Revelation Part 11: The Seven Last Plagues (Revelation 15-16)
(New American Standard Bible, 1995):
Rev. 15:1 ¶ Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.
Rev. 15:2 ¶ And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.
Rev. 15:3 And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
¶ "Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
Rev. 15:4 "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU,
FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED."
Rev. 15:5 ¶ After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened,
Rev. 15:6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes.
Rev. 15:7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.
Rev. 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
Rev. 16:1 ¶ Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God."
Rev. 16:2 ¶ So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.
Rev. 16:3 ¶ The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.
Rev. 16:4 ¶ Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood.
Rev. 16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, "Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things;
Rev. 16:6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it."
Rev. 16:7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."
Rev. 16:8 ¶ The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.
Rev. 16:9 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.
Rev. 16:10 ¶ Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
Rev. 16:11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.
Rev. 16:12 ¶ The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.
Rev. 16:13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;
Rev. 16:14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.
Rev. 16:15 ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.")
Rev. 16:16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-magedon.
Rev. 16:17 ¶ Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done."
Rev. 16:18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.
Rev. 16:19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
Rev. 16:20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
Rev. 16:21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, *came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague *was extremely severe.
Novum Testamentum Graece (New Testament in Greek)
Nestle-Aland, 27th Edition, prepared by Institut für neutestamentliche Testforschung Münster/Westfalen, Barbara and Kurt Aland (Editors). Copyright © 1898 and 1993 by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
Used by permission.
Morphological tagging by William D. Mounce and Rex A. Koivisto
Copyright © 2003 William D. Mounce.
Copyright © 2006 OakTree Software, Inc.
All rights reserved.
(You must have the Helena font installed in order to see the Greek text rendered correctly; it can be obtained here: http://www.accordancebible.com/)
Rev. 15:1 ¼ Kai« eidon aýllo shmeion en tw× oujranw× me÷ga kai« qaumasto/n, aÓgge÷louß epta» e¶contaß plhga»ß epta» ta»ß esca¿taß, o¢ti en aujtaiß etele÷sqh oJ qumo\ß touv qeouv.
Rev. 15:2 ¼ Kai« eidon wJß qa¿lassan uJali÷nhn memigme÷nhn puri« kai« tou\ß nikw×ntaß ek touv qhri÷ou kai« ek thvß eiko/noß aujtouv kai« ek touv aÓriqmouv touv ojno/matoß aujtouv estw×taß epi« th\n qa¿lassan th\n uJali÷nhn e¶contaß kiqa¿raß touv qeouv.
Rev. 15:3 kai« aýdousin th\n wÓdh\n Mwu¨se÷wß touv dou/lou touv qeouv kai« th\n wÓdh\n touv aÓrni÷ou le÷gonteß:
mega¿la kai« qaumasta» ta» e¶rga sou,
ku/rie oJ qeo\ß oJ pantokra¿twr:
di÷kaiai kai« aÓlhqinai« ai oJdoi÷ sou,
oJ basileu\ß tw×n eqnw×n:
Rev. 15:4 ti÷ß ouj mh\ fobhqhØv, ku/rie,
kai« doxa¿sei to\ o¡noma¿ sou;
o¢ti mo/noß o¢sioß,
o¢ti pa¿nta ta» e¶qnh h¢xousin
kai« proskunh/sousin enw¿pio/n sou, o¢ti ta» dikaiw¿mata¿ sou efanerw¿qhsan.
Rev. 15:5 ¼ Kai« meta» tauvta eidon, kai« hjnoi÷gh oJ nao\ß thvß skhnhvß touv marturi÷ou en tw× oujranw×,
Rev. 15:6 kai« exhvlqon oi epta» aýggeloi [oi] e¶conteß ta»ß epta» plhga»ß ek touv naouv endedume÷noi li÷non kaqaro\n lampro\n kai« periezwsme÷noi peri« ta» sth/qh zw¿naß crusa×ß.
Rev. 15:7 kai« en ek tw×n tessa¿rwn zw¿wn e¶dwken toiß epta» aÓgge÷loiß epta» fia¿laß crusa×ß gemou/saß touv qumouv touv qeouv touv zw×ntoß eiß tou\ß aiw×naß tw×n aiw¿nwn.
Rev. 15:8 kai« egemi÷sqh oJ nao\ß kapnouv ek thvß do/xhß touv qeouv kai« ek thvß duna¿mewß aujtouv, kai« oujdei«ß edu/nato eiselqein eiß to\n nao\n aýcri telesqw×sin ai epta» plhgai« tw×n epta» aÓgge÷lwn.
Rev. 16:1 ¼ Kai« h¡kousa mega¿lhß fwnhvß ek touv naouv legou/shß toiß epta» aÓgge÷loiß: uJpa¿gete kai« ekce÷ete ta»ß epta» fia¿laß touv qumouv touv qeouv eiß th\n ghvn.
Rev. 16:2 ¼ Kai« aÓphvlqen oJ prw×toß kai« exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv eiß th\n ghvn, kai« ege÷neto eºlkoß kako\n kai« ponhro\n epi« tou\ß aÓnqrw¿pouß tou\ß e¶contaß to\ ca¿ragma touv qhri÷ou kai« tou\ß proskunouvntaß thØv eiko/ni aujtouv.
