The Mighty Angel and the Little Scroll (Rev 10)

March 27, 2017 — 2 Comments

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Blog Posts

B. Text of Revelation 10

“1Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven clothed in a cloud. A rainbow was around his head and his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire. 2He was holding in his hand a scroll which had been opened. He stood with his right foot on the sea, but the lef foot was on the earth. 3He cried out in a loud voice as a lion roars. When he cried out the seven thunders answered him. 4When the seven thunders answered I was about to write but I heard a voice from heaven sayin, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders said and do not write them down.’ 5The angel—which I saw standing on the sea and on the land—lifted his right hand toward heaven 6and he took an oath by the one who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and everything in them, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it. He said, ‘Time will no longer be,’ 7but in the time of the sound of the seventh angel’s trumpet, when it is about to be blown, the mysery of God will be complete just as his servants and prophets preached. 8Then I again heard a noise from heaven saying, ‘Go and take the open scroll in the hand of the angel standing on the sea and on the land.’ 9So I went to the angel and I asked him to give to me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take and eat it, It will be bitter in your stomach, but in your mouth it will be sweet like honey. 10So I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It was sweet at honey in my mouth but when I swallowed it, it became bitter in my stomach. 11Then they said to me: ‘It is necessary for you to prophesy again to the peoples, ethnicities, languages, and many kings.” (Rev 10:1-11) 1

The Mighty Angel and the Little Scroll (Rev 10)

Photo Credit: Phillip Medhurst

C. General Remarks

“Chapter 7 dealt parenthetically with the 144,000 and the many martyrs, without advancing chronologically the events of the Great Tribulation. Similarly 10:1–11:14 give additional information as a background to the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments.” (Walvoord, “Revelation” in Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, 954)

“For the first and last time in this drama, he [John] leaves the observer’s corner and occupies the very center of the stage.” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 59)

“This vision [Rev 10:1-11:14], however, differs from the message of consolation and assurance introduced between the breaking of the sixth and seventh seals. That emphasized the safety and the glory of the persecuted people of God; this message describes the mingling of the sweet and the bitter. It speaks of persecution and tribulation, but also of loyalty and devotion.” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 67)

“Like chapter 7, this section does not advance the narrative but presents other facts that contribute to the toal prophetic scene.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 169)

II. DESCRIPTION OF THE MIGHTY ANGEL (Rev 10:1-4)

A. Another Mighty Angel from Heaven (v. 1)

Καὶ εἶδον ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἰσχυρὸν καταβαίνοντα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ περιβεβλημένον νεφέλην, καὶ ἡ ἶρις ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος καὶ οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὡς στῦλοι πυρός,

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven clothed in a cloud. A rainbow was around his head and his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire.” (Rev 10:1)

1. An Angel; Not Jesus

There is sometimes speculation that this is Jesus (Mulholland, “Revelation” [2011], 494). In Matt 17:2 Jesus’ face shown the the sun and his clothes were as white as light. In Rev 1:15-16 Jesus’ face shines like th sun. Yet, most scholars agree that this is not Jesus for several reasons.

First, the Greek word for angel here is αγγελος which can mean “messenger” or “angel.” The highly respected Greek lexicon BDAG says that this Greek word can be used in the following ways:

  • a human messenger serving as an envoy that is sent by God or by humans. Often translated as “an envoy, one who is sent.”
  • a transcendent power (angels, intermediate beings, or evil spirits) who carries out various missions or tasks. Often translated as “messenger, angel.” (BDAG, 8-9).

Nowhere in BDAG does it say that this word refers to God. Every other Greek lexicon I could find provides a similar classification of αγγελος (James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek; H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, 4; The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament; Alexander Souter, A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, 3).

