The Meaning of Revelation 11:8 Explained

Revelation 11:8

KJV: And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

YLT: and their dead bodies are upon the broad-place of the great city (that is called spiritually Sodom, and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified,)

Darby: and their body shall be on the street of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

ASV: And their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

What does Revelation 11:8 Mean?

Study Notes

great city
i.e. Jerusalem.

Verse Meaning

The beast will add insult to injury by allowing the corpses of the two witnesses to lie in the street unburied. This was the worst indignity that someone could perpetrate on a person in biblical times (cf. Psalm 79:2-3). "Mystically" (Gr. pneumatikos, "spiritually") indicates a comparative rather than a literal meaning. The city will be similar to Sodom and Egypt in that it will be extremely wicked, morally degraded, antagonistic toward God, and oppressive toward God"s people because of Antichrist"s influence. The place of Jesus Christ"s crucifixion identifies this city as Jerusalem (cf. Jeremiah 22:8). Other views are that it is every city that has opposed God"s servants through history, [1] Rome, [2] or Babylon (cf. Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:10). Since God specified a spiritual understanding of the identity of "the great city" here, it seems reasonable that he also would have specified a spiritual meaning of other entities in the book if He had wanted us to interpret them this way.

Context Summary

Revelation 11:1-13 - The "two Witnesses"
We cannot in this brief note indicate the various interpretations of this chapter, but certain great principles underlie it, which are true of every age.
(1) During the darkest ages, men have been raised up to testify against the prevailing corruption of their time, and especially the corruption of the apostate Church. Their opponents have endeavored to silence their voice and blacken their character, but God has ever vindicated them and given life out of death. (2) Always when the enemies of the truth have deemed themselves triumphant, there has been a rekindling of gospel testimony. A few years before Luther appeared, a medal was struck to commemorate the extinction of so-called heresy. (3) Such witness-bearing as is suggested by the comparison with Zechariah's vision, is fed from the heart of Christ. He is the root of the martyr line; His Spirit is the life-breath of His witnesses. All through the centuries, commonly called Christian, though generally very un-Christian, there has been an unbroken succession of pure and noble souls who have stood for Jesus Christ even unto death. Let us dare to stand with them and our Lord, that He may not be ashamed of us at His coming. [source]

Chapter Summary: Revelation 11

1  The two witnesses prophesy
6  They have power to shut heaven so that it rain not
7  The beast shall fight against them, and kill them
8  They lie unburied;
11  and after three and a half days rise again
14  The second woe is past
15  The seventh trumpet sounds