Rev. 16:3 ¼ Kai« oJ deu/teroß exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv eiß th\n qa¿lassan, kai« ege÷neto ai-ma wJß nekrouv, kai« pa×sa yuch\ zwhvß aÓpe÷qanen ta» en thØv qala¿sshØ.
Rev. 16:4 ¼ Kai« oJ tri÷toß exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv eiß tou\ß potamou\ß kai« ta»ß phga»ß tw×n uJda¿twn, kai« ege÷neto ai-ma.
Rev. 16:5 Kai« h¡kousa touv aÓgge÷lou tw×n uJda¿twn le÷gontoß:
di÷kaioß ei, oJ w·n kai« oJ hn, oJ o¢sioß,
o¢ti tauvta e¶krinaß,
Rev. 16:6 o¢ti ai-ma aJgi÷wn kai« profhtw×n exe÷cean
kai« ai-ma aujtoiß [d]e÷dwkaß piein,
Rev. 16:7 Kai« h¡kousa touv qusiasthri÷ou le÷gontoß:
nai« ku/rie oJ qeo\ß oJ pantokra¿twr,
aÓlhqinai« kai« di÷kaiai ai kri÷seiß sou.
Rev. 16:8 ¼ Kai« oJ te÷tartoß exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv epi« to\n h¢lion, kai« edo/qh aujtw× kaumati÷sai tou\ß aÓnqrw¿pouß en puri÷.
Rev. 16:9 kai« ekaumati÷sqhsan oi aýnqrwpoi kauvma me÷ga kai« eblasfh/mhsan to\ o¡noma touv qeouv touv e¶contoß th\n exousi÷an epi« ta»ß plhga»ß tau/taß kai« ouj meteno/hsan douvnai aujtw× do/xan.
Rev. 16:10 ¼ Kai« oJ pe÷mptoß exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv epi« to\n qro/non touv qhri÷ou, kai« ege÷neto hJ basilei÷a aujtouv eskotwme÷nh, kai« emasw×nto ta»ß glw¿ssaß aujtw×n ek touv po/nou,
Rev. 16:11 kai« eblasfh/mhsan to\n qeo\n touv oujranouv ek tw×n po/nwn aujtw×n kai« ek tw×n elkw×n aujtw×n kai« ouj meteno/hsan ek tw×n e¶rgwn aujtw×n.
Rev. 16:12 ¼ Kai« oJ eºktoß exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv epi« to\n potamo\n to\n me÷gan to\n Eujfra¿thn, kai« exhra¿nqh to\ u¢dwr aujtouv, iºna etoimasqhØv hJ oJdo\ß tw×n basile÷wn tw×n aÓpo\ aÓnatolhvß hJli÷ou.
Rev. 16:13 Kai« eidon ek touv sto/matoß touv dra¿kontoß kai« ek touv sto/matoß touv qhri÷ou kai« ek touv sto/matoß touv yeudoprofh/tou pneu/mata tri÷a aÓka¿qarta wJß ba¿tracoi:
Rev. 16:14 eisi«n ga»r pneu/mata daimoni÷wn poiouvnta shmeia, a± ekporeu/etai epi« tou\ß basileiß thvß oikoume÷nhß o¢lhß sunagagein aujtou\ß eiß to\n po/lemon thvß hJme÷raß thvß mega¿lhß touv qeouv touv pantokra¿toroß.
Rev. 16:15 Idou\ e¶rcomai wJß kle÷pthß. maka¿rioß oJ grhgorw×n kai« thrw×n ta» ima¿tia aujtouv, iºna mh\ gumno\ß peripathØv kai« ble÷pwsin th\n aÓschmosu/nhn aujtouv.
Rev. 16:16 Kai« sunh/gagen aujtou\ß eiß to\n to/pon to\n kalou/menon ÔEbrai¦sti« ÔArmagedw¿n.
Rev. 16:17 ¼ Kai« oJ eºbdomoß exe÷ceen th\n fia¿lhn aujtouv epi« to\n aÓe÷ra, kai« exhvlqen fwnh\ mega¿lh ek touv naouv aÓpo\ touv qro/nou le÷gousa: ge÷gonen.
Rev. 16:18 kai« ege÷nonto aÓstrapai« kai« fwnai« kai« brontai« kai« seismo\ß ege÷neto me÷gaß, oi-oß oujk ege÷neto aÓf ou aýnqrwpoß ege÷neto epi« thvß ghvß thlikouvtoß seismo\ß ou¢tw me÷gaß.
Rev. 16:19 kai« ege÷neto hJ po/liß hJ mega¿lh eiß tri÷a me÷rh kai« ai po/leiß tw×n eqnw×n e¶pesan. kai« Babulw»n hJ mega¿lh emnh/sqh enw¿pion touv qeouv douvnai aujthØv to\ poth/rion touv oi¶nou touv qumouv thvß ojrghvß aujtouv.
Rev. 16:20 kai« pa×sa nhvsoß e¶fugen kai« o¡rh oujc euJre÷qhsan.
