Revelation of John, the original Jewish version. Apocalypse composition, dating & authorship

Revelation of John, the original Jewish version
Apocalypse composition, dating & authorship
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Note: all emphases are mine.

See here for the original Jewish version without comments

A) Introduction:

From The Catholic Encyclopedia "... the theory advanced by the German scholar Vischer. He holds the Apocalypse to have been originally a purely Jewish composition, and to have been changed into a Christian work by the insertion of those sections that deal with Christian subjects. From a doctrinal point of view, we think, it cannot be objected to. There are other instances where inspired writers have availed themselves of non-canonical literature. Intrinsically considered it is not improbable. The Apocalypse abounds in passages which bear no specific Christian character but, on the contrary, show a decidedly Jewish complexion."

From The Jewish Encyclopedia, an article by Crawford Howell Toy (Christian scholar, D.D., LL.D.) and Kaufmann Kohler (Ph.D.):
"The last book in the New Testament canon, yet in fact one of the oldest; probably the only Judæo-Christian work which has survived the Paulinian transformation of the Church. The introductory verse betrays the complicated character of the whole work. It presents the book as a "Revelation which God gave . . . to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass," and at the same time as a revelation of Jesus Christ to "his servant John." According to recent investigations, the latter part was interpolated by the compiler, who worked the two sections of the book, the main apocalypse (ch. iv.-xxi. 6) and the letters to the "seven churches" (i.-iii. and close of xxii.) into one so as to make the whole appear as emanating from John, the seer of the isle of Patmos in Asia Minor (see i. 9, xxii. 8), known otherwise as John the Presbyter. The anti-Paulinian character of the letters to the seven churches and the anti-Roman character of the apocalyptic section have been a source of great embarrassment, especially to Protestant theologians, ever since the days of Luther; but the apocalypse has become especially important to Jewish students since it has been discovered by Vischer (see bibliography) that the main apocalypse actually belongs to Jewish apocalyptic literature."

Mostly in agreement with the above, first, I'll provide a short synopsis (an outline of my conclusions) and then some evidence about the authorship. Next, I'll proceed to my reconstruction of the original non-Christian/Jewish text (about 288 verses), by carefully extracting it out from the later canonical one (399 verses), christianized through additions within the earlier text. Here, with inserted comments all along, the points previously postulated will make a lot of sense (I hope you'll agree, as some of my previous readers did: see here).
My main goal will be to demonstrate that many parts of 'Revelation' could not have been written by a Christian. However, I do not claim to be exact about my verse by verse rendition of the original version (but I am confident to be correct for most of it).

B) Synopsis:

The Jewish original version of Revelation (or Apocalypse) of John, much more coherent than the final one, was written very likely (in Greek) late 70 or 71 C.E. in Syrian Antioch by a temple of Jerusalem ex-priest named John. This work offered an explanation for the holocaust of 70 C.E., with the destruction of Jerusalem & its temple, all of that at the hands of the Romans, and also a badly needed hope for the Diaspora Jews, so they would not lose their faith. The apocalypse gave also the opportunity for our ex-priest to vent off his considerable anger against the Gentiles and, above all, Rome. Then the author adopted Christianity and was later known as "Presbyter John" in Asia Minor, an elder/apostle based in Ephesus.
John claimed to have experienced the apocalyptic vision (or dream) and written about it during Emperor Galba's short reign (68-69 C.E.) (as explained later).
The imagery is very much inspired by the O.T. books, such as 'Ezekiel', 'Isaiah', 'Zechariah', 'Joel' & 'Daniel'. And John's vision, which is full of (apocalyptic) precise details, is incorrect on many physical items, such as the origin of wind & rain, the shape of the earth, the size of great stars, etc., denoting a knowledge rather biblical & ancient but certainly not "revealed".
This apocalypse was added on, updated & christianized around 95 C.E. and, according to the majority opinion (& myself), released during the "tribulations" under Emperor Domitian.
There are mentions of resurrections (specified three and a half days after death) & ascensions to heaven, crucifixion of an "our Lord" (all of those in Rome), a harvesting "Son of Man" and a woman giving birth to a male child-Messiah (with no mention of any father) who is immediately saved (from Satan) in heaven as the future ruler over the Gentiles. Could our author have known about Mark's gospel (GMark) and paralleled and/or outdid its claims?
Other examples:
a) In GMark, Jesus' death lasts 40 hours (maximum) but in 'Revelation' it is 84 hours for the two witnesses.
b) In GMark, Jesus' body is left alone, with its revival and ascension not witnessed. However in 'Revelation', the two dead bodies, their revival and ascension are witnessed by a crowd.

C) Authorship:

The most reliable piece of evidence about the existence of presbyter John comes from Eusebius (the influential bishop of Cesarea, Palestine, early 4th century) in his 'History of the Church', the testimony of Papias (the alleged bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor), who was probably a young man at the end of the first century.
HC, 3, 39 "And whenever anyone came who had been [let's notice the past tense] a follower [contemporary of Papias] of the presbyters [those allegedly had listened to the twelve, but are likely deceased then], I inquired into the words of the presbyters, what Andrew and Peter had said, or Philip, or Thomas or James or John [the fisherman and member of the twelve] or Matthew, or any other disciples of the Lord, and what Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord, were still saying.
[presbyter John is still alive then, but not John the fisherman, whose words (allegedly) are reported third hand some two generations after]"
Polycrates, a late 2nd century Christian, wrote:
Eusebius' History of the Church, 3, 31 "... John, who leant back on the Lord's breast,
[as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" in Jn13:23-25, who died very late (21:20-23)]
` and who became a priest wearing the mitre, a martyr and a teacher; he too sleeps in Ephesus."
Irenaeus, also a late 2nd century Christian, related in 'Against Heresies', book II, that John "who had leant back on His breast" lived "til Trajan's times" (98-117 C.E.).

In the surviving works of Irenaeus (175-185), the author of the gospel & 'Revelation' is often called "John, the disciple of the Lord". However, this John is never specified as a son_of_Zebedee/fisherman/Galilean/one_of_the_twelve.
That will be done unequivocally later by Origen (203-250C.E.):
Commentary on John, I, 14: "John, son of Zebedee, says in his Apocalypse: "And I saw an angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the Eternal Gospel, to preach it to those who dwell upon the earth ... [Rev14:6-7]"

Note: in chapter CXIX of 'Trypho', "apostles of Christ" seem to be later Christian preachers/teachers and not Jesus' eyewitnesses: "For as he [Abraham] believed the voice of God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, in like manner we having believed God's voice spoken by the apostles of Christ, and promulgated to us by the prophets ..."
The authorship of 'Revelation' was hotly disputed then, as for Dionysius (bishop 247-264) of Alexandria (reference: Eusebius' History of the Church, 7, 25). Dionysius argued forcefully that 'Revelation' was not written by the author of the gospel & epistles:

"Therefore that he was called John, and that this book ['Revelation'] is the work of one John, I do not deny. And I agree also that it is the work of a holy and inspired man. But I cannot readily admit that he was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, ...
For I judge from the character of both, and the forms of expression, and the entire execution of the book, that it is not his. For the evangelist nowhere gives his name, or proclaims himself, either in the Gospel or Epistle.