Greek Commentary for Revelation 11:8

Their dead bodies lie [το πτωμα αυτων]
Old word from πιπτω — piptō (to fall), a fall, especially of bodies slain in battle, a corpse, a carcase (Matthew 14:12), here the singular (some MSS. πτωματα — ptōmata plural) as belonging to each of the αυτων — autōn (their) like στοματος αυτων — stomatos autōn (their mouth) in Revelation 11:5. So also in Revelation 11:9. No word in the Greek for “lie.” [source]
In [επι]
“Upon,” as in Revelation 11:6, with genitive Clearly Jerusalem in view of the closing clause (οπουεσταυρωτη — hopou- ητις — estaurōthē), though not here called “the holy city” as in Revelation 11:2, and though elsewhere in the Apocalypse Babylon (Rome) is so described (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2, Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:16, Revelation 18:18, Revelation 18:19, Revelation 18:21).Which Which very city, not “whichever.”Spiritually (πνευματικος — pneumatikōs). This late adverb from πνευματικος — pneumatikos (spiritual) occurs in the N.T. only twice, in 1 Corinthians 2:14 for the help of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God‘s message and here in a hidden or mystical (allegorical sense). For this use of οπου και ο κυριος αυτων εσταυρωτη — pneumatikos see 1 Corinthians 10:3. Judah is called Sodom in Isaiah 1:9.; Ezekiel 16:46, Ezekiel 16:55. See also Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:23. Egypt is not applied to Israel in the O.T., but is “an obvious symbol of oppression and slavery” (Swete).Where also their Lord was crucified First aorist passive indicative of stauroō to crucify, a reference to the fact of Christ‘s crucifixion in Jerusalem. This item is one of the sins of Jerusalem and the disciple is not greater than the Master (John 15:20). [source]
Of the great city [της πολεως της μεγαλης]
Clearly Jerusalem in view of the closing clause (οπουεσταυρωτη — hopou- ητις — estaurōthē), though not here called “the holy city” as in Revelation 11:2, and though elsewhere in the Apocalypse Babylon (Rome) is so described (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2, Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:16, Revelation 18:18, Revelation 18:19, Revelation 18:21). [source]
Which [πνευματικως]
Which very city, not “whichever.”Spiritually (πνευματικος — pneumatikōs). This late adverb from πνευματικος — pneumatikos (spiritual) occurs in the N.T. only twice, in 1 Corinthians 2:14 for the help of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God‘s message and here in a hidden or mystical (allegorical sense). For this use of οπου και ο κυριος αυτων εσταυρωτη — pneumatikos see 1 Corinthians 10:3. Judah is called Sodom in Isaiah 1:9.; Ezekiel 16:46, Ezekiel 16:55. See also Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:23. Egypt is not applied to Israel in the O.T., but is “an obvious symbol of oppression and slavery” (Swete).Where also their Lord was crucified First aorist passive indicative of stauroō to crucify, a reference to the fact of Christ‘s crucifixion in Jerusalem. This item is one of the sins of Jerusalem and the disciple is not greater than the Master (John 15:20). [source]
Spiritually [πνευματικος]
This late adverb from πνευματικος — pneumatikos (spiritual) occurs in the N.T. only twice, in 1 Corinthians 2:14 for the help of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God‘s message and here in a hidden or mystical (allegorical sense). For this use of οπου και ο κυριος αυτων εσταυρωτη — pneumatikos see 1 Corinthians 10:3. Judah is called Sodom in Isaiah 1:9.; Ezekiel 16:46, Ezekiel 16:55. See also Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:23. Egypt is not applied to Israel in the O.T., but is “an obvious symbol of oppression and slavery” (Swete). [source]
Where also their Lord was crucified [σταυροω]
First aorist passive indicative of stauroō to crucify, a reference to the fact of Christ‘s crucifixion in Jerusalem. This item is one of the sins of Jerusalem and the disciple is not greater than the Master (John 15:20). [source]
Dead bodies [πτώματα]
Read πτῶμα carcassSee on Matthew 24:28; see on Mark 15:45. [source]
In the street [ἐπὶ τῆς πλατείας]
Lit., “Upon the street.” See on Luke 14:21. [source]
The great city []
Jerusalem is never called by this name. Different expositors refer it to Rome or Babylon. Milligan to Jerusalem. [source]
Spiritually [πνευματικῶς]
Typically or allegorically. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:3, 1 Corinthians 10:4. [source]
Our Lord []
Read αὐτῶν theirfor ἡμῶν our. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Revelation 11:8

