Does the book of Revelation present Jesus as God Almighty?

This is an article in the series on the question: Is Jesus the Most High God?

Purpose

In the Trinity doctrine, God is one Being or substance consisting of three co-equal Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In other words, all Three are “Almighty” and all Three are the uncaused Cause of all creation. The purpose of this article is to determine whether Revelation describes Jesus as God Almighty.


Summary

Who Is God?

The title “God” is found about 100 times in Revelation. In most instances, nobody else is mentioned in the context so it is not immediately clear to whom the title “God” refers (e.g., Rev 14:19). However, the 17 instances listed below mention both the Father and the Son and consistently identify the Father alone as “God.” In other words, in the way that Revelation uses the title “God,” the Son is NOT God:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him” (Rev 1:1)

Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).

You (the Lamb – Jesus) were slain,
and purchased for God with Your blood
men from every tribe …” (Rev 5:9).

Now … the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Rev 12:10).

For similar statements, see Revelation 1:2, 9; 7:17; 12:5, 17; 14:4, 12; 20:4, 6; 21:22, 23; and 22:1, 3.

In these 17 instances, the title “God” ALWAYS refers to the Father and NEVER to Jesus. The point is that God is one Person and Jesus is somebody else. In other words, when the angel instructs John to “worship God” (Rev 19:10; 22:9), it is a command to worship the Father.

God’s Divine Titles

Revelation describes God also in several other ways, including:

      • Him “Who Was and Who Is and Who Is to Come” (Rev 4:8),
      • The Almighty” (Rev 4:8),
      • “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 4:9),
      • “Him who lives forever and ever” (Rev 4:9), and
      • Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7; cf. Rev 4:11).

Each of these descriptions says something about God. The Being on the throne in Revelation 4 is described by all five of these descriptions. Since Jesus enters the throne room only in the next chapter (Rev 5:5-6), the “One sitting on the throne” (Rev 4:2) is the Father. The following shows that these descriptions ALWAYS apply to the Father only and NEVER to the Son:

Him who sits on the throne

The throne is an important concept in Revelation. Much happen “around the throne” (Rev 4:3, 6; 5:11; 7:11, etc.), “before the throne” (Rev 4:5, 6, 10; 7:9, 11, etc.), and comes “from the throne” (Rev 4:5; 16:17; 22:1; etc.).

Revelation 4 may be called the throne room chapter for the word “throne” appears at least 10 times in that one chapter alone. After God is introduced as the “One sitting on the throne” (Rev 4:2), He is often referred to later in the book as “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 4:9, 10; 5:1, 7, 13; 6:16). For the following reasons, this always refers to the Father alone and never to the Son:

1) Since Jesus is absent from Revelation 4, the “One sitting on the throne” in that chapter is the Father.

2) The “One sitting on the throne” is also called “God” (Rev 4:8, 11; 19:4) and, as shown above, Revelation uses the title “God” only for the Father.

3) Several verses make an explicit distinction between “Him who sits on the throne” and Christ. For example:

The Lamb” (Jesus) “came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev 5:6-7).

Every created thing … I heard saying,
To Him who sits on the throne,
AND to the Lamb
” (Rev 5:13; cf. Rev 12:5; 6:16; 7:9-10).

Jesus said:

I … sat down with My Father
on His throne
” (Rev 3:21).

Therefore, in Revelation, the Lamb also sits on the throne (Rev 22:1, 3) but it remains the Father’s throne. Even human beings may sit on the Father’s throne, for Jesus promised:

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne” (Rev 3:21).

This is not a literal throne. The throne symbolizes authority. Since it is the Father’s throne, He is the Supreme Ruler of all creation. By contrasting Jesus with “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 5:7; 12:5), Revelation indicates that the Son is subordinate to the Father.

The Creator

Elsewhere in the New Testament, we read that God created all things “THROUGH” His Son:

THROUGH whom (His Son) also He (God) made the world” (Heb 1:1-2; cf. 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; John 1:3).

The Son, therefore, was God’s agent through whom God created. Similarly, in Revelation, the beings in the heavenly throne room worship the “One sitting on the throne” – the Father – because He has “created all things” (Rev 4:11). The Father alone, therefore, is the uncaused Cause of all things.

Him who lives forever

This title appears four times in Revelation:

It appears twice in chapter 4 (Rev 4:9-10) where Jesus is not present and, therefore, describes the Father.

Revelation 15:7 identifies this Being as “God” and, as discussed, Revelation uses the title “God” only for the Father.

The fourth instance (Rev 10:6) is a quote from Daniel 12:7 which, arguably, refers to the “Most High;” a favorite term for God in Daniel (e.g., Dan 4:24).

