Three Angels Fly Through the Air (Rev 14:6-13)

June 26, 2017 — Leave a comment

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 14:6-13

“6Then I looked and I saw another angel flying in the sky. He was holding the eternal good news in order to share the Gospel with those who live on the earth which are from every ethnicity, nation, language, and people. 7He spoke in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory because the time of his judgment has arrived, so worship the one who made heaven, earth, sea, and fountain waters.’ 8Then a second angel followed saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is the great Babylon which led the nations to drink of her wine, wrath, and adultery.’ 9Then a third angel followed saying in a loud voice, ‘If someone worships the beast and his statue and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand 10he will drink from the wine of God’s anger which has been mixed in the unmixed cup of his wrath. He will be tormented in fire and sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb. 11The smoke of his torment will rise forever and ever. That torment will never cease day or night for the ones who worship the beast and his statue, as well as anyone who receives the mark of his name. 12Under these circumstances the steadfastness of the saints is clear. They are the ones who keep the commandment of God and faith in Jesus.’ 13Then I heard a noise from heaven saying, ‘Write this down. “Blessed are the dead in the Lord who die from now on.’” ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so they will rest from their toil, for their work follows them.’” (Rev 14:13) 1

Three Angels Fly Through the Air in Rev (Rev 14:6-13)

Photo Credit: Phillip Medhurst Collection

You can get a PDF version of this blog post, a handout for small group study, & access my translation notes by becoming a patron of my blog.

II. THE FIRST ANGEL (14:6-7)

A. The Eternal Good News (v. 6)

Καὶ εἶδον ἄλλον ἄγγελον πετόμενον ἐν μεσουρανήματι, ἔχοντα εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον εὐαγγελίσαι ἐπὶ τοὺς καθημένους ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶν ἔθνος καὶ φυλὴν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ λαόν,

“Then I looked and I saw another angel flying in the sky. He was holding the eternal good news in order to share the Gospel with those who live on the earth which are from every ethnicity, nation, language, and people.” (Rev 14:6)

1. Another Angel

In this instance, the longer reading is harder. The word was probably intentionally omitted in order to resolve the tension: Less likely, it might have been accidentally omitted since its spelling is similar to “angel” (ἄγγελος, angelos). If this is “another” angel, it is difficult to know who the first angel might have been since the last angel mentioned in the book of Revelation was in Rev 11:15.

2. Sky

Many translations differ on the word they chose for the word I have translated as “sky.” Here’s a brief list:

  • “midheaven” (NASB, NRSV, RSV),
  • “the midst of heaven” (KJV1900, NKJV, AV 1873),
  • “directly overhead” (LEB, ESV),
  • “midair” (NIV),
  • “the sky” (NLT).

Whatever the word that is used, this angel is “in sight of all and his announcement was audible to all” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 202).

3. The Eternal Good News

QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MEANT BY “ETERNAL GOOD NEWS?”

This eternal good news is “eternal” in the sense that it is not for a specific period of time. Instead, it is ageless (Walvoord, Revelation, 223).
Good news often refers to the gospel of salvation. Mulholland says that this good news is an invitation to follow Jesus (Mulholland, “Revelation” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 531, 533). However, Walvoord sees this good news as the message that God is about to judge the world and establish his sovereignty over it (Walvoord, Revelation, 223).

Whether this is the good news of the Gospel or good news about the coming judgment, the message seems to be that things are going to get worked out by God. The believers should be encouraged and hopeful that good things are to come.

A couple of the Psalms describe God’s return and his judgment in this way:

  • “Tell all the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’ The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly. Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.” (Pss 96:10–13, NLT)
  • “Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.” (Pss 98:7–9, NLT)

4. The Vast Crowd

There are two phrases commonly used in Revelation to refer to two groups of people. The first is the one seen here: those from “every ethnicity, nation, language, and people.” This refers to everyone on earth. The same phrase is used in Rev 5:9 and again in 7:9 with a slightly different order. In Rev 5:9, God’s blood ransoms people “from every ethnicity, nation, language, and people,” that is, Christians ransomed from all the people of the earth. In Rev 11:9, “all people, tribes, languages, and nations” see the two witnesses lied dead in the streets of Jerusalem. In Rev 13:7, the beast of the sea is able to rule over everyone on earth, that is, “every tribe and people and language and nation.” Here in Rev 14:6, the same phrase indicates all the people who might or might not have accepted the Gospel or who are ready to see the judgments of God administered.

The second phrase common used in Revelation to refer to a group of people is “those who belong to this world” (NLT). This phrase always describes the evil and wicked people who reject Jesus and instead follow the beasts and Satan. In Rev 3:10 they are the people who will experience the time of testing. In Rev 6:10 they are the ones who have killed the people whose souls are under the altar as part of the fifth seal. In Rev 8:13 an angel announces terror that is coming on the people who belong to this world between the fifth and sixth trump. In Rev 11:10 these are the people who give presents to each other and celebrate the death of God’s two witnesses in Jerusalem. In Rev 13:8, 12, 14 they are the ones who worship the beast. In Rev 17:8 they are the ones whose names are not written in the Book of Life who will experience eternal destruction.
With this examination, it appears that the people from “every ethnicity, nation, language, and people” is a large group of people contains the holy saints and non-Christians. A subset of that group are the earth dwellers who reject Jesus and follow Satan and his minions.