Matthew 24:28 Carcase [πτῶμα]
From πίπτω , to fall. Originallya fall, and thence a fallen body; acorpse. Compare Lat. cadaver, from cado, to fall. See Mark 6:29; Revelation 11:8. On the saying itself, compare Job 39:30. [source]
1 Corinthians 10:3 Spiritual meat []
The manna, called spiritual because coming from heaven. See Psalm 78:25; John 6:31; and on Revelation 11:8; Revelation 2:17. [source]
Hebrews 11:24 When he was come to years [μέγας γενόμενος]
Lit. having become great. Comp. lxx, Exodus 2:11. Often in the phrase μικροὶ καὶ μεγάλοι smalland great; young and old. See Acts 26:22; Hebrews 8:11; Revelation 11:8; Revelation 13:16, etc. [source]
Revelation 2:17 Of the hidden manna [τοῦ μάννα τοῦ κεκρυμμένου]
The allusion may be partly to the pot of manna which was laid up in the ark in the sanctuary. See Exodus 16:32-34; compare Hebrews 9:4. That the imagery of the ark was familiar to John appears from Revelation 11:19. This allusion however is indirect, for the manna laid up in the ark was not for food, but was a memorial of food once enjoyed. Two ideas seem to be combined in the figure: 1. Christ as the bread from heaven, the nourishment of the life of believers, the true manna, of which those who eat shall never die (John 6:31-43, John 6:48-51); hidden, in that He is withdrawn from sight, and the Christian's life is hid with Him in God (Colossians 3:3). 2. The satisfaction of the believer's desire when Christ shall be revealed. The hidden manna shall not remain for ever hidden. We shall see Christ as He is, and be like Him (1 John 3:2). Christ gives the manna in giving Himself “The seeing of Christ as He is, and, through this beatific vision, being made like to Him, is identical with the eating of the hidden manna, which shall, as it were, be then brought forth from the sanctuary, the holy of holies of God's immediate presence where it was withdrawn from sight so long, that all may partake of it; the glory of Christ, now shrouded and concealed, being then revealed to His people” (Trench). -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
This is one of numerous illustrations of the dependence of Revelation upon Old Testament history and prophecy. “To such an extent is this the case,” says Professor Milligan, “that it may be doubted whether it contains a single figure not drawn from the Old Testament, or a single complete sentence not more or less built up of materials brought from the same source.” See, for instance, Balaam (Revelation 2:14); Jezebel (Revelation 2:20); Michael (Revelation 12:7, compare Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1); Abaddon (Revelation 9:11); Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, Babylon, the Euphrates, Sodom, Egypt (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 9:14; Revelation 11:8); Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:8, compare Revelation href="/desk/?q=re+2:7&sr=1">Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:27, Revelation 2:28). Heaven is described under the figure of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Revelation 11:1, Revelation 11:19; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 4:6). The song of the redeemed is the song of Moses (Revelation 15:3). The plagues of Egypt appear in the blood, fire, thunder, darkness and locusts (Revelation 8:1-13). “The great earthquake of chapter 6 is taken from Haggai; the sun becoming black as sackcloth of hair and the moon becoming blood (Revelation 8:1-13) from Joel: the stars of heaven falling, the fig-tree casting her untimely figs, the heavens departing as a scroll (Revelation 8:1-13) from Isaiah: the scorpions of chapter 9 from Ezekiel: the gathering of the vine of the earth (chapter 14) from Joel, and the treading of the wine-press in the same chapter from Isaiah.” So too the details of a single vision are gathered out of different prophets or different parts of the same prophet. For instance, the vision of the glorified Redeemer (Revelation 1:12-20). The golden candlesticks are from Exodus and Zechariah; the garment down to the foot from Exodus and Daniel; the golden girdle and the hairs like wool from Isaiah and Daniel; the feet like burnished brass, and the voice like the sound of many waters, from Ezekiel; the two-edged sword from Isaiah and Psalms; the countenance like the sun from Exodus; the falling of the seer as dead from Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; the laying of Jesus' right hand on the seer from Daniel. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
“Not indeed that the writer binds himself to the Old Testament in a slavish spirit. He rather uses it with great freedom and independence, extending, intensifying, or transfiguring its descriptions at his pleasure. Yet the main source of his emblems cannot be mistaken. The sacred books of his people had been more than familiar to him. They had penetrated his whole being. They had lived within him as a germinating seed, capable of shooting up not only in the old forms, but in new forms of life and beauty. In the whole extent of sacred and religious literature there is to be found nowhere else such a perfect fusion of the revelation given to Israel with the mind of one who would either express Israel's ideas, or give utterance, by means of the symbols supplied by Israel's history, to the present and most elevated thoughts of the Christian faith “(this note is condensed from Professor Milligan's “Baird Lectures on the Revelation of St. John”).A white stone ( ψῆφον λευκὴν )See on counteth, Luke 14:28; and see on white, Luke 9:29. The foundation of the figure is not to be sought in Gentile but in Jewish customs. “White is everywhere the color and livery of heaven” (Trench). See Revelation 1:14; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 14:14; Revelation 19:8, Revelation 19:11, Revelation 19:14; Revelation 20:11. It is the bright, glistering white. Compare Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Revelation 20:11; Daniel 7:9. It is impossible to fix the meaning of the symbol with any certainty. The following are some of the principal views: The Urim and Thummim concealed within the High-Priest's breastplate of judgment. This is advocated by Trench, who supposes that the Urim was a peculiarly rare stone, possibly the diamond, and engraven with the ineffable name of God. The new name he regards as the new name of God or of Christ (Revelation 3:12); some revelation of the glory of God which can be communicated to His people only in the higher state of being, and which they only can understand who have actually received. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Professor Milligan supposes an allusion to the plate of gold worn on the High-Priest's forehead, and inscribed with the words “Holiness to the Lord,” but, somewhat strangely, runs the figure into the stone or pebble used in voting, and regards the white stone as carrying the idea of the believer's acquittal at the hands of God. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Dean Plumptre sees in the stone the signet by which, in virtue of its form or of the characters inscribed on it, he who possessed it could claim from the friend who gave it, at any distance of time, a frank and hearty welcome; and adds to this an allusion to the custom of presenting such a token, with the guest's name upon it, of admission to the feast given to those who were invited to partake within the temple precincts - a feast which consisted wholly or in part of sacrificial meats. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Others, regarding the connection of the stone with the manna, refer to the use of the lot cast among the priests in order to determine which one should offer the sacrifice. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Others, to the writing of a candidate's name at an election by ballot upon a stone or bean. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
In short, the commentators are utterly divided, and the true interpretation remains a matter of conjecture.A new nameSome explain the new name of God or of Christ (compare Revelation 3:12); others, of the recipient's own name. “A new name however, a revelation of his everlasting title as a son of God to glory in Christ, but consisting of and revealed in those personal marks and signs of God's peculiar adoption of himself, which he and none other is acquainted with” (Alford). Bengel says: “Wouldst thou know what kind of a new name thou wilt obtain? Overcome. Before that thou wilt ask in vain, and after that thou wilt soon read it inscribed on the white stone.” [source]

