eze.
39:21-29) (see also Rev. 19:11-16).
Some view God and Magog as specific nations (Roman Empire, Germanic people, Huns, etc.).
But Augustine correctly interpreted them to be all the nations of the earth which rise up against
the church in one final protest.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
For John Eze. 38-39, the prophetic prototype of Gog and Magog, was an illustration of the last
great battle here in Rev. 20:7-10. Wherever the church is, it is attacked. Israel and the promised
land typify the church and heaven. “Encampment” reflects the camp of Israel in the wilderness
(Num. 2:2), so the church is on a pilgrimage to the heavenly promised land. “The beloved city”
also reminds one of Mt. Zion, the city of God, which represents the heavenly Jerusalem. Just as
Israel was trampled under foot (Eze. 38:7-16) by the evil hosts of Gog, so the church will be
devastated by the evil forces throughout the world (Rev. 20:8; cf. 11:2).
If God would not intervene, the church would be totally annihilated. Jesus described the
tribulation (Mk. 13:14-23) as so severe that if the Lord did not cut those days short, no one
would survive (Mk. 13:20). He cuts it short for the sake of the elect (Mk. 13:20). In both Eze.
39:3-6 and here in Rev. 20:9, God himself intervenes and strikes down the enemy with fire from
heaven and rescues his people.
And the devil is thrown into the lake of fire (20:10), where “the beast” and “the false prophet”
had already been consigned (19:20). He had by means of the beast and harlot chased the woman
and caused her much grief during the millennial period (17:7-10), but now he is cast into hell,
where he sits in total defeat for eternity. Never again can he speak against the saints or pursue
them. She stands before God victorious and vindicated because of the victory of the Lamb and
she will reign forever with her Lord and God in his peace and glory.
The Purpose of the Tribulation p. 576
Why would God permit Satan to be unleashed after the 1000 years (20:3)? The purpose for the
millennium is so that the church can complete its mission. No answer is given as to why God
will permit the church to be torn apart in the battle.
The reason why God allows the church to suffer during the 1000 years is so that she in her
suffering can reflect the suffering of Christ as she witnesses to him. And by her steadfast faith
and hope she exhibits the resurrection and life of Christ as she proclaims the saving message of
her victory. All this is for the glory of God, so that all might recognize him as the only God,
Creator, Savior and Judge of the human race.
It may be for similar purposes that God would release Satan and permit him to ravage the church.
He will once again rescue his people and judge his enemies. Again Eze. 38-39 is a prophetic
type. God himself would unleash Gog on Israel (Eze. 38:3-16). But then God will also save
Israel and judge Gog (Eze. 38:22). By doing this God can miraculously save his people and
judge Gog. He can show forth his greatness and make his name known to all the nations (Eze.
38:23; 39:1-7). All people would see his glory (Eze. 39:21) and his people would know that he is
Yahweh, the Lord their God (Eze. 29:22). In allowing this to happen, God would show anger
towards sin and grace as he forgives their sins. All people see this and would be encouraged to
repent and come to recognize that Yahweh is also their own God (Eze. 39:23-29).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
[Surprisingly, the author doesn’t mention Israel in Egypt. There God allowed his people to suffer
in slavery. But then he came to their rescue, delivering them through divine intervention. At the
same time he completely defeated and humiliated the enemy.]
God will use this testing of the church and her fidelity to the Lord Christ as a way to demonstrate
the power of the Gospel and to judge Satan visibly.
A biblical example of how God permits Satan to strike his saints for the purpose of revealing his
grace and judging Satan is that of Job. God permitted Satan to strike Job for no justified reason
(Job 2:3; cf. 1:1, 8). By this Job and his faith were severely tested (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; 23:10-12).
But Job never denied his Lord and Redeemer (Job 1:22; 2:10; 16:19-21; 19:23-27). Through it all
Satan was not able to destroy the faith and trust of one of God’s saints. So the test strengthened
Job’s faith and was a judgment of Satan. Satan’s unleashing on Job exhibited the glory of God.
As Satan was not successful with Job, neither will he be successful with the church. In the end,
the church will be a witness to the sustaining power of God’s grace in Christ. This may be the
purpose for which God releases Satan.
When will the millennium end and Satan be let loose? How will we recognize it? There will be
signs and events that alert the church that the final battle is close at hand. Jesus spoke of “the
abomination of desolation” (Mt. 24:15), that is, the great apostasy within visible Christendom,
which would point to the imminent presence of the “great tribulation” (Mt. 24:21) (great
tribulation= battle of Armageddon = battle of Gog and Magog).
The church faces terrifying days of evil at different times and places and they are reminders of
the last battle. The Jews faced such days immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem. It was
their “Armageddon”; it was a type of the coming Armageddon at the End. Christians also face
such attacks. They are a reminder that the great battle will come in God’s own time and to his

The Bodily Resurrection and the Last Judgment (20:11-15) p. 580
Commentary (20:11-15) p. 581
The church has finished her mission. The demonic enemies who persecuted the church have been
banished to hell. The church has adorned herself as the bride of Christ (19:6-8). Now the moment
has arrived for the last and final judgment of the human race.
John sees “a large white throne and the One sitting on it” (20:11). In the beginning of the
prophetic message John saw this “throne” and “One sitting” on it (4:2). The throne here is
described as “large” and “white.” In 4:2-7 it is central and dominant. Here it is the only feature,
as God sits on the throne to judge the whole human race. The whiteness of the throne would