Moreover, it can also be shown that the, diction of the Gospel and Epistle differs from that of the Apocalypse. For they [epistles and gospel] were written not only without error as regards the Greek language, but also with elegance in their expression, in their reasonings, and in their entire structure. They are far indeed from betraying any barbarism or solecism, or any vulgarism whatever. For the writer had, as it seems, both the requisites of discourse, that is, the gift of knowledge and the gift of expression ...
I perceive
[about the author of 'Revelation'], however, that his dialect and language are not accurate Greek, but that he uses barbarous idioms, and, in some places, solecisms.
[very understandable if Greek was not his mother tongue, as for a Jew from Jerusalem. See "HJ-1a", Section 2.2]
` It is unnecessary to point these out here, for I would not have any one think that I have said these things in a spirit of ridicule, for I have said what I have only with the purpose of showing dearly the difference between the writings."

And Eusebius himself was leaning towards presbyter John as the author of 'Revelation':
HC, 3, 39 "[after quoting Papias' passage, which I cited earlier]... It is worth while observing here that the name John is twice enumerated by him. The first one he mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and the rest of the apostles, ...; but the other John he mentions after an interval, and places him among others outside of the number of the apostles, putting Aristion before him, and he distinctly calls him a presbyter.
... For it is probable that it was the second, if one is not willing to admit that it was the first that saw the Revelation, which is ascribed by name to John. And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John ..."

Note: in my opinion, presbyter John added most (but not all) of the Christian parts within his original work, after he turned Christian and embraced Jewish Christian & "Johannine" tenets (as per 1John epistle).

D) Reconstructed original text and inserted comments:
Notes: all titles are mine. Quoted words in "italics" are deemed Christian insertions.

The Beginning

1:1 (NKJV) The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

a) But in the Christian version, the first "revelation" (the seven letters) to John is not from an angel, but from Jesus Christ himself (according to 1:17-3:22,
"He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore" (1:18, also 2:8) and "Son of God" (2:18, also 2:27,3:5,21)).
Furthermore, in the Christian letters (about admonitions rather than prophecy), there is no hint that any "revelation" here was initially delivered from God to Christ.
b) Furthermore verses 22:6-9 state
"... the Lord God ... sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place [God sent his angel, NOT his Christ! And the angel comes from God, NOT from Christ!]
... Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that.
For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets [Christ should normally be mentioned here, if the angel was a servant of Christ], and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God [again, no mention of Christ!].""
c) Verse 22:16 states
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches"
This is consistent with the (christianized) first verse of 'Revelation', but conflicting with 22:6-9 (here the messenger to John is an angel sent by God).
Therefore the words shown in italics are most likely Christian insertions.

2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to all things that he saw.

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy,
[only the main part of 'Revelation' is signified here; the (Christian) letters are ignored (as not existing yet!)]
and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

4 Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.
[God is supposed to come]

8 (NIV) "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty [the Almighty is God, not Christ!]."

a) Occurrences of 'the Beginning and the End' at 1:8 and (identifying Jesus as the speaker, instead of the angel's voice!) 'the Alpha and the Omega' & 'the First and the Last' at 1:11 do not show in most ancient manuscripts and therefore are most likely the result of late interpolations. Ref: List of major textual variants in the New Testament
b) The "Almighty" is always God in the rest of 'Revelation' (4:8, 11:17, 15:3, 16:7,14, 19:15, 21:22).

9 (Darby) I John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and patience,

10 I became in [the] Spirit on the Lord's Day, I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet,

11 saying, What you see write in a book,

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and having turned

Note: the seven letters to the churches of Asia, by far the main block of the (about 110 verses) Christian additions are located here (1:12b-3:22) and introduced by 1:4a,5-7 (total: 63 verses). As already noted, they are ignored in the introduction (the revelation to John comes from an angel, not directly from Jesus) and the whole passage has Christian elements identifying the speaker as the heavenly Jesus ("I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever" 1:18, 2:8, "Son of God" 2:18, 2:27, "the ruler of God's creation" 3:14).
a) Between 1:1 and 1:10, there are three occurrences of 'Christ' and five of 'Jesus'. However, after 1:10, 'Christ' reappears not before 11:15 and 'Jesus' not before 12:17. It looks the front end was "loaded" with 'Christ' and 'Jesus' to establish (the final) 'Revelation' as Christian right from the start. Also here is located the main statement about Christian faith (1:5-7). Furthermore, most occurrences of the two aforementioned words happen in short clauses outside (i.e. foreign to) the main narration) (1:2,9, 11:15, 12:10,17, 14:12, 17:6, 19:10, 22:20-21).
b) It is likely the Christian additions were made with knowledge of GMatthew:
Mt24:30 "... and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven ..."
Rev1:7 "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him [from GJohn?]. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. ..."
Nowhere else in 'Revelation' Christ's coming (14:1, 19:11, 20:4, 21:2) is associated with clouds.
Another passage (of the Christian additions) apparently drawn from GMatthew:
Mt24:43-44 "... if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched ... Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (also in Lk12:39-40)
Rev3:3b "Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."
Furthermore, among the gospels, only in GMatthew the resurrected Jesus has his own throne at some day of Judgment (Mt19:28,25:31). In Rev3:21a, Christ will also have his own (but before, (as the Lamb) he shares God's throne: Rev3:21b). And let's notice Rev20:4 makes allowance for Christ and his disciples to judge from their thrones (as in Mt19:28).

4:1 (NKJV) I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place."

God's Court in Heaven

2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.
[everything and everybody look very physical in heaven]

3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting,

Note: there is no mention here of the twelve apostles seated on heavenly thrones as in Mt19:28b. Actually, in the complete (Christian) 'Revelation', no apostle is said to be in heaven and, contrary to Mt19:28b, none of them judges anyone. The assumption that the 'twenty-four' includes the twelve apostles, plus the twelve tribal patriarchs would leave out the like of Moses, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham!
(Note: in the gospels, this foursome is suggested to be alive: Mk9:4, Mt8:11,17:3, Lk9:30,13:28)
But, from the point of view of an ex-priest, the twenty-four elders, as representatives for each of the original twenty-four courses of priests servicing the temple, make a lot of sense! (Ref: 1Chronicles 24, Josephus' Ant., VII, XIV, 7)
` clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

5 And from the throne proceeded lightning, thundering, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning [there is air in heaven!] before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
[and no mention of the Holy Spirit, as would be expected from a Christian writer]

6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal.
[probably refer to the top of the vault (or firmament) over the earth: see Genesis1:6-8. Also in 1Enoch18:3 "And I saw how the winds stretch out the vaults of heaven," and Job22:14 RSV "Thick clouds enwrap him [God], so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.'"]
And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"
[the mythical creatures can talk! Also notice "is to come", referring to God's coming on earth (as in chapters 21-22)]

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."

The Opening of the Scroll

5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"

3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

Note: 5:5 appears to be a Christian interpolation:
"But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."
a) The "Lion" turns out to be the Lamb in the next verse! A same author would not have committed initially such a mismatch.
b) The previous two verses emphasize that no one (including in heaven) was found. But, regardless, an elder knows otherwise!
c) The other mentions of 'David' occur only in Christian insertions:
- 3:7, part of the seven letters to the churches
- 22:16, as said by Jesus himself
d) The verse is strategically inserted just before the Lamb appears on the scene, as for suggesting, right from the start, it/he is also Jesus Christ. And in the whole of 'Revelation', the other suggestions the Lamb is Christ are very few:
- 14:1 (11 'Lamb' & 131 verses later, when
"his Father" is mentioned)
- 17:14 (15 'Lamb' & 179 verses later, when it/he is
"Lord of lords and King of kings")
- 21:14 (20 'Lamb' & 271 verses later, when it/he has/had
"twelve apostles")

6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain,

a) The Lamb is undoubtedly inspired from Isaiah's suffering servant in 52:13-15 & 53:1-12
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes [wounds] we are healed. ... He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth"]
Remark: the "suffering servant" is never related to David in the O.T. (and also never as the Son).
b) This Lamb cannot be the heavenly Jesus because the later is repeatedly placed at the right hand of God in the N.T. (Ro8:24, Col3:1, Hb1:3,8:1,10:12,12:2, 1Pe3:22, Mk14:62,16:19, Mt26:64, Lk22:69, Ac2:33,7:55,56). And, in the whole of 'Revelation', the Lamb is never said to occupy this position.
` having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
a) The words in italics are likely a Christian interpolation because at 1:4b and 4:5 the "seven spirits" are in front of God's throne. In verse 4:5, they are specified to be seven lamps.
b) Never in the rest of the N.T. the "seven spirits" are mentioned.