Revelation 11:9 Do look upon [βλεπουσιν]
Present (vivid dramatic) active indicative of βλεπω — blepō days and a half Accusative of extent of time. ημισυ — Hēmisu is neuter singular though ημερας — hēmeras (days) is feminine as in Mark 6:23; Revelation 12:14. The days of the gloating over the dead bodies are as many as the years of the prophesying by the witnesses (Revelation 11:3), but there is no necessary correspondence (day for a year). This delight of the spectators “is represented as at once fiendish and childish” (Swete).Suffer not (ουκ απιουσιν — ouk aphiousin). Present active indicative of απιω — aphiō late form for απιημι — aphiēmi as in Mark 1:34 (cf. απεις — apheis in Revelation 2:20). This use of απιημι — aphiēmi with the infinitive is here alone in the Apocalypse, though common elsewhere (John 11:44, John 11:48; John 12:7; John 18:8).Their dead bodies “Their corpses,” plural here, though singular just before and in Revelation 11:8.To be laid in a tomb (τετηναι εις μνημα — tethēnai eis mnēma). First aorist passive of τιτημι — tithēmi to place. Μνημα — Mnēma (old word from μιμνησκω — mimnēskō to remind) is a memorial, a monument, a sepulchre, a tomb (Mark 5:3). “In a country where burial regularly took place on the day of death the time of exposure and indignity would be regarded long” (Beckwith). See Tobit 1:18ff. [source]
Revelation 11:9 Their dead bodies [τα πτωματα αυτων]
“Their corpses,” plural here, though singular just before and in Revelation 11:8.To be laid in a tomb (τετηναι εις μνημα — tethēnai eis mnēma). First aorist passive of τιτημι — tithēmi to place. Μνημα — Mnēma (old word from μιμνησκω — mimnēskō to remind) is a memorial, a monument, a sepulchre, a tomb (Mark 5:3). “In a country where burial regularly took place on the day of death the time of exposure and indignity would be regarded long” (Beckwith). See Tobit 1:18ff. [source]
Revelation 17:5 Mystery [μυστηριον]
Either in apposition with ονομα — onoma or as part of the inscription on her forehead. In either case the meaning is the same, that the name Babylon is to be interpreted mystically or spiritually (cf. πνευματικως — pneumatikōs Revelation 11:8) for Rome.The Mother of the Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth (η Μητηρ των Πορνων και των δελυγματων της Γης — Hē Mētēr tōn Pornōn kai tōn Bdelugmatōn tēs Gēs). The Metropolis of the Empire is the mother of harlotry and of the world‘s idolatries. Charles quotes Tacitus (Ann. XV. 44) about Rome as the city “quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque.” [source]
Revelation 17:8 And is about to come up out of the abyss [και μελλει αναβαινειν εκ της αβυσσου]
That is, he is going to come to life again.And to go into perdition (και εις απωλειαν υπαγει — kai eis apōleian hupagei). So (and he goes into perdition) the best MSS. read rather than the infinitive υπαγειν — hupagein Most interpreters see here an allusion to the “Nero redivivus ” expectancy realized in Domitian, who was ruling when John wrote and who was called Nero redivivus.Shall wonder First future passive (deponent) of ταυμαζω — thaumazō with which compare εταυμαστη — ethaumasthē in Revelation 13:3. John had wondered Singular ονομα — onoma like πτωμα — ptōma in Revelation 11:8. See Revelation 13:8 for the same description of those who worship the beast, and see note for discussion of details.When they behold Genitive plural of the present active participle of βλεπω — blepō agreeing with ων — hōn (genitive relative) rather than with οι κατοικουντες — hoi katoikountes (nominative just before ων — hōn).How that (οτι — hoti). “Namely that.”He was, and is not, and shall come Repetition of what is in Revelation 17:7 with παρεσται — parestai (future of παρειμι — pareimi from which παρουσια — parousia comes) in place of μελλει — mellei “parody of the divine name” (Charles) in Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8, “as the hellish antitype of Christ.” The Neronic Antichrist has also a παρουσια — parousia f0). [source]
Revelation 17:8 Whose name [ων ονομα]
Singular ονομα — onoma like πτωμα — ptōma in Revelation 11:8. See Revelation 13:8 for the same description of those who worship the beast, and see note for discussion of details. [source]
Revelation 17:8 Shall wonder [ταυμαστησονται]
First future passive (deponent) of ταυμαζω — thaumazō with which compare εταυμαστη — ethaumasthē in Revelation 13:3. John had wondered Singular ονομα — onoma like πτωμα — ptōma in Revelation 11:8. See Revelation 13:8 for the same description of those who worship the beast, and see note for discussion of details.When they behold Genitive plural of the present active participle of βλεπω — blepō agreeing with ων — hōn (genitive relative) rather than with οι κατοικουντες — hoi katoikountes (nominative just before ων — hōn).How that (οτι — hoti). “Namely that.”He was, and is not, and shall come Repetition of what is in Revelation 17:7 with παρεσται — parestai (future of παρειμι — pareimi from which παρουσια — parousia comes) in place of μελλει — mellei “parody of the divine name” (Charles) in Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8, “as the hellish antitype of Christ.” The Neronic Antichrist has also a παρουσια — parousia f0). [source]
Revelation 22:6 These words [ουτοι οι λογοι]
The same words used in Revelation 21:5 by the angel there. Whatever the application there, here the angel seems to endorse as “faithful and true” (πιστοι και αλητινοι — pistoi kai alēthinoi) not merely the preceding vision (21:9-22:5), but the revelations of the entire book. The language added proves this: “Sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass” (απεστειλεν τον αγγελον αυτου δειχαι τοις δουλοις αυτου α δει γενεσται εν ταχει — apesteilen ton aggelon autou deixai tois doulois autou ha dei genesthai en tachei), a direct reference to Revelation 1:1 concerning the purpose of Christ‘s revelation to John in this book. For “the God of the spirits of the prophets” (ο τεος των πνευματων των προπητων — ho theos tōn pneumatōn tōn prophētōn) see Revelation 19:10; 1 Corinthians 14:32. Probably the prophets‘ own spirits enlightened by the Holy Spirit (Revelation 10:7; Revelation 11:8; Revelation 22:9). [source]