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
indicate the purity of the holy justice that will be dispensed. The scene is like that in Dan. 7:9-10.
God, dressed in white, is holding court, with the books of justice open.
“The One sitting” on the throne is God the Father (as is clear in 5:6-7) and he is the Judge at the
End. Elsewhere in Scripture the Son of God is pictured as the Judge (Jn. 5:22-23; Mt. 25:31-46;
2Cor. 5:10). In Ro. 14:10 Paul says, “we all will stand at the judgment seat of God.” The ultimate
judgment is under and by the authority of God the Father. But Jesus earned the right through his
death and resurrection to execute that judgment. The Father and Son act as one in the judgment
at the End. After the End, the Father and Son will be honored equally and occupy the same
throne (22:3).
God’s judgment is so fearful that “the earth and the heavens” try to flee (20:11). In another look
at this same scene (the sixth seal), people do the same (6:12-17); they attempt to hide. Adam and
Eve also hid when they disobeyed God (Gen. 3:8) (see also 16:20).
This description of this judgment could be poetic. In which case, it is saying that all human life
stands in fear of God’s judgment. Or it could point to the physical world being dissolved in order
that it might be restored or recreated as the new heaven and earth (see 21:1; cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-13).
Elsewhere Scripture says the present physical world will perish (see Ps. 102:26; Is. 51:6; Mk.
13:31; 2Pet. 3:10). Both the physical world and the human race will be confronted with God’s
But of course what’s most important is the judgment of the human race. All the dead will stand
before God’s throne (20:12-13). The eternal destiny of each person will be declared (Jn. 5:2829). The people will be judged according to their works as “written on the books” that “were
opened” (20:12). The books contain the complete record of their works. God keeps an accurate
record of each individual’s life.
Are all “the dead” judged based on their works? Rev. 20:12 seems to imply this. Based on their
works, the wicked are indeed found guilty and sentenced. On the other hand, God’s people are
acquitted. Not because of their works, but on the basis of “another book” in which their names
are recorded (20:12, 15). Christians most assuredly sin, [but for Christ’s sake he remembers their
sins no more.] In the books of judgment, only the good deeds of Christians are recorded. Their
sins and guilt have been blotted out of God’s mind. They are no longer the objects of God’s anger
[for he has taken out his anger on his Son instead.] The good deeds of the saints will be used as
demonstrations of their saving faith by grace (cf. Mt. 5:16; 7:15-20).
The idea of the “book of life” goes back to the OT (see Ex. 32:32-33; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 12:1-2; in
the NT see Phil. 4:3).
A vivid description is given of the universal resurrection at the End. It seems strange that John
describes the resurrection (20:13) after he sees the judgment (20:12). Other events in Revelation
are not in Chronological order either. Perhaps the judgment is being stressed first here in order to
show that all people will be resurrected in order to stand before the judgment seat of God.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The fact that “the sea gave up the dead” (20:13) and death gave up her dead stresses a bodily,
physical resurrection, even if there are no remains.
John also sees “death and the grave” giving up their dead (20:13). “Death” is all encompassing.
It includes the dead in “graves” and the dead in “the sea” – all who physically died. A physical
resurrection is also spoken of in Dan. 12:2 and Eze. 37.
Other places where the bodily resurrection is spoken of are: 1Cor. 15 (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-16) and
Jn. 11:38-44.
At the End in the judgment of God, “death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire”
(20:14). The beast and false prophet have already been thrown into the lake of fire (19:20). The
devil was thrown in there too (20:10). Now in Rev. 20:14, death and the grave join them. All the
enemies of mankind have forever been destroyed along with their terror and fear (1 Cor. 15:26;
Heb. 2:15). Is. 25:8 and Hos. 13:14 have been fulfilled. Death has been swallowed up and God’s
people have been ransomed and redeemed from death.
The “lake of fire” is the ultimate place of all idolaters, for all those not in Christ and who did not
do the will of the Father. It was called Gehenna (the place of abominable worship of burning
children) in Judaism and early Christianity. We call it hell. It is the place of eternal fiery torment.
But those “written in the book of life” (20:15) shall inherit eternal life in righteousness forever
with God and the victorious Lamb (21:27).

The New Heaven and New Earth (21:1-8) p. 588
The New Heaven and the New Earth (21:1) p. 591
This begins the conclusion to the entire prophetic message of Revelation.
Apparently the original heaven and earth created by God would not be a fit home for his
resurrected saints as they “passed away.” Under the judgment of God because of man’s sin, the
earth was cursed and suffered from decay and ruin. Isaiah speaks of the old heaven and earth not
being remembered (Is. 65:17) and the new heaven and earth being a place of complete peace
(65:20-25). 2 Pet. 3:10-13 says the present heaven “will pass away” with a “loud crash,” and the
“elements” will burn and be destroyed. Jesus too said the present “heaven and earth will pass
away” (Mt. 24:35) and life in the new creation will be “paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
In Rev. 21:1 John sees “a new heaven and a new earth” which take the place of the “the first
heaven and the first earth.” No description is given of the new creation, except that “the sea is no
longer” (21:1). What is “the sea”? Is it a physical body of water or the chaos that separates the
human race from God? It seems to represent the chaos caused by sin. In the OT “the sea”
represented the violent tumult that exists between people and God. In the beginning the waters
were associated with darkness, formlessness and chaos (Gen. 1:2). The sea is the home of the

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
evil serpent (Amos 9:3), Leviathan. In Jesus’ ministry the sea threatened the disciples, but Jesus
conquered it (e.g., Mt 8:24-27; 14:24-33). Jonah was rescued from the sea and was a type of
Jesus’ resurrection (Mt. 12:39-41).
There certainly is no “sea” (chaos and rebellion as a result of man’s sin) in the new heaven and
earth. The barrier between God and man is gone. Christ’s victory is complete. Never again will
his people be reminded of that fearful gulf that once separated them from his holy presence.
Elsewhere in Revelation the sea was a reminder of the separation that exists between God and his
fallen creation (Rev. 4:6 – glassy sea) (13:1 – beasts called out from the sea) (15:2 – “glassy sea
mixed with fire”). John does not see this “sea” in the new heaven and earth, for it is no longer
A quiet sea can represent the peace of the messianic age (Is. 11:9; Heb. 2:14). In a positive way
as the waters cover the sea, so shall knowledge of the Lord cover the earth.
The absence of the sea in the new heaven and earth is the absence of fear and terror, the absence
of the separation that sin causes.
The New Jerusalem (21:2) p. 595
John’s attention is immediately drawn to “the holy city, new Jerusalem … coming down out of
heaven from God” (21:2). God is the “architect and builder” (Heb. 11:10) of this new city. Here
God dwells with his people (Heb. 12:22) and it will remain forever (Heb. 13:14) (see also Rev.
3:11-12). Paul compares the earthly Jerusalem with “the new Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:25-26).
Isaiah describes God’s people as the bride of Yahweh as Rev. 21:2 does (see Is. 54:4-8; 60:15-16,
21; cf. 62:1-12).
Eze. 16:1-14 graphically portrays how God adorned Jerusalem as his bride, and though she
prostituted herself to alien gods (Eze. 16:15-28), God would atone for her and she again would
belong to him (Eze. 16:59-63). In Rev. 21, John sees the end result of the redemption of the bride
of God, now called the bride of Christ. She will forever remain in God’s holy presence.
The Tabernacle of God with His People (Rev. 21:3-4) p. 596
In the new heaven and earth God will tabernacle (dwell) with his bride, his people (21:3). John
gives a brief description of what this new life in God’s presence will be like (21:4). The
description is introduced with “a loud voice from the throne” (21:3). Whose voice this is we are
not told. But, as in other cases (9:13; 10:4; 12:10; 14:13; 18:4; 16:1, 17; 16:17; 19:5; 21:3), the
source is connected to an object. Here it is the throne. Whether the source is heaven, the temple,
or the throne, the ultimate living source is God. It may be the voice of an angel. If so the angel
speaks on the King’s behalf. When objects are mentioned, it may emphasize not only that God is