7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
[God is described very physically]

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

9 (Darby) And they sing a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open its seals; because thou hast been slain, and hast redeemed to God, by thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation

Note: the last statement is not necessarily Christian because it may also refer to Jews with God fearers & proselytes. Furthermore, according to the passage about the "suffering servant" (the lamb) in 'Isaiah', the redeeming (through "blood") is alluded by:
"... wounded for our transgressions, ... bruised for our iniquities ... by His stripes [wounds] we are healed ... led as a lamb to the slaughter ... My righteous Servant shall justify many ... He bore the sin of many ..."

10 (NIV) You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
[the Kingdom to come is to be on earth]

Note: let's notice that in the earlier Christian passage:
"and [Jesus Christ] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God ..."
there is no mention the elects ("they") will reign collectively. Why? Likely because the ruler (and only one) is already designated: Christ,
"the ruler of the kings of the earth" (1:5)

11 (NKJV) Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,
[God is not alone in heaven! The ancient Greek gods are outnumbered!]

12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
[this Lamb is never said to have been crucified, just slain]
to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea,
[all the creatures of the sea are going to be killed later (16:3)]
and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
[this worshipping (by animals?) will not prevent the destruction of the sea creatures]

14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever.

6:1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see."
[the four mythical creatures do a lot of talking. In contrast the Lamb does not say a word from beginning to end (as specified in Isaiah53:7, already quoted)]

2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
[the first one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse]

3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see."

4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius;
[inflated prices occurring during famines]
and do not harm the oil and the wine."

7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see."

8 So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.
[Hellenistic influence: Hades is the god of the underworld and Death has become a godly entity]
And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
[refer to the many Jews killed in Jerusalem and all over Judea in 70 C.E. See confirmation later (11:2)]

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

a) Here God himself is judging (as occurring in 20:12-13
"And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God ... they were judged ..."). Consequently this judgment cannot be the one of verse 20:4 (ushering Christ's one thousand year kingdom on earth, part of the Christian additions). Why? Because there the judgment is NOT administered by God himself: "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them ..."
b) The whole book relishes the idea of revenge against Gentiles. Also to be noted: here, God is called to avenge the Jews killed in the holocaust of 70 C.E. However, in the synoptic gospels (parable of the tenants, Mt21:33-45) God is avenging his Son by killing the same Jews (quite a different viewpoint!).

11 Then a white robe was given to each of them;
[the soul (of a dead person) is clothed as in a ghost-like fashion]
and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer.
[their resurrections are at God's Judgment of the dead (20:12-13)]

12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.
[stars do not fall on earth because of earthquake]

14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up [the influence of Greek mythology], and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,

16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

Note: the word in italics are in the canonical (Christian) version, but nowhere else the wrath of the Lamb appears. Instead, God's wrath is stated in 11:18, 14:10,19, 15:1,7, 16:1,19, 19:15.

17 "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

7:1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth,
[the earth was thought to have corners]
holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.
[the wind was thought to come from angels]

2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,

3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."
[these "servants" of God are still on earth and alive]

4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
[very Jewish. Later (14:4), we'll learn that these God's servants are virgins. Consequently, for example, Peter, who had been married, could not have been among them: not Christian at all!]

5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;

6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;

7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;

8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

a) This list of tribes is not according to the O.T., as in Joshua13-19. Here, Joseph has no tribe, but his two sons, Manasseth and Ephraim, have one each; Dan, Joseph's brother, also has a tribe. However in the Revelation's list, Joseph is IN and Ephraim & Dan are OUT. Going back to 'Joshua', the twelve tribes are actually thirteen (Levi has a tribe -- "the tribe of Levi" (Joshua13:14,33)-- even if no territory is allotted to it). More complications for the proponents of 'the 12 apostles plus the 12 patriarchs' for the "twenty-four elders"!
b) "In 4Q554 [text from Qumran], the gates of Simeon, Joseph, and Reuben are mentioned in this partial fragment. For the author of this fragment, the New Jerusalem's twelve gates signify the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel." (Wikipedia entry for "New Jerusalem")

God's Wrath Is Unleashed

8:1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense [heaven is well stocked in incense!], that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar [there is lot of gold in heaven too!] which was before the throne.

4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.

5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thundering, lightning, and an earthquake.
[Hellenistic influence: Zeus was the master of thundering and lightning]

6 So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

7 The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

8 Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

This great mountain with fire might be a reference to Mount Etna, a giant well-known active volcano. This is what Pliny the Elder wrote about it in his 'Natural History':
"Etna, which is so hot that it belches out sands in a ball of flame over a space of 50 to 100 miles at a time" (II, CVI)
"But among mountain marvels Etna always glows at night, and supplies its fires with fuel sufficient for a vast period, though in winter cloaked with snow and covering its output of ashes with hoar frost. Nor does nature's wrath employ Mount Etna only to threaten the lands with conflagration." (II, CX)
"Mount Etna with its wonderful displays of fire at night: the circuit of its crater measures 21 miles; the hot ashes reach as far as Taormina and Catania." (III, VIII)

9 And a third of the living creatures in the sea died,
[they were among the ones who worshipped God earlier (5:13)]
and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10 Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven,
[rather hard to imagine a great star falling on our little speck of rock called earth. Obviously, these stars were not understood to be far and massive, more like comets or meteors]
burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers.

11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.

12 Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.
[not logical! Reduction of emission of light in the heavenly bodies would not make pitch-dark part of a day or a night]

13 And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"
[more to come! Like it wasn't enough!]

9:1 Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth [another falling star]. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit.

2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.

3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
[a common belief in ancient times was that locusts come from inside the earth]

4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth,
[by the way, all green grass has been burnt up already (8:7)]
or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
[the 144,000 virgin Jews are still on earth]

5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.

6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

7 The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.
[scarier things are still to come]

8 They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth.

9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.

10 They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.

11 And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
[Hellenistic influence again: a Greek god becomes an angel]

12 One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

13 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."

Note: the river Euphrates, at the border of the Roman empire, is flowing about one hundred miles east of Antioch. This border with the mysterious and largely unknown East, an origin of invasion, was a constant worry; especially if you were living in Antioch. This city was a metropolis in the Roman empire, with about 800,000 inhabitants, one third of them Jews or proselytes. Antioch, the former capital of the Seleucid kings, was the third largest in the empire, after Rome and Alexandria (Egypt).

15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
[angels are killers of holocaustic proportion; how uglier can it get!]

16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million;
[the eastern hordes, inspired by the Parthiates who were feared cavalry men, and whose kingdom was east of the Euphrates, over Mesopotamia & Persia]
I heard the number of them.