Second, when referring to Jesus in the book of Revelation the text is never fuzzy. When Jesus is described the book of Revelation clearly states that Jesus is the one being referenced. Jesus is described as the “Alpha and Omega (1:17; 3:14) and as the ruler over the kings of the world (1:5). He id described as the source of David (3:7; 22:16). He is also described as the “Lamb” (7:9-10, 13-14, 17; 13:8; 21:27). Most clear is the describe of Christ in chapters 1 and 19 of Revelation. The best example of this is Jesus’s description in Revelation 19. Revelation 19:11 tells readers about Jesus’s return to earth. Jesus comes back on a white horse. Jesus’s name is “Faithful” and “True,” because he judges fairly and wages a righteous war (19:11). Jesus’s eyes are like flames of fire and he wears many crowns on his head. A name is written on him that no one can understand accept himself (19:12). Jesus wears a robe dipped in blood and his title is the word of God (19:13). The armies of heaven follow him on white horses (19:14). From Jesus’s mouth comes a sharp sword to strike down the nations which he will rule with an iron rod. Jesus will release the fierce wrath of God (19:15). The title of Jesus is “king of all kings and Lord of all lords” and it is written on his robe (19:16). No one can mistake that the person mentioned in chapters 1 and 19 is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Third, this angel raises his right hand toward heaven and takes an oath to God. The description seems to be that this is an angel sent down to proclaim God’s word on behalf of God. It would be odd for Jesus to come down to earth, then take an oath of himself.

According to Walvoord “the evidence seems to support the idea that the angel of 10:1 is a holy angel to whom has been given great power and authority. This angel is described as ‘coming down from heaven,’ and there is no evidence that Christ comes to earth midway in the tribulation” (Walvoord, Revelation, 170).

B. Foot on Land and Sea (v. 2)

καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεῳγμένον. καὶ ἔθηκεν τὸν πόδα αὐτοῦ τὸν δεξιὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, τὸν δὲ εὐώνυμον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,

“He was holding in his hand a scroll which had been opened. He stood with his right foot on the sea, but the lef foot was on the earth.” (Rev 10:2)

1. Small Scroll

This scroll is different than the seven-sealed scroll that we have read about in Rev 6:1-14; 8:1-5. There are various views about what this scroll contains. Some say it is is similar or the same to the scroll of Rev 5-6 (Mathewson, Revelation, 131), others say the little scroll contains Rev 12-22, and some say it contains Rev 11:1-13 (Robertson, Word Pictures). According to Mulholland, this scroll is the Old Testament covenant (Mulholland, “Revelation” [2011], 494-495, 498). According to Walvoord, the scroll is the Word of God itself (Walvoord, Revelation, 174). The best answer about what the scroll contains is that the scroll reveals some of the mystery of God (10:7) while at the same time commissioning John to write his prophecy (10:11) (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 68; Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 63).

2. Land and Sea

There are various views about this land and sea. When it was first described to me by my mentor at Dallas Theological Seminary he told me that the land is “Israel” and the sea is the “Gentile nations.”

According to Thomas, “By planting his feet on sea and land, the angel displays his purpose to take possession of both (cf. Deut 11:24). This asserts the divine right and determination to execute judgment against a world that exhibits its rebellion through idolatry and immortality” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 63).

I do not agree with Mulholland on many of his views. Above he said that the mighty angel is Jesus, and here he says that the land represents the fallen Babylon and sea is also a symbol of the rebellious realm (Mulholland, “Revelation” [2011], 495).

C. A Great Shout (v. 3)

καὶ ἔκραξεν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ὥσπερ λέων μυκᾶται. καὶ ὅτε ἔκραξεν, ἐλάλησαν αἱ ἑπτὰ βρονταὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν φωνάς.

“He cried out in a loud voice as a lion roars. When he cried out the seven thunders answered him.” (Rev 10:3)

A great shout like the roar of a lion likely means that this was a loud and powerful roar. I don’t think that it means he had an animal head or any type of animal features. I think John is just using the symbol of an lion as a way to describe how loud and powerful this shout was.

D. Seven Thunders Secrecy (v. 4)

καὶ ὅτε ἐλάλησαν αἱ ἑπτὰ βρονταί, ἤμελλον γράφειν, καὶ ἤκουσα φωνὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λέγουσαν· σφράγισον ἃ ἐλάλησαν αἱ ἑπτὰ βρονταί, καὶ μὴ αὐτὰ γράψῃς.

“When the seven thunders answered I was about to write but I heard a voice from heaven sayin, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders said and do not write them down.’” (Rev 10:4)

1. Seven Thunders

There is an article on “seven thunders” which suggests that the thunders are well-known to John’s immediate readers (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 65).

2. Voice from Heaven

The voice from heaven is likely the voice of God or Christ (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 66). Other examples of God’s voice being in an image of thunder are Exod 19:9; Job 37:2, 4-5; Pss 29:3; John 12:28-29.

