The Armies in Heaven

armies of heaven

c) Rev 19:14: In Rev 19:11–21, John frequently shifted verb tenses between the present, the future, and the past. This is in keeping with his report of a vision he had already seen concerning realities yet to come.[1]

Since Rev 19:11–16 forms a chiasm,[2] the central focus of the entire passage falls upon v. 14.

It says, “And the armies in heaven were following him on white horses, having been clothed in pure white linen.”

These military forces mounted steeds similar to that of their commander (Rev 19:11).[3]

Much debate revolves around who comprises these armies.

In the Old Testament, the armies of heaven appear to be angels, typically borne by chariots (Josh 5:13–15; Ps 68:17; 2 Ki 6:15–17).[4]

Earlier, John described a battle between the angel Michael and his troops against Satan and his forces (Rev 12:7–9).[5] Elsewhere in the New Testament, angels assist Christ in rendering final judgment (Mark 8:38; Matt 13:40–42; Matt 16:27).[6]

However, Ps 149 indicates that God’s people shall participate in executing judgment.[7] A parallel passage in Revelation calls those fighting on Christ’s side “called and chosen and faithful” (Rev 17:14).[8]

Since John described the people numbered among the 144,000 as ones “who follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” some scholars suggest that they belong within the armies of God (Rev 14:1–4).[9]

Early Christians asserted that deceased believers joined the angels in these armies.[10]

For example, the Didache (ca. 100 AD) teaches, “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.”[11]

The Jewish/Christian hybrid Ascension of Isaiah (ca. 150–200 AD) reports: The Lord will come with His angels and with the armies of the holy ones from the seventh heaven with the glory of the seventh heaven, and He will drag Beliar (the devil) into Gehenna and also his armies…

The saints will come with the Lord with their garments which are (now) stored up on high in the seventh heaven: with the Lord they will come, whose spirits are clothed, they will descend and be present in the world.[12]

However, these armies will not engage the enemy in battle.[13] Instead, they provide testimony against oppressors for their unbelief (Deut 19:15; Matt 12:38–42).[14] Christ alone shall conquer the beast and his followers on behalf of those who accompany him (Rev 19:19–21).[15]

As a result of our union with Christ, we triumph through identification with our Lord (Rev 2:25–29).[16]

The color of the horses and their pure white raiment reflect the holiness of Christ’s armies (Rev 15:5–6; Rev 19:7–9).[17]

In the case of believers, this serves as proof of our vindication resulting from Jesus’s sacrificial death (1 Cor 1:30–31; 2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:13–15), as well as for standing firm to the end (Rev 6:9–11; Rev 7:9–10, 13–17).[18]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Rev 19:14. Who do you think will be included in the armies of God? What is their purpose? Why will they be clothed in white and riding on white horses? How does God see you?

 

 

 

 

Go to Striking the Nations

 

[Related posts include Faithful and True (Rev 19:11); Ruler of All Nations (Rev 19:12–13); Striking the Nations (Rev 19:15); King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16); The Great Supper of God (Rev 19:17–19); Cast into the Inferno (Rev 19:20–21); The Waters Prevail (Gen 7:17–20); The Breath of Life Extinguished (Gen 7:21–24); Not Knowing the Day or the Hour (Matt 24:36); As in the Days of Noah (Matt 24:37–39); One Will Be Left (Matt 24:40–41); Continually Watch! (Matt 24:42–44); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14); Pleading for Justice (Rev 6:9‒10); The Full Number of Martyrs (Rev 6:11); and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 7: God Opens the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 7:1–24)]

 

[1]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 961.

[2]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 956.

[3]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 354.

[4]Keener, IVPBBCNT, Rev 19:14.

[5]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1059.

[6]Beale and McDonough, “Revelation,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1143.

[7]Keener, IVPBBCNT, Rev 19:14.

[8]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 354.

[9]Keener, Revelation, 454.

[10]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1059–60.

[11]Roberts, et al. (eds.), “The Didache: The Lord’s Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations,” 16:7, Http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html.

[12]Charles, trans., “The Ascension of Isaiah,” 4:14–16, 33–5, https://archive.org/stream/cu31924014590529#page/n111/mode/2up.

[13]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 354–5.

[14]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 960.

[15]Beale and McDonough, “Revelation,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1143.

[16]Bradley G. Green, Covenant and Commandment: Works, Obedience, and Faithfulness in the Christian Life (ed. D. A. Carson; New Studies in Biblical Theology; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 158.

[17]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1060.

[18]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 960.