17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.

18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed; by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.

19 For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.

20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent
[repentance is presented as a way for salvation from further punishment]
of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.

21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
[not all Gentiles could have been that bad!]

John Spares Humanity From More Calamities

10:1 I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,

3 and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.

4 Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."

5 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven

6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer,

7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, [the mystery is still ON] as He declared to His servants the prophets.

8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth."

9 So I went to the angel [our John is very mobile] and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth."
[Ezekiel3:3 "And he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you, and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth."]

10 Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter."

a) Let's notice John is very much involved in the vision and, in the body, claimed to be an active participant in the chain of events. The Apocalypse is described as a vision, and/or the grand rehearsal, and/or the real thing: the author was very "fluid" on this issue and did not seem to care. However, it appears there is an overall progression from (only) a vision (or dream) to the (literary) enactment.
b) The next verse is:
"And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
It appears to be an interpolation because:
- the Greek does not read "he" but "they". It seems the interpolator forgot John was being addressed by an angel.
- it is out of context. Why would John be reminded to prophecy at that particular instant?

John Surveys the Temple

11:1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise
[implying the vision came as a dream during sleeping]
and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.
[the author was in Jerusalem before its destruction]

2 "But leave out the court [of the Gentiles] which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they [the Romans] will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

Note: that's three & a half years and inspired from the revised book of Daniel. The apocalypse was foreseen for the winter of 73-74 C.E., after the Romans conquered & destroyed the city in the summer of 70 C.E., with the 10th legion staying behind in the ruins of Jerusalem (Josephus' Wars, VII, I, 2). The later statement could NOT have been written after 74 C.E.

The Two Witnesses (Prophets) and Their Resurrection & Ascension

3 "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [three and a half Jewish years], clothed in sackcloth."

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy;
[the rain comes from heaven through holes. As in Genesis7:11]
and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
[the author gave plenty of weapons to these prophets so they can survive! Life was tough for a Jewish (or early Christian) missionary]

7 When they finish their testimony, the beast [see later for this (second) beast] that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.

8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,
[most likely refers to corrupted & (morally) decadent Rome. Egypt was known for its magic. In these days, magical acts were considered the devil's work, not entertainment. Later "the great city" will be identified as powerful, wealthy & making rich the sea faring ship owners and by the code name Babylon (which also fully destroyed Jerusalem), then a decaying city without power & wealth]
where also their Lord was crucified.
[who is He? Jesus was not crucified in Rome (neither Sodom, nor Egypt). It means very likely God himself (figuratively), because of the destruction of Jerusalem, its temple and many Jews.
Note: some bible translations have "our" instead of "they". However most ancient manuscripts show "they", indicating the Lord is the God of these two missionaries/prophets]

9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.

10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.
[true resurrection would be validated if it happens after three days (72 hours), when the body starts to smell & decompose. Compare this with Jn11:1-44 and Mk8:31,9:31,10:34]

12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
[a Jewish dual ascension! Compare this with Acts1:9. Also let's notice the cloud as a mean of transportation to heaven]

More of God's Wrath

13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

Note: another call for the Kingdom to come on earth. Let's notice that the Christian expression 'kingdom of God' is not used (here and the whole book). And according to the two preceding and following verses, "Lord" stands for God Almighty, not a Messiah.
The canonical (Christian) version has "... "The kingdoms of this world have become [the kingdoms] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
Let's notice the addition in italics. But despite the dual kingship (more so with Christ as "ruler over the kings of the earth" in verse 1:5), "He" and not "They" "shall reign"! Would it be a blatant grammatical error or "and of His Christ" part of the latter Christian additions?
Before answering that, let's notice our author was not objecting to multiple rulers: why would he in 11:5 ("He")?
5:10 (already quoted) and
22:5b "And they [the "saints" in the new Jerusalem] shall reign forever and ever"
Indeed, the combination of "our Lord and of His Christ" and "He shall reign" indicates an earlier text was christianized.

16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshipped God,

17 saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
[God, and not any Messiah, is to be the ruler of his Kingdom on earth. This is according to most prophetic O.T. books which call for a new (divine) world order]

18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
[who's destroying the earth?]

19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.
[let's notice the first mention of a temple in heaven, probably as a replica of the one destroyed on earth (and measured by John earlier: 11:1)]
And there were lightning, noises, thundering, an earthquake, and great hail.

The Woman, The Child and The Dragon

12:1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
[the "sign" is not the woman herself, who is then depicted very humanly in the next verse]

2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon
[influence of China: Antioch was at the western end of the "silk" road. This is the only book in the whole Bible where dragons are mentioned (fourteen times!)]
having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.
[please note that in 'Daniel' no one is said to have seven heads, diadems or horns. But the "ten horns" is an attribute to the Seleucid kingdom (Da7:7--see my page on 'Daniel') which, under Antiochus IV, brought considerable damage to Jerusalem and the Jews]

4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven
[the stars of heaven were thought to be small]
and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
[the dragon, later identified as Satan, could be on earth then. In 'Job' Satan can get close to God and also shuttle to earth (1:6-7, 2:1-2). And John knew about 'Job': Rev9:6<=>Job3:21a, Rev16:21<=>Job38:22-23]

Note: some people in the Roman empire (even Jews) had a more modern view of the universe. From the works of Philo of Alexandria (20B.C.E.-50C.E.):
"... But the interior circle of the seven planets ... seven orbits, bearing a certain definite proportion to one another ..." (On the Cherubim - Part 1, VII)
"... the wandering of the seven planets through the heaven ... he who is the centre one of the seven, the sun. And I call him centre, not merely because he has the central position ..." (Who is the heir of divine things, XLV)

5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
[the child-Messiah, brought up to God as a new-born baby, cannot be Jesus, and consequently this passage was NOT written by a Christian. Remark: without a "Messiah" on earth, one is claimed to be groomed in heaven!]

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days

Note: I suspect this verse to be an interpolation, not because of any Christian elements, but on account of its (abbreviated) redundancy with 12:14. Also, in the later verse, the flight makes sense because (with explained reason: 12:13) Satan is seeking revenge against the woman; however, in 12:6, Satan is after the baby and not the mother (yet!). Furthermore, 12:6 seems to be a note written in the margin and later inserted into the text by a copyist.

7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,

8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.

9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God has come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

12 "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath,
[now, all the troubles on earth are blamed on the devil's wrath. The devil has just been thrown down to earth; the heavens are now "liberated"]
because he knows that he has a short time." [thousands of years?]

13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time

a) Daniel's original undefined time period. Only here this expression is used in the whole book. It seems the author avoided a precise duration (as in 11:2,3 & 13:5) because the woman's flight happens before the events of 70 C.E. (see 13:1,7).
Remark: the time period in 11:2 (42 months) starts when Jerusalem became conquered and occupied (early September 70 C.E.) and would end at the advent of the Kingdom on earth. For 11:3 (1260 days) & 13:5 (42 months), the time origin is probably about the same, considering the activities, as described in those two verses, are either unnecessary or terminated when the old world order ends.
b) The stay in the desert is limited in time: after Satan is seized, thrown and locked in the bottomless pit (20:1-3), the woman would not need hiding from him anymore.
c) Let's notice the woman is described with limited mobility (even with the new wings!), contrary to the one of a heavenly being, such as an angel. And going back to heaven would be a sure way to escape Satan!
` from the presence of the serpent.

15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. [that explains the flash flood!]