Rev. 16:21 kai« ca¿laza mega¿lh wJß talantiai÷a katabai÷nei ek touv oujranouv epi« tou\ß aÓnqrw¿pouß, kai« eblasfh/mhsan oi aýnqrwpoi to\n qeo\n ek thvß plhghvß thvß cala¿zhß, o¢ti mega¿lh esti«n hJ plhgh\ aujthvß sfo/dra.
16:16 - This tight little passage has produced scores of theories and books. The name of this location is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name for the "mountain of Megiddo," Har-Mageddon (wúø;dgVmr#Dh), referred to in Judges 5:19, but there is no such known location, nor is there any hill or mountain within a reasonable distance from the usual assumed location, the plain of Esdraelon in northern Israel. It is very tempting to place this final clash in this location, as it is the site of the earliest recorded military battle in human history (1457 BC, between the pharaoh Thutmose III and a Canaanite rebel coalition), and a battle between the Judeans and Egyptians in 609 BC (Described in 2 Kings 23-29), as well as the site of a significant British victory over the Turks during World War I (September, 1918). However, given the context and the geographic realities, it is possibly better to consider this either a symbolic place where God destroys evil, or an apocalyptic/mystic reference to a yet-unknown location.
It is usually assumed that "Armageddon" of the battle of Megiddo marks the final clash between good and evil, with Christ leading the armies of Heaven to victory, but this is clearly not so; the second coming of Christ does not occur until some time after this event, revealed in 19:11-16, and the final destruction of Satan and the elimination of evil does not occur until a thousand years after the return of Christ, as revealed in chapter 20.
16:15 Blessed Is He Who Keeps His Clothes?
What does it mean to stay awake? Does it mean that the blessed Christian will not be asleep in bed when Christ returns? How might a Christian be naked at such a time? Are we to fear this coming happening when we are in the bath? Particularly because the verse is an exhortation from Christ himself, we readers of Revelation want to be sure of what this means.
The context of this verse is the pouring out of the first six bowls of the final judgment of God. The previous verse mentioned that the way has now been prepared for the final battle of "the great day of God Almighty." The next verse describes the gathering of the nations for that battle, which will not take place until Revelation 19:11-21. Yet when that battle does take place the people of God are with their king, so they obviously have been gathered together, an event often referred to as "the rapture" (Mk 13:27; 1 Cor 15:51-52; 1 Thess 4:16-17).
The wider context of this verse is the sayings of Jesus that he would come "like a thief" (Mt 24:43; Lk 12:39; compare Mk 13:32-37). This image is picked up by Paul (1 Thess 5:2, 4; compare 2 Pet 3:10) and has already been mentioned once by John (Rev 3:3). The point of all of these sayings is that a thief does not announce his coming, but surprises the inhabitants of the house by coming when they are out or least likely to suspect his or her presence. Stealth and surprise are the chief weapons. To say that the day of the Lord is like this is to say that it too will come when least expected. As Jesus noted, no one knows the day or the hour (Mk 13:32); those who have claimed to have calculated it have always been proved wrong. But this does not mean that one cannot be prepared; instead it means that one must always be prepared, like servants waiting up through the night for their master to return from a party (Lk 12:35-40).
John has been writing about the gathering of the world's armies and the final battle between the beast and Christ. The alarming events in the world or even the expectation that this gathering must take place before Christ could return could distract his readers from their central focus, namely faithfulness to and expectation of Christ. He, not the armies of the antichrist, is to be their central concern. Therefore it is quite appropriate that the voice of Jesus himself interject a warning in the middle of the gathering storm, just as he previously interjected a blessing about the death of Christians to contrast with that of the destruction of "Babylon" (Rev 14:13).
The warning is to "stay awake" or "watch." The image is that of the watchmen at their posts, alert for any sign of their lord and expectant of his coming. As we saw above, this picture is drawn from the sayings of Jesus. This alertness, of course, implies that the Christian will be found doing what the master has commanded him or her to do, which includes sleep at appropriate times.8 The wakefulness, then, is not the avoidance of physical sleep, but a moral wakefulness that does not allow the world to lull one into a laxity about the directions that Christ has given and the standards he has set.
The picture of the watching servant is connected to that for nakedness. When lying down to sleep, a person would take off the outer garment and use it as a blanket, or perhaps lay it aside altogether and sleep under a blanket or covered in straw (as rabbi Akiba and his wife were forced to do since they had only one outer garment for the two of them). A poor person's clothing was his or her most valuable possession; a thief would not miss the chance to steal it upon breaking into a house during the night (see Lk 10:30). Likewise if a person were asleep but would have to rush out in an emergency without taking the time to get clothed, he or she could lose the outer garment (see Mk 13:15-16). To be without that outer garment in public would be to be "naked" in terms of that culture (something like being in a shopping mall clothed only in underwear in our day). Jesus thus counsels keeping one's "clothes with him" or "guarding their clothing" to prevent the surprise of the moment finding them "shamefully exposed." The Mishnah reports that the captain of the temple would go around at night and, if he found temple police asleep at their posts, take their clothing and burn it, forcing them to leave the temple naked.9 In this text the surprise of the moment finds the believer similarly "undressed."