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
the source, but that he has bound himself to his people in an incarnational and sacramental way –
in Christ. So the altar = One who provides atonement and hears prayer; heaven = One adored by
heavenly host; temple = One who dwells among his people in the covenant in Christ; throne =
the One who rules his people, the King and Lord.
The “tabernacle” was associated with God’s judgment in 16:1-21 when the 7 censer-angels came
from it. Here in 21:3 the tabernacle is associated with God’s glorious and gracious presence with
his people in the new heaven and earth. The OT tabernacle was the visible location of God’s
covenant presence. Here it represents God and is not a material structure, for God himself and
the Lamb are the sanctuary (21:22).
When the new heaven and earth are created, there will be no visual tabernacle. Its presence won’t
be necessary because God will actually and personally be present among his people. This was
represented by the tabernacle in the OT. The tabernacle here also represents God’s presence,
which will be a permanent reality. The tabernacle and the temple were typologically mediating
structures that enabled the holy God to dwell among sinful people, and those structures were part
of the sacrificial worship that provided typological atonement for sin. In the eschaton all that will
remain of all this is the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 21:22).
The statement that they will be his people and he will be their God (21:3) has its roots in the OT
(Lev. 26:11-12; Jer. 31:33; Eze. 37:27). Here it says that God “will dwell” wit his people (future).
In Jn. 1:14 it said the Word “dwelt” with his people (past). Jesus, the incarnation of God, is the
One through whom God dwells among his people. He is the new temple, the new tabernacle, the
means of atonement, and the one who reconciles. This will be clearly seen in the new heaven and
new earth.
In 21:4 the benefits of God dwelling with his people are described. Told with negative terms,
abolished forever are the debilitating effects of sin: sorrow, death and pain. The positive realities
of heaven are beyond human understanding. But all people have experienced the results of sin.
And saying that these effects will be gone forever is something people can relate to and hope for.
God has promised to wipe away the tears caused by sin (Ps. 126:5-6; Is. 61:2-3; 65:19; Is. 25:8).
All things of the first creation are gone because they were corrupted and twisted out of their
godly purpose (see Gen. 3:14, 16-19; cf. Rom. 8:18-22). Their corruption resulted in death. But
now death (Rev. 20:14) and all the “first things” “have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
The One on the Throne Speaks (21:5-6) p. 600
For only the second time in Revelation God the Father speaks in the first person (the other was in
1:8). Throughout the prophetic message he has spoken through intermediaries. Here he speaks
directly to John.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The first word God said was a creative word, “Behold, I make all things new!” (21:5). In the
beginning God spoke and what he described was created. This time God speaks and creates a
new creation. How fitting that his first words are words of creation.
The words “Behold, I make all things new” (21:5) are similar to those in the LXX text of Is.
43:19, “behold, I make new things.” In Isaiah these are words of mercy to Israel (Is. 3:14-21).
Here we have the final result of God’s mercy, the renovation of the universe. What he will make
new is the old corrupted universe. This is what God promised long ago to Isaiah (65:17; 66:22).
God will do this not by annihilating the old creation, but by transforming it.
Who is it that tells John to write (21:15)? Some believe it is God; others believe it is an angel.
The reason some believe it is an angel is the switching from “he said” to “he says” in 21:5 and
then back again to “he said” in 21:6. Perhaps if it is John’s attending angel, who knows how
important this is, the angel makes sure John knows the urgency of getting this all down for the
sake of the church.
John is explicitly told to “write,” for “these words are faithful and true” (21:5). He has heard
these words before (19:5-10) and he will hear them again (22:6). Here it refers to the new heaven
and new earth. It is absolutely true that God will create a new heaven and earth and it will last
forever (Is. 66:22). You can count on it because God is faithful.
And in 21:6 John is told, “It has come into being.” All that God has spoken has come into being.
From the point of view of the vision everything is done. The Lord Christ has already come
(19:11-21), the resurrection and the final judgment have taken place (20:11-15) and the heavens
and the earth have been made new and restored to their original pristine condition. And yet for
God’s people on earth it is still in the future, but they have the assurance that it will take place.
The work necessary for this restoration was accomplished on the cross when Jesus said, “It is
finished” (Jn. 19:30). All is accomplished.
God the Father continues to speak: “I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End”
(21:6). He first called himself the Alpha and Omega in 1:8. Here he adds that he is “the
Beginning and the End.” The two phrases are not synonymous. The one who has no beginning or
ending (Alpha and Omega) is the Beginning and the End of all creation, of all life (cf. Col. 1:1320; Rev. 3:14). The phrase added here is done so in the context of the new heaven and earth.
Later Jesus uses these same titles for himself (22:13), showing his full divinity and equality with
the Father.
The one who created all things and gives life now offers that life to all for free (21:6). God has
always offered his life giving waters (Is. 55:1; Jn. 7:37; cf. Jn. 4:10-14). Those who have heeded
this invitation will now see the new heaven and earth. John will once again be reminded of this
gracious call to the waters of life given freely (22:17) in the epilogue (22:6-21).
The Blessed and the Damned (21:7-8) p. 603

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Rev. 21:7-8 gives a description of those who will inhabit the new heaven and earth and those
who will not. “The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will
be my son” (21:7). In Rev. 2 and 3 God makes promises to those “who conquer.” There he gives
a seven fold description of the blessed state of those who will live in the new heaven and earth.
The one who conquers inherits eternal life. The one who conquers is victorious because of the
victory of the Lamb (1:5-6; 5:5; 7:14-17). His victory is a victory for his saints (1 Jn. 5:4).
To be an heir of God is to share in the blessings that he confers on his own Son. One becomes an
heir when one is adopted as God’s son (Ro. 4:13; Gal. 3:26-29; Titus 3:5-7). Through baptism
they become “his people” and he will be with them. Each person that is in Christ, God’s Son,
also becomes a son of God. Only the heirs and sons of God will live in the new heaven and earth.
All who are not heirs receive the lake of fire, the second death (21:8). They are called cowards
and unfaithful. Once Jesus called his disciples cowards when their fear of the storm threatened to
overpower their faith (Mt. 8:26). Here “cowards” are “unfaithful persons.” They are those who
have no faith in Christ. If they were Christians at one time, they cowered when faced with
persecution and retreated from faith in Christ. They chose self and earthly honor and security and
riches over losing oneself in Christ. The description of unbelievers in 21:8 is meant to indicate all
unbelievers, Apostate Christians as well as those who never believed. Followers of Christ do not
live as they do.
Hell is graphically portrayed as “the lake which burns,” “the second death” (21:8). Here the devil
and his angels, the beast and false prophet, and all unbelievers have been thrown into “the lake
which burns.” This is the second, eternal death. The first death is the state of unbelief into which
all people are conceived and born into.