16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
[all over the book, the mythology is so strong that the one of the ancient Greeks looks pale in comparison]

17 (Darby) And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God.

a) This is the explanation for the destruction of Jerusalem and many Jews in 70 C.E.: the Dragon (Satan) wanted to persecute the woman who gave birth to the child-Messiah destined to rule the world, but was prevented to do so; consequently he took his revenge on the Jews by using the evil Romans.
b) Translation of
"seed" ('sperma') as "her offsprings" is misleading; "her people" or "her nation" would be more adequate. The woman, still alive, could not have generated many descendants.
Furthermore "seed" (='sperma') signifies 'contemporary Jews after a large reduction in their numbers' (without mention of common origin) in some Jewish texts such as:
Josephus' Ant., XI, V, 3
"... he besought God, who had saved a seed and a remnant out of the calamity and captivity they had been in, and had restored them again to Jerusalem, and to their own land ..."
Josephus' Ant., XII, VII, 3
"[right after the Jewish nation had been decimated by Antiochus IV] ... nor will any seed of your nation remain if you be beat in this battle ..."

The Evil Roman Empire

13:1 (NIV) And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.
[the Roman empire, seen as a maritime power]
(NKJV) He had seven heads
[seven emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula (Gaius), Claudius, Nero, Galba and Vespasian. Otho & Vitellius, two inept short-lived usurpers, are not included (see confirmation later, at verse 17:10)]
and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns [explanation to come later], and on his heads a blasphemous name.

2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion [from Daniel7:4-6]. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
[Roman power comes now from Satan. This power would include the seven heads and the ten horns, all of them transferred to the (first) beast, the Roman empire]

3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded,
[likely refer to Galba's public murder (butchered by many in the forum of Rome) and the lack of leadership the same year (69 C.E.)]
and his deadly wound was healed.
[the Roman recovery the next year]
And all the world marveled and followed the beast.

4 So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
[after the (political and military) recovery in 70 C.E., which included the suppression of a formidable revolt (69-70) by the Germanic Batavians, Rome's power was seen unbeatable]

5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.
[again, three and a half years]

6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.

7 It was granted to him
[the beast (Roman empire) is blamed, not emperor Vespasian, the seventh "head". I'll come back to that later on]
to make war with the saints
[the righteous Palestinian Jews of the time. Same meaning as in the book of Daniel]
and to overcome them.
[allusion to the events of 70 C.E.]
And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb [better translated as 'ram'] and spoke like a dragon.
[does not appear to be alluding to Daniel's 'antichrist', the "little horn" with "eyes" (Da7:7-8). Please note this second beast is never attributed ten horns (or seven heads)]

12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence,

Note: at that time (just after the destruction of Jerusalem), Vespasian's son, Titus, protected the Jews of Antioch (see Josephus' Wars, Book VII, Chapter V, Section 2) and his father, the new emperor, was highly respected. Consequently, a demoniac entity is introduced in order to further justify God's wrath.

` and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
[refer to the Roman recovery after the near collapse of 69 C.E.]

13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
[possibly referring to incidents of lightning starting fires, now attributed to the new beast]

14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast [the first one, the Roman empire] who was wounded by the sword and lived.
[again, allusion to the resurgence of Roman power following 69 C.E.]

15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Note: probably inspired from Daniel3:1-18.
Here the king commands all nations to worship the image. The non-complying people are to be killed (thrown in the blazing furnace). That would include the Jews, as
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego" who state "we will not serve your gods or worship the image" (the threesome will then be saved from sure death by God!).

16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads
[inspired by the fact that some Roman owners were branding their slaves]

17a and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark of the beast,

The ending of the chapter read:
"17b which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."
Is it part of the original version? I do not lean this way, mostly because the last part of verse 17 is convoluted (trying to introduce the number?) and extends an already long sentence. Furthermore, the number thing is at odd with 17:5 where a (long) name is inscribed on the forehead.
a) The Greek suggests the number is not about one man, but rather mankind:
From the NET Bible:

"Grk it is man's number. ExSyn 254 states if ἀνθρώπου is generic, then the sense is, It is [the] number of humankind. It is significant that this construction fits Apollonius Canon (i.e., both the head noun and the genitive are anarthrous), suggesting that if one of these nouns is definite, then the other is, too. Grammatically, those who contend that the sense is it is [the] number of a man have the burden of proof on them (for they treat the head noun, ἀριθμός, as definite and the genitive, ἀνθρώπου, as indefinite the rarest of all possibilities). In light of Johannine usage, we might also add Rev 16:18, where the Seer clearly uses the anarthrous ἄνθρωπος in a generic sense, meaning humankind.. The implications of this grammatical possibility, exegetically speaking, are simply that the number 666 is the number that represents [(controlled by Satan)] humankind"
b) The number can easily be interpreted as such:
From Wikipedia, Number of the Beast:
"The number 666 can be interpreted to relate the nature of human being as Homo sapiens itself, not as any individual. When the Greek word for "human being", ανθρωπος, is translitterated into Hebrew gematric system, the resulting sum becomes 666. It is also assumed the '6' (smallest complete number) represents human being itself, and 6 tripled represent mind, body and soul; 7 is the number of God ..."
From the NIV, footnote on 13:18:
"... Others take 666 as a symbol for the trinity of evil and imperfection-each digit falls short of the perfect [God's] number 7."
c) "666" or "616" can also be interpreted as referring to a Roman emperor or the "Beast", if one is inclined to do so:
From Wikipedia, Number of the Beast:
"Stauffer computed the Number of the Beast using the short form of Domitian's five titles and names A KAI ΔOMET ΣEB ΓE, as derived from the abbreviations on coins and inscriptions.
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) claimed that he was the Beast prophecized in the Book of Revelation and took the name Το μεγα θηριον, Greek for The Great Beast, which adds up to 666 by isopsephy, the Greek form of gematria.
The Reformed scholar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., affirms that the code identifies Nero."
From the NIV, footnote on 13:18:
"666. Various schemes for decoding these numbers result in such names as Euanthas, Lateinos, and Nero Caesar (currently the favorite)."
From the NET Bible:
A few mss (Ì115 C, along with a few mss known to Irenaeus {and two minuscule mss, 5 and 11, no longer extant}), read 616 here, and several other witnesses have other variations. Irenaeus mention of mss that have 616 is balanced by his rejection of such witnesses in this case. As intriguing as the reading 616 is (since the conversion of Nero Caesar's name in Latin by way of gematria would come out to 616), it must remain suspect because such a reading seems motivated in that it conforms more neatly to Nero's gematria."
And, lately, the name of Caligula has been proposed for "616".

Note: 'Nero' would match the two numbers! And the Christian addition
"The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction." (17:11) suggests Domitian (an eighth emperor) as a reincarnation of Nero (one of the seven).
Entertainment in Heaven

14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.

3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth [now the 144,000 are in heaven].

4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.
[the author did not like women; certainly, he was not married]

Note: estimate of the number of Jews at that time goes from 2 to 5 millions (many of them as Diaspora Jews). But, since there was no census of Jews then, any Jew would think of a larger total. Certainly Josephus is known to inflate greatly the numbers.
So let's say 5 millions, that's 2.5 millions male Jews. 144,000 out of 2,500,000 is about 6%. That ratio for virgin male Jews then is marginally realistic.
Could these 144,000 be Jewish Christian male virgins? Then there were relatively few Jewish Christians. That's apparent in Paul's epistles and other texts. Let's give 10% of Christians among Jews around 90 CE. That's probably too generous. But that's not enough in order to extract, from a total of 250,000 male Christian Jews, 144,000 virgin ones.
Therefore it is most doubtful our author thought of those. Rather he had all male virgin Jews on his mind, not the rarer christianized kind.
But these 144,000 are followers of the Lamb. This Lamb would need to be very popular in order to be followed by the vast majority of virgin male Jews in the known world. That comes next ...

