The vision in Revelation 19:11 and following describes a rider on a white horse making war against the nations. While introducing the rider, verse 13 mentions, "He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood." There seems to be a possible connection to Isaiah 63, which might suggest that the blood is that of the rider's enemies. However, elsewhere in Revelation, the saints are those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Moreover, the white rider appears to be headed to battle, which seems to discount the possibility of it being enemy blood. Whose blood is the robe dipped in?
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Reading Revelation 19 with chapter 14
As a quick preface, I think the imagery from Revelation 19, of the blood-spattered robe and the winepress, needs to be read in unison with Revelation 14, where we also find the winepress image being used.
Some writers are evenly split between Views 1 and 3, described below, with a few actually holding to both. Davïd mentioned some commentaters in his answer, so I'll pass by them.
1. Blood of the lamb
Bauckham takes this view directly when commenting on Revelation 19:
However, notice that Bauckham cites only Revelation 19.13 in this comment, the robe with blood, and not verse 19.15, the winepress. I find it puzzling that Bauckham makes no connection between Isaiah 63.1-3 and Revelation verse 19.13, but he does with verse 19.15 (as explained in section 3 below). This seems, to me, to be a severe oversight.
Wright takes this view when commenting on Revelation 19.11-21 proper, he says:
2. Blood of the saints
Wright follows View 1, but adds more to it by suggesting the wine is also the blood of Jesus' followers. While commenting on Revelation 14.14-20, he writes:
This seems to be a minority view (Wright is the only commentater I have found mention it), and dependent on View 1.
3. Blood of the enemies
Mentioned above, Bauckham identifies the blood on the robes as belonging to the lamb. However, when commenting on the John's use of the winepress imagery as taken from Isaiah 63.1-6, as well as Joel 3.13, he clearly takes the view that the blood flowing out of the winepress belongs to 'the nations' who are 'judged':
Chilton identifies with View 3 outright. For Revelation 14, he writes:
He then quotes Isaiah 63.1-6, explicitly identifying the blood on the robe as belonging to God's enemies. But shortly after, he flips back to View 1:
He does the same in Revelation 19:
Johnson takes View 3. Commenting on chapter 14:
He repeats this later for Revelation 19:
I think View 3 has a stronger case exegetically, based on the interdependence of Revelation 14 and 19, as well as their mutual dependence on Isaiah 63. With that, a significant point in favor of View 3 is the chiamsus John has created in 19.12-16. This chiasmus is constructed as the following (my translation):
Points 1 and 1' of the chiasmus identify the 'name' he alone 'knows' (King of kings, Lord of lords, for which he receives 'many royal crowns'). Points 3 and 3' pertain to the sword of his mouth, i.e. the word of God. Point 4 is the hinge, and focuses on his followers.
This leaves points 2 and 2', which identify the blood spattered on his robe as coming from the winepress he treads, taking readers back to Revelation 14, and ultimately over to the obvious source of the overall image: Isaiah 63, where the blood comes from the enemies of the one treading the winepress (View 3), not from himself (View 1) or his followers (View 2).
But he hasn't tread the winepress yet
The question was brought up that, if Jesus is seen with the blood on his robe in Revelation 19.13, before he treads the winepress in 19.15, how can the blood belong to his enemies?
I think this is easily accounted for given the nature of the Revelation. The book, of course, is organized and tightly structured, but in terms of the actual 'chronological order' of the visionary content, the book is very relaxed. John's visions are not strictly sequential, they are a panoramic kaleidoscope. What John sees in one vision is reflected later in another vision, regardless of their order, because he writes based on theme, not chronology. (This is why he is able to introduce the same beast three separate times, in chapters 11, 13, and 17. Or why he is able to see the fall of Babylon three separate times, in chapters 14, 16, and 17-19.)
Whether John intended readers to understand Revelation 19 as chronologically later than Revelation 14 is one thing. But in terms of written form, chapter 19 does come after all of chapters 1-18, so this vision freely incorporates imagery from earlier visions, e.g. the sword of his mouth, the white horse, the rod of iron, and, yes, even the robe stained in the winepress with his enemies' blood.
1 Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation (1993, 1999). [I have the Kindle version; no page numbers.]