All four instances, therefore, identify the Father as the One “who lives forever and ever.” Since the Father is described in this way, as Paul stated, He “alone possesses immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). The immortality of all other beings, including the Son, is dependent on the Father’s immortality.

Who Is and who Was and is To come

For the following reasons, this title refers to the Father alone:

1) The one sitting on the throne, who has been interpreted above as the Father, is also identified as Him “WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME” (Rev 4:8).

2) In the opening verses of the book, John mentions the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. In these verses, John describes the Father as, “Him who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev 1:4-5).

3) Him “who is and who was and who is to come” is also called “God” (Rev 1:8; 11:17) and it was already shown above that Revelation refers to only the Father as God.

This title may be related to Exodus 3:14, where YHVH (or Yahweh or Jehovah) identified Himself as “I AM WHO I AM.” Both titles may be understood to mean the One who exists without cause.

The Almighty

This title appears 17 times in the Old Testament (OT), once in the New Testament outside Revelation in a quote from the OT (2 Cor 6:18), and 9 times in Revelation. Therefore, if we want to understand what this term means for the church, we need to study it in Revelation.

In Revelation, it is “God” who is identified as “the Almighty.” For example:

The war of the great day of God,
the Almighty
” (Rev 16:14; cf. Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:16-17; 15:2-3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 13-15; 21:22).

Since, as discussed above, both the title “God” refers to the Father alone, the Father alone is the “Almighty.” Revelation never uses the title “Almighty” for Jesus. On the contrary, it makes an explicit distinction between Christ and “the Almighty:”

I saw no temple in it,
for the Lord God the Almighty
and the Lamb are its temple
” (Rev 21:22; cf. Rev 19:13-15).

Subordinate to the Father

In Revelation, Jesus is subordinate to the Father. For example:

1) Revelation refers only to the Father as “God,” “the Almighty,” “Him who sits on the throne,” and as the Creator. As such, the Father is the ultimate Ruler.

2) Jesus received the Book of Revelation from God (Rev 1:1). When He was on earth, Jesus similarly said that the Father gives Him “what to say” (John 12:49). Revelation 1:1 shows that, 60 years after His resurrection and ascension, Jesus still received from God the words of this prophecy.

3) In Revelation, God is also Jesus’ God (Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12).

For evidence that the Son is subordinate to the Father in the entire New Testament, see – God is the Head of Christ.

Jesus belongs with God.

Revelation shows that Christ is distinct from and subordinate to God, but Revelation also puts God and Christ together over against the created universe. For example:

Both are the temple and the light of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:22-23).

Both are “the beginning and the end” (Rev 1:17; 2:8; 21:5-6), meaning that both have always existed.

The saved belong to both God and Christ (Rev 14:4; 20:6).

The throne belongs to both (Rev 22:3), symbolizing that the Father and the Son will rule together.

Both are worshiped (Rev 5:13-14).

These verses imply an extremely close relationship between God and His Son. However, the Spirit of God is not worshiped and does not sit on the throne. In the events described in the book, the Holy Spirit seems absent but we do know that the Holy Spirit is the Power through whom both God and His Son work.

So, who is the Son?

So, if the Bible refers to the Father alone as God, and if the Son is distinct from and subordinate to God, but also belongs with God, who is the Son?

I like Tertullian’s analogy in which he compared God to the sun and His Son as the rays of the sun. In that metaphor, the Father is the Source of all things and the Son is the link between God and the created universe. Just like the rays of the sun brings us warmth and life from the sun, the Son is the Means through whom God gives us everything we need, including creation, knowledge of God, a Savior, redemption, restoration, and eternal life. This relationship is perhaps well explained by Paul:

There is one God,
and one mediator also between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus
” (1 Tim 2:5).

Final Conclusions

In conclusion, in the Trinity doctrine, Jesus is the God Almighty; the uncaused Cause of all creation. But this article has shown that Revelation refers to the Father alone as:

Him “Who Was and Who Is and Who Is to Come,” meaning that the Father is the One who exists without cause,

“Him who sits on the throne,” meaning that the Father is the Supreme Ruler of all creation,

“Him who lives forever and ever,” meaning that immortality of all other beings, including the Son, depends on the Father’s immortality,

Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters,” and as

The Almighty.”

All of these titles may be combined into the single title “God,” which Revelation also uses for the Father alone. Consequently, the Son is subordinate to the Father. However, when compared to the created universe, Christ belongs with God.

It was proposed that God (the Father) and the Son may be compared to the sun and its rays. The Father is the Source of all things and the Son is the Means through Whom God gives creation everything it needs.

– End of Summary –


Who is God?

The title “God” is found about 100 times in Revelation. In most instances, nobody else is mentioned in the context so it is not immediately clear to whom the title “God” refers. For instance:

The great wine press of the wrath of God” (Rev 14:19), or

The seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2).

