Previous Section: Chapter Nine - Completion of 70th Week [Trumpet Judgments 5-6]



Revelation 10:1

I saw (1) another strong angel coming down out of heaven, (2) clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire;

1. Another strong angel = sends us back to Revelation 5:2. There "a strong angel" is associated with the large scroll. That John indicates that this angel is another limits the possible referent. Some have attempted to argue that this angel is none other than Jesus, Himself. However, this point should not be pressed. It would appear safer to allow the text to limit our discussion.

Three angelic beings are identified as "strong" in the Revelation. The first occurrences appears in Revelation 5:2. The second is in Revelation 10:1 and the final occurrence is in Revelation 18:21. What is the significance of the "strong angels?" The characteristics associated with "another strong angel" in Revelation 10:1-7 are closely parallel to an angelic being described in Daniel 10:5-6 and 12:5-7. These similarities have given some interpreters the basis to see a connection between these two texts.

Based on Revelation 5:2, 10:1 and 18:21, strong angels are revelatory angels. That is, they specifically communicate to man information from God. In Revelation 5:2, the strong angel communicates the identity of the person worthy to open the sealed scroll. In Revelation 10:1, he communicates a significant transition in the program of God. In Revelation 18:21, he communicates the destiny of the capital city of the beast empire. Similarly, an angelic being in Daniel 10 communicates the destiny of the Jews and Jerusalem.

Daniel 10:21b states, "Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince." The verse literally says, "Yet there is no one who shows himself strong with me…." Hebrew language emphasizes the continuing nature of these angelic beings. In other words, they are continually strong. Therefore, Michael and this angelic being are strong angels. In Revelation 10:1, the adjective strong comes from the Greek word ischuros. In Daniel 10:21b, the verb to show oneself strong comes from the Hebrew word chazak. The verb form used in Daniel 10:21b means to prove to be strong/courageous.

Therefore, like this angelic being, Michael is a strong angel. Notice again Daniel 10:21b, "Yet there is no one who shows himself strong with me against these forces except Michael your prince." Michael is described as "one of the chief princes," in Daniel 10:13, which demands that there is more than one chief prince. The apostle Jude indicates that Michael is an archangel (Jude 1:9). Thus, the angel who speaks in Daniel 10 and Revelation 10 are probably both of the same type as Michael, the archangel.

2. Clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire = is similar to the description given in Daniel 10:5-6 and Revelation 1:13-15. In both passages, a case can be made that Christ is the referent. However, the fact that the description in Revelation 10:1 is specifically identified as an angel should settle the matter of the identity of the angel here.

Revelation 10:2-3

(1) (2) And he had in his hand a little book (3) which was open. (4) He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; (5) and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, (6) the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices.

1. It is critical that the reader understands that John’s personal involvement in the scene that constitutes the tenth chapter of Revelation will not be repeated in the future! In other words, when the events of the book of Revelation begin to unfold this strong angel will not descend from heaven and communicate with John again. The event recorded in chapter 10 occurred literally at the time that John received the book of Revelation. We have the benefit of what occurred because several important details are given to us. However, the event itself, the angel coming down to talk with John will not happen again. This is critical to understand the importance of John’s vision. That this is a correct conclusion is supported by several facts. First, in order for these events to happen again literally, the apostle John must be resurrected from the dead. Second, John will have to eat the little scroll again. Third, John would have to prophesy again concerning end time events.

The single most important point of chapter 10 seems to be the angelic announcement that "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished." Now that we know this fact, there will be no need for the strong angel to descend from heaven to report a fact already known by the reader of the Revelation.

2. And he had in his hand a little book = is an obvious contrast with the first strong angel of chapter five. In chapter five, the book is in God’s hand and it is sealed. In chapter 10, an angel has the book and it is opened. Similarly, Ezekiel 2:9-10 reports a heavenly being gave him a scroll to be eaten. The importance of the little book will be seen shortly.

3. Which was open = in contrast to the scroll of Revelation 5, this little book is opened. This indicates that John would see the contents of the page exposed. If it were written in a language that John could read, he would be able to read whatever was visible to him.

4. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land = describes the stance of the strong angle. The importance of the angel’s stance will become evident later. However, it is important at this point to recognize that both land and sea are under the foot (authority) of this angelic being.

5. And he cried out with a loud voice = is typical of angelic communications throughout the book of Revelation. It is critically important for the reader to understand that John is describing what he sees happening during his reception of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. We are not told exactly what the strong angel said.

6. The seven peals of thunder uttered their voices = is not defined. Scripture does not identify the one specifically speaking at this point. This fact underscores the conclusion that who is speaking is not the important point.

Revelation 10:4

When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, (1) "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them."