The New Jerusalem (21:9-27) p. 606
The Vision of the Bride (21:9-14)
The bride of Christ is illustrated by the holy city of Jerusalem (see 21:2). It is an angel that points
out the bride of the Lamb to John. It is probably the same angel that has been attending to John
all along (one of the 7 censer/trumpet/church angels). This angel shows John the church
triumphant, the bride of Christ, holy Jerusalem.
The angel takes John “in the Spirit to a large and high mountain” (21:10). This is the fourth and
final time that John is said to be “in the Spirit” (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). “In the Spirit” indicates
that it was the Holy Spirit that transported John to the mountain (whether in the body or outside
the body; cf. 2Cor. 12:2-4) to see the bride of Christ. It may have been similar to what happened
to Ezekiel when taken from Babylon to Jerusalem (Eze. 8:1-4; cf. Eze. 3:12; 11:1).
While the Harlot was seen in the wilderness (17:3), the Bride/City is seen from a mountain.
Maybe John was reminded of the mountain top experience of the transfiguration (Lk. 9:28-36),

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
except that here it is not Christ who is transfigured, but Christ’s church, adorned with the glory
of the exalted Christ.
The church on earth is already radiant with “the glory of God,” but it is unseen by the human
eye. But after the resurrection, the church is adorned for all to see. God’s radiance shines from
her. She is like the sun or stars which shine forth.
The holy city Jerusalem “has a large and high wall” (21:12). Usually a city has a wall to protect
it. Such protection would not be needed here because all the enemies of the bride of Christ had
been vanquished. So the wall is interpreted as a symbol of God’s care and protection of his
people. The OT pictures God as a fortification for and wall around his people (Is. 26:1; Zech.
2:4-5). In the new heaven and earth, God’s people will never again be attacked and never again
face the temptation of the devil. This is a return to Eden where the new Adam (the people of
Christ) will forever live in a state of grace and righteousness and innocence (cf. Ro. 5:12-21).
In Eze. 48:30-34 the prophet sees a vision of a restored and new Jerusalem in the end times, after
the final battle of Gog from Magog (Eze. 38-39; cf. Rev. 20:7-10), and in it Jerusalem has 12
gates in its walls, 3 on each of 4 sides. The gates are named after the 12 tribes of sons of Israel.
John’s vision here is very similar (21:12). Usually ancient Near Eastern cities had only a single
gate because a gate was more vulnerable to attack than the wall. So here the 12 gates symbolize
abundant entrance. And the 12 gates named after the 12 tribes emphasizes the continuity of the
NT church with God’s people of OT times. It also has an evangelistic theme because it was the
purpose of God’s people, old and new, to tell others about the one true God, Yahweh.
The wall rests on “12 foundation stones” which are named after “the 12 apostles” (21:14). The
church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2: 19-22) with Jesus Christ
as its cornerstone. The wall with its 12 gates built upon the 12 foundation stones is a reminder
that God’s covenant of grace embraces the entire people of God, OT and NT. In the OT they
believed in the promised Messiah. In the NT they believe Jesus is the Messiah. These people of
faith are the true Israel of God as represented by the New Jerusalem.
The 12 angels on the 12 gates are evidently guardians of the gates (cf. Pss. 34:7; 91:11; Heb.
1:14). The angels, as well as the gates, are a reminder that no enemy will enter the city to hurt
God’s people (see Rev. 21:27 below). Although for a different purpose, the angels guard the
gates like the cherubim protected the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24).
The Measuring of the City (21:15-21) p. 613
In these verses the dimensions of the holy city Jerusalem are given, together with a further
description of the foundation stones as precious jewels. “The one who was speaking with” John
(21:15) is probably the same angel. And the angel had “a golden measuring rod” (21:15). Ezekiel
(40:1-42:20) had a man of bronze show him the new temple. And he did it by measuring it;
assuring Ezekiel of its reality and concreteness (Eze. 40:1-4). After he finished measuring it,