2 N.T. Wright, Revelation For Everyone (2011), bold original. [Kindle.]
3 David Chilton, Days of Vengeance (1987, 1990), p.154.
4 Ibid., p.192.
5 Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb (2001). [Kindle.]
This is a significant connection because, as noted in the question, this is judgment context, and the "blood" in question is that of the LORD's enemies. But (again, as noted), in Revelation the "Rider on the white horse" is heading into battle ... so whose blood?
The options are all canvassed in the older commentaries:
As I wrote this answer originally, I wasn't aware of any recent commentators defending the option that this blood is that of the "saints" or martyrs; however, as Mark Edward points out, it is apparently adopted by N.T. Wright (and so also by G.B. Caird).
Meanwhile, there is only internal evidence to go on: that is, the language of the passage which resonantly echoes Isaiah 63, along with the logic one applies to John's unfolding vision.
Recent commentators often note the variety of possibilities, but seem to have converged on the following observations:
Each of Aune (p. 1057), Beale (p. 959), Beasley-Murray (p. 280), Blount (p. 353), Mounce (p. 354), Smalley (pp. 491-2), and Witherington (p. 243) take this view, and it strikes me as compelling. (Aune and Smalley, like Swete, think that an underlying resonance with the "blood of the Lamb" would also have been "heard".) The visions of Revelation swirl rather than "unfold", and there seems no need to adhere rigidly to strict sequencing here. And besides, as widely noted, this Rider has been doing some damage already.
The Idea in Brief
Those who follow the Lamb in heaven are clothed in white except the Lamb, who was slain and whose robe appears late in the narrative drenched in blood. So there is imagery that His blood was not only the basis for saving and making the robes of the elect to be white, but was also the basis for defeating sin and its power. That is, the Revelation narrative presents the Son of Man drenched in blood only after the non-elect on earth had drunk the wine-pressed blood of death (as contained in the seven Bowl Judgments). In other words, before the conclusion of the Revelation narrative, the blood imagery merges to present the blood as both the basis of redemption and the basis of defeating sin and its power.
In the Revelation, every person in heaven with direct association with the Lamb of God has white robes except the Lamb, who appeared as one slain.
In previous chapters, He is "the one who was dead" (Rev 1:18 and Rev 2:8). His first appearance in the first chapter of the narrative mentions the color imagery of His appearance with the sole exception of the color of His robe.
The head and hair of "the Son of Man" are white; there is white wool, and fire and burnished bronze, but there is no mention of any robe being white (here or anywhere else in the narrative). On the other hand, the elect who surround Him in heaven are clothed in white robes throughout the entire Revelation narrative. (Please click here to review all these verses.) In one specific verse, the robes were made white by the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14), which means the blood of the Lamb was the basis of their righteousness, which exists through redemption.
In other words, the contrast is that everyone with direct association with the Son of Man (Lamb) is clothed in white except the Lamb, who was slain ("was dead and now is alive") whose robe will only later in the narrative finally appear drenched red in blood.
In the course of the Revelation narrative, the reader finally sees the red-soaked robe as if to close the loop. That is, He was the one who was slain ("was dead and now is alive"), and therefore His robe is blood red. However, these verses (above) appear to be direct quotes from the LXX, where the context was not the blood of the sacrifice, but the actual winepress of enemy blood. (Please click here.) That is, the context of Isaiah in the LXX provides the direct backdrop of the wine Bowl Judgments, which are bowls of blood mentioned in Revelation 16:1-21.
In other words, the blood is not only the basis of redemption, but is the basis for defeating sin and its power. In the Revelation narrative at this point, the Son of Man now appears "on the cloud" with the golden crown on His head for the first time (Rev 14:14), indicating His immediate right to take rulership of the earth since the same imagery of the Son of Man with the clouds occurs in Daniel (compare Dan 7:13-14 with Rev 14:14) who in turn defeats the beasts (Gentile powers) of the earth. Jesus used the very same imagery with the High Priest Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to refer to His own future advent to the earth (Matt 26:63-64). This return to the earth starts with the defeating the foes of "the city" (Jerusalem?), whose blood in turn is used to fill the seven bowls, which are then poured out upon the entire earth as the seven Bowl Judgments.