However, the 17 instances listed below mention both the Father and the Son and consistently identify the Father alone as “God.” This means that, in the way that Revelation uses the title “God,” the Son is NOT God:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him” (Rev 1:1).

John, who testified to the word of God and
to the testimony of Jesus Christ
(Rev 1:2; cf. Rev 1:9 and 20:4).

You (the Lamb – Jesus) were slain,
and purchased for God with Your blood
men from every tribe …” (Rev 5:9).

Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).

The Lamb … will be their shepherd …
and God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:17).

She gave birth to a son, a male child,
who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron;
and her child was caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5). (To see that this Child is Jesus, compare this with Revelation 19:15.)

Now … the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Rev 12:10).

Her children … keep the commandments of God 
and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17; cf. 14:12);

These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Rev 14:4).

They will be priests of God and of Christ 
and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:6).

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22).

The glory of God has illumined it,
and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev 21:23).

A river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1).

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it” (Rev 22:3).

These examples show that God and His unique Son belong together over against the created universe. For example, they share a single throne (Rev 22:1, 3) and, together, they are the temple and the light of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:22-23).

Nevertheless, in these 17 instances, the title “God” ALWAYS refers to the Father and NEVER to Jesus. The point is not that the FATHER AND THE SON are different Persons, for that we all agree, but that GOD AND THE SON are two distinct Persons. In other words, God is one Person and Jesus is somebody else. And since this is true in all the verses that refer to both the Father and the Son, this is also true in all instances where the title “God” appears by itself. In other words, when the angel instructs John to “worship God” (Rev 19:10; 22:9), it is a command to worship the Father. (For further discussion, see the article – Jesus is not God.)

God’s Divine Titles

Revelation describes God also in several other ways, including:

      • Him “Who Was and Who Is and Who Is to Come” (Rev 4:8),
      • The Almighty” (Rev 4:8),
      • “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 4:9),
      • “Him who lives forever and ever” (Rev 4:9, 10), and
      • Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7; cf. Rev 4:11).

Each of these descriptions says something about God. The question is, do these descriptions apply to the Father only or also to the Son? For example, is the Son also “Almighty?

The Being in the throne room in Revelation 4 is described by all five of these descriptions. Since Jesus enters the throne room only in the next chapter (Rev 5:5-6), the “One sitting on the throne” (Rev 4:2) in Revelation 4 is the Father. (For more detail, see – Revelation 4:1-8 – a visual description of God’s throne room.) These, therefore, are descriptions of the Father. The question is, are these titles anywhere else applied to the Son? To answer that question, and to discuss the meaning of these titles, the remainder of this article discusses these titles one by one:

Him who sits on the throne

The word “throne” is found about 100 times in the Bible, of which 50 are in Revelation. The throne, therefore, is an important concept in Revelation. Much happen “around the throne” (Rev 4:3, 6; 5:11; 7:11, etc.), “before the throne” (Rev 4:5, 6, 10; 7:9, 11, etc.) and comes “from the throne” (Rev 4:5; 16:17; 22:1; etc.).

Revelation 4 may be called the throne room chapter for the word “throne” appears at least 10 times in that one chapter alone. After John was called up to heaven, the first thing He saw was: 

A throne was standing in heaven,
and One sitting on the throne
” (Rev 4:2)

Then John attempts to explain what he saw:

“And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone
and a sardius in appearance;
and there was a rainbow around the throne,
like an emerald in appearance
” (Rev 4:2-3)

This is not a very exact description, but then we must remember that John also wrote that “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). God certainly appears in different forms at different times but these are only appearances (theophanies); manifestations of the presence of God. Since God exists simultaneously everywhere, He cannot be limited to any one specific location. Therefore, His full being cannot be seen. He exists beyond the physical realm.

The Father sits on the throne.

After the introduction of the “One sitting on the throne” (Rev 4:2), He is often referred to as “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 4:9, 10; 5:1, 7, 13; 6:16). Since Jesus is absent from Revelation 4, the “One sitting on the throne” in that chapter is the Father. The following shows that the “One sitting on the throne” is the Father everywhere in Revelation:

1) The “One sitting on the throne” is called “God” (Rev 4:8, 11; 19:4) and, as shown above, Revelation uses the title “God” only for the Father.

2) The following verses make a distinction between “Him who sits on the throne” and Christ:

The Lamb” (Jesus) “came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev 5:6-7).

The son of the woman of Revelation 12 (Jesus) “was caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5).

Every created thing … I heard saying,
To Him who sits on the throne,
AND to the Lamb
” (Rev 5:13).

At Christ’s return, the lost masses cry,
Fall on us and hide us from the presence of
Him who sits on the throne,
AND from the wrath of the Lamb
” (Rev 6:16).