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
God’s glory filled the temple (Eze. 43:1-5). This would be God’s dwelling place forever with his
people (Eze. 43:6-7). The bronze-like man was probably an angel.
Zechariah also saw a man measuring the city of Jerusalem which affirmed God’s promise to be
with them and protect them (Zech. 2:1-5). The angel in this vision measures the holy city for the
same reason, to assure the certainty of the New Jerusalem and God’s presence with her forever.
The passages in Ezekiel and Zechariah prophetically predicted the New Jerusalem and here John
sees it fulfilled (A different measuring took place in 11:1-2. It was done by John and it assured
him that God would protect his church as she carried out her mission.)
The city Jerusalem “was laid out four-square” (21:16), a perfect cube. It measured about 1,380
miles (12,000 furlongs/stadia or 2200 kilometers) long and wide and high. Its size defies
comprehension. It is a picture of perfection and splendor. The holy city, which is the bride of
Christ, will dominate the new heaven and earth as a precious stone dominates its setting. (While
Ezekiel’s dimensions vary drastically from these in Revelation, it still suggests divine perfection
and an orderly state.)
The holy city has the glory of God because he dwells within her, and this glory is Jerusalem’s
radiance (see 21:11). A cube symbolizes perfection. It reminds one of the Holy of Holies in the
inner sanctuary of Solomon’s temple. It was the place of God’s holy presence. It housed the ark
upon which once a year the high priest sprinkled blood upon the atonement cover (Lev. 16:1-17;
cf. Heb. 9:1-22). The city of Jerusalem (the bride of Christ) will be the Holy of Holies of the new
heaven and earth. She will be the holy place of God’s dwelling.
The wall was 144,000 cubits. 144 is the square of 12 and is reminiscent of the 144,000 (which is
12 tribes times 12,000 people), the number of saints in 7:4-8, the church militant. Since 144
suggests the church and is the measure of the wall of the holy city, it means that this holy city
within these walls is the church militant turned into the church triumphant. So this too points to
the fact that she is the Holy of Holies, God’s dwelling place in the new heaven and earth.
Rev. 21:18-21 describes the building material and composition and adornment of the city, with
its precious stones and gold. The color of jasper and sarduis is like the description of God on his
throne in 4:3. Therefore the city glows and reflects the glory of God himself as he dwells within
her. The city itself and the main street were “pure gold like clear glass” (21:18, 21). The pure
gold conveys the supreme royalty of God’s glory. It is transparent in order to allow God’s glory
to be transmitted unhindered.
The foundation stones were adorned with every kind of precious stone (21:19-20). Isaiah (54:1112) prophetically proclaimed that Yahweh would rebuild Zion, her walls and foundations and
gates, with precious stones. The breastplate of the high priest was made of gold and inlaid with
12 precious stones, one each for the 12 tribes of Israel (Ex. 28:15-17; 39:8-21). The 12
foundation stones here represent the 12 apostles (see 21:4). The 12 patriarchs and 12 apostles
represent all the people of God. The saints of the holy city reflect “the multicolored wisdom of
God” (Eph. 3:10). The church is the house of God (Eph. 2:20-22) built on the foundation of the
apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the capstone (Eph. 2:20).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“The 12 gates were 12 pearls” (Rev. 21:21). Pearls are not mentioned in the OT. But Jesus tells a
parable of a merchant seeking pearls. He found one so precious that he sold everything to
purchase it (Mt. 13:45-46; cf. Mt. 7:6; 1 Tim. 2:9). So precious is the entrance into the eternal
city that it is worth any cost. Only the Son of God could pay such a cost. This is the one great
possession that a Christian values, having abandoned everything else for its sake. Awaiting in the
city are many mansions prepared for them (Jn. 14:2). God’s saints will live in those mansions,
walk the streets of gold (21:21), and every step will reflect the royal glory of God.
Jerusalem’s Temple and Light Are God and the Lamb (21:22-27) p. 618
In the holy city, which is the people of God, John did not see a temple, for God and the Lamb
were its temple (21:22). The saints, after the resurrection, can now live directly with God. God
no longer needs to hide or shield his glory from them (in the tabernacle or temple). Where God
is, is the temple and God is with his people. The city itself (the people of God) is now the Holy
of Holies in which God dwells. Paul said that believers in this age are “the temple of the living
God” (2 Cor. 6:16). That was preliminarily true. Now, in the New Jerusalem, it is completely and
forever true.
The city does not need the sun or moon to light it up (Rev. 21:23). God’s glory and the Lamb will
illuminate her (21:23). John is not talking about the physical sun and moon. He is describing
what it is like to live in God’s holy presence. (When God makes his creation new again, there
may well be a sun and moon.)
Isaiah used similar language in Is. 60:14, 19. Again neither is Isaiah speaking of the physical sun.
It was created to govern the passage of time and to furnish light (Gen. 1:14-19). Christians
acknowledge that Jesus is “the true light” (Jn. 1:9) and the light of the world (Jn. 8:12; cf. 3:19;
12:35). Jesus is the light providing spiritual guidance for life’s pilgrimage. And he and the Father
are the eternal light in the new creation.
So wonderful is the light of God’s presence that nations and kings come to it (21:24). John is
seeing the fulfillment of Is. 60:1-6. A preview and type of this was the Magi’s coming and
worshipping the Christ child (Mt. 2:1-12). The nations are the saints. And Satan has not won all
kings. The Lamb too has won some. The emphasis in Is. 60:3 is the inclusion of Gentiles in the
true Israel. The gentile kings come to the New Jerusalem to honor the “King of kings.” And
“kings” may also include all Christians who rule with Christ (Rev. 5:10; 20:4, 6; 22:5).
The gates of the city will never be closed, for it is always day (21:25). This symbolizes that no
evil force or danger will be able to hurt or threaten God’s people. Gates to a city were usually
closed at night (e.g., Josh. 2:5-7). But here there is no darkness (sin or evil) and therefore no
need to close the gates. The gates continually remain open allowing the nations and kings to
enter to honor the King. In the new heaven and earth, all peoples and all nations and all kings –
the entire creation - will honor and praise God and the Lamb (cf. 4:1-5:14).

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
There will be no “unclean” things or people in the new creation (21:27). Uncleanness in the OT
referred to the purity laws, which Jesus fulfilled and abolished (e.g., Mk. 7:2, 5; Acts 10:28). In
Rev. 21:27 “unclean” refers to anything abhorrent to God (“abominable,” “a lie, falsehood”) for
these are characteristic of the devil.
In different places in Rev. those entering eternal life with God are described. Here they are
described based on God’s action for them. He wrote their names “in the book of life of the
Lamb” (21:27).