Again, the sickles reaped the grapes of wrath outside of the heavenly temple and near the heavenly altar (Rev 14:14-20), and therefore this location is the place of the sacrifice, where the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). But the blood is not from the Lamb, but from the earth where the foes are trampled to create wine (blood).
The "death" of those killed is harvested as wine (blood), which the Son of Man harvested and trampled (Rev 14:14-20), which causes the blood-drenching of His robe. As already noted, He now forces the non-elect to drink this wine (blood) in the seven Bowl Judgments, since the non-elect had been drunk on the blood of the elect.
In summary, the non-elect on earth are forced to drink "death" in full-strength, and therefore they receive complete "undiluted wrath" from heaven through the seven Bowl Judgments, which climax in the Second Advent. Jesus Christ is drenched in this blood, which came from the winepress (as noted in the LXX of Isaiah), where the sickles in heaven reaped the grapes of wrath on earth (as noted in the Revelation narrative).
Finally, the mention of the color of the His robe in the Revelation narrative up to this point was absent, notwithstanding that everyone following the Lamb is clothed in white. That is, they are white because of His blood. The implied assumption then is that the robe of the Lamb was soaked with blood at the First Advent, and the robe of the Son of Man was soaked with blood at the Second Advent. Therefore the Revelation narrative merges the imagery of blood on the robe to include not only redemption (culminated by the Lamb at the First Advent), but also the conquering of sin and its power (culminated by the Son of Man at His Second Advent).
What one has to remember is the blood on the robe that the rider on the white horse wears,is symbolic and the verse is to be interpreted symbolically.An example of this method of interpretation is in this same chapter of Revelation at verse 15 where we read,
When this scripture is looked at in a literal sense,it would appear that the rider on the white horse will strike down the nations with a sword that is coming out of his mouth,but common sense would let one understand that this is not the case because it is written in the book of Ephesians 6-17 regarding spiritual warfare,
Looking at the above scripture and taking into account that the rider on the white horse is to be interpreted symbolically,it is reasonable to suggest that the sword that comes out of the riders mouth is "The word of God". The article in this link is helpful.
It is now easier to understand from the scripture, that the rider will strike down the nations with "the Word of God" and not a sword that comes out of his mouth.
In Revelation 19:15 (with reference to the rider) it is written,
This scripture gives the "possible connection to Isaiah 63," where it is written in verse 3,
Reading the first and second line's in the above scriptures,the one treading the winepress does so alone but when we look at Rev 19:14 (when the rider departs from Heaven-The armies of heaven follow him) it is written,
Due to these above difference's, it is difficult to fully reconcile the passage in Revelation with the passage in Isaiah which leaves one to look at other scriptures to further ones understanding.
One can assume that the Rider on the white horse whose robe is "dipped in blood" is Jesus Christ, but his name is not mentioned anywhere in Revelation 19. To help one understand who the rider is, we must turn to Rev 19:15, where it is written,
There is a repeat of this scripture in Revelation 12:5 (when the woman gives birth to the child) where it is written,
Looking at these scriptures it is very clear that it is Jesus Christ who the rider represents.One must also remember that it was the scripture in Revelation 19 that supplies the link to Isaiah 63 in the same way as Revelation 19 supplies the link to Revelation 12. Due to the reference of the iron sceptre that is written in Rev 19-15 and Rev 12-5- one can see that the scriptures are in context. But what has Rev 12-5 got to do with "a robe dipped in blood,? One must look to the Sun,moon and stars for interpretation
In Revelation 12:1 we read about the vision that John received.
Now this is not the first time this vision has appeared in scripture.It is also in the book of Genesis and concerns a young man by the name of Joseph."His visionary dream" is written in Genesis 37:9,
We also know Joseph had a robe for it is written in Genesis 37:3,
Because of the Fathers love for Joseph,the brothers of Joseph hated him so much that one day they got a hold of Joseph and threw him into a cistern.We read in Genesis 37:31,
Looking again at Rev 19:13-14 it is written,
Matthew 25:31-33 it is written,
These two portions of scripture have the same meaning.The armies of heaven and all his angels with him which again tells us that Jesus does not tread the winepress alone.Although these scriptures have no mention of the armies/angels being on horse-back, it is obvious to the reader, if Jesus rides out on horse-back-then his army that follows him will also be on horse-back.For a better understanding regarding the horses,one must now turn his attention to " harvest of the earth,"written in Revelation 14:14-20,and focus on verse 20 (Niv) where it is written,
The horses bridles are in context with the rider on the white horse and his armies that follow him and who tread the winepress along with him.