The “great multitude” of the saved stands
before the throne AND before the Lamb” (Rev 7:9).

They “cry out with a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
AND to the Lamb
.’” (Rev 7:9-10; cf. 7:15).

Since “Him who sits on the throne” is contrasted with Christ, “Him who sits on the throne” is the Father.

The Lamb on the throne

However, in the following verses, the Lamb also sits on the throne:

John saw “a river of the water of life …
coming from the throne of God
and of the Lamb
” (Rev 22:1).

The throne of God and of the Lamb
will be in
” the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:3).

Nevertheless, it remains the Father’s throne, for Jesus said:

I … sat down with My Father
on His throne
” (Rev 3:21).

This is consistent with the frequent message in the New Testament that Jesus sat down “at the right hand of God” (e.g., 1 Peter 1:22). 

Even human beings may sit on the Father’s throne, for Jesus promised:

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne” (Rev 3:21).

Meaning of the term

This is not a literal throne. The throne is a symbol of authority. Since it is the Father’s throne, He is the Supreme Ruler of all creation. By contrasting Jesus with “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 5:7; 12:5), Revelation indicates that the Son is subordinate to the Father.

The seven Spirits of God” are “before the throne,” meaning that the Spirit of God is also subordinate to the Father.

That Christ and the overcomers will also sit on God’s throne symbolizes that God will give them authority (Matt 28:18; Phil 2:9-11): They will rule with God but the Father will always remain the ultimate Ruler.

The Creator

Elsewhere in the New Testament, we read that God created all things “THROUGH” His Son:

All things came into being THROUGH Him” (John 1:3).

“All things have been created through Him”

THROUGH whom (His Son) also He (God) made the world” (Heb 1:1-2)

There is but one God, the Father,
FROM WHOM are all things and we exist for Him;
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
BY WHOM are all things,
and we exist
through Him” (cf. 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16).

The Son, therefore, was God’s agent through whom God created. Similarly, in Revelation, the beings in the heavenly throne room worship the “One sitting on the throne” (the Father) because He has “created all things” and because all things exist because that was His will (Rev 4:11). The Father alone, therefore, is the uncaused Cause of all things.

Him who lives forever

This title appears four times in Revelation. It appears twice in chapter 4, where Jesus is not present and, therefore, describes the Father:

The living creatures give glory and honor and thanks
to Him who sits on the throne,
to Him who lives forever and ever
” (Rev 4:9; cf. 4:10).

Revelation 15:7 identifies this Being as “God” and, as discussed above, Revelation uses the title “God” only for the Father:

God, who lives forever and ever” (Rev 15:7)

The fourth instance in Revelation 10:6 identifies “Him who lives forever” as the Creator, which, according to Revelation 4:11, is the Father:

Swore by Him who lives forever and ever,
who created heaven … and the earth … and the sea
(Rev 10:6).

This description of God in 10:6 as “Him who lives forever” is a quote from Daniel 12:7. In both passages, a supernatural being swore by “Him who lives forever” about when the end will come. Arguably, “Him who lives forever” refers to the “Most High;” a favorite term for God in Daniel (e.g., Dan 4:24).

All four instances, therefore, identify the Father as the One “who lives forever and ever.

The meaning of the term

Since the Father is described in this way, He alone “lives forever and ever.” Paul similarly indicated that the Father “alone possesses immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). Consequently, the immortality of all other beings is dependent on the Father’s immortality. As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus derived His eternal existence and nature from the Father. The Father is the Unbegotten Source of all things. He, alone, has inherent (essential) immortality.

While Jesus was dead (Rev 1:18), the Father “lives forever and ever,” which implies that He never was dead and will never die. This makes a huge distinction between God and Jesus.

Who Is and who Was and is To come

For the following reasons, this title refers to the Father alone:

1) The one sitting on the throne, who has been interpreted above as the Father, is also identified as “WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME” (Rev 4:8).

2) In the opening verses of the book, John brings grace and peace to the seven churches:

From Him who is and who was and who is to come, and
from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and
from Jesus Christ
” (Rev 1:4-5).

This is one of the triadic passages we find in the Bible where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mentioned together. In these verses, John describes the Father as, “Him who is and who was and who is to come.” These verses were not part of a vision but they were John’s interpretation of his visions.

3) Him “who is and who was and who is to come” is also called “God” (Rev 1:8; 11:17) and it was already shown above that Revelation refers to only the Father as God.

(Revelation 11:17 omits the “to come” part of this title because, in the context of that verse, the kingdom of the world has already become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.)

The meaning of the term

This title may be related to Exodus 3:14, where YHVH (Yahweh or Jehovah) identified Himself:

I AM WHO I AM
Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
‘I AM has sent me to you.

