Sunday, 21 March 2021
He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Revelation 13:10
The first clause varies in some Greek texts, changing the meaning a bit –
“He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity.”
“If anyone is to be taken captive, into captivity he goes.”
The first of these makes both clauses follow the same idea, revealing an action based on an action. The person who does a certain action will have that action brought against him.
The second then reveals an action based upon destiny’s hand. The person who is destined for a certain action cannot escape that fate.
As the final fate of both options is the same, that of captivity, it is a note that this lies ahead for some. Thus, Jesus’ words of the previous verse are to be remembered: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” Assuming the first is correct, simply for the purpose of analysis, it bears the same general thought as that found in Jeremiah 15. Prior to the Babylonian captivity, the people of Judah were told that they were destined for trouble because of their unfaithfulness. The Lord said to Jeremiah that if the people asked where they should go, his answer to them was to be abrupt, concise, and lacking hope –
“And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, “Thus says the Lord:
‘Such as are for death, to death;
And such as are for the sword, to the sword;
And such as are for the famine, to the famine;
And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.’” Jeremiah 15:2
Therefore, the first translation option noted above is probably what is being referred to, and is based on this Old Testament source. It is further reflected in Jeremiah 43:11 –
“When he comes, he shall strike the land of Egypt and deliver to death those appointed for death, and to captivity those appointed for captivity, and to the sword those appointed for the sword.”
In war, there are casualties. This is the expectation, and they may be sinners or saints. When the enemy comes through, he will not stop to determine which. Thus, the saints must be as ready to be taken captive as the sinner. John next says, “he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.”
This is a clear reference to Jesus’ words of Matthew 26:52 –
“But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
It is a general truth that people who live in a certain way will find the same treatment dealt to them that they brought upon others. A person who constantly sues others will find himself being sued. A person who is a soldier will probably die in battle. A man of blood will die a bloody death.
Thus, the warning for the future is that tough times are ahead. The fate of time and circumstance will come upon people based on where they are at any given moment, and those who engage in battle during that time are bound to die in the battle. With this in mind, John then writes, “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”
The word “here” is emphatic, meaning that this is the promise which should help them to endure the trials and death they will face. “Here – rest in this faithful soul; your reward is coming.”
The warning has been given in advance. The saints of the Tribulation period will not be immune from the terrible times that lie ahead. They will face captivity, and they will face death. But in persevering, they will be saved. As Jesus says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Christ is looking for faith among those who say they are His. In this time of fiery trial, those who are not of faith will be weeded out.
Life application: This verse is actually a verse of hope. The saints of the tribulation period will fall by the sword and be martyred in an amazingly vast number – all because they refuse to bow the knee to the antichrist. But in holding on to their faith, they shall be saved. The Lord will remember them.
Those who hold fast to Jesus will be granted eternal life, and the wrongs done to them will be made right. However, for those who follow the antichrist, there will only be eternal damnation. The Lord will be their Judge, and He will do so impartially, and with swiftness. But before that happens, the redemptive narrative must run its course. Because of this, and knowing the terrible times that lie ahead, wouldn’t it be better to be right with the Lord now.
Today is the day of salvation. We do not know what tomorrow holds. Call out to God now and be reconciled to Him through the Gift of His Son. Call out to God through JESUS.
Lord, even now in this time of peace and abundance, our lives often seem difficult and filled with trials. At times, we take our eyes off the fact that You have already written Your word and that it will surely come to pass exactly as promised. Help us to remember this as we face our daily troubles. Give us that peace that surpasses all understanding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.