1. Seal up the things = seems inappropriate at this point because John has not written anything down that the seven thunders said in order to seal it up. However, the sealing of something was intended to keep it safe. The point seems to be that John must keep the particular information shared by the seven thunders "secure." The way he would accomplish this would involve two things. First, he must not write it down and secondly, he must never tell anyone what was said. He was to secure it in his own mind.

Revelation 10:5-7

(1) Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land (2) lifted up his right hand to heaven, and (3) swore by Him who lives forever and ever, (4) who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, (5) that there will be delay no longer, (6) but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, (7) when he is about to sound, (8) then the mystery of God is finished, (9) as He preached to His servants the prophets.

1. Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land = should clear up any confusion about who "the strong angel" is at the beginning of this chapter. For those who want to make the "strong angel" Jesus Christ, John clearly states, "then the angel." This severely limits the reference. That this is a unique angelic being cannot be debated, but he is certainly not Jesus Christ.

2. Lifted up his right hand to heaven = has a very limited background in Scripture. Some read the modern notion of appearing in court, raising the hand and pledging to tell the truth, back into the Bible. There is but one occasion in Scripture where a hand is raised in accordance with truth telling. Daniel 12:7 records an angelic being who lifts both right and left hands to heaven when pledging truth when communicating revelation to mankind.

There are no other examples of this practice recorded in Scripture. However, the practice of lifting up hands in Scripture is well attested. Psalms 28:2 records the psalmists indicating that he lifts his hands toward the holy sanctuary. Leviticus 9:22 indicates that Aaron, the priest, raised his hands to bless the people. Ezekiel 36:7 states that God lifted up his hand against the nations which were around Israel. The NASB has translated this verse, "I have sworn that surely the nations… will themselves endure their insults." This may or may not be an example of oath taking. It seems safe to say that the lifting of the hand is a gesture that symbolically appeals to God as witness and vouches safe the statement about to be given.

3. Swore by Him who lives forever and ever = heightens the significance of the statement about to be made by the angel. Scripture is replete with examples of sworn oaths. The swearing of an oath bound the oath-taker to his promise. To keep his promise resulted in blessings, but to break one’s oath resulted in curses. Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 command that Israelites were to swear by the name of God. God, Himself, swore oaths as indicated in Numbers 14:20-26. In our modern culture, oath taking is seldom used. Our knowledge is limited to affidavits and notaries.

However, in ancient Israel oath taking was an important part of the culture. In the biblical sense, an oath was a promise between two or more people in which the name of God was invoked as witness and guarantor. Unlike a vow, where man promised God, the oath contracted man and man with God’s watchfulness. According to Matthew 23:16-22, the Lord Jesus condemns the Pharisees for abusing the oath taking policy. Evidently, they had figured a way to make an oath that was not morally binding. This Jesus condemns.

Him who lives forever and ever = indicates the witness and guarantor of the oath about to be taken. It is none other than God, Himself. Like the high priest in Matthew 26:63, this angel takes his oath "by the living God." In the OT, "As the Lord lives," served the same purpose (Judges 9:19 and Ruth 3:13). It is the eternality of God that is invoked as guarantor of the oath.

4. Who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it = continues the description of the person who will witness and guarantee the oath about to be taken. Interestingly, the Lord Jesus in condemning the pharisaical practice of His day indicates that they were employing "heaven," "earth," and "the city of Jerusalem" as witnesses and guarantors of their promises (Matt 5:33-37). A practice condemned because the Pharisees had failed to understand the significance of their statements. To swear by heaven was to swear by the very throne of God, i.e. God, Himself. To swear by the earth was to swear by the "footstool of His feet," i.e. God’s domain. To swear by Jerusalem was to swear by "city of the great King," i.e. Jesus, Himself. Jesus indicates that a man’s promise should not need a guarantor.

Therefore, we can conclude that the purpose of the angelic oath calling upon the eternal creator of heaven and earth is not to vouch his promise as true. Rather, God guarantees its ultimate fulfillment.

5. That there will be delay no longer = begins the critical prophetic declaration of this angelic being. That translates a Greek word that function much like modern quotation marks. Unfortunately, the Greeks did not use quotation marks to indicate direct speech. Instead, they introduced direct speech with the word hoti. The prophetic declaration continues to the end of verse 7.

Literally, the Greek phrase looks like this: hoti chronos ouketi estai. Estai is the main verb and should be translated, There will be. Ouketi is an adverb of time and refers to "the extension of time up to a point but not beyond — ‘no longer (Louw & Nida § 67.130).’" Chronos presents the most difficulty in understanding this phrase. The term usually refers to time, mostly in the sense of a period of time (BADG, page 896)." "How much time" is usually indicated by the context. A popular interpretation of this text by some church fathers included the notion that time, as we know it ceases and timeless eternity begins. However, Revelation 20:4-6 contradicts this interpretation, which promises the beheaded dead 1000 years of rule upon the earth with Christ. Equally, Revelation 18:17 indicates that Babylon the great will be laid waste in one hour. This indicates that the earlier interpretive notion that time ceases must be rejected.