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Note: here, it seems the Lamb had been slain on earth a short while ago (but not many years, such as around 65 (30 to 95), as if he were Jesus) before the 144,000 Israelites catch up with him in heaven.
With the revelation claimed to be during Galba's short reign (68-69) (see confirmation later, at verse 17:10), and with the expected End coming in 73-74, and considering our John had been a priest, who would be a candidate?
My vote goes for Ananus (son of Ananus), a former high priest, slain by rebel Idumeans in Jerusalem, around 67-68 (right before Galba's reign):
Josephus' Wars, IV, V, 2 "... they [the Idumeans] sought for the high priests [former high priests Ananus, son of Ananus and Jesus, son of Damneus], and the generality went with the greatest zeal against them; and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun. I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city. He was on other accounts also a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honor of which he was possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people; he was a prodigious lover of liberty, and an admirer of a democracy in government; and did ever prefer the public welfare before his own advantage, and preferred peace above all things; for he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered. He also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless the Jews made up matters with them very dexterously, they would be destroyed; to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived, they had certainly compounded matters; for he was a shrewd man in speaking and persuading the people, and had already gotten the mastery of those that opposed his designs, or were for the war. And the Jews had then put abundance of delays in the way of the Romans, if they had had such a general as he was. Jesus [son of Damneus] was also joined with him; and although he was inferior to him upon the comparison, he was superior to the rest; and I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off these their great defenders and well-wishers, while those that a little before had worn the sacred garments, and had presided over the public worship; and had been esteemed venerable by those that dwelt on the whole habitable earth when they came into our city, were cast out naked, and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts. And I cannot but imagine that virtue itself groaned at these men's case, and lamented that she was here so terribly conquered by wickedness. And this at last was the end of Ananus and Jesus."
` These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
[words in italics are probable Christian additions]

5 (NIV) No lie was found in their mouths: they are blameless.

Note: the "firstfruits" is not Jesus as in 1Co15:20, but 144,000 virgin Jews of Israelite descent (7:4-8), "servants of our God" (7:3) and with "the seal of our God on their foreheads" (9:4b), who are "raptured" before the worst of the apocalyptic events.

Now, let's consider a prior (Christian additions) passage, 7:9-17:
When the "servants" are still on earth waiting to be saved, appears "... a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, ..." (7:9)
who, according to 7:14
"... are the ones who come out of the great tribulation,
[reference to persecutions during Domitian's rule. Let's notice the present tense, suggesting the "tribulation" is not over yet!
And there is no hint in the whole of 7:9-17 that these ones died and were resurrected. They just survive "the great tribulation" as the Christians (alive then and destined to be dressed in white) of Rev3:4-5. Furthermore, the dead ones of (Jewish version) 6:11 (also in white robes) are resurrected later: in (Jewish) 20:12, all the dead (who, just then, have been giving up by the sea and Hades) stand before God]
and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
The later statement refers to the sacrifice of Jesus for atonement from sins of the baptized Christians:
1Co6:11 "... But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."
1John1:7b "... and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
The odd notion (blood stains and does not clean!) 'washed/cleansed in blood (for atonement of sins)' only appears in the aforementioned verses in the whole Bible and therefore is most likely Christian.

To conclude, because the 144,000 virgin Jews are the firstfruits, those alive in 'white robes' (who are never mentioned again) cannot be the first ones saved in heaven as implied by "... they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple ..."(7:15).
Consequently, and also because of the aforementioned Christian connotations (others in 7:16a,17a), 7:9-17 was NOT a part of the original Jewish version.
7:9-17 was inserted (textually right after the 144,000 Jews had been pre-selected to be saved in heaven some time later) to show Christians are God's first choice. Furthermore, "a great multitude which no one could number" means the 'white robe' ones greatly outnumber the 144,000 Jews (implying the Kingdom is for mainly Christians!).

Let's also examine the following passage:
14:1 (Darby) "And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing upon mount Zion, and with him a hundred [and] forty-four thousand, having his name [of the Lamb] and the name of his Father written upon their foreheads."
Here (and only here), and unlike the "suffering servant" of Isaiah, the Lamb is Son (of God).
But in (Jewish) 7:1-8, there is NO mention of the Lamb; and the 144,000 are "sealed" with "the seal of our God", NOT written with (two names!).
Consequently, 14:1 is very likely a Christian addition and its Son/Lamb suddenly (and with no explained purpose) "standing on mount Zion" looks to be a Christian "preview" of the second coming. Also, let's notice the similarities with 'Hebrews', where mount Zion seems to be a (earthly) gathering area for the elects prior to their rapture into heaven:
12:22 "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem ..."

The Harvests and still More of God's Wrath

6 (NKJV) Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel
[another gospel! This one is proclaimed by an angel with no hint a new (Christian) one was preached before! Furthermore "everlasting" implies that gospel existed in very ancient times]
to preach to those who dwell on the earth; to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people;

7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth and the sea."
[the sea did not seem a great creation of God because the 'new earth' will be without it: Jews or Israelites were traditionally land people, having no use, only fear, for the sea.

8 And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon
[at that time, Babylon was a decaying provincial city in the Parthiate kingdom. It was used as a code name for Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Babylon, as head of a "city empire" (just like Rome) had been responsible for the only prior total destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.]
is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand,

10 "he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God.

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man,

Note: a "Jewish" Son of Man. This one is an angel as implied by the next verse and as stated in v.19, not Jesus (earthly or heavenly), the Christian "Son of Man" in the gospels (including GJohn) and 1:13. Probably inspired by the "like a son of man" in Daniel7:13. Let's also notice this "Son of Man" resides on a cloud, when the heavenly Jesus is repeatedly placed at the right hand of God in the N.T. (Ro8:24, Col3:1, Hb1:3,8:1,10:12,12:2, 1Pe3:22, Mk14:62,16:19, Mt26:64, Lk22:69, Ac2:33,7:55,56). Furthermore, how could the heavenly Jesus be at the same time, the "Son of Man" on a cloud and the Lamb on God's throne?
` having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.

15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

16 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Note: this harvest affects the "good" Jews, proselytes & God fearers (others than the 144,000 firstfruits) and allows them to go to heaven (that is, after the firstfruits). One more reason to consider the earlier salvation of the (Christian) "white robes" in 7:9-17, which is out-of-sequence, as an addition!

17 Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven [the temple of heaven is mentioned often], he also having a sharp sickle.

18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire,
[angels have different (destructive) powers, just like the mythological Greek gods]
and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe."
[very reminiscent of Joel3:13 "Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. ..."]

19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

Note: this harvest affects the "bad" people (the ones to be eradicated) and is performed by an angel, other than the"one like a son of man" angel who reaped the "good" ones earlier. Also, in the N.T. (except 'Revelation'), the final 'harvest' is usually associated with wheat fields, but never with vine/grapes.

20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
[as in Joel3:13 again "... Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow; For their [people of the (Gentile) "nations" (3:12)] wickedness is great."]

