December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, 2 and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
- I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
- They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth.
- These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins 3 and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb.
- On their lips no deceit 4 has been found; they are unblemished.
- 5 Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with everlasting good news 6 to announce to those who dwell on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.
- He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, for his time has come to sit in judgment. Worship him who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of water."
- A second angel followed, saying: "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, that made all the nations drink the wine of her licentious passion." 7
- A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, "Anyone who worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on forehead or hand,
- will also drink the wine of God's fury, 8 poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb.
- The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name."
- Here is what sustains the holy ones who keep God's commandments and their faith in Jesus. 9
- I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," said the Spirit, "let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them." 10
- 11 Then I looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
- Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, "Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth's harvest is fully ripe."
- So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
- Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven who also had a sharp sickle.
- Then another angel (came) from the altar, 12 (who) was in charge of the fire, and cried out in a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, "Use your sharp sickle and cut the clusters from the earth's vines, for its grapes are ripe."
- So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth's vintage. He threw it into the great wine press of God's fury.
- The wine press was trodden outside the city and blood poured out of the wine press to the height of a horse's bridle for two hundred miles. 13
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1 [1-5] Now follows a tender and consoling vision of the Lamb and his companions.
2  Mount Zion: in Jerusalem, the traditional place where the true remnant, the Israel of faith, is to be gathered in the messianic reign; cf 2 Kings 19:30-31; Joel 2:32; Obadiah 1:17; Micah 4:6-8; Zephaniah 3:12-20. A hundred and forty-four thousand: see the note on Rev 7:4-9. His Father's name . . . foreheads: in contrast to the pagans who were marked with the name or number of the beast (Rev 13:16-17).
3  Virgins: metaphorically, because they never indulged in any idolatrous practices, which are considered in the Old Testament to be adultery and fornication (Rev 2:14-15, 20-22; 17:1-6; cf Ezekiel 16:1-58; 23:1-49). The parallel passages (Rev 7:3; 22:4) indicate that the 144,000 whose foreheads are sealed represent all Christian people.
4  No deceit: because they did not deny Christ or do homage to the beast. Lying is characteristic of the opponents of Christ (John 8:44), but the Suffering Servant spoke no falsehood (Isaiah 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22). Unblemished: a cultic term taken from the vocabulary of sacrificial ritual.
5 [6-13] Three angels proclaim imminent judgment on the pagan world, calling all peoples to worship God the creator. Babylon (Rome) will fall, and its supporters will be tormented forever.
6  Everlasting good news: that God's eternal reign is about to begin; see the note on Rev 10:7.
7  This verse anticipates the lengthy dirge over Babylon (Rome) in Rev 18:1-19:4. The oracle of Isaiah 21:9 to Babylon is applied here.
8 [10-11] The wine of God's fury: image taken from Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15-16; 49:12; 51:7; Ezekiel 23:31-34. Eternal punishment in the fiery pool of burning sulfur (or "fire and brimstone"; cf Genesis 19:24) is also reserved for the Devil, the beast, and the false prophet (Rev 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
9  In addition to faith in Jesus, the seer insists upon the necessity and value of works, as in Rev 2:23; 20:12-13; 22:12; cf Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6.
10  See the note on Rev 1:3. According to Jewish thought, people's actions followed them as witnesses before the court of God.
11 [14-20] The reaping of the harvest symbolizes the gathering of the elect in the final judgment, while the reaping and treading of the grapes symbolizes the doom of the ungodly (cf Joel 3:12-13; Isaiah 63:1-6) that will come in Rev 19:11-21.
12  Altar: there was only one altar in the heavenly temple; see the notes above on Rev 6:9; 8:3; 11:1.
13  Two hundred miles: literally sixteen hundred stades. The stadion, a Greek unit of measurement, was about 607 feet in length, approximately the length of a furlong.
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