Revelation 6:15-17 – The Wrath of God and the Lamb

PDF


POSTED 11 FEBRUARY, 2018

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume II

“Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”

In the scene of the apocalypse, within the Book of Revelation, it is witnessed how humanity at large—and most especially kings and rulers—are seen cowering in fear at the judgment being issued against them by the God of Israel (Revelation 6:15). They are seen trying to hide in caves and among rocks, and so they cry out to the terrestrial elements, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:16, NIV). There is a specific Isaianic background for this:

“Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty…In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, in order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs before the terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty, when He arises to make the earth tremble” (Isaiah 2:9, 20-21).

That God the Father and Yeshua the Lamb are both involved with the wrath that is being dispensed here, is clear enough from the text. What is not as clear, is what is intended by the people of the Earth exclaiming, “because the great day of Their wrath has come!” (Revelation 6:17, HCSB), hoti ēlthen hē hēmera hē megalē tēs orgēs autōn. It would be entirely legitimate for the people of the Earth to instead say, “for the great day of God’s wrath has come” (Revelation 6:17, NASU modified), rather than speak in the plural, “for the great day of their wrath has come” (Revelation 6:17, NASU original). In fact the Textus Receptus has, “For the great day of His wrath has come” (Revelvation 6:17, NKJV), which has tēs orgēs autou in the singular, rather than tēs orgēs autōn in the plural. Metzger explains the variants which appear in witnesses of Revelation 6:17:

“Although the reading [autou] is supported by A P 046 almost all minuscules copsa, bo arm eth al, it appears to be the easier reading, having been introduced to avoid the ambiguity of [autōn] (which is strongly supported by A C 1611 1854 2053 2344 itgig, ar vg syrph, h al) and to carry on the reference to [tēs orgēs tou arniou] of the preceding verse.”[1]

The singular, “for the great day of his wrath,” could be applied to either “Him who sits on the throne” or to “the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). Some would read the singular autou as regarding God the Father, but others would read the singular autou as regarding Yeshua the Lamb. Among those who think that the Messiah is being referred to with the textual reading tēs orgēs autou or “His wrath,” is Aune: “The pronoun [autou], ‘his,’ in its present context…refers to the Lamb, indicating the Christian tendency to place Christ in a central role in the inauguration of the eschaton.”[2] Following the textual reading of tēs orgēs autōn or “their wrath,” Fee asserts, “John’s narrative indicates that…people would much prefer death from so-called acts of God rather than having to face the eternal God himself, Father and Son, in the place of judgment.”[3]

Whether one prefers the singular “His wrath” or plural “their wrath,” in Revelation 6:17, the presence of Yeshua the Lamb in the judgment of the wicked of Planet Earth, and His close association with God the Father, raises enough legitimate questions of whether or not a supernatural yet ultimately created being could be depicted as holding such an exalted place in the cosmos.


NOTES

[1] Metzger, Textual Commentary, pp 739-740.

[2] David Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation, Vol 52b (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 421.

[3] Fee, Revelation, 102.