Both titles may be understood to mean the One who exists without cause. It always scares me to think about why things exist. Why is there not nothing? The answer is that things exist because God exists. In fact, He is that which exists. Everything that exists came from within Him. Our entire existence came forth from Him and depends on Him. But then I thank Him for the revelation which He gave of Himself through Jesus Christ, namely that He is kind and loving.

The Almighty

This title appears 17 times in the Old Testament (OT), once in the New Testament outside Revelation in a quote from the OT (2 Cor 6:18), and 9 times in Revelation. Therefore, if we want to understand what this term means for the church, we need to study it in Revelation.

In Revelation, it is “God” and Him “who is and who was and who is to come” who is identified as “the Almighty.” For example:

The war of the great day of God,
the Almighty
” (Rev 16:14).

Holy, Holy, Holy is The Lord God,
The Almighty,
Who Was and Who Is and Who Is To Come

(Rev 4:8; cf. 1:8).

“We give You thanks, O Lord God,
the Almighty,
who are and who were
” (Rev 11:16-17; cf. 15:2-3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 13-15; 21:22).

Since, as discussed above, both the titles “God” and “who is and who was and who is to come” refer to the Father alone, the Father alone is the “Almighty.” Revelation never uses the title “Almighty” for Jesus. On the contrary, it makes an explicit distinction between Christ and “the Almighty:”

His name is called The Word of God. …
and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath
of God, the Almighty
” (Rev 19:13-15).

I saw no temple in it,
for the Lord God the Almighty
and the Lamb are its temple
” (Rev 21:22).

Jesus, therefore, is not the Almighty; only the Father is. See the article – Almighty – for a more detailed discussion.

Subordinate to the Father

In Revelation, Jesus is subordinate to the Father. For example:

1) The Father’s title

Revelation refers only to the Father as “God,” as “the Almighty,” as “Him who sits on the throne,” and as the Creator. As “Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 3:21; 4:2; 5:7; 5:13-14; 7:10; 12:5; 19:4), the Father is the ultimate Ruler.

2) Jesus received the Book of Revelation from God:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him
” (Rev 1:1).

When He was on earth, Jesus similarly said:

I did not speak on My own initiative, but
the Father Himself who sent Me
has given Me a commandment
as to what to say and what to speak
” (John 12:49).

The Trinity doctrine, in which the Son is regarded as equal with the Father, attempts to defend against this point by saying that Jesus had to receive His words BECAUSE He became a human being. However, Revelation 1:1 shows that, 60 years after His resurrection and ascension, Jesus still received from God the words of this prophecy.

3) God is also Jesus’ God.

After His resurrection, Jesus said, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17). The Father, therefore, was Jesus’ God AFTER His resurrection. Sixty years later, the Father was still Jesus’ God:

He (Jesus) has made us to be a kingdom,
priests to
His God and Father” (Rev 1:6).

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar
in the temple of My God
” (Rev 3:12, 13; cf. 3:2).

For evidence that the Son is subordinate to the Father in the entire New Testament, see – God is the Head of Christ.

Jesus belongs with God.

Revelation shows that Christ is distinct from and subordinate to God, but Revelation also puts God and Christ together over against the created universe. For example:

The 144000 “have been purchased from among men
as first fruits to God and to the Lamb
” (Rev 14:4).

Those who have “a part in the first resurrection …
will be priests of God and of Christ
” (Rev 20:6).

John saw no temple in the New Jerusalem
“for the Lord God the Almighty
and the Lamb
are its temple
” (Rev 21:22).

The glory of God has illumined” the New Jerusalem,
and its lamp is the Lamb
” (Rev 21:23).

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in” the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:3). Since a throne symbolizes the right to rule, the Father and the Son will rule together over the New Jerusalem.

As discussed above, Christ is worshiped with God.

While Jesus said, “I am the first and the last” (Rev 1:17; 2:8), “He who sits on the throne said” (Rev 21:5), who is the Father, similarly said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 21:6).

These verses imply an extremely close relationship between God and His Son. For further discussion, see the article – Equality.

The Holy Spirit

However, the Spirit of God is not worshiped and does not sit on the throne. It is described as “before the throne” (Rev 4:5), as the seven eyes of the Lamb, and as “sent out into all the earth” (Rev 5:6; cf. Rev 3:1), indicating that it is subordinate to the One on the throne and perhaps also subordinate to the Son.

On the other hand, each of the letters to the seven churches ends with the words, “let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7, 11, etc.). When John receives a new vision, he says, “I was in the Spirit” (Rev 4:2; cf. Rev 17:3; 21:10; 22:17). Therefore, this entire vision of Revelation seems to be the work of the Holy Spirit (Rev 14:13; 19:10).

Furthermore, right at the beginning of the letter, John mentions the Spirit with the Father and the Son (Rev 1:4, 5), as if the Spirit is a third Person.