B. Time for Judgment (v. 7)

λέγων ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ·
φοβήθητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ δότε αὐτῷ δόξαν, ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ὥρα τῆς κρίσεως αὐτοῦ, καὶ προσκυνήσατε τῷ ποιήσαντι τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ θάλασσαν καὶ πηγὰς ὑδάτων.

“He spoke in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory because the time of his judgment has arrived, so worship the one who made heaven, earth, sea, and fountain waters.” (Rev 14:7)

1. God Sits as Judge

The Bible is full of examples of how God has judged people. God’s judgment has arrived. The Greek word used here, ὥρα, refers to a fixed point of time unlike the other word for time, καιρός which refers to a season (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 204).

2. God as 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; Acts 4:24; Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11; 14:7). God created this world out of nothing—ex nihilo—in seven literal days with the appearance of age. Before the world was created only God existed with himself (John 1:1-3; Rom 4:17). Therefore, the world and universe which we live in should not be worshipped; God should be the only object of our worship. God also created heaven and those who live there (Neh 9:6; Pss 103:21; 148:2-5; Acts 4:24; Col 1:16; Rev 10:6).

3. Basic Commands

There are two basic commands in this passage that believers should follow.

Fear God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10). This requires humility and surrender to God. This is what the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty” (Ecc 12:13, NLT). It also contains the advice of Christ, “But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear” (Luke 12:5, NLT).

Give Glory. Glory means we recognize God’s attributes and recognize that he is above and beyond us. This also means we do not recognize any other god.

4. All of Creation

The terms, “heaven, earth, sea, and fountain waters” refer to all of creation. Why mention “fountain waters” or “springs?” Thomas says that this water that came up from the ground was important in the dry climate of Palestine (Exod 15:27; Lev 11:36; Num 33:9; 1 Kings 18:5; 2 Kings 3:19, 25).

III. THE SECOND ANGEL (14:8)

Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος δεύτερος ἠκολούθησεν λέγων· ἔπεσεν ἔπεσεν Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη ἣ ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς πορνείας αὐτῆς πεπότικεν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.

“Then a second angel followed saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is the great Babylon which led the nations to drink of her wine, wrath, and adultery.” (Rev 14:8)

A. Identity of Babylon

We will examine the city of Babylon in more detail in Rev 17-18. However, there are four basic views on the identity of Babylon described in the book of Revelation: a code name for Jerusalem, a code name for Rome (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 128), reference to the Pope and Roman Catholic Church, and a literal city on the Euphrates River.

B. Proleptic

This is what is called a “proleptic” part of the book of Revelation. Walvoord writes, “Chapter 14 brings to a conclusion the material found in chapters 12 through 14. Chapter 12 deals with the important characters of the period, chapter 13 with the evil rulers of the period, and chapter 14 with the ultimate triumph of Christ. This material is not chronological, but prepares the way for the climax that begins in chapter 15. Chapter 14 is a series of pronouncements and visions assuring the reader of Christ’s ultimate triumph and the judgment of evil. Much of the chapter is prophetic of events that have not yet taken place, but that in the context are now impending” (Walvoord, Revelation, 219).

Thomas takes the same view, “The whole of chapter 14 is proleptic. A summary of the Millennium (20:4-6), the first five verses feature the Lamb in place of the beast, the Lamb’s followers with His and the Father’s seal in place of the beast’s followers with the mark of the beast, and the divinely controlled Mount Zion in place of the pagan-controlled earth. The remainder of the chapter furnishes a proleptic outline of the catastrophes and the bliss that receives a chronological and more detailed treatment of 16:17-22:5. In this fashion, the chapter is a sort of intermezzo to provide encouragement by telling the ultimate triumph for those who refuse the beast’s mark and to predict the doom of those who do receive it” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 189).

Mathewson says that this event is probably a future event or from the perspective of the angels speaking it in the future. In other words, “Babylon is as good as fallen” (Mathewson, Revelation, 192).

IV. THE THIRD ANGEL (14:9-11)

A. What the Evil Do (v. 9)

Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος τρίτος ἠκολούθησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ·
εἴ τις προσκυνεῖ τὸ θηρίον καὶ τὴν εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ καὶ λαμβάνει χάραγμα ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου αὐτοῦ ἢ ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ,

“Then a third angel followed saying in a loud voice, ‘If someone worships the beast and his statue and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand” (Rev 14:9)

The conditional word, “if” is the protasis of a conditional sentence. This sets up what the evil will receive as described in Rev 14:10-11.

QUESTION: WHAT IS THE PREPOSITION USED HERE TO DESCRIBE THE LOCATION OF THE MARK?