The clothing of the Christian is mentioned several times in Revelation. Those in the church of Sardis whose deeds are not right have soiled clothes, while the worthy ones will be dressed in white (Rev 3:4). The church of Laodicea is naked and needs to purchase white clothing to wear (Rev 3:17-18). The martyrs under the altar are clothed in white (Rev 6:11), as is the multitude before the throne (Rev 7:9). The key to the image of clothing is found in Revelation 19:8, in which the bride of Christ is given "fine linen, bright and clean" to wear. Then comes the comment "Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints." If one is not acting righteously, which means following the commands of Christ, he or she is naked before him, and his coming will leave such a person "shamefully exposed."
The two parts of the warning, then, fit together. The coming of Christ cannot be calculated. Certainly the last thing that John wishes is that his readers would try to calculate the time of that coming using the images in his book. That would be to put their focus on the world and the evil personages rather than on Christ. The goal of the whole of this book is that, given the ultimate end of all of the principalities and powers of this world and the final triumph of Christ, Christians will remain faithful whatever the cost. They are to be prepared for the coming of Christ at all times. This means not only expecting this coming verbally or doctrinally, but also living a life appropriate to that expectation. This means living in obedience to Jesus, however crazy such a lifestyle might appear in the light of the values of this world, and "clothing oneself" with righteous deeds. It is for such people that the coming of Christ will not be something for which they are unprepared. Instead, they will joyfully welcome it and, fully "clothed," join their Lord's throng as he completes his conquest of the world and ends this age.
8 As one Christian teacher pointed out, so long as one is obeying Christ, whether sleeping or raising the dead, "the pay is the same"both are simply obedient servants.
9 So F. F. Bruce, "The Revelation to John," in G. C. D. Howley et al., eds., The New Layman's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1979), p. 1703.
IVP-New Bible Commentary
15:1-16:21 The seven cups of wrath
After finishing the lengthy parenthesis of chs. 12-14, John returns to the theme of the Messianic judgments of the end time. As with the seven seals and seven trumpets the number seven is retained, but the symbolism is perpetually spoiled through translators interpreting John as speaking about bowls of wrath (in 15:7 and throughout ch. 16). The Greek term in question is commonly used of domestic bowls (so probably in Rev. 5:8), but it can also be used of cups for drinking (so clearly in Pr. 23:31). The frequency of God's cup of wrath' as an image of judgment in the OT should be determinative of its meaning here (of its many instances see e.g. Je. 25:15; 49:12; Ezk. 23:31-32; Hab. 2:15). Is. 51:17, 22 are of particular importance, with their references to the cup' and goblet' of wrath. (Most translations [p. 1444] mistakenly render goblet' as bowl'.) Since John himself uses the symbolism of drinking from the cup of God's wrath in 14:10 and 16:19, it looks as if the same image controls the presentation of the judgments in chs. 15-16.
The cups are said to cause the seven last plauges (1). This is often linked with the fact that no description was given of the seventh trumpet judgment, although it brought the end (11:15); it is then suggested that the cup judgments follow the sounding of the last trumpet. This is conceivable, but unlikely. The contents of the seven cups are very similar to those of the seven trumpets; in most cases the difference lies in the amplification of the earlier plagues by the later. For example, the second and third cups reveal that the second and third trumpet plagues have increased in extent (8:8-11; 16:3-4); just as the earthquake following the seventh trumpet seems to be that of the seventh cup, only more fully described (11:19; 16:17-20). The parallels between the fourth trumpet and fourth cup are evident (8:12; 16:8), as also between the fifth and sixth trumpets and fifth and sixth cups (1:1-21, 16:10-16). The cup judgments, accordingly, appear to give a fuller revelation of what had already been shown under the trumpet judgments, along with certain new features.
The song of the conquerors by the sea of glass (3-4) celebrates the conversion of the nations on the completion of God's righteous acts' (4). The vision, therefore, exults in the effects of the last plagues rather than heralds their coming. It is looking forward and serves to underline the statement of v 1: with them God's wrath is completed.
One further feature of the cup judgments calls for mention: they bear a striking similarity to the plagues of the exodus. This was noticed in the first four trumpet judgments (8:7-12), but it is clearer in this series, in that all the cup judgments reflect the plagues of Egypt, and their issue is celebrated in the song of Moses... and the song of the Lamb', sung beside a heavenly Red Sea' (15:3-4). Everything in this second exodus is greater than what took place at the first exodus, alike in its judgments and its blessings, but that is consonant with the mission of the Christ as bringing to fulfilment the promises of God under the old covenant.