The Garden Restored (22:1-5) p. 622
The River of Life and the Tree of Life
In Rev. 22:1-5 John sees another picture of the new heaven and new earth, one like the Garden of
Eden (“the river of the water of life” [22:1) and especially “the tree of life” [22:2’). The same
angel shows this picture to John.
John is shown “the river of the water of life” which is so pure it is “clear as crystal” (22:1). The
Garden of Eden had a river which flowed through it (Gen. 2:10-14). In both cases it is a symbol
that life which God alone can grant and sustain. Jesus spoke of the “living water” that he gives
and that becomes “a spring of water which wells up into eternal life” (Jn. 4:10-14).
A similar use of a river as a symbol of life flowing from God is found in Ezekiel. Ezekiel sees
the new creation with a river of water flowing out of the temple bringing life to creatures and
food for people (Eze. 47:1-12). It has such ability because it flows from the temple of God (Eze.
47:12). The life in it rejuvenates the Dead Sea so that it can sustain fish (Eze. 47:8-9) and causes
fruit trees to grow on its banks (Eze. 47:7, 12; cf. Rev. 22:2). And the leaves on the trees are for
“healing” (Eze. 47:12).
Two other brief references to such a “river” are found in Zech. 14:8 and Joel 3:18. In Ezekiel and
Joel the river flows from the temple and in Zechariah from Jerusalem. In Rev. 22:1 it flows from
“the throne of God and of the Lamb” in the New Jerusalem. The temple is no longer there; God
and the Lamb are the temple (21:22). (Why is there a temple in Ezekiel? Possibly because he
speaks in OT language. In the OT God was present with his people in the temple.)
As the river in Eden sustained earthly life, so the river in the new Eden is the sustaining power of
God giving life to God’s people throughout eternity.
In the heart of the city is the main street and the river. In between the street and the river “is the
tree of life” (Rev. 22:2). The picture is one of a beautiful park that runs through the center of the
city and in this paradise is the tree of life.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
“The tree of life” first appeared in Gen. 2:9. After Adam ate from “the tree of knowledge of good
and evil,” Adam could not eat from “the tree of life,” for it was death that was in his future and
not life.
There are other references to “the tree of life” in the OT as a source of life (Prov. 3:18; 11:30;
13:12; Eze. 47:1-12). The trees in the OT are not always called the tree of life, but they serve the
same function.
The reference to the tree of life in Eze. 47:1-12 and Rev. 22:1-2 suggest that “tree” is used in a
collective sense. If this true, then in Eden “the tree of life” might also be used in a collective
sense. It might be a species of tree that served the purpose of pointing to God as the Creator and
sustainer of life.
The tree of life in the new Eden serves the same purpose as it did in the original Eden. It
provides fruit and healing, that is, it shows that God will provide all that is necessary for life in
the new heaven and earth. The healing leaves indicate a complete absence of physical and
spiritual want. It is for the people written in the “book of life” (Rev. 20:12; 21:27). God will
never again have to guard the tree to keep people from it (cf. Gen. 3:24).
Rev. 22:1-5 never says “Garden of Eden.” But the very mention of “tree of life” (22:2) brings it
to mind. The new heaven and earth will be the Garden of Eden restored for God’s people to live
in forever. The heavenly city of Jerusalem, which represents the people of God as a holy temple
in the new heaven and earth, is where God dwells in the new heaven and earth. The Eden-like
paradise represents the abundant life that God will furnish for his people forever.
The proper name Eden means “luxury, delight, pleasure.” In it is every delightful pleasure of life
in communion with God (Gen. 2:9-10). “Paradise” came to be used for the original Garden and is
used three times in the NT (Lk. 23:42-43; 2 Cor 12:2-4; Rev. 2:7). It is also used for the
heavenly, eternal Eden.
Rev. 2:7 connects “the tree of life” with “the paradise of God.” Once Adam and Eve fell into sin,
they could no longer eat from the tree of life and they were expelled from paradise. So eating
from the tree of life and living in paradise go together. God provides all that is necessary for life,
life eternal in paradise. In the new heaven and earth, those who are victorious in Christ will be
able to eat from the tree of life, indicating that they will have life forever with God.
References to “the tree of life” in Rev. 22:2, 14, 19 refer to the restored Garden of Eden where all
the people of God will reside.
In the restored Garden, there will no longer be “any curse” (22:3). The original curse on the earth
(Gen. 3:14-19) will be supplanted by God’s eternal blessing. Christ redeemed us from “the curse
of the Law” and “became a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13; cf. Ro. 8:3; Gal. 4:4-5).
In 22:3 attention is focused on the throne. Previously, the Lamb was never seated on the throne
(5:6; 7:17). For the first time we now see the Lamb on the throne with the Father (22:1; cf. 22:3).
In the first Eden God dwelt with his people. Here the Father and the Lamb share the throne

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
(22:1; cf. 22:3), both live among God’s people. This stresses the full divinity and equality of the
Lamb/Son and the full unity of the Father and Son (also notice the singular pronouns, “his [not
their] slaves will serve him [not them], 22:3).
God’s people are no longer slaves to sin (cf. Ro. 6:12-23), but are slaves to the Triune God,
serving him as worshippers (22:3). John now sees the people of God in the new Eden after the
resurrection, praising and worshipping God with their voices and with their deeds. Even their
actions are a great Te Deum to God.
Since the fall, no one could see God face to face. If they did it would mean death. It was
promised that one day God’s people would see God face to face (Ps. 17:15). In the new Eden,
that promise is fulfilled.
To those who remain firm in the faith until the End, God promised to write his name on them
(Rev. 3:12). Here John sees it fulfilled. Through the redemption wrought by the Lamb, they have
been named and identified as God’s people (22:4).
The fact that no light is necessary in the new Jerusalem is also true for the new Eden (22:5). God
is the spiritual Light that enlightens and inspires people.
Two passages say that God’s people will and do reign with him now in their earthly lives (5:10;
20:4-6). But this is the only passage that says they “will reign forever” (22:5). The reign of the
saints in this world is temporary. But the reign of the saints in the new heaven and earth will
never end.

Excursus: The Restored Physical Creation p. 631
God does not tell how he will restore creation. He does say that he will dwell with his people
(New Jerusalem, 21:1-27) and provide for them (new Eden, 22:1-5). The tree of life suggests a
physical life in which all bodily needs are provided by God. Also the tree of life and the river
suggests that the new earth will be like the old before the fall into sin. Apparently the whole earth
will be a Garden of Eden, with the tree of life (collective noun) scattered throughout.
Because creation was put under God’s curse, it groans in its futility waiting for its restoration
(Ro. 8). While the whole creation suffers under God’s judgment and is thus wasting away, there
is a clear promise that it will be restored to its original pristine state, to God’s original design for
humanity’s bodily state. And those redeemed in Christ will be resurrected and transformed from
their old sinful selves to the bodies God originally designed for people to live in forever (1Cor.
15). Their old, sinful bodies are planted and what grows is something of a completely new and
different order, something beyond our comprehension.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Epilogue (22:6-21)
The Form and Function of the Epilogue p. 639
The epilogue along with the prologue declares the authenticity of this work of John and its
urgency for the church. The epilogue is not only the end of the prophetic message of Rev., but is
also the last word of the Lord until he comes.
The epilogue, like the prologue, says “the time is near” (1:3; 22:6), expressing an urgency to the
message. They both express that Rev. is genuine prophecy (1:3; 22:6, 16), the message of
Revelation is given by an angel of Jesus/God (1:1; 22:6, 16), and John is the human mediator
(1:1-2; 22:8) to the churches. Because of these similarities, it is possible that the prologue was
written later, that John was commanded to write and when the epilogue was complete, the
prologue was written reflecting the main points of the epilogue.

