What does Revelation 19:17 mean?
ESV: Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God,
NIV: And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, 'Come, gather together for the great supper of God,
NASB: Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in midheaven, 'Come, assemble for the great feast of God,
CSB: Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he called out in a loud voice, saying to all the birds flying high overhead, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God,
NLT: Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: 'Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared.
KJV: And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
Verse Commentary:
John reports in this verse that he saw and heard an angel that was standing in the sun. This angel, highlighted in the sun's brilliance, calls upon all the birds in the sky to meet together for God's great supper. This summons anticipates the destruction of the armies of earth that join forces in a futile attempt to battle the King of kings and Lord of lords. The context indicates that the birds are flesh-eating birds. The high-ranking rulers and their armies may be decked out in colorful regalia at the beginning of the battle, but they soon they will be rotting corpses, food for vultures.

Matthew 24:28 states, "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather." Ezekiel 39:17–20 describes the great supper of God as a sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel that He is preparing for birds of every sort and for all the beasts of the field. He says the birds and beasts will eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of princes until they are full. This symbolism, of battle-slain bodies being eaten by carrion birds, was a common feature of ancient depictions of war (1 Samuel 17:44).
Verse Context:
Revelation 19:11–21 presents one of Scripture's most spectacular moments of victory: the second coming of Jesus Christ. In this event, Christ returns to earth at the close of the tribulation. At His first coming to earth, Jesus appeared as a baby and sacrificial Savior. This time, He arrives as King of kings and Lord of lords. Many prior Scriptures prophesied this epic day of victory (Matthew 25; Zechariah 14:1–4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7–12; Hebrews 9:27–28; Jude 1:14–15). Christ arrives in a blaze of glory, obliterating His enemies single-handedly, at the head of the armies of heaven. The Antichrist and False Prophet become the first two cast into the lake of fire, ushering in the beginning of Christ's millennial reign on earth.
Chapter Summary:
Revelation 19 begins with a multitude in heaven singing a doxology to God. He is praised for judging religious Babylon and avenging the martyrs. They are joined by the twenty-four elders (Revelation 4). Voices cry out joyfully that the Lord reigns and the marriage supper of the Lamb is ready. Then, John sees heaven open and observes Jesus—now coming as the glorious and invincible King of kings and Lord of lords—as He descends from heaven to execute judgment. The armies of earth gather to battle the Lord. The battle concludes with the Antichrist and False Prophet being thrown into the lake of fire and the graphic slaughter of their followers.
Chapter Context:
This chapter describes the victorious second coming of Christ, His victory over the Antichrist and the False Prophet after the fall of Babylon (Revelation 17—18). Christ's first arrival on earth was to redeem (Matthew 2; Luke 2:1–21; John 1:1–14; Galatians 4:1–5). The purpose of His second coming is judgment and the establishment of His reign on earth (Psalm 2). This is separate from the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17), the event in which Jesus returns in the air to take Christians from earth to be with Him. Jesus' second coming begins the millennial kingdom, leading up to the final judgments and the appearance of the New Jerusalem.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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