15:1-8 Introduction to the cup judgments
2 The sea of glass, mentioned in 4:6, is mixed with fire, intimating the wrath about to be revealed from heaven (cf. 8:5). But those who had been victorious over the beast stand beside it on God's side, as the Israelites stood beside the Red Sea and sang their song of deliverance (Ex. 15:1-18). 3-4 The song of Moses ...and the song of the Lamb is one, since the pattern of redemption at the first exodus has been fulfilled and completed in the second exodus. Every line of the song is reminiscent of the prophets and psalmists. Great and marvellous are your deeds, cf. Ps. 98:1; 111:2; 139:14. Just and true are your ways, cf. Dt. 32:3; Ps. 145:17. Who will not fear you ..., cf. Je. 10:7. All nations will come ..., cf. Ps. 86:9. Your righteous acts have been revealed, cf. Ps. 98:2; Is. 26:9. The vision is remarkable in its context, and is a reminder that the success of the antichrist is less than the hyperbolical pictures of the Messianic judgments may suggest.
5 The tabernacle of the Testimony (or tent of witness) was the name given to the tabernacle in the wilderness (Nu. 9:15), because in it the chest (ark') containing the stone tablets of the covenant was kept. Since the chest was later housed in the temple, the temple itself was sometimes called a tabernacle (Ps. 84:1-2). The expression the tabernacle of the Testimony here emphasizes that the judgments about to be executed are the expression of God's righteousness. 6-9 When the seven angels were given the seven golden cups filled with the wrath of God the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God ...(8); for similar occasions of this phenomenon see Ex. 40:35; 2 Ch. 7:2-3; Is. 6:4; Ezk. 10:4; 44:4). Such a manifestation denotes the presence of God, and in this context it indicates that God himself is to execute the judgments that will lead to his kingdom. The angels are but his instruments.
16:1-21 The cup judgments described
1 Since no-one could enter the temple till the cup judgments are finished (15:8) the loud voice from the temple must be that of God.
2 The judgment of the first cup repeats the Egyptian plague of boils which issued in sores (Ex. 9:10-11).
3-7 The turning of the sea and the fresh waters into blood, like the second and third trumpet judgments (8:8-11), divides into two the single Egyptian plague (Ex. 7:19-21). The angel's statement in vs 5-6 has the same thought as The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-14, but applied to the antichrist and his agents for shedding the blood of the saints and prophets. The altar concurs in this judgment (cf. 6:10; 8:3-5). Note the absence of who are to come' in the second line of the song (as in 11:17); since God himself is active in the judgments which will issue in his kingdom, it is inappropriate to speak of his future coming.
8-11 Once more an Egyptian plague (that of darkness; Ex. 10:21) is distributed into two cup judgments. The angel's pouring the fourth cup on the sun increased its heat without extinguishing its light, but the fifth cup was poured on the throne of the beast and so produced darkness. It is possible that the pain of this plague was due to the demonic locusts of the [p. 1445] fifth trumpet, which caused torments to the adherents of the beast (9:1-6). This interpretation accords with the relation of the trumpet and cup judgments outlined in the introduction to chs. 15-16.
12-16 The sixth cup, like the sixth trumpet judgment, affects the great river Euphrates (cf. 9:13-16), but whereas the sixth trumpet brought forth demonic hosts the sixth cup prepares for the invasion of the empire by the kings from the east. These latter are further described in 17:12-13; they put themselves at the antichrist's behest (17:17), ravage the harlot city (17:16) and make war against the Lamb (17:14). The impulse to do these things is through three evil spirits... like frogs issuing from the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. In ancient times frogs were viewed as foul creatures, sometimes even as agents of evil powers. Here their task, like that of the lying spirit in the story of Ahab (1 Ki. 22:19-23), is to persuade rulers of the world to join in a great final battle against God, in the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The signification of the name is unknown. It is a transliteration into Greek of the Hebrew Har-Megiddo, the mountain of Megiddo', but the town is located in the plain of Esdraelon in Israel and has no mountain (the nearest one is Carmel in the north). Like the number 666 it had a history in the apocalyptic tradition, but we do not possess its secret. For John it designated not so much a place as an event, namely the last uprising of the wicked against God that issues in the establishment of his kingdom.
17-21 The seventh cup is poured into the air, suggesting something even more awesome than the havoc wrought by the previous judgments; it signifies the final blow against the forces of evil, hence a loud voice from the throne (the voice of God?) proclaims It is done!'. We cannot but think of the cry of Jesus from the cross, It is finished' (Jn. 19:30) and the declaration when God's purpose in the new creation is achieved, It is done' (21:6). The flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, etc. suggest, as in 8:5 and 11:19, the theophany which concludes judgment and introduces the kingdom of glory. But while earthquake is an integral element of the coming of God (e.g. Is. 13:13; Hg. 2:6-7; Zc. 14:4-5), this earthquake is separated out because it shatters the great city and the cities of the nations. The fleeing of every island and the mountains symbolizes the reaction of creation to the overwhelming glory of God in his appearing (cf. 6:12-14). The ultimate judgment is caused by huge hailstones (cf. the Egyptian plague, Ex. 9:24; the routing of armies pursued by Joshua, Jos. 10:11; and the doom of the hosts of Gog, Ezk. 38:22). All such descriptions are eclipsed by this event, but it does not lead people to repentance.
Response of the Saints to Their Vindication
15:1. Ancient texts sometimes began and ended on the same point, thus bracketing it off (this design is called an inclusio). The heavenly perspective on the judgments on earth is bracketed by 15:1 and 8.