A Final Angelic Affirmation (22:6) p. 639
The speaker is probably an angel and the angel is probably the same angel that has been speaking
to John about the End (17:1-22:5). He says to John that “these words” of the prophetic message
of Revelation “are faithful and true” (22:6) This is a refrain announced often in Rev. (see also
3:7; 3:14; 15:3; 16:7). There is absolute truth. It originates with God and Christ is a faithful
witness to it. Christ is the “Amen,” the affirmation of it. As John declared the truth of God’s
Word in 19:9, so here in the epilogue he declares the truth of the whole book of Revelation and
even of all Scripture.
The words of Revelation are true because “Yahweh, the God of the spirits of the prophets” stands
behind them (22:6). As God spoke through the OT prophets, so now he speaks through his
prophetic words delivered by an angel to John.
“His angel” in 22:6 is the same angel as in 1:1. It is a definite angel, the angel of Yahweh, the
angel of Jesus.
The Father gives the message to the Son. The Son gives the message through his/ the Father’s
angel to John. And John mediates the message to the church (cf. 10:11).
This angel is also to be identified with the “mighty angel” of Rev. 10.
The term “slaves” is used many times in Revelation. That term identifies God’s people on earth,
John himself, the prophets, Moses. They are “slaves” because they are called to do God’s
bidding. They belong to him because they have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb and
they bear his seal on their foreheads (7:3). So “slave” refers to those who belong to God and who
are on a mission of service.
The “events” that will “soon take place” (22:6) refer to the entire message of Revelation: human
suffering, God’s judgment of evil, and the church’s mission. These events are necessary,

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
especially the church’s witness. There is an urgency to these events because soon Christ will
come again.

An Urgent Interruption from Jesus (22:7) P. 643
Jesus interrupts to say, “Behold, I am coming quickly” (22:7). This shows that the message of
Revelation is urgent. He speaks in the first person (see 1:8 and 21:5-6 where the Father speaks in
the first person). This is most certainly Jesus because what he says applies only to himself. He
made similar statements in 2:16 and 3:11 to urge the churches to heed his warnings and
encouragement. Earlier he spoke in preparation for hearing the message of Revelation. Now he
speaks after the message has been told. He is saying, “Please heed the message!”
In 16:15 Christ spoke in the first person about his second coming and Armageddon. Both here
and there have a beatitude (this is the 6th beatitude). Since the entire prophecy has been revealed,
the beatitude refers to the entire message of Revelation.

An Assurance Regarding His Testimony from John (22:8-9) p. 644
The one who wrote Revelation (John), now identifies himself as the one who saw and heard
these things (22:8). This is assurance for his recipients. He was a witness. It’s not his
imagination. He has witnessed this as assuredly as he saw and touched the risen Lord (1 John 14). This Word is authentic. It is God’s Word given through Jesus by his angel (cf. Rev. 1:1-3).
After all that John heard and saw, he fell down to worship the angel who had showed him these
things (as he did in 19:10). Again it is hard to explain. Again it seems as if he was completely
overwhelmed. And again it was misplaced worship. Only God is to receive such worship. So the
angel tells him to stop. He is only a fellow “slave,” like John and the prophets and those who
keep the Words of this book (22:9).

Instruction for the Present Moment (22:10-11) p. 645
The speaker of 22:10-11 is probably the same attending angel. The angel tells John not to seal the
book because “the time is near” (22:10). In Daniel the opposite is true. Daniel was to “seal the
vision” because it was about the distant future (Dan. 8:26). Now the future events are imminent;
what John saw and heard was about to be completed.
Earlier in Rev., God’s judgments did not evoke repentance (e.g., 9:20-21). In the same way many
will not heed the urgent call to repentance here. Sinners will continue to “do wrong” and remain
“filthy” (22:11). At the same time, God’s people will continue to be “righteous” and “holy.”
There is time to repent, but that time is now. This is the urgency under which the church is to
proclaim the Gospel and persevere in righteousness.

A Promise from the Lord Christ (22:12-13) p. 646

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Jesus reiterates that he is “coming quickly.” Then he speaks of giving a “reward” to each person
according to his work when he comes. Those who keep the prophecy will receive the reward.
Evildoers will be judged by their evil works and their “reward” will be hell. The reward Jesus
gives to his faithful followers was not earned. Rather, good works demonstrate the grace of God
and power of the Holy Spirit that helps them keep “the words of the prophecy” (22:7). Notice
that Christ calls it “my reward” (22:12), not their reward. Jesus earned the reward himself and he
freely gives it to all believers by grace. The reward is the gift of eternal life in God’s holy
presence and was earned by Jesus in his death and resurrection as the Lamb of God (5:9-10;
7:13-17). This reward is represented by the tree of life (22:2, 14). There is an OT parallel in
Isaiah which points forward to the End (Is. 40:10-11; 62:11-12; 53:12). There the Suffering
Servant of Yahweh shares the victor’s spoil, the spoils he earned, with his justified saints.

Three Divine Titles (22:13)
Then Jesus applies three titles to himself (22:13). The Father and Son share the first and third
titles (1st – 1:8; 21:6 (Father); 22:13 (Son)) (3rd – 21:1 (Father); 22:13 (Son)). But only the Son is
given the second title, “the First and the Last” (1:17; 2:8: 22:13). The divine status of the Holy
Spirit is implied by the fact that through the Spirit sinners are purified and made a part of Christ’s
holy bride.
These three titles may seem to be synonymous, but they do not have the exact same meaning. All
three point to the infinite, eternal presence of God, but each title makes its own distinct and
essential point.
Figure 5 – The Three Divine Titles in Revelation 22:13

………………………………………(Father & Son)…………………………………….
The Alpha…………………….…….beyond all creation……………………The Omega
(Father & Son)
………The Beginning……………..…..of creation……………………The End
…………………………………..….(The Lord Christ)
………………The First……………...of the Church…………….The Last
……………………………………...Fallen Humanity
“The Alpha and the Omega” p. 648

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
Long before he created the universe God existed. He has existed eternally apart from his creative
activity and this world. Here as King of kings and Lord of lords the Son claims to be God,
together with the Father. He is God along with the Father and the Spirit. As true God, the Son has
always been present with the Father. But now the incarnate Son, the God-man, Jesus Christ, in
the union of his divine and human natures, displays the eternal magnitude he shares with the
Father. The victorious Lamb rightfully proclaims divine equality with the Father. He has always
been present with the Father. He now displays the eternal unity he has with the Father.
“The Beginning and the End” p. 649