15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous [what is marvelous about plagues?]: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.
[the saved ones are those harvested by the angelic "Son of Man" (14:16). It is their turn to sing]

3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, [very Jewish!] saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King [the King is God, not Jesus] of the saints!

4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested."

5 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.

6 And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen,
[linen is the most appreciated fabric for angels, saints and wealthy mortals]
and having their chests girded with golden bands [gold is also very appreciated in heaven!].

7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath
[the seven bowls of wrath are the worse of the apocalyptic calamities, affecting the ones who haven't been saved or already killed]
of God who lives forever and ever.

8 The temple was filled with smoke
[likely a way to suggest the temple of heaven was actively used for worship: the earthly one, destroyed by then, was not missed, just replaced. But a Christian author would not have preserved it!]
from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

Note: the author is rejoicing on destruction (so much overkill, and more is still to come).
John collected all sorts of apocalyptic stories heard from Jewish "christs"/prophets right after the fall of Jerusalem. Each of those would pretend to have "revelations" from above, about God's wrath & revenge and the advent of the Kingdom. It was in the interest of John to write the most complete Apocalypse ("the mother of them all") in order to appear the preferred prophet of God, when the others would get only fragments. Do we know of christs/prophets in the days after the destruction of the heart of Judea?
At that time, some Christians were attracted to them, according to GMark:
Mk13:21-23 "Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!' or, "Look, He is there!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand."

16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."

2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.

3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
[here goes a big part of God's creation. The worshipping of 5:13 did not help!]

4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.

5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous,
[for our author, what is righteous about it, killing humans and (certainly innocent) plants and animals?]
O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due." [so much blood]

7 And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."

8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.

9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
[probably refers to the first beast (the 2nd one having no throne or kingdom), the Roman empire with its current emperor. Its/his kingdom might be only the Roman heartland, central and southern Italy]

11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
[repentance of sins is a key to salvation, as in John the Baptist's message]

12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates,
[again reference to the great river close to Antioch, a constant worry for invasion from the mysterious East]
and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.

13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon.

14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.

Note: the site (Megiddo, in northern Israel) is chosen because several ancient battles occurred here already:
- 1468 B.C.E. --between Egyptians and Canaanites--
- Judges5:19 --between Israelites and Canaanites--
- 2Kings23:29, 609 B.C.E. --between Egyptians and Israelites--
(victors in bold)

17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!"

18 And there were noises and thundering and lightning; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
[earthquakes are a big part of God's arsenal of weapons]

19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon [Rome] was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.

20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
[they seem to disappear here. And, in the book of Daniel, at the time of the end, a huge mountain is filling the whole earth (2:35b). Would it be a contradiction here?]

21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent [about 100 pounds; enough to kill anyone]. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail [that does not seem to kill them], since that plague was exceedingly great.

The Great Harlot: Rome and its Populace

17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
[the Mediterranean sea and its connected smaller seas like Aegean, Adriatic, etc. which shores were parts of the Rome empire. Geographically speaking, the Babylonian empire was not straddling any sea]

2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast
[this beast is the first one, representing the Rome]
which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.


6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints. [allusion to the massacres of 70 C.E.] And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

7 But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.

9 Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains.
[the seven hills of ancient Rome. The identification is positive enough, short of spelling R-O-M-E, which would have been considered very subversive. Babylon was built on a flat alluvial plain: no hills here]
on which the woman sits.
["Archaeologists have discovered the Coin (or Medallion) of Vespasian that exhibits a picture of the goddess Roma as a woman seated on seven hills." (Kenneth L. Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation, p. 149).
Here it is (coin dated 71C.E.):

For more info, click here.]

10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen
[Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero]
one is,
[Galba, the ruling emperor when the vision occurred, as we are led to believe]
and the other has not yet come
[Vespasian. The author didn't acknowledge Otto & Vitellius, short time usurpers, as emperors]
. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.
[he had to last at least three and a half years after the destruction of Jerusalem]
[the next verse reads: "The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition". This verse obviously refers to Domitian as the new Nero and consequently is an addition done with the Christian ones. Please note "an eighth king" does not mean Domitian succeeded Vespasian directly (as Titus did), just that he was not a member of the seven]

12 The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet,
[an explanation of the ten kings of 'Daniel' (7:24). However, in 'Daniel', they were meant to be Seleucid kings (explanations here)]
but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.
[the reign of those "kings" is short-lived (one hour!) and cannot represent the long lasting kingdoms of the next two millenniums! It also looks those ten "kings" are no more than glorified (hoped for) arsonists]

13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast."

15 Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.
[the Rome empire straddling the Mediterranean sea]

16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
[the ten "kings" (always presented as allied to the Roman empire) use their short-lived power to destroy Rome, the city, as planned by God: see next verse]

17 For God has put it into their hearts [of the ten "kings"] to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind

Note: realistically, some arsonists were "foreseen" to start a fire in ten different places in Rome, and at the same time. That would have overwhelmed any attempt of extinguishing the fires and made sure of Rome complete burning. Also, this apocalyptic event is the only major one described in 'Revelation' which could be man-made!
The inspiration could have come from, as told by Josephus in Wars, VII, III, 3:
"But about this time when the present war began [66-67], ... a certain person, whose name was Antiochus, being one of the Jewish nation ... became an informer against his father, and accused both him and others that they had resolved to burn the whole city [Antioch, Syria, about 70% the size of Rome], in one night; he also delivered up to them some Jews that were foreigners, as partners in their resolutions."
` and to give their [one hour!] kingdom to the beast,
[after Rome is destroyed, all temporal power goes back to the first beast, that is the Rome empire, which is not terminated yet. That will come after the Great Battle at Armageddon]
until the words of God are fulfilled.

18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city [Rome] which reigns over the kings of the earth."
[at that time, there were still a few client kingdoms within the Roman empire and along its borders. That was less true in 95 C.E.: the Romans had a policy to reduce them into provinces]

18:1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, " Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!

3 "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury."

4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.

7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow,
[means that the city (Rome) was a center of power then, unlike Babylon whose glory days were centuries behind]
and will not see sorrow.'

8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day; death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire,
[not implausible: a huge fire destroyed most of Rome in 64 C.E. (Tacitus' Annals, XV)]
for strong is the Lord God who judges her.

9 The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning,

10 standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'

11 And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:

12 merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk
[in these days, all silk was coming from China and most of it (to the Roman empire) transited through Antioch. This is the only occurrence of 'silk' in the whole Bible]
and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble;

13 and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.

Note: Rome was seen sucking out goods & wealth out of the provinces. That is mainly true: tax money from the provinces (like Syria) was used to provide free food & entertainment for the Roman populace and build lavish grandiose public buildings such as palaces, arena, public baths, temples, forum, etc. Luxury goods and slaves were in high demand from emperor, courtesans, aristocrats, profiteers, absentee landlords, etc.

14 The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all.

15 The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!

17 'For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.' Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance
[Rome is about 20 miles away from the sea, Babylon was more than 200 miles away from it. Ostie was the sea harbor of Rome (15 miles away) during antiquity. Today, modern Rome has no nearby sea port]

18 and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?'

19 They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.'

20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy ones and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!"

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea , saying, "Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.
[Rome is still on the map and ancient Babylon has been found: one more prophecy not fulfilled]

22 The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.

23 The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth."

Rome is Finally Destroyed

19:1 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God
[the Lord is not Jesus]

2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her."
[reference to the many Jews killed in 70 C.E.]

3 Again they said, "Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!"
[the destruction of Rome is a bit premature!]

