Revelation 10:9

Give me
One would typically expect an imperative mood verb here—as when commanding: you give. Here it is an infinitive, δοῦναι μοι [dounai moi] , to give to me, probably reflecting John’s tentativeness to tell such a mighty angel what to do. Even though John’s authority and instruction is from heaven, it is no small thing to approach this mighty angel and tell him anything! John could only approach the mighty angel knowing he had received divine command to do so:

The soul who is obedient—who yields unquestioning submission to the expressed will of God—is for the time omnipotent. He walks and acts in the strength of the Creator—the maker of heaven and earth. Fear? he knows it not. The invisible God, seen by faith, makes him invincible in the path of obedience—“immortal till his work is done.”1

Take and eat
λάβε καὶ κατάφαγε [labe kai kataphage] , two verbs in the imperative mood: You take and you eat! The response of the mighty angel to John indicates his superior power and is intended to overcome John’s reluctance to touch, much less take, this important book held in the hands of such a mighty being. Eat is from κατεσθίω [katesthiō] meaning: “Consume, devour, swallow.”2 The emphasis is upon John completely consuming what he is given to eat. Eating God’s Word is a frequent theme of Scripture and indicates the acceptance, digesting of, meditating upon, and sustenance derived from that which is eaten (Jer. Jer. 15:16). Job declared, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food (Job Job 23:12). Jesus, the Word of God, referred to Himself as the Bread of Life (Job Job 23:12; John John 6:27-35, John 6:48). In the same way that God made Israel dependent upon manna, so too are His servants to be dependent upon his Word.3 John was told to eat prophetic revelation much like that of Ezekiel. See commentary on Revelation 10:11.

it will make your stomach bitter
Bitter is πικρανεῖ [pikranei] , used “Of honey when wormwood is mixed.”4 How well this describes God’s prophetic Word! It is honey for the obedient, but mixed with wormwood (Rev. Rev. 8:11+) in the face of disobedience. This is the very essence of the Word of God. For those who follow it, it is the Word of Life. For those who reject it, it is the Word of Death. This dual nature of God’s Word was understood by Paul:

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2Cor. 2Cor. 2:14-16)

The bitterness would develop after John had tasted its sweetness, when its contents were fully digested. “There was sweetness in the assurance that the prayers of God’s Israel, who had ‘cried day and night unto Him,’ were about to be answered.”5 But the mature student of God’s prophetic Word will come to appreciate its bitterness. The new believer, excited by the prospect of God’s intervention into history, readily exults in God’s prophetic program, but often fails to appreciate the alternate aspect of the fulfillment of God’s promises—the eternal damnation of those who have not yet trusted in Christ. The bitterness which John will experience is an appreciation of God’s grace and mercy and the realization that in the completion of the mystery of God, judgment will have overcome the current age of mercy resulting in the eternal loss of countless persons who continue in their rejection of God. For undoubtedly the book contains “lamentations and mourning and woe” (Eze. Eze. 2:10).

it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth
See commentary on Revelation 10:10.


1 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 10:9.

2 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 442.

3 Interestingly, each man was to daily collect the manna for his own household. How different would our country be if each father approached bible study this way—rather than ignoring the Word or relying upon a professional clergy to gather manna for him once a week?

4 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 657.

5 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 10:11.