In conclusion, in the events described in the book, the Holy Spirit seems absent but we do know that the Holy Spirit is the Power through whom both God and His Son work.

Who is the Son?

So, if the Bible refers to the Father alone as God, and if the Son is distinct from and subordinate to God, but also belongs with God, who is the Son? Christians find it difficult to understand who Christ is. The essence of His being is probably beyond human understanding.

An ancient church father (Tertullian) said that God is like the sun and the Son is like the rays of the sun. I like that metaphor, for it maintains the concept that the Father is the Source of all things while it describes the Son as the link between God and the created universe.

This universe is defined in terms of time, space and matter. It came into being 13 billion years ago. Since the Son is “the Beginning of the creation of God” (Rev 3:14) and “the first and the last” (Rev 1:17; 2:8), the Son has always existed; i.e., for as long as the universe has existed.

However, this universe did not cause itself to exist. The energy and intelligence that brought this universe into being, came from beyond this universe. That incomprehensible Reality is God. He exists beyond the realm of time, space and matter.

Consistent with the metaphor of God being the sun and Christ being the rays of the sun, everything that God does in and for the universe, He does “through” the Son:

Through him, God created all things (Col 1:16; John 1:2; 1 Cor 8:6).

God sent the Son into the world so that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17; 1 John 4:9 Rom. 5:9; Heb 7:24-25).

Through Him, the Father reconciled all things to Himself (Col 1:19-20) and disarmed the rulers and authorities (Col 2:15). Through His death, Jesus rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14).

Through Him, we have access to the Father (Eph 2:18) and, through Him, do we give thanks to God the Father (Phil 2:11; Heb 13:15).

This relationship is perhaps well expressed by Paul:

There is one God,
and one mediator also between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus
” (1 Tim 2:5).


Other Articles

The Seventh Plague culminates in the return of Christ.

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE

16:17  Then the seventh angel
poured out his bowl upon the air,
and a loud voice came out of the temple
from the throne, saying, “It is done.”

16:18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.

16:19 The great city was split into three parts,
and the cities of the nations fell.
Babylon the great was remembered before God,
to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
20 And every island fled away,
and the mountains were not found.

16:21 And huge hailstones,
about one hundred pounds each,
came down from heaven upon men;
and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail,
because its plague was extremely severe.  (NASB)

That Babylon “was remembered before God” does not mean that God forgot and now remembers. “Remember” means to act. For instance, God “remembered” his covenant with Abraham when the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt (Exo 2:24; cf. Gen 8:1 and 19:29).

The cup” which God gives to Babylon is a common Biblical expression denoting suffering and judgments meted out (Psa 11:6; 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22, 23; Jer 25:15-17, 28; 49:12; Matt 26:39).

According to verse 17, God’s throne is in the temple. The Greek word used for the temple in this verse (naou) describes the inner sanctuary. Elsewhere, it is stated that the temple is in heaven (Rev 11:19; 16:17).

THE EARTHQUAKE AND HAIL ARE NOT LITERAL.

For the following reasons, the (1) lightning and (2) sounds (or voices), (3) thunder, (4) a great earthquake, and (5) huge hailstones in this plague are not literal:

(A) Elsewhere in Revelation, this group of five is symbolic:

REVELATION 4; THE THRONE ROOM

The first time that we read about this group is in the description of the temple in heaven in Revelation 4. There we only read about the first three, namely “lightning, sounds and thunder” which came “out from the throne” (Rev 4:5). For the following reasons, it is proposed that these three represent the activities, discussions, decisions, and instructions emanating from the throne in heaven:

      • Lightning, sounds and thunder” happen in the air during a thunderstorm.
      • The four living beings that are “in the centre and around the throne” (Rev 4:6) run “to and fro like bolts of lightning” (Ezek 1:14), and their voices sound like thunder (Rev 6:1).

REVELATION 8; TRUMPETS

The next time that we find this group is in the introduction to the seven trumpets, where fire is thrown down from heaven on the earth and there “thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Rev 8:5). This, therefore, adds an earthquake to the previous three.  

REVELATION 11:19

This group also appears in Rev 11:19. In this verse, “the temple of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple.” Then all five follow. In other words, hail is added to the four in Rev 8:5.

Since every main part of Revelation begins in the temple in heaven, we assume that this verse introduces the main section of Revelation contained in chapters 12 to 14.

THE EARTHQUAKE AND HAIL SYMBOLIZE EARTHLY CONSEQUENCES.

If the lightning, sounds, and thunder symbolize what happen in heaven, for the following reasons, it is proposed that the earthquake and hail symbolize the consequences on earth:

(1) Earthquakes do not happen in the air. They destroy things on earth.