B. What the Evil Receive, part 1 (v. 10)

καὶ αὐτὸς πίεται ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ κεκερασμένου ἀκράτου ἐν τῷ ποτηρίῳ τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ βασανισθήσεται ἐν πυρὶ καὶ θείῳ ἐνώπιον ⸄ἀγγέλων ἁγίων⸅ καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ ἀρνίου.

“he will drink from the wine of God’s anger which has been mixed in the unmixed cup of his wrath. He will be tormented in fire and sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb.” (Rev 14:10)

The tense of these verbs is future: “he will drink” and “he will be tormented.” This suggests that while people might feel safe and sound under the mark and protection of the beast, that will drastically change when God’s judgment arrives.

C. What the Evil Receive, part 2 (v. 11)

καὶ ὁ καπνὸς τοῦ βασανισμοῦ αὐτῶν εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων ἀναβαίνει καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἀνάπαυσιν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς οἱ προσκυνοῦντες τὸ θηρίον καὶ τὴν εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ καὶ εἴ τις λαμβάνει τὸ χάραγμα τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ.

“The smoke of his torment will rise forever and ever. That torment will never cease day or night for the ones who worship the beast and his statue, as well as anyone who receives the mark of his name.” (Rev 14:11)

QUESTION: IS IT POLITICALLY CORRECT TO TALK ABOUT “HELL” IN OUR AMERICAN CULTURE TODAY?

“No kind of sematic manipulation or recourse to symbolic language can erase the fact of eternal punishment conveyed in this announcement” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 212). According to Walvoord, the fact that the smoke of unbelievers’ torment will rise “εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων / forever and ever” is the “strongest experesion of eternity of which the Greek is capable” (Walvoord, Revelation, 226).

While it seems wrong and unfair to an American mind, the Bible is absolutely clear that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). It is through our faith in Jesus Christ that we are made right in God’s eyes (John 17:3; Rom 3:22)

It is only through Jesus Christ that a person can be saved, therefore those who reject him suffer eternal punishment. At the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), those who have rejected Jesus Christ will experience condemnation and eternal conscious punishment in hell. The Bible describes hell as a place of physical torment with burning fire (Mark 9:43, 48; Jude 7: Rev 21:8), a fiery furnace (Matt 13:41-42), flames (Luke 16:24), darkness (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13), a place banished from God’s presence (1 Thess 1:9; Matt 24:51; 22:13; 7:23), and a place of death and destruction (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8; Matt 7:13; Luke 6:49; Rom 9:22; Phil 3:19).

This biblical truth is not appealing, but it communicates sober reality (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 212).

Why would God condemn some people to hell? “God respects our free will and will never force us to turn to him. So this picture of wrath and hell means nothing more or less than the terrible truth that sufferings of those who persist in rejecting God’s love in Christ are self-imposed and self-perpetuated” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 79).

V. AN EXPLANATION (14:12)

Ὧδε ἡ ὑπομονὴ τῶν ἁγίων ἐστίν, οἱ τηροῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ.
“Under these circumstances the steadfastness of the saints is clear. They are the ones who keep the commandment of God and faith in Jesus.” (Rev 14:12)

These people are “working hard to show the results of [their] salvation” (Phil 2:12, NLT).

VI. A COMMAND TO JOHN (14:13)

Καὶ ἤκουσα φωνῆς ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λεγούσης·· γράψον·
μακάριοι οἱ νεκροὶ οἱ ἐν κυρίῳ ἀποθνῄσκοντες ἀπʼ ἄρτι. ναί, λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα, ἵνα ἀναπαήσονται ἐκ τῶν κόπων αὐτῶν, τὰ γὰρ ἔργα αὐτῶν ἀκολουθεῖ μετʼ αὐτῶν.

“Then I heard a noise from heaven saying, ‘Write this down. “Blessed are the dead in the Lord who die from now on.’” ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so they will rest from their toil, for their work follows them.’” (Rev 14:13)

A. The Dead

Thomas says that the “dead” are the victims who were executed by the beast (Rev 13:15), possibly those killed as martyrs under the fifth seal (Rev 6:11).

B. From Now On

There are three ideas for the time period of “from now on.” One view is that it includes all periods of the church, a second view is that it is the period from John’s writing onward, a third view is that it is under the rule of the future false Christ (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 215).

C. Deeds and Work

QUESTION: ARE OUR WORK AND DEEDS WHAT GETS US TO HEAVEN? ARE THE THINGS WE DO WHAT PREVENTS US FROM GOING TO HELL?

Mulholland makes a good point that the deeds described here are the “out manifestation of the quality of one’s being” (p. 533), meaning deeds are the sign of to whom we belong. Babylon is condemned for her deeds (Rev 9:20; 16:11; 18:6) while believers are rewarded for their deeds (Rev 20:12-13; 22:12).

VII. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

A. Punishment is coming for the wicked.

It is sad to say, but the book of Revelation is largely about how the evil earth dwellers will be punished by God. Later on in the book we will see the final judgment of unbelievers and that they are cast to an eternal, conscious punishment in hell (Rev 20:11-15).

You can get a PDF version of this blog post, a handout for small group study, & access my translation notes by becoming a patron of my blog.

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the Nestle-Aland 28 Greek 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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