What do the individual words in Revelation 11:8 mean?

And the body of them [will be] upon the street of city great which is called figuratively Sodom Egypt where also the Lord was crucified
καὶ τὸ πτῶμα αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τῆς πλατείας τῆς πόλεως μεγάλης ἥτις καλεῖται πνευματικῶς Σόδομα Αἴγυπτος ὅπου καὶ Κύριος ἐσταυρώθη

πτῶμα  body 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Singular
Root: πτῶμα  
Sense: a fall, downfall.
αὐτῶν  of  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἐπὶ  [will  be]  upon 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἐπί  
Sense: upon, on, at, by, before.
πλατείας  street 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: πλατεῖα  
Sense: a broad way, a street.
πόλεως  city 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: πόλις  
Sense: a city.
μεγάλης  great 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: μέγας  
Sense: great.
καλεῖται  is  called 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: καλέω  
Sense: to call.
πνευματικῶς  figuratively 
Parse: Adverb
Root: πνευματικῶς  
Sense: spiritually: i.
Σόδομα  Sodom 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: Σόδομα  
Sense: a city destroyed by the Lord raining fire and brimstone on it.
Αἴγυπτος  Egypt 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: Αἴγυπτος  
Sense: a country occupying the northeast angle of Africa.
ὅπου  where 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ὅπου  
Sense: where, whereas.
καὶ  also 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: καί  
Sense: and, also, even, indeed, but.
Κύριος  Lord 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: κύριος  
Sense: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
ἐσταυρώθη  was  crucified 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: σταυρόω  
Sense: to stake, drive down stakes.