Paul Kretzmann on Revelation 18:1



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  • Paul Kretzmann on Revelation 18:1

    I was reading some commentary by Paul Kretzmann on Revelation, and Revelation 18:1 says;

    "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory."

    Kretzmann then writes in his commentary "This entire paragraph reminds one of chap. 14, 6. 7, where an angel was pictured as flying in mid-heaven: After these things I saw another angel descending out of heaven having great power, and the earth was lit up by his glory. The reference is undoubtedly to Luther and his coworkers in the great work of the Reformation."

    Is Kretzmann saying that the angel is actually a reference to Luther, or is Kretzmann speaking of something Luther wrote on this scripture passage? I can't imagine Kretzmann is claiming that the angel is actually a prophetic vision of Luther himself.

    You can read it for yourself at
    May the Holy Spirit always move within you!

  • #2
    Lutheran Commentary

    I see what you mean, Christopher. Thanks for bringing this detail to light.

    I find Paul Kretzmann was being overly presumptuous with his interpretation, which was leaning dramatically in favor of a man and the resulting movement. It is not surprising though, in that the commentary as a whole is coupled with quotes from Luther as a Lutheran commentary. Never the less, this is a similar stance taught by other teachers influenced by the transformation caused by the Great Reformation.

    British Methodist Adam Clarke (1762-1832) wrote in commentary drawing upon John Wesley's thinking, words that may have inspired Kretzmann's conclusion: "This may refer to some extraordinary messenger of the everlasting Gospel, who, by his preaching and writings, should be the means of diffusing the light of truth and true religion over the earth."

    Kretzmann's conclusions overall are largely based on Lutheran thought that assuredly attests that the following verses in context refers to the Catholic Church as the Great Whore of Babylon, that in which Luther exposed.

    "V.2. 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. V.3. 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."

    Kretzmann comments about the above verses saying, "That was the effect of the preaching of the pure Gospel upon the kingdom of Antichrist, especially on the Pope and his hierarchy. Spiritually the empire of the Pope has been cast down; his show of spirituality has been taken from him, his magic is no longer as effective as formerly."

    The challenge with interpreting the declarations in Revelations is that much of it is not literal, but mostly figurative. Nearly as or equally allusive as the visions in Daniel. A figure of speech occurs when a word, phrase, or sentence is employed in a sense other than the usual or literal sense it has naturally. It is very important, however, to be able to distinguish the figurative from the literal. A failure to discern the difference, in various biblical contexts, has resulted in much error.

    I typically lean on Matthew Henry, whereas it has a more balanced view without traditions and denominational overtones. "This seems to be Christ himself, coming to destroy his enemies, and to shed abroad the light of his gospel through all nations. The wickedness of this Babylon was very great; she had forsaken the true God, and set up idols, and had drawn all sorts of men into spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury kept them in her interest. The spiritual merchandise, by which multitudes have wickedly lived in wealth, by the sins and follies of mankind, seems principally intended. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they should not only come out of this Babylon, but assist in her destruction. God may have a people even in Babylon. But God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called effectually, while those that partake with wicked men in their sins, must receive of their plagues."


    • #3
      I agree with your post, for sure it looks like it is a favorable interpretation that leans to his (Kretzmann's) own denomination. Other commentators have seen "Babylon" in 18:2 in different ways, John Gill (Who is Baptist) spoke of the "Popish" religion, to John MacArthur and J. Vernon McGee of today seeing it as symbolizing an evil and corrupt system of religion and trade. Your leaning on of Matthew Henry is well founded. Thanks for mentioning Adam Clarke and John Wesley, I have them both in my library and did not think to connect those schools of thought to Kretzmann.
      May the Holy Spirit always move within you!


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