4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who sat on the throne [the One sitting on the throne is God], saying, "Amen! Alleluia!"

5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!"

6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

The Marriage of the Lamb, the Great Battle and the new World Order

7 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."

8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen [that's a lot of linen!], clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

9 Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' " And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him {[was] called faithful and true, and} in righteousness He judges and makes war.

12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
[the no-name Messiah, certainly not Jesus]

14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
[eastern Parthiate influence is again obvious. Note: in these days, most of the Roman army was comprised of foot soldiers, not cavalry men]

15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Note: this ruler of the Gentiles (living outside the Kingdom) refers to the grown up child-Messiah of 12:5 and also to the "Son of Man" of 'Daniel' (& possibly the "angelized" one of 14:14).
However, in the Christian additions, the Lamb (who is also Jesus) "metamorphoses" considerably, becomes that ruler (and the ultimate warrior (19:13-21), quite a bit out of character for a lamb!) and has names:
17:14 "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; ..."
19:16 "And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
19:13 "... His name is called The Word of God."
This superlative warrior was the male child-Messiah in 12:5, the one snatched to heaven & God after birth because he is the one
"who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter", as in 19:15b "he himself will rule them with an iron scepter".
Of course, Jesus does not go to heaven as a child, which proves that could not have been written by a Christian.
Remark: the Christian additions will also make the Lamb, oddly enough, a "shepherd" (7:17) and a "lion" (5:5-6).
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,

18 Note: Another Christian addition: "that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."

19 And I saw the beast [as postulated earlier, the beast is Nero resurrected as Domitian], the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together [at Amargeddon: 16:14,16] to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

20 Then the beast was captured [that would be the end of Domitian], and cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse [conflicting with 19:15 & 20:3]. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan

3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should not deceive the nations.
[the (Gentile) nations are still here]

a) 20:3b-10 is the (Jewish) Christian brief (& tentative) addition of Christ's Kingdom of one thousand years, meant as a bonus for
"souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image" (the victims of the persecutions during Domitian's reign).
But Christ's Kingdom is not centered on a (gloriously) rebuilt Jerusalem (as would be expected) but rather
"the camp of the saints and the beloved city": because God & the Lamb's New Jerusalem of the original version is still to come on earth, a rebuilt Jerusalem (worthy of Christ's Kingdom) would have interfered with God's one!
b) In the Christian addition (20:7), the dragon is arbitrarily released after one thousand years.
Why? In order to deceive the nations (again!) (explaining the end of Christ's kingdom) and provoke God's intervention (again!) (20:8-10). After the 'Kingdom of one thousand years' digression/insertion, that looks very much like a reboot in order to make way for the Last Judgment & the New Jerusalem of the original version.
c) Immortal gods being thrown into the abyss below the earth (as a way to get rid of them) is fairly common in Greek mythology. Examples: the hundred-handed ones (after their birth) and the Titans (after the Olympian gods' victory)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him
[God is the Judge (see next verse), not Jesus as in GJohn5:22, GMatthew25:31-46, Acts10:42]
who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
[as in the book of Daniel (7:10b,12:1b), which the author had plenty of opportunities to read and study. The same goes for all the other books ('Isaiah', 'Ezekiel', 'Joel', 'Job', etc.)]

13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

The New Jerusalem: The Kingdom of God on Earth

2 Then I, John , saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

a) A rather odd couple, a silent lamb and a giant city
"Fourth Ezra is dated approximately in 83 CE, thirteen years after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. ... Fourth Ezra has two clear messages. First, do not grieve excessively over Jerusalem. Second, Jerusalem will be restored as a heavenly kingdom." (Wikipedia entry for "New Jerusalem")

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men [what about women?], and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

5 Then He who sat on the throne said,
[God, as in 19:4 "God who sat on the throne"]
"Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."
[that does not sound Christian! Somewhat conflicting with Jesus declaring he is "the Son of God" (2:18) in the Christian additions. Also, let's notice there is no mention of 'daughter', and more generally of women, inhabiting the "New Jerusalem"]

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

12 (Darby) having a great and high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are those of the twelve tribes of [the] sons of Israel.

a) This new Jerusalem is mostly for Israelites: certainly it does not look non-Judaized Gentiles (as many Christians then) would be welcome to live in it!
"The surviving New Jerusalem texts in Qumran literature focus specifically on the twelve city gates ... In 4Q554, the gates of Simeon, Joseph, and Reuben are mentioned in this partial fragment. For the author of this fragment, the New Jerusalem's twelve gates signify the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel." (Wikipedia entry for "New Jerusalem")

13 (NKJV) three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

Note: the next verse read: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Darby)
These twelve foundations (normally buried and out of sight!) are inscribed with names. It seems the best locations for name placing had already been taken! And if a Christian had written 21:12, each city gate being named after one of the apostles would make a lot of sense!

15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs [1,500 miles, a bit big for a city]. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
[it must have taken a long time to measure that with a reed! And the author did have a good "vision" to see 1,500 miles in all three directions from the top of the (very, very, very) high mountain]

17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.
[angel and man have the same measuring unit! The height would be around 212 feet]

18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.
[pure gold can hardly be compared with clear glass: the properties are very different]

19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,

20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. [pure gold is not transparent]

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

Note: the words in italics are very suspect, most likely a Christian addition, because it is the Lord God who provides the light:
a) "... God illuminated it"
b) at a few verses later:
22:5 "There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light ..."

24 (NIV) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

Note: evidently, Gentiles with their (new) kings managed to survive. Let's also notice this new Jerusalem stands now on earth; but the kingdom of God (or paradise) is located in heaven by Paul (2Co5:1,12:2-4, Php3:20a), by the author of 'Hebrews' (12:22); as it is also in the fourth gospel (John's), concerning Christ's kingdom (Jn18:36) where Jesus' disciples will be welcome (Jn14:2-4).

25 (NKJV) Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).
[city gates were always shut at night in the ancient world. Also let's notice: (no sea, no mountains,) no nights]

26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
[now, the Gentiles are the ones bringing the goods to the "saints"]

22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

2 (NIV) On each side of the river stood the tree of life [as in Genesis2:9], bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Note: the fruit of the tree provide food and immortality for the "saints". The leaves, a lesser product of the tree, have enough potency to heal the outsiders, but these ones would stay mortal. The destruction of Death (and Hades) is a Christian concept (1Corinthians15:26, Revelation20:14).

3 (NKJV) And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

Note: "and of the Lamb" appears to be a Christian addition, because the Lamb is ignored next.

4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
[immortality, but let's notice how physical is the Kingdom, with food, goods and clean water provided for the "saints"]

6 Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place."
[still waiting. Does "shortly" mean a few millenniums?]


8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

9 Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

10 And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.
[still waiting, almost two thousand years later]

11 "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still."

12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."

a) The expression in italics is highly suspect, because, elsewhere, 'the First and the Last'
- appears only in the Christian additions in regard of Jesus/Christ/Son_of_God (1:17,2:8).
- is never associated with the repetitious (21:6) 'the Beginning and the End' or (1:8,21:6) 'the Alpha and the Omega'.
Note: occurrences of 'the Beginning and the End' at 1:8 and (pointing to Jesus!) 'the Alpha and the Omega' & 'the First and the Last' at 1:11 do not show in most ancient manuscripts and therefore are most likely the result of late interpolations.
b) The expression 'the Alpha and the Omega' is positively linked to the "Lord God" and "Almighty" at verse 1:8.

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

19 (NIV) And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon.

See here for the original Jewish version without comments

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