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I would expect more than a few Allelujahs bursting from the lips of overjoyed Christians when they realised Jesus had arisen in triumph from the grave, but that is not recorded in the gospel accounts or the book of Acts. Then, when I went to the concordance for the NIV to see how often this word, or ‘Hallelujah’, occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures, it just wasn’t there at all! Yet the great Hallel of the Psalms is legendary. This astonishes me, also given how glibly the word trips off the tongues of myriad Protestants. It is also sung frequently in hymns and songs of praise, especially modern ones, and I suppose Catholics use the word in worship also.

However, the context for the four times Allelujah is recorded in the Bible is that of heaven’s citizens rejoicing at the destruction and eternal torment of Babylon the Great. Only after that evil system receives God’s wrathful judgment does heaven reverberate with an explosion of joy in praise of what God has just done. Now, please note, I am NOT giving any consideration in this question as to what Babylon the Great represents. I wish to avoid that vexed question like the plague (for now). But when God climaxes his plagues on Babylon the Great by hurling her into the abyss, the reason for rejoicing in heaven is stated –

“Allelujah; Salvation, and glory, and honour and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said Allelujah. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.” Rev. 19:1-3

I note the initial reason is the eternal torment of Babylon the Great, now cast into the abyss. The next reason is the omnipotent God reigning (vs. 6). The third reason is the time of the marriage of the Lamb having arrived (vs. 7). What theological significance does this point to?

Is it theologically significant that while Jesus was on earth, he is never recorded as saying ‘Allelujah’?

I am asking these questions of all Christians who use the Allelujah word frequently in either their worship or their everyday life. I may be wrong, but I suspect the more charismatically inclined groups are, the more often they will exclaim ‘Allelujah’, so if those people would particularly explain their “Allelujah theology” (if there is such a thing!) I would be interested in that.

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    @GratefulDisciple I saw your comment to me before I removed this Q from Christianity to Hermenutics. Yes, I understand the frequent use of 'hallelujah' in most denominations but my Q relates to its extremely limited use in the NT. Is there a lesson for Christians here? Particularly, is it theologically inappropriate to keep using the word ad nauseam, especially for mundane earthly matters, e.g. "It's a sunny day; hallelujah!" Does the Revelation show us the immensity of this word?
    – Anne
    May 9 '21 at 15:18
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    I remember a preacher explaining this as 'Hallel-u-jah'. I hope the Hebrew experts will assist. (Up-voted +1.) It is certainly interesting to note the infrequent use and what you highlight as a specialised use. Excellent question.
    – Nigel J
    May 9 '21 at 17:05
  • I agree - excellent question indeed. +1.
    – Dottard
    May 9 '21 at 21:37
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    @Anne Thank you for the clarification. I totally agree with you that the word should not be used casually / glibly. I grew up in a Reformed church where the word is not even part of the liturgy, although in special occasions like Easter we use it, especially if we sing Handel's Hallelujah chorus, or when it appears in a few hymns. May 11 '21 at 4:30
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The four instances of Ἁλληλουϊά = "Hallelouia" in Rev 19 are Greek transliterations of the Hebrew הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֨הּ = Hallelujah = "Parise the LORD".

In a literary sense, Revelation's four Hallelujahs follow the same pattern of the final five Psalms (146 - 150) which all begin and end with this exclamation of praise to God. In Revelation 19, again, all are associated with a hymn of praise to God. [Note that this beginning and ending a Psalm with Hallelujah is not unique to the final four Psalms but also occurs in a few others as well such as: 113.]

More specifically, these hymns of praise to God in Rev 19 rehearse the victory that God will have achieved over the great prostitute Babylon (Rev 18) which signals the wedding of the Lamb to the Bride (Rev 19:6-8).

That is, praise to God in the form of these very Hebrew Hallelujahs is only possible when the great prostitute Babylon is finally defeated and the wedding of the Lamb can take place. Thus, it is only when Jesus has gained the final victory over all sin and enemies (symbolized by the prostitute Babylon) that such unmitigated praise may burst forth from the rapturous saved throng, "Hallelujah!!"

The "Hallelujah" Psalms have a very similar theme of praising the LORD for His greatness (Ps 150:2) and victory of His enemies (Ps 149:6-8) and creative power (Ps 148) and sustaining power (Ps 147), etc.

Note the comments of Ellicott:

The word Alleluia occurs in this passage no less than four times (Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:3-4; Revelation 19:6): it is nowhere else used in the New Testament; but it is familiar to us in the Psalms, as fifteen of them begin or end with “Praise ye the Lord,” or “Hallelujah;” and the genius of Handel has enshrined the word in imperishable music. The song here does not begin with ascribing “salvation, &c.,” to God, as the English version suggests: it rather affirms the fact: the salvation, &c., is God’s. It is the echo of the ancient utterance—“Salvation belongeth unto God.” It is the triumphant affirmation of the truth by which the Church and children of God had sustained their struggling petitions, as they closed the prayer which Christ Himself had taught them, saying, when too often it seemed to be otherwise, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” So here they give a threefold praise: the salvation, and the glory, and the power are all God’s. The manifestation of His power is in the deliverance of His children from the evil, from the great harlot, and in the avenging the blood of His servants out of her hand, “forcing, as it were, out of her hand the price of their blood.”

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In addition to the excellent points made in the answer given by Dottard, the theological significance of the use of the word “Hallelujah” in Revelation expresses the ultimate triumph of God over his enemies. The scene is set in heaven, where a great multitude has gathered before the throne in the immediate presence of God Himself. Here is an extract from an article on the subject:

The enemies of God have been overthrown, and the gospel has triumphed. In a victory celebration, all heaven renders praise, a song of thanksgiving uttered by all holy beings united. Reasons for this glorious outpouring of praise are God’s righteous victory over His enemies (Revelation 19:1–3), His sovereignty (verses 4–6), and His eternal communion with His people (verse 7). The sound of the outpouring of praise and worship is so overwhelming that the apostle John can only describe it as “like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder” (verse 6).

So great is the rejoicing by God’s people at the wedding feast of the Bridegroom (Christ) and the bride (the church) that hallelujah is the only word grand enough to express it. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/hallelujah.html

As wonderful as the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour is, the culmination of God’s salvation is the wedding feast of the Lamb. That is when all heaven reverberates to the glorious “Hallelujah” to express the praise, the glory and the honour that is deserving of the Lord God Almighty.

You ask why there is no record of Jesus using that word of praise while on earth. We are not privy to all of the thoughts and words spoken by Jesus while he walked the earth, let alone his deeds. The only possible answer to that is in John 21:25:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (John 21:25).”

Finally, you make reference to the more frequent use of the word “Hallelujah” in charismatically inclined groups. I have no first-hand experience of such things but am aware of a tendency some Christians have to exclaim “Praise the Lord” during church services or on other occasions where they wish to give thanks to God. I suggest it is merely a spontaneous expression of praise and thanks.

The description in Revelation chapter 19 of how all heaven rejoices and cries out “Hallelujah” suggests to me that the magnificence, the power, the glory and the honour due to our God is no light matter, but something of earth-shattering proportions. Perhaps that is why it is only mentioned four times, because it is the ultimate expression of the praise due to God.

The comment by Ellicott (quoted by Dottard) sums it up beautifully:

here they give a threefold praise: the salvation, and the glory, and the power are all God’s.

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