15:2. The saints celebrate their vindication in 15:2-4. Jewish texts often spoke of rivers of fire proceeding from God's throne, based on Daniel 7:9-10; this image is mingled here with the imagery of the heavenly temple (on the "sea" see comment on Rev 4:6). Their triumph over their oppressor may also suggest another connotation of the "sea": like Israel delivered from the Egyptians, who were slain in the Red Sea, they offer God praise (15:3-4).
15:3-4. The "great and wonderful" (TEV) works refer to the plagues (15:1; cf. Ex 15:11). The "song of Moses" could refer to Deuteronomy 32 (especially to the part where God avenges the blood of his servants- 32:34-43), which was used alongside psalms in Jewish worship. But in this context Moses' song almost surely refers to his song of triumph and praise after his people came safely across the sea, where their enemies were drowned (Ex 15:1-18). "Song of the lamb" recalls redemption from the final plague (Rev 5:6).
The language here recalls Psalm 86:9-10; the Old Testament often proclaimed the hope of the remnant of the nations turning to God. "King of the ages" (NIV) or "of the world" was a common Jewish title for God. Greco-Roman rhetoricians praised gods who were universally recognized, but as Judaism also emphasized, God would be universally and solely worshiped in the final day of judgment (cf. Zech 14:9).
Preparing the Final Plagues
15:5. On the heavenly tabernacle/temple, see comment on 4:6 and Hebrews 8:1-5.
15:6. Ancient Jewish literature often viewed angels as wearing white linen, but such texts also described priests in this manner, and John portrays these angels as servants of the heavenly temple.
15:7. The image of the golden bowls is probably derived from the use of such incense bowls in the temple before its destruction several decades before; cf. 5:8 and 8:3. On the cup of wrath see comment on 14:9-10.
15:8. The temple filling with glory recalls the dedications of the earthly temple in earlier times (Ex 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; cf. Ezek 10:3-4 for its withdrawal).
16:1. The Old Testament commonly used the phrase "pour out wrath" (especially throughout Jeremiah and Ezekiel); the image of the cup may be related to this idea.
The First Four Bowls of Wrath
Like the trumpet plagues, the imagery for these judgments is especially borrowed from the judgments on Egypt in the Old Testament book of Exodus, reminding John's hearers that they, like Israel of old, were protected from these judgments that would eventuate in the capitulation of their oppressors and their own deliverance.
16:2. Sores were the sixth plague in Exodus 9:10.
16:3. This plague was the first in Exodus 7:20 (the second plague in the listing in Rev 8:8).
16:4. This judgment also extends the first plague (Ex 7:20; cf. comment on the third plague in Rev 8:10).
16:5. The oppressed often cried to God to vindicate them; and when vindicated, they praised God for his justice (often in psalms; the language was also used for his mercy, e.g., Tobit 3:2). In the Old Testament God often let people destroy themselves (the wicked fell into their own trap), and Judaism developed this theme, emphasizing the appropriateness of particular punishments against the wicked. Jewish people believed that angels had charge over different elements of nature, including over the seas (see comment on Rev 7:1).
16:6-7. Early Jewish tradition declared that God turned the water of Egypt to blood to requite them for shedding the blood of Israel's children (Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-7). (On the wicked being "worthy" of punishment, compare Wisdom of Solomon 16:1, 9; 17:4; 19:4; cf. Josephus War 6.3.5, 216.) The image of drinking blood was sometimes used metaphorically for shedding it, so the justice of the judgment would be apparent even to the few hearers unfamiliar with the exodus story (some recent Gentile converts). The altar speaks up as a witness to the lives of the righteous sacrificed on it by martyrdom (see comment on 6:9).
16:8-9. The Old Testament mentions being stricken by heat as a common suffering of field laborers and wanderers in the desert (e.g., Ps 121:6; cf. Ex 13:21), although it is not one of the plagues on Egypt. On unrepentance, see comment on 9:21; the purpose of judgments, up until final destruction, was to secure repentance (Amos 4:6-11).
16:10-11. Darkness was the ninth plague (Ex 10:22; the fourth plague in Rev 8:12); the darkness in Egypt could be "felt" (Ex 10:21).
The Final Bowls of Wrath
16:12. Every informed reader in the Roman Empire, especially in places like Asia Minor and Syria-Palestine near the Parthian border, would understand the "kings of the East" as the Parthians; the river Euphrates was the boundary between the Roman and Parthian empires (although some border states like Armenia kept changing hands); cf. 9:14. Swollen, large rivers could delay the crossing of armies until bridges or rafts had been constructed, but God sees to it that this army will encounter no delays. (The same image of difficulty in crossing major rivers is implied in the new exodus of the Euphrates' parting in 4 Ezra 13:43-47, but Revelation uses the image for an army [a natural usage], not for captivity and restoration.)