As indicated in the NASB, delay expresses the sense of the text. This is the translation utilized by modern translations. "Delay" is an appropriate translation in Revelation 10:6. In response to the question of the fifth seal martyrs, God indicates that His eternal plan is suffering under a self imposed "delay" in punishing the wicked earth-dwellers who are responsible for the on-going death of His elect (Rev 6:9-11). We can conclude that the condition for God’s self- imposed "delay"—the completion of the predestined number of martyrs—has been met. God is therefore free to begin the final phase of His judgment of the living earth-dwellers.

6. But in the days of the voice (sounding) of the seventh angel = is important to say the least. One would normally expect this phrase to begin with the word for. This would indicate that the reason for why the delay ends. "But" seems unnatural at this point. Alla (but) is the strongest Greek term used to indicate contrast. By the use of alla, the angel is emphasizing the fact that the "delay" will certainly end with the sounding of the seventh trumpet. In the days makes clear that time will not cease with the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet. This indicates that some amount of time will precede or follow the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

7. When he is about to sound = continues to qualify the exact moment when God’s self-imposed "delay" will end. The phrase he is about translates the Greek verb mello. There are two possible ways this verb can be translated here. "When he is about to sound" is one possibility. The implication of this translation is this: the mystery of God is finished before the seventh trumpet sounds. The other possible translation would say, "when he will sound." The implication of this translation is this: the mystery of God is finished during the period introduced by the seventh trumpet. Most modern scholars favor the latter position.

However, we are not convinced. The fact that the angel states that "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel" argues for a period between the sixth and seventh trumpets. In addition, the resurrection of the two witnesses requires three and a half days between their death and resurrection. This event occurs between trumpets six and seven as will be argued later. In addition, if "when he will sound" is the correct translation, then it serves as nothing more than a redundant statement of the phrase, "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel." Now, John is free to be redundant, but it is unlikely at this point. The normal sense of mello is to be about to. In this case, the NASB reflects the correct sense of the Greek. The mystery of God will be complete before the seventh and final trumpet blows.

8. Then the mystery of God is finished = is the second critical fact revealed by this angel. A very important detail in discovering John’s intent here is the meaning of "the mystery of God." The phrase mystery of God occurs two other times in Scripture. It shows up as a textual variant in 1 Corinthians 2:1. The variant reading is not adopted by the NASB, which takes the reading: testimony. However, the United Bible Society adopts the reading: mystery. Either reading does not significantly change Paul meaning. The Corinthians were Gentile believers whom the apostle Paul evangelized during his second missionary journey (Acts 18). In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul defends his message as derived through the Spirit and not the wisdom of man. That message is summarized in the statement, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 2:7 that this unique message of which Christ is center is in fact spoken "in a mystery." Based on 1 Corinthians 2, we are able to conclude that "the mystery of God" concerns Jesus Christ and His crucifixion.

The second occurs of this unique phrase is found in Colossians 1:24-2:3. In Colossians 1:24-2:3, the apostle Paul writes,

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister… so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery [of God] which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery [of God] among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him… so that we may present every man complete in Christ…. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf… that [your] hearts may be encouraged… resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In Colossians 1:26, Paul declares the Word of God, which he preaches, to be a mystery. "This mystery is so rich with glory that God desired to make it known to the saints (1:27)." He states, "the mystery is, Christ in you (Gentiles), the hope of glory." Again in Colossians 2:2c, Paul states, "Jesus Christ is the mystery of God." An obvious question concerns whether these two occurrences refer to the same thing. The context indicates that Jesus Christ is the primary focus of the first two chapters of Colossians. His special work among Gentiles is Paul’s primary concern. The particular passage quoted above could be summarized as follows: Paul preaches Christ among the Gentiles because God has a plan to present many Gentiles in glory when Christ returns. So, the mystery of God is God’s special work in Christ to bring Gentiles to glory. The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:9-10, "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (NIV)." When the mystery of God (God’s special work in Christ to bring Gentiles to glory) is finished, then God will bring "all things in heaven and on earth together under one head."

Peter states in Acts 15:14-16 that "God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name," and "after these things, I will return and rebuild the tabernacle of David…" This passage establishes a very important connection between God’s special work in Christ to bring Gentiles to glory and Israel’s restoration. Similarly, Romans 11:25b - 26 states that the mystery of Israel’s partial hardening will continue "until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved…" This passage highlights two facts. First, God has determined a specific number of Gentiles to be saved, and second, the completion of the salvation of the Gentiles will lead to Israel’s salvation.