3. Why Not Write It Down?

If God’s words to us are profound and unique, why not write them down? Wouldn’t we want to write down as much s we possibly can?

Other times in the Bible we see biblical writers told to seal what they have seen and heard:

  • “This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret.” (Dan 8:26, NLT)
  • “But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” (Dan 12:4, NLT)
  • “But he said, ‘Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end.’” (Dan 12:9, NLT)

This “restraint” to not write down all that John sees is something that Paul also did “This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell” (2 Cor 12:1–4, NLT). Revelation 10:4 and 2 Cor 12:1-4 both tell us that all that the biblical writers knew was not written down. There are other things they heard and saw which they hoped to write down for us, but were not permitted to do so.

“This instance of revelation is for John’s ears and eyes only, and he is not permitted to reveal what he heard. This illustrates a divine principle that while God has revealed much, there are secrets that God has not seen fit to reveal at this time” (Walvoord, Revelation, 171).

III. PROPHECY OF THE MIGHTY ANGEL (Rev 10:5-7)

A. A Right Hand Toward Heaven (v. 5)

Καὶ ὁ ἄγγελος, ὃν εἶδον ἑστῶτα ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἦρεν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ τὴν δεξιὰν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν

“The angel—which I saw standing on the sea and on the land—lifted his right hand toward heaven” (Rev 10:5)

This truly appears to be a “mighty angel” ready to deliver God’s wrath. I still struggle whether some of these angels are “good” angels or “bad” demonic angels. A part of me feels that are God’s angels administering his holy wrath against the earth. Support for this goes all the way back to the Old Testament:

  • “Now I raise my hand to heaven and declare, ‘As surely as I live, when I sharpen my flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I will take revenge on my enemies and repay those who reject me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword will devour flesh— the blood of the slaughtered and the captives, and the heads of the enemy leaders.’” (Deuteronomy 32:40–42, NLT)
  • “The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, “It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened.” (Daniel 12:7, NLT)

B. No More Delay (v. 6)

καὶ ὤμοσεν ἐν τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ὃς ἔκτισεν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ, ὅτι χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται,

“and he took an oath by the one who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and everything in them, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it. He said, ‘Time will no longer be’” (Rev 10:6)

1. God is Creator

The Bible is absolutely and solemnly clear that God is the one who created the world and the universe (Gen 1:1; 14:19, 22; Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Pss 146:6; Rev 4:11; 14:7).

2. It is Finished.

This is the time that all of creation has been waiting for. Since the fall of Gen 3 God has been patient and waiting for his people to turn back to him. Time after time after time they fail to return to him. Now, he is sending his judgment on the earth.

C. The Mysterious Plan Fulfilled (v. 7)

ἀλλʼ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ ἑβδόμου ἀγγέλου, ὅταν μέλλῃ σαλπίζειν, καὶ ἐτελέσθη τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ, ὡς εὐηγγέλισεν τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ δούλους τοὺς προφήτας.

“, but in the time of the sound of the seventh angel’s trumpet, when it is about to be blown, the mysery of God will be complete just as his servants and prophets preached.” (Rev 10:7)

1. Mysterious Plan

Revelation 10:7 references God’s mysterious plan that will be fulfilled. Is this the same plan that Paul references in Ephesians? Or maybe how that is connected to Gal 3:6-9, 16? Thomas says that the mystery of this passage refers to the “great purpose of God in the evolution of human history” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 70). Mystery is used in other places in the Bible to describe a secret revealed by God (Eph 3:1-10), God’s redemptive plan (Rom 16:25-26), or to the “church,” the Antichrist, the kingdom, or that all shall not die (Matt 13:10-35; Rom 11:25; 15:51; Eph 1:9; 3:1-10; 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess 2:6-8). The exact phrase, “τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ / the mystery of God” occurs in 1 Cor 2:1 and Col 2:2. The likely meaning of this phrase is the reference to the coming of God’s kingdom.

2. His Servants and Prophets

Among God’s many signs of grace he revealed some of his plans to the prophets and servants.

