Study Guide

Book of Revelation Revenge

Revenge

When [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, "Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?" (NRSV 6:9-10)

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (KJV 6:9-10)

So the martyrs are just a tiny bit bitter. They were killed for their faith in God, and they've been sitting around Heaven just waiting for the day when God is going to bring the pain on their tormentors. Not too long now, guys. Not too long.

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. (NRSV 11:4-5)

These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (KJV 11:4-5)

Watch out for the candlesticks. These guys—who probably represent the church—have been sent by God and are ready to take down anyone who messes with them.

If you are to be taken captive, into captivity you go; if you kill with the sword, with the sword you must be killed. (NRSV 13:10)

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. (KJV 13:10)

This verse is kind of like "turn the other cheek" and "an eye for an eye" all rolled into one. Christians are forced into captivity by their Roman oppressors—they shouldn't bother trying to escape. But the Romans, who have killed the martyrs with swords, are going to meet the same fate. Brutal.

The first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped its image. (NRSV 16:2)

And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. (KJV 16:2)

Revenge is a dish best served with painful sores. This bowl of plagues is just retribution for the terrible things those who worship the Beast have done.

The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, "You are just, O Holy One, who are and were, for you have judged these things; because they shed the blood of saints and prophets, you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!" (NRSV 16:4-6)

And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. (KJV 16:4-6)

High five, Lord! The angels cheer God for this little bit of irony—you spilled blood, so now drink it, sinner.

[The angel] called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird, a haunt of every foul and hateful beast. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury." (NRSV 18:2-3)

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. (KJV 18:2-3)

Okay, so maybe this angelic gloating is a little over the top. But John would argue that Babylon totally deserved what it got. After all, they were vain and greedy and idolatrous—and now they're getting their comeuppance.

Render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so give her a like measure of torment and grief. (NRSV 18:6-7)

Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. (KJV 18:6-7)

In other words, if you dish it out, be prepared to take it, Rome.

As for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (NRSV 21:8)

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (KJV 21:8)

A comprehensive list of sins and a fitting punishment for evildoers. A lake that doesn't cool you off, but burns you… for all eternity.

"See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone's work." (NRSV 22:12)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (KJV 22:12)

Just a small prediction: Jesus will be coming soon and he will be doling out the vengeance as needed.

Outside [the New Jerusalem] are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (NRSV 22:15)

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (KJV 22:15)

As a final punishment, non-believers get left out of the shining city in the sky. They do get to see the gates though, so they can get just a tiny taste of how incredibly awesome it would have been to live inside.

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