16:13-14. The writer of 2 Baruch mentions the release of demons to wreak havoc in the final period before the end. Frogs were negative symbols (Apuleius, Artemidorus); one ancient writer even suggested tongue in cheek that Nero would be reincarnated as a frog. In this text the frogs may allude to one plague on Egypt which John had not had room to include up to this point (second plague- Ex 8:5-7); here the dragon is compelled to act as God's agent in bringing judgment. In Jewish texts like the Qumran War Scroll, the army of Belial (the devil), consisting of the nations and apostate Israel, would gather to be destroyed by God and his faithful remnant (cf. 4 Ezra). Gathering the nations for judgment is the judgment language of the Old Testament prophets (Joel 3:2, 11; Zeph 3:8; cf. Is 43:9), as is the "day of the Lord" (e.g., Amos 5:18-20).
16:15. Guards were to stay awake at their posts at night. It was common for people to sleep naked at night in the warm season, but most Jewish people would be horrified to be seen naked in public; perhaps the image is of a naked householder chasing a thief. The ultimate roots of the nakedness image are from the Old Testament, perhaps for the shameful stripping of a captive (Is 47:3; Ezek 16:37) or a drunken woman (Hab 2:16; cf. Rev 3:18); on the thief image, see comment on Revelation 3:3.
16:16. The Lord had promised to gather the nations (Joel 3:2, 11; Zeph 3:8; Zech 12:3; 14:2; cf. Is 13:4; Jer 50:29, against Babylon); Jewish tradition about the end time continued this image (1 Enoch, Dead Sea Scrolls). The nations and the dragon who led them might intend their gathering for other purposes, but God was gathering them to their own final destruction.
The Old Testament site of the end was the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 12, 14), probably the strategic plain of Megiddo in the valley of Jezreel and Esdraelon. It was the corridor between the easily traveled coastal plain and the road to Damascus in Aram, and thus an essential crossing point for armies avoiding the difficult mountains (Judg 5:19; 6:33; 2 Chron 35:22; Zech 12:11; Pharaoh Thutmose III in 1483 B.C., etc.). Megiddo was a plain, not a mountain ("Har-Magedon," which the KJV read as "Armageddon," is literally "mountain of Megiddo"), but so transforming the site would not be incongruent with John's apocalyptic geography (13:1; 17:1, 3, 9). John's exact referent is debated, but a site related to the valley of Megiddo remains the most common view and would allow the armies of the East to engage Rome in Palestine.
16:17-18. This language suggests preparation for a theophany, a manifestation of God's glory, as at Sinai (cf. Ex 19:16; Rev 4:5); the powerful earthquake may suggest the end of the age (6:12; 11:13).
16:19. The oppressed would cry out to God to remember their oppressors' deeds against them (Ps 137:7). On the cup see comment on Revelation 14:9-10.
16:20. This sort of language normally concerns the "end of the world" (6:14)-vast, cosmic devastation.
16:21. This hail is much more severe than that in Exodus 9:24; it would crush everything in its path, leaving no survivors; this language, too, must be relegated to the end of the age. People's unrepentance indicated how much they deserved the judgment to begin with (Ex 7:22); see comment on Revelation 16:9.
Revelation 15:1-8. THE LAST SEVEN VIALS OF PLAGUES: SONG OF THE VICTORS OVER THE BEAST.
1. the seven last plagues Greek, "seven plagues which are the last." is filled up literally, "was finished," or "consummated": the prophetical past for the future, the future being to God as though it were past, so sure of accomplishment is His word. This verse is the summary of the vision that follows: the angels do not actually receive the vials till Revelation 15:7; but here, in Revelation 15:1, by anticipation they are spoken of as having them. There are no more plagues after these until the Lord's coming in judgment. The destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:2) is the last: then in Revelation 19:11-16 He appears.
2. sea of glass Answering to the molten sea or great brazen laver before the mercy seat of the earthly temple, for the purification of the priests; typifying the baptism of water and the Spirit of all who are made kings and priests unto God. mingled with fire answering to the baptism on earth with fire, that is, fiery trial, as well as with the Holy Ghost, which Christ's people undergo to purify them, as gold is purified of its dross in the furnace. them that had gotten the victory over Greek, "those (coming) off from (the conflict with) the beast-conquerors." over the number of his name A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic omit the words in English Version, "over his mark." The mark, in fact, is the number of his name which the faithful refused to receive, and so were victorious over it. stand on the sea of glass ALFORD and DE BURGH explain "on (the shore of) the sea": at the sea. So the preposition, Greek, "epi," with the accusative case, is used for at, Revelation 3:20. It has a pregnant sense: "standing" implies rest, Greek "epi" with the accusative case implies motion "towards." Thus the meaning is, Having come TO the sea, and now standing AT it. In Matthew 14:26, where Christ walks on the sea, the Greek oldest manuscripts have the genitive, not the accusative as here. Allusion is made to the Israelites standing on the shore at the Red Sea, after having passed victoriously through it, and after the Lord had destroyed the Egyptian foe (type of Antichrist) in it. Moses and the Israelites' song of triumph (Exodus 15:1) has its antitype in the saints' "song of Moses and the Lamb" (Revelation 15:3). Still English Version is consistent with good Greek, and the sense will then be: As the sea typifies the troubled state out of which the beast arose, and which is to be no more in the blessed world to come (Revelation 21:1), so the victorious saints stand on it, having it under their feet (as the woman had the moon, see note on Revelation 12:1); but it is now no longer treacherous wherein the feet sink, but solid like glass, as it was under the feet of Christ, whose triumph and power the saints now share. Firmness of footing amidst apparent instability is thus represented. They can stand, not merely as victorious Israel at the Red Sea, and as John upon the sand of the shore, but upon the sea itself, now firm, and reflecting their glory as glass, their past conflict shedding the brighter luster on their present triumph. Their happiness is heightened by the retrospect of the dangers through which they have passed. Thus this corresponds to Revelation 7:14, 15. harps of God in the hands of these heavenly virgins, infinitely surpassing the timbrels of Miriam and the Israelitesses.
