Notes on Revelation 19:15,17
Recently on a certain social media platform, someone posted a picture of Pope Francis with the words “If you think Pope Francis is too liberal, wait until you meet Jesus.” This was bringing attention to the fact that conservative and more traditional Catholics (including some Orthodox) believe that Pope Francis has been quite liberal as a pope, making too much conciliation toward modernism. My response to the picture was that a two-edged sword, as mentioned in the 19th chapter of the Book of Revelation, does not sound like a butter knife.
The events described in the 19th chapter are far from describing Jesus Christ as “liberal.” Yes, Jesus is the perfect example of love and compassion, but He is no fool and when He arrives, He will be victorious over all things pertaining to sin. The Catholic Church and the world is in its current situation all due to liberalism, modernism and having a luke-warm love for the truth. It is these very liberals (lay persons, theologians, church leaders and others) whom the Lord mentions directly in Revelation 3:16. “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.”
Our Lord is coming with a vengeance and “the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty.”
Below I quote from three different sources concerning Rev. 19:15 and other verses. Two are Catholic while one source is Orthodox to provide a small example of the traditional views of these verses.
“And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp two edged sword; that with it he may strike the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 19:15, Douay-Rheims)
The sharp sword from the mouth is judgment, the prophetic word fulfilled (1:16; 2:12; Is. 11:4); the rod of iron (2:27; 12:5; Ps. 2:9) is rule. He treads hte wine press, executing God’s wrath on earth (14:19, 20; Is. 63:3; Jer. 25:30; Lam. 1:15)… [Note for verses 17 and 18:] This is a graphic portrayal of the triumph of Christ over the Antichrist, forming a macabre contrast with the wedding supper of the Lamb of God (v. 9; 2:17; 3:20). The destruction is total (see Isa. 34:1-7; Ezek. 39:17-20; Matt. 24:28).
Sharp two-edged sword. The power which Christ exercises over the impious. (Menochius) — Wine press, &c. This painting corresponds to the triumph of Jesus Christ. (Calmet) — Some of the attributes here mentioned are also ascribed to Christ, by the prophet Isaias. Chap. lxiii. 2, 3. “Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the wine press? I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me: I have trampled on them in my indignation, and have trodden them down in my wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my apparel.” (Pastorini)… Verse 17: An Angel….in the sun,…with a loud voice invites all the birds of the air to a most plentiful entertainment which is preparing for them, where they may fill themselves with human flesh of all kinds; from that of kings to that of bondmen; (ver. 18) and with the flesh of horses and that of them that sin on them: and expressive picture of the immense slaughter that is going to be made. It would seem that this bloody scene will terminate in the evening of the day, as the invitation is given to a supper. (Pastorini)
Marginal note from the Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed., New American Bible:
19, 11-16: Symbolic description of the exalted Christ (cf 1, 13-16) who together wih the armies of heaven overcomes the beast and its followers; cf 17,14… 19, 15: The treading of the wine press is a prophetic symbo lused to describe the destruction of God’s enemies; cf Is 63, 1-6; Jl 4, 13.
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