  • “Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7, NLT)
  • “From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out.” (Jeremiah 7:25, NLT)
  • “Again and again the LORD has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention.” (Jeremiah 25:4, NLT)

The Mighty Angel and the Little Scroll (Rev 10) 2IV. JOHN’S PROPHECY AND THE SMALL SCROLL (Rev 10:8-11)

A. Take the Scroll (v. 8)

Καὶ ἡ φωνὴ ἣν ἤκουσα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πάλιν λαλοῦσαν μετʼ ἐμοῦ καὶ λέγουσαν· ὕπαγε λάβε τὸ βιβλίον τὸ ἠνεῳγμένον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ ἑστῶτος ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.

“Then I again heard a noise from heaven saying, ‘Go and take the open scroll in the hand of the angel standing on the sea and on the land.’” (Rev 10:8)

B. Eat the Scroll (v. 9)

καὶ ἀπῆλθα πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον λέγων αὐτῷ δοῦναί μοι τὸ βιβλαρίδιον. καὶ λέγει μοι· λάβε καὶ κατάφαγε αὐτό, καὶ πικρανεῖ σου τὴν κοιλίαν, ἀλλʼ ἐν τῷ στόματί σου ἔσται γλυκὺ ὡς μέλι.

“So I went to the angel and I asked him to give to me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take and eat it, It will be bitter in your stomach, but in your mouth it will be sweet like honey.” (Rev 10:9)

Other prophets in the holy Scriptures took a scroll and ate it too.

  • “The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ezekiel 3:1–3, NLT)
  • “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.” (Jeremiah 15:16, NLT)

C. Ate the Scroll (v. 10)

Καὶ ἔλαβον τὸ βιβλαρίδιον ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ ἀγγέλου καὶ κατέφαγον αὐτό, καὶ ἦν ἐν τῷ στόματί μου ὡς μέλι γλυκὺ καὶ ὅτε ἔφαγον αὐτό, ἐπικράνθη ἡ κοιλία μου.

“So I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It was sweet at honey in my mouth but when I swallowed it, it became bitter in my stomach.” (Rev 10:10)

The scroll here seems to indicate that God’s judgment is sweet in the eyes of God, yet also bitter because of the pain it causes.

The scroll is “sweet” because it is a word of promise, of grace, of revelation of the love of God, it is the assurance of God’s salvation, it is a basis for present fellowship with Christ, and is the ground for God’s hope and glory that is to be fulfilled in the future (Walvoord, Revelation, 174). Echoes of David’s psalm are seen here, “Reverence for the LORD is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb” (Pss 19:9–10, NLT).

The scroll is “bitter” because it reveals divine judgments that will be poured out on the earth as God deals in wrath with an unbelieving world (Walvoord, Revelation, 174).

“The scroll itself seems to be a symbol of the Word of God as it is delivered to human recipients—that is, divine revelation already given” (Walvoord, Revelation, 173).

D. Prophesy about the Scroll (v. 11)

καὶ λέγουσίν μοι· δεῖ σε πάλιν προφητεῦσαι ἐπὶ λαοῖς καὶ ἔθνεσιν καὶ γλώσσαις καὶ βασιλεῦσιν πολλοῖς.

“Then they said to me: ‘It is necessary for you to prophesy again to the peoples, ethnicities, languages, and many kings.” (Rev 10:11)

1. Again

The word “again” reminds readers that this is not a new commission for John. Instead, it is the renewal of the commission Jesus originally gave him in Rev 1:19 and it links what has preceded with what is about to come.

2. To or For or Against

The Greek preposition ἐπὶ is difficult to translate here. Thomas elects “concerning” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 75).

IV. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

A. Judgment is both sweet and bitter.

A part of me enjoys the book of Revelation because it is God’s way to taking back his world. In a sense, God is claiming what is rightly his back from Satan and Satan’s minions. The promises are God are sweet and satisfying, yet they are also bitter because of the pain that non-Christians will experience during this time.

B. God’s words have been spoken and it is our responsibility to apply them.

God has given us 66 books with many commands and directions in them. The Word of God contains a moral guide as well as specific things that Christians are supported to do. While it is good to “study” the word of God, it is perhaps more important to “apply” the word of God.

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. I base my translations on the NA28 text

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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  • Bugs Menot

    Second, when referring to Jesus in the book of Revelation the next is never fuzzy. … I believe it should text and not next

    • Hey, thanks for pointing this out. I will correct. That’s probably not the only error in this post. 🙂