King of Kings

The Messiah shepherds the nations by the word that proceeds out of his mouth in preparation for the final battleIn Chapter 19 of Revelation, the vision anticipates the destruction of the “Beast from the Sea” and the “False Prophet” by introducing the royal warrior figure seen by John riding a “white horse.” The groundwork for the coming climactic “battle” was laid with the announcement of the impending victory of the “Lamb” over the “Beast” and the “kings of the earth” in Chapter 17 - For he is “Lord of lords and King of kings.”

The image reinterprets messianic expectations in unexpected ways. For example, the figure on the “white horse” rules the nations by “shepherding” rather than pulverizing them into dust. The only weapon he wields is the “sword” that flashes from his mouth, the word of God.

Throne - Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash
[Photo by Willian B. on Unsplash]

And although the Rider’s robe is sprinkled with blood, the bloodstains are present
BEFORE he engages in battle with the “Beast” and his allies on Earth.

  • (Revelation 19:11-14) – “And I saw heaven set open, and behold, a white horse, and he that was sitting thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness is he judging and making war, and his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems, having a name written, which no one knows but himself, and arrayed with a mantle sprinkled with blood, and his name hath been called the Word of God.

The clause “Faithful and True” identifies the Rider as Jesus, the “faithful witness,” and it links him to the God who judged “Babylon” (“For true and righteous are his judgments; for he has judged the Great Harlot” – Revelation 1:5, 19:2).


Sitting… He is judging and waging war.” This sentence uses three PRESENT TENSE participles to describe the activities of the “rider,” each signifying action in progress. “Sitting” translates the same present tense participle applied previously to God, the one who “is sitting on the throne.” The participles indicate an ongoing process, the ongoing “war” against the Lamb’s enemies, and not a single event in the future.

The “Rider” is identical to the “Son of Man” in the Book’s first vision who also possessed the sword of his mouth with which he waged war against the deceivers operating in the “Seven Churches,” and with the “Lamb” who wages war against the “Beast from the Sea” - (Revelation 2:16, 12:7, 13:4, 17:14).

His eyes are a flame of fire…many diadems.” In the Book’s first vision, the “Son of Man” had eyes “like a flame of fire,” another link identifying the “Rider” in Chapter 19 with that “Son of Man.” And in contrast to the “Beast” with its “ten diadems,” this figure has “many diadems,” for there are no limits to his sovereignty.

The Rider has “a name written that no one knows.” This clause parallels the promise that Jesus will “write my new name” on everyone “who overcomes.” Thus, overcoming believers participate in whatever the “name written” represents. The description echoes a passage in the Book of Isaiah, originally a promise to Zion that is now applied to Jesus in the Book of Revelation:

  • (Isaiah 62:1-3) – “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. And the nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of Yahweh shall name. You shall also be a crown of beauty in the hand of Yahweh, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.”

The Rider’s “robe was sprinkled with blood.” His robe was bloodstained BEFORE his battle with the “Beast from the Sea” commenced, therefore, it cannot represent any blood about to be shed by him in the coming battle.


The image alludes to another passage in Isaiah, originally the judicial pronouncement against Edom. Also, in view is the previous image in Chapter 14 of Revelation of the figure who was “treading the winepress of God’s wrath”:

  • (Isaiah 63:1-6) – “Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?... Wherefore are your garments like him that treads in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come… And I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
  • (Revelation 14:19-20) – “And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and there came out blood from the winepress.”

And “his name is called the Word of God.” This is his only offensive weapon, and it is not a literal sword with which he slays his enemies. Instead, it points to the victory achieved through a proclaimed word or message. Elsewhere in the Book, the “word of God” is linked to the “testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 1:2, 1:9, 6:9, 12:11).

  • (Revelation 19:14-16) – “And the armies which were in heaven were following him upon white horses, clothed with fine linen, white, pure; and out of his mouth is going forth a sharp sword, that therewith he may smite the nations, and he shall shepherd them with a scepter of iron, and he is treading the wine-press of the wrath of the anger of God the Almighty. And he has upon his mantle and upon his thigh a name, written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

The “armies were following” him. Previously, on “Mount Zion,” the 144,000 males who were “redeemed from among men” were following the Lamb wherever he went. They were the “first fruits” of the harvest “unto God and to the Lamb.” The “armies of heaven” that now follow the “Rider” parallel those 144,000 priestly males on Mount Zion - (Revelation 14:4).

They are “arrayed with fine linen, white, pure,” the same description applied earlier to the “wife” of the “Lamb.” This means the “armies of heaven” represent overcoming saints, not angelic or other supernatural entities. As to their being “in heaven,” previously, living saints were called “those who tabernacle in heaven” in contrast to the “inhabitants of the earth” - (Revelation 13:5-7, 19:8).


And out of his mouth is flashing a sharp sword.” Once more, the progressive present tense is used; his “sword” is in the process of “flashing.” Previously, the “Son of Man” possessed the “sharp two-edged sword” that flashed from his “mouth,” and with it, he waged “war” against deceivers in the “churches.” The image again echoes the messianic prophecy in Isaiah. - (Isaiah 11:1-5, Revelation 1:16, 2:12, 2:16).

And he will shepherd them.” The clause is from the second Psalm, a passage about the future reign of the Messiah:

  • (Psalm 2:8-9) – “Yahweh said to me: You are my son; This day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The Psalm is applied to Jesus several times in Revelation. Each time, it follows the Greek text of the Septuagint, not the Hebrew, the form in which “break” the nations is replaced by the Greek word for “shepherd.” The same verb was applied also to the “innumerable multitude” from all nations seen standing before the “Lamb” – (For the Lamb will shepherd them” –Revelation 2:27, 7:17, 12:5).

This is how the Slain Lamb “reigns” over the “nations.” Since he “overcame” by his death and resurrection, he now rules from the “throne,” whence he “shepherds the nations.” Faithful saints “overcome” in the same manner and, thus, qualify to reign with him over the nations - (Revelation 3:21, 12:11).

And the Rider is seen “treading the winepress.” Another progressive present tense is used. Even now, he is “treading” the winepress of God’s wrath. This must be read in the context of the “Rider” who is “judging and making war,” present tense. All three activities, judging, warring, and treading, are ongoing.

He has “a name, written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” This is the “name written” that only the “Rider” knew.  Previously, the nations allied with the “Beast” were said to suffer defeat at the hands of the “Lamb” because “he is Lord of Lords and King of kings” – (Revelation 17:14).

His status as the “King of kings” was stated at the outset of the book when Jesus was called the “Ruler of the kings of the earth,” an elevated rank he holds already because of his past death and resurrection. So here, also, the statement is in the present tense – He “is” the King and Lord over all things, his victory and exaltation were achieved by his death and resurrection - (Revelation 1:4-6).

In the vision, the picture is of the Messiah who is “conquering” his enemies by means of the testimony that “is proceeding out of his mouth.” His “armies” follow him and participate in that endeavor.  This does not mean there will not be a final judgment and punishment of the wicked; however, one’s final fate is determined in the present by how one responds to the word of the “Lamb,” the true “King of kings.”