In the first title the Father and Son were far beyond all creation. In the third title, the Father and
Son are also the “beginning and the end” of creation. This third title appears in contexts that
concern especially the new creation (21:5-6). He is the source and beginning point of creation
and he is the end and purpose of creation. Creation comes from God and points to God. Here in
22:13 Jesus Christ, the victorious Lamb, also claims to be the source and beginning of all
creation as well as its end point, its purpose and goal.
In Rev. 3:14 the exalted Son of Man calls himself “the source of the creation of God.” Was he
speaking more of the first or second creation? (Col. 1:16-18 = first; Paul speaks of Jesus as “the
beginning” and “the first born” of the dead = second). Jesus was the agent (Logos) of the first
creation. But he will be not only the agent but also the source of the new creation, an honor he
shares with the Father.
“The First and the Last” p. 650

The second title is applied only to Jesus Christ. Three times in Revelation Jesus calls himself
“the First and the Last.” In 1:17-18 Jesus identifies himself in this way. He gives himself this title
because he is “the Living One,” the one who “was dead” but is now “alive forever and ever.”
Similarly in 2:8 he identifies himself as the First and the Last, the one who came back to life. He
is the First and Last of those who will die with him and will be raised with him. All who die and
rise with him are the church. He is the founder and end goal of the church.
Christ alone bears the title of “the First and the Last” because he alone died and rose again.
The three titles represent the Christology of Revelation and the Bible. Jesus is the everlasting
God far above and beyond all creation long before the present universe. He is “the Alpha and
Omega.” He is also, along with the Father, the initial source and the end point of all creation,
particularly the new creation. He is “the Beginning and the End” of creation. And finally he is
the Lord of the church, “the First and the Last” of the church.
Figure 5 summarizes the three titles. It is through the title “the First and the Last” that God meets
the human race (cf. Jn 14:6-9; Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19-25). Once one sees Jesus as “the First and the
Last” of the church, then one can see him and the Father as “the Beginning and the End” of

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
creation, the Savior of the human race, the Lord of creation. And then through the truth of
Scripture, one can see the Triune God as the One who exists above and beyond all creation, “the
Alpha and the Omega.”

A Beatitude and an Exclusion (22:14-15) p. 652
This is the 7th and last beatitude (22:14). The speaker seems to be the Lord Christ (as in 22:7).
Already in 7:14 John saw those “who washed their robes.” Those same people are blessed in that
they “have authority … over the tree of life” (22:14). In the new Eden they will be able to eat
from the “tree of life” forever. “And they will enter into the city” (22:14). All evil (22:15) is
outside the city. Never again will God’s people suffer from or be tempted by evil.

An Attestation from Jesus Himself (22:16) p. 653
This is the only time in Revelation and in the NT that Jesus refers to himself with his personal
name, “Jesus.” His name points to his humanity and his intimate relationship with God’s people.
He is their loving Savior.
Jesus testifies, through his angel, to “you” (plural), to John, the 7 churches, and to the church at
large. The angel mediates the message, but Jesus is its source.
Jesus identifies himself as “the root and the descendant of David.” He is David’s Son and Lord
(Ps. 110:1; Mk. 12:35-37). He is the “shoot” from “the stump of Jesse” (Is. 11:1).
He is also the bright morning star (22:16) (see also 2:28 and Num 24:17 where a star from Jacob
would rule). That star now shines as “the Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). The morning start is
a promise that the night of tribulation is almost over, the new eschatological day is about to

The Response: “Come” (22:17) p. 655
The church (the bride) responds by asking Jesus to “come” (22:17). They pray that all who hear
the Word of prophecy and are moved by the Spirit would come. Those who have received “the
water of life freely” invite others to come and partake in the refreshing and life-giving waters,
that they too might say, “Come.”

A Warning about the Prophetic Book (22:18-19) p. 655
The hearer is not to “add” or “take away” from “the words of the book of this prophecy” (22:19).
If one does, he will incur the wrath of God either in plagues (22:18) or removal from the tree of
life and the holy city (22:19). Jesus is the speaker of these words; he is the solemn witness of the
book of Revelation.

Notes on the Concordia Commentary of Revelation by Dr. Louis Brighton
The warning is to not only not change the words, but also not to change the words in order to
change the meaning (similarly, see Deut. 4:2).
This warning should also apply to the rest of Scripture, for it is all God’s Word. Paul speaks the
same way of the Gospel message (Gal. 1:6-9).

A Promise, A Prayer, and a Blessing (22:20-21) p. 657
Jesus’ last words are, “Yes, I am coming quickly” (22:20). It is a promise to the church, his saints
on earth. Jesus himself makes the promise. Did this cause John to remember Jn. 21:22? Would
Jesus come while John was still alive? John’s response is, “Amen, come now, Lord Jesus”
(22:20). John had followed Jesus for decades. How many times must John have prayed this
This is the prayer of every Christian and the church. Likewise, Paul prays, “Maranatha,” “Our
Lord, come” (1Cor. 16:22). Knowing what is to come, Christians daily pray, “Amen, come now,
Lord Jesus.”
Until Christ returns, the closing benediction is enough to sustain the church: “the grace of the
Lord Jesus be with all” (22:21). This benediction highlights the truth that the Christian life is one
of complete dependence upon God’s grace in Christ. It is also an evangelistic prayer that God’s
grace may indeed come to “all.”

Excursus: Summary of the Christology of Revelation p. 659
The Christology of the gospels is primarily that of lowliness and humiliation. But they end with
the ascension of Jesus. This is where Revelation picks up. Its Christology is Jesus in his state of
exaltation (1:5, 13-20; 5:6-14).
He first appears as the Son of Man (1:13) who brings history to an end and judges the human
race (14:14; 19:11-21). As the Son of Man all creation will bow before him (1:5-7, 17; 19:11-16;
cf. Phil. 2:9-11).
In Revelation Jesus is the Lamb of God who was victorious over death and who redeemed his
people (1:5:6; 5:10). The Lamb won victory over death and hell and over Satan, the dragon
(12:5-12). Because of this victory, Christ is honored as the Son of Man to rule all things.
Christ is also the angel of Yahweh, the spokesman and Word of God (Rev. 1:1-2; 5:9; 6:1-17;
19:11-13; 22:16), who gives witness to the message of Revelation.
The high Christology of Revelation is brought to a climax in Rev. 22:13 with the three divine
titles, describing Christ as the eternal God, the Lord of creation, and the Lord of the Church.