Most scholars recognize the close relationship between the books of Ephesians and Colossians. "Colossians has significant parallels to other Pauline writings. The most extensive parallels occur with Ephesians (Melick: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, NAC, page 171.)." It is therefore no surprise that when discussing the same issue in Ephesians, Paul states his insight into the mystery of Christ, which he defines as "the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel…(Eph 3:4-6)."

Returning to Revelation 10, we argue that the "mystery of God" is God’s special work in Jesus Christ to bring many Gentiles to glory. This effort on the part of God concludes or is finished just prior to the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet.

This by definition necessitates that God’s special work in Jesus Christ to bring Gentiles to glory does not conclude with the Rapture. This is easily proven given that the beheaded martyrs of Revelation 20:4 who are resurrected in close proximity to the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ reign with Him for 1000 years. Paul states in 2 Timothy 2:12, "If we endure, we will also reign with Him…." To reign with Christ in His temporal kingdom is a privilege shared by those who are saved (particularly Gentiles) during this present age. That the beheaded martyrs refer to Gentiles and not Jews can be discerned from the fact that the woman (Israel) is put in protective custody for three and a half years (Rev 12:6, 14). The beheaded martyrs are those who resisted the mark and the worship of Antichrist (Rev 20:4), but held to the testimony of Jesus. Since they are resurrected near the beginning of the millennium, they must have died after the Rapture, else they would have been taken at the Rapture.

9. As He preached to His servants the prophets = concludes the revelatory message of angelic being. "His servants the prophets" is most often used to refer to the OT prophets (2 Kgs 9:7; Jer 7:25; Zech 1:6). Whether NT prophets are included cannot be dogmatically stated.

A biblical mystery by definition involves revelation not previously given. According to the apostle Paul, the mystery of God was "hidden from past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints." Are we therefore wrong in our interpretation? The critical question concerns this: what did God preach to the Old Testament prophets? As the sentence is written—"as He preached to His servants the prophets"—the object is not stated. That is, what God preached is not stated in the sentence. It must be discerned from the context. God did not preach the "mystery," otherwise, it would not have been a mystery to Paul. What God preached to His prophets was the fact that when His special work was done, then the end would come. The prophets did not fully understand all of God’s special works in the world, but they clearly understand that once God finished, the end would come. The angelic being of Daniel 12:7 states as much when answering Daniel’s question concerning "the end of these wonders." Daniel writes, "I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed."

Revelation 10:8-10

Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, (1) "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land." So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me (2) "Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.

1. Go, take the book = in terms of purpose, nothing is explained until the following verse. At this point, John does not know why he must take the book.

2. Take it and eat it = is paralleled in Ezekiel 2:8-3:3. As with Ezekiel, John is instructed to eat a book that proves to be sweet as honey. Why the book must be eaten may involve its content. Any comments beyond the obvious at this point are highly speculative.

Revelation 10:11

(1) And they said to me, (2) "You must prophesy again (3) concerning (4) many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."

1. And they said to me = is not clear. That is, who are the "they?" In context, the angel and a voice from heaven were prior spokesmen in this chapter. It is more likely that "they" conjoined in John’s re-commission to prophesy.

2. You must prophesy again = is loaded with importance. You meaning John the apostle is placed in an emphatic position. Must is the English translation of the Greek verb dei. This is the verb of divine necessity. This is God’s explicit will. As with other prophets, John has no choice (Amos 3:7-8; Jer 4:19). Prophesy is John’s job description. He must proclaim the message of God. Again signals that Revelation 1:3 and what follows through Revelation 9:21 is prophetic. John is going to do what he has already done. However, there is a slight change in emphasis here.

3. Concerning =highlights John’s new commission. Concerning, which is the translation reflected in the NASB, is but one sense of the Greek word epi. A better translation at this point is the term, against. John must prophesy against…. Revelation 11-20 focuses on God’s wrath in fulfillment of His promise to the fifth seal martyrs’ cry for justice against the living earth-dwellers. God will judge and avenge the death of his people, which is detailed by John in the remaining chapters of the Revelation.

4. Many peoples and nations and tongues and kings = defines the scope of John’s prophecy. This list of four ethnic groups occurs seven times in the Revelation (5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15). No two lists are presented in the same order. This argues that John is focusing on the universality of the world.

Interestingly, Revelation 11:7 focuses on the universality of the human opposition to God’s prophetic witnesses. Revelation 11:18 focuses on the nations in opposition to God’s sovereign rule. Revelation 12:3 focuses on the kings who are in opposition to the eternal plan of God for Israel. Revelation 13:1-2 focuses on kings in opposition to God’s sovereign rule on earth. Therefore, John does in fact prophesy against "peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.


Next Section: Chapter Eleven - Daniel 9:24 Completed [Trumpet Judgment 7]
© Sola Scriptura

Produced and Developed by Sola Scriptura