Now the blood from the winepress reaches the horses bridles,the meaning of this would be that the blood comes up to just below the horses mouth.So this leaves one to consider the robe that the rider on the white horse wears- Is the robe that Jesus wears "Dipped" or "Spattered" in blood
Revelation 14:20 describes the end of the judgement against the nations.One can visualize the blood that has flowed from the winepress coming up to the horses mouth,but it is at this portion of scripture that the vision ends.There is no mention of the rider on horseback.It is at this point,the scripture leaves the reader to create his own imagery and the reader will visualize the white horse standing in a "river of blood," and the reader will also visualize the rider sitting on the horse, clothed in his robe which is being immersed in the blood,or to be more "precise"-it is reasonable to say, "the rider on the white horse," wears a "Robe Dipped In Blood."
To answer your question "whose blood is on the riders robe"?
The robe that Jesus wears dipped in blood is symbolic of the robe of Joseph.
The robe that Jesus, the rider on the white horse wears, is dipped in symbolic Goats blood.
He comes to separate the sheep from the goats. and he does so by,
Treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God.
He will put the sheep on his right,
and the goats on his left.
The Campaign of Armageddon
Two answers here in particular survey various ideas about the blood—Mark Edward's and Davïd's and both settle in a conclusion of being that of the enemies, which is also (a bit more cryptically) the conclusion of Babpipes answer of "Goats" blood.
This answer shares that same conclusion, that it is enemies blood, but with a particular exception: there is a chronological progression of judgment involved that answers more specifically why and how the blood is on the robe in Revelation 19.
A common Dispensational understanding sees a progression of battles occur within the war/campaign of Armageddon. This progression also includes various appearances of Christ during the process of defeating His enemies.1
Chiefly, the progression relevant here is seen in one of the passages noted in question itself...
Isaiah 63:1-6 (emphasis added, ESV):
Isaiah 34:1-7 (emphasis added, ESV):
The essence of this view is that the first place Christ comes back to during the period of His second coming is in defense of part of the nation of Israel in the area of Edom. It is the beginning of His personal judgment upon the nations, which He does "alone" (Isa 63:3).
Valley of Jehoshaphat (between Jerusalem & the Mt. of Olives)
The events in Edom apparently happen prior to the events of His return descent to the Mount of Olives prophesied in Act 1:11, but also prophesied in a judgment context in ...
Zech 14:3-5 (emphasis added, ESV):
Note that the Mount of Olives is outside Jerusalem, not near Edom/Bozrah). This coming Zech 14:5 notes is not alone, for "Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him," paralleling the coming with the armies of the saints from heaven in Rev 19:11-21, and that army's participation in the Rev 19 encounter (Rev 19:19). This return is the last part of the campaign against the nations. It likely is the same winepress event that occurs in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is near the Mt. of Olives, as prophesied in ...
Joel 3:12-14 (emphasis added, ESV):
So there is more than one "winepress" trodding being done at different locations/times during the events leading up to the millennial reign. Isaiah 63 refers to one in Edom, whereas Joel 3 refers to one in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
In Revelation 19, Christ is pictured as already having started His judgment upon the nations (which is why His robe is already dipped in blood). Isaiah 63 answers the "where" and "how" His garments became bloodied—in the judgment done in Edom. Then Joel 3 and Zech 14 prophesy of the same event as Rev 19, which is not in Edom, but near Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, but is another winepress trodding event during Christ's second coming 2
1 For some discussion of this, see Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1964), ch. 5 titled "The Campaign of Armageddon"; Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah" in The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, Tim Lahaye and Thomas Ice, eds. (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 251-281. Note that there are slight variations of opinion among Dispensationalists in synchronizing prophetic events, but a general consensus on a multi-stage aspect to Christ's second coming.
2 As I noted in a comment and am adding here for clarity, the Rev 14:19 gathering into the winepress is probably a reference to the gathering in general (to various locations—at least Edom and Valley of Jehoshaphat), though I believe 14:20 is probably a reference more directly to the final event in the valley (thus forecasting Rev 19 events).