When Jesus returns as the warrior, to judge and make war in Rev 19:11 He will not be coming alone. Rev 19:14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. This naturally raises the question: Who are these clothed in fine linen white and clean following Jesus? For whoever they are, the Bible says they are already in heaven before the Lord’s return to make war. Otherwise, it would not be possible for an army to follow the Lord who comes out of heaven, if the army were not already in heaven also. The text describes this army as being clothed in fine linen white and clean, this is very similar to the description of the wedding garments, although there is a difference in the word used for white. The white clothing of the army is the word ‘leukos’ (loo k-ah-s), meaning dazzling light, brightness, like the garments of angels, and of those exalted to the splendour of the heavenly state. It symbolises a glorified form. The word ‘leukos’ also means shining or white garments worn on festive or state occasions and of white garments as the sign of innocence and purity of the soul. ‘Leukos’ is the word used when describing the transfiguration of Jesus Mat 17:2 “and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”
The word white used for the wedding garments is not ‘leukos’ (loo k-ah-s) as it was for the armies, but is the word ‘lampros’ (lam-pras) meaning brilliant, clear, splendid and magnificent, elegance in dress or style. Truly these are the wedding garments, she will be clothed magnificently, elegant, shining and brilliant. So the two descriptions are very similar, but a slightly different emphasis.
Okay, what we know so far about these armies is 1) They are already in Heaven, because that’s what the verse says, that they are in heaven and they follow the Lord who comes out of Heaven and 2) They are wearing fine line white and clean. Now to me there are only two possible answers of who these riders on white horses could be: Either they are the Bride or they are the angels. Maybe since verse 11 actually uses the plural “armies” it is both! Well, let’s look at Rev 17:14 to help further in the identification process. They will make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those accompanying the Lamb are the called, chosen, and faithful.” This helps to identify the company of those returning with the Lord as “the called, chosen, and faithful”. Because these terms are not used for angels, but for those who have been saved and remained faithful we now know that those who return as an army upon white horses following the Lord as He comes out of Heaven to make war are His Bride. This is consistent with the context of the preceding passage of the Bride ready and arrayed in bright clean linen. Does this mean that the angels are not also returning? Indeed the angels are also described as wearing pure and white linen Rev 15:6. Well, there are other passages that mention the angels returning with the Lord at various times like Matt 13:41 talking of the end time harvest, Matt 24:31 a reference to the rapture and Matt 25:31. So in answer to our question who are these returning with the Lord in Revelation 19? We can be confident that it is a reference to the Bride, but because the term is plural, armies, and the angels are mentioned at various times in other passages specifically as returning with the Lord, it is reasonable to expect that the angels will be among the Lord’s when He returns. So why is this important? Because it helps to unravel the chronology and sequence of future events which is necessary if we are to be prepared as we should for what lies ahead. We cannot look at the Lord’s return as a warrior in Rev 19, as being the same time as the rapture, because this is the Bride returning with Her Bridegroom having already prepared, not the Bridegroom coming for His Bride. She is following the Lord out of Heaven, which means at this point she is not on the earth. Therefore, the rapture event takes place before this, and we’ll come to that next time.