(2) In Rev 8:5 the group of four is mentioned after fire has been thrown on the earth. Subsequently, fire (Rev 8:8; 9:17; 11:3-5), burning (Rev 8:7, 10), and smoke (Rev 9:2-5) are mentioned often in the trumpets. Therefore, it is proposed that the earthquake (Rev 8:5) is a summary description of the trumpet plagues.

(3) Revelation 11:19 has a similar connection to the next three chapters: While this verse, which is the introduction to Revelation 12-14, reveals the ark of the covenant (a box which housed the Ten Commandments), Revelation 12-14 contains frequent veiled references to the Ten Commandments (Rev 12:17; 14:12; 13:6, 15, 16; 14:1, 7; 15:5). For that reason, it is proposed that the earthquake and hail in Rev 11:19 is a summary description of the events of Rev 12-14.

In summary, these five manifestations are high-level descriptions of activities in heaven, followed by events on earth. The same then applies in the seventh plague.

(B) Babylon is destroyed by ten kings.

In Rev 16:18-19, a great earthquake splits “the great city … into three parts.” Rev 16:19 continues that God gave Babylon “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” The “great city” is the same as Babylon (Rev 17:18; 3, 5). Revelation 17 elaborates on the seventh plague (Rev 17:1) and, in that chapter, Babylon is destroyed by “the ten horns” (Rev 17:16) which symbolize “ten kings” who receive “receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev 17:12). In other words, while Babylon is destroyed by an earthquake in the seventh plague, she is destroyed by the kings of the world according to Rev 17. This is another indication that the earthquake is symbolic.

(C) A literal reading does not make sense.

Read literally, this earthquake is so huge that “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Rev 16:20). Given that the sea has already turned to blood (Rev 16:3), such a worldwide earthquake would cause tsunamis of blood that bury all islands, and therefore also all coastal regions.

A literal earthquake of this magnitude would kill all people on earth, but according to Rev 16:21, people continue to blaspheme God, indicating that the earth is still populated.

Furthermore, according to Rev 16:19, this earthquake splits the great city into three parts. A literal earthquake of this magnitude would not do this to a literal city. It would completely destroy all cities.

(D) Babylon is not a literal city.

In the seventh plague, as result of the huge earthquake, the great city Babylon splits into three parts (Rev 16:19). This symbolizes that the coalition of the evil trinity (Rev 16:13) breaks up. Babylon, therefore, is symbolic. 

A previous article concluded that Babylon, in Revelation (Rev 17:5, 18), is a symbol of the false religious system that has corrupted mankind for thousands of years. Since Babylon is not literal and since she is destroyed by an earthquake, the earthquake is also not literal.

(E) The plagues use literal historical events as symbols.

The plagues use literal historical events as symbols for end-time events. For example, the first five plagues use literal events from Israel’s liberation from Egypt as symbols. The last two plagues – the drying up of the great river Euphrates and the fall of Babylon (Rev 16:12, 19) – similarly use actual events from Israel’s liberation from ancient Babylon as symbols for the liberation of God’s people from this earth. This symbolic context requires us to interpret the earthquake and hail also as symbols.

In conclusion, the lightning, sounds, thunder, earthquake, and huge hail are not literal but symbolic of massive destruction. Just as a literal earthquake leaves a literal city in ruins, so a figurative earthquake brings ruin and desolation to the symbolic “great Babylon.

OTHER PLAGUES ARE ALSO NOT LITERAL.

One can take nearly any portion of Revelation and try to read it literally, and it would not make sense.  Consider the following examples from the plagues:

(1) After all waters turns to blood (Rev 16:3-4), there still is water in the Euphrates (Rev 16:12).

(2) Why would a river be a barrier to an army, given modern war technology (Rev 16:12)?

(3) After all people with the mark of the beast suffer malignant sores (Rev 16:2), all waters turn to blood (Rev 16:3-4), the sun scorches people with fire (Rev 16:8), where would literal kings get the resources to assemble an army for war (Rev 16:14, 16)?  Under such circumstances, people will die in their billions, and the rest would just be trying to survive, perhaps for another day.

(4) How do literal spirits of demons, that look like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, beast, and false prophet, if the dragon is Satan (Rev 12:9), the beast is the church of the middle ages and the false prophet symbolizes end-time false Christianity (cf. Rev 13:11)? And why do the three only have one mouth (16:14)?

(5) How could all armies of the world gather in a single literal place on earth (Rev 16:16)?  And how do they get to this place if the oceans have turned to blood, on which no ship can travel?

(6) Taken literally, why would God’s people be warned to watch their clothes, so that they do not walk about naked (Rev 16:15)?

Given these insurmountable obstacles, a literal consequently completely misses the mark.

To say that these plagues are symbolic does not mean they have no meaning. They represent real devastations. To determine what they mean requires a careful study of the symbols in their immediate and wider context.

BABYLON IS DESTROYED
BY THE KINGS OF THE WORLD.

The purpose of Rev 17-18 is to explain “the judgment of the great harlot” (Rev 17:2). The harlot is Babylon (Rev 17:5). In this explanation we see that the seven heads of the beast (Rev 17:3) symbolize seven phases of the beast (Rev 17:9-10). The beast itself is also a final and eighth phase (Rev 17:11).

That explanation also refers to ten horns of the beast (Rev 17:3). They all grow out of the seventh head (cf. Rev 17:10, 12). These ten horns, therefore, are the eighth phase. Consequently, the “ten kings … receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev 17:12). This confederacy of kings is the same as the end-time coalition of kings at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16).

These ten kings “and the beast … will hate the harlot … and will burn her up with fire” (Rev 17:16). Therefore, when God gives Babylon “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (Rev 16:19), it is at the hands of the kings of the world. In other words, the worldwide religiopolitical anti-God coalition fights among themselves. As Revelation states, “The great city (Babylon) was split into three parts” (Rev 16:19).

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE
ENDS WITH CHRIST’S RETURN.

The sixth plague ends with the kings of the world gathered together at Armageddon (Rev 16:16) “for the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14). Logically, the seventh plague must be that war but we do not read about a war in the seventh plague. Rather, we read about the infighting in the evil confederation, causing Babylon to split into three parts (Rev 16:19). The seventh plague then ends with the people (the kings and their armies) cursing God.

But, while the kings and their armies are gathered in the sixth plague, at Christ’s return they are seen gathered (Rev 19:19) and all the cursing people “were killed with the sword” from Jesus’ mouth (Rev 19:21).

Therefore, the war at Armageddon is the return of Christ (Rev 19:11-21). It was previously shown that Rev 17-18 interrupts the seventh plague and that Rev 19 continues where the seventh plague has left off (cf. Rev 16:19; 19:2). Rev 19 then ends with Christ’s return (Rev 19:11-).

THE ROAD TO ARMAGEDDON

After that point in time, God unleashes the plagues. God’s people are being persecuted, but the plagues selectively target the persecutors of God’s people (Rev 16:2, 6, 10). However, the people of the world are so hardened that they are unable to repent. It is not that God does not want to save them:

‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! (Ezek 33:11).

However, the wicked are beyond the point of return and continue to blaspheme God (Rev 16:9, 11, 21) and to persecute His people. But support for their religion wanes, depicted by the symbol of the Euphrates drying up, because they now realize that it is false.

But then Satan strikes back with a renewed attack, using his supernatural forces to unite the kings of the earth behind him. False Christianity joins forces with Satanism. Previously, Satan created false religion by corrupting true religion. Consequently, the people did not know that they were really following Satan. But now they know. Knowingly, they join forces against God, determined to exterminate all His followers on earth.

It is in this context that the seventh plague (Armageddon) brings an end to Babylon (Satanism at this stage), the Beast and the False Prophet.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

(A) This plague, and the plagues in general, are symbols and must not be interpreted literally.

(B) When Babylon is destroyed in the seventh plague, the Beast and the False Prophet are also destroyed.

(C) The entire Revelation 19, including the killing of the people of the world (Rev 19:21), is part of the seventh plague.

Next: Purpose of the Plagues

AVAILABLE ARTICLES ON REVELATION

INTRODUCTORY

Why is the title of this website Revelation BY Jesus Christ?
Every main part of Revelation begins in the temple in heaven.
Are events described in chronological sequence?
Is a consistently literal interpretation appropriate?
Does Revelation present Jesus as God?
God’s throne – the center of the universe.

SEVEN SEALS

Revelation 4
Revelation 4:1-8 – Verse-by-verse

The 24 elders are human beings that rule under God.
Revelation 4:8-11 – Worship in God’s presence
Revelation 5
Revelation 5 is Christ’s enthronement after His ascension.
The sealed book is the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Why can God not explain His judgments?
Revelation 5 verse by verse
The Sixth Seal concludes with Christ’s Return.
Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?
Seven seals explained
Introduction to the Seven Seals – What book is this?

BABYLON

Babylon; the mother of harlots – main article
Babylon’s merchants are her false prophets.
Babylon is not the reconstructed ancient city of Babylon.
Babylon is the driving force behind the beast.

SEVEN-HEADED BEASTS

The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation identified
The three beasts are three of the seven heads.
The Seven Heads identified

REVELATION 13

13:1-2 – The Beast relates to Daniel 7.
13:3-4 – The fatal wound
The beast of Revelation is the Mainstream Church of Christendom.

SEVEN PLAGUES

The Plagues of Revelation – 16 articles

For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.