3. song of Moses . . . and . . . the Lamb The New Testament song of the Lamb (that is, the song which the Lamb shall lead, as being "the Captain of our salvation," just as Moses was leader of the Israelites, the song in which those who conquer through Him [Romans 8:37] shall join, Revelation 12:11) is the antitype to the triumphant Old Testament song of Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-21). The Churches of the Old and New Testament are essentially one in their conflicts and triumphs. The two appear joined in this phrase, as they are in the twenty-four elders. Similarly, Isaiah 12:1-6 foretells the song of the redeemed (Israel foremost) after the second antitypical exodus and deliverance at the Egyptian Sea. The passage through the Red Sea under the pillar of cloud was Israel's baptism, to which the believer's baptism in trials corresponds. The elect after their trials (especially those arising from the beast) shall be taken up before the vials of wrath be poured on the beast and his kingdom. So Noah and his family were taken out of the doomed world before the deluge; Lot was taken out of Sodom before its destruction; the Christians escaped by a special interposition of Providence to Pella before the destruction of Jerusalem. As the pillar of cloud and fire interposed between Israel and the Egyptian foe, so that Israel was safely landed on the opposite shore before the Egyptians were destroyed; so the Lord, coming with clouds and in flaming fire, shall first catch up His elect people "in the clouds to meet Him in the air," and then shall with fire destroy the enemy. The Lamb leads the song in honor of the Father amidst the great congregation. This is the "new song" mentioned in Revelation 14:3. The singing victors are the 144,000 of Israel, "the first-fruits," and the general "harvest" of the Gentiles. servant of God (Exodus 14:31; Numbers 12:7; Joshua 22:5). The Lamb is more: He is the SON. Great and marvellous are thy works, etc. part of Moses' last song (Deuteronomy 32:3, 4). The vindication of the justice of God that so He may be glorified is the grand end of God's dealings. Hence His servants again and again dwell upon this in their praises (Revelation 16:7; 19:2; Proverbs 16:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 4:37). Especially at the judgment (Psalms 50:1-6; 145:17). saints There is no manuscript authority for this. A, B, Coptic, and CYPRIAN read, "of the NATIONS." C reads "of the ages," and so Vulgate and Syriac. The point at issue in the Lord's controversy with the earth is, whether He, or Satan's minion, the beast, is "the King of the nations"; here at the eve of the judgments descending on the kingdom of the beast, the transfigured saints hail Him as "the King of the nations" (Ezekiel 21:27).
4. Who shall not Greek, "Who is there but must fear Thee?" Compare Moses' song, Exodus 15:14-16, on the fear which God's judgments strike into the foe. thee so Syriac. But A, B, C, Vulgate, and CYPRIAN reject "thee." all nations shall come alluding to Psalms 22:27-31; compare Isaiah 66:23; Jeremiah 16:19. The conversion of all nations, therefore, shall be when Christ shall come, and not till then; and the first moving. cause will be Christ's manifested judgments preparing all hearts for receiving Christ's mercy. He shall effect by His presence what we have in vain tried to effect in His absence. The present preaching of the Gospel is gathering out the elect remnant; meanwhile "the mystery of iniquity" is at work, and will at last come to its crisis; then shall judgment descend on the apostates at the harvest-end of this age (Greek, Matthew 13:39, 40) when the tares shall be cleared out of the earth, which thenceforward becomes Messiah's kingdom. The confederacy of the apostates against Christ becomes, when overthrown with fearful judgments, the very means in God's overruling providence of preparing the nations not joined in the Antichristian league to submit themselves to Him. judgments Greek, "righteousnesses." are literally, "were": the prophetical past for the immediate future.
5. So Revelation 11:19; compare Revelation 16:17. "The tabernacle of the testimony" appropriately here comes to view, where God's faithfulness in avenging His people with judgments on their foes is about to be set forth. We need to get a glimpse within the Holy place to "understand" the secret spring and the end of God's righteous dealings. behold omitted by A, B, C, Syriac, and ANDREAS. It is supported only by Vulgate, Coptic, and PRIMASIUS, but no manuscript.
6. having So B reads. But A and C, read "who have": not that they had them yet (compare Revelation 15:7), but they are by anticipation described according to their office. linen So B reads. But A, C, and Vulgate, "a stone." On the principle that the harder reading is the one least likely to be an interpolation, we should read, "a stone pure (and' is omitted in A, B, C, and ANDREAS), brilliant" (so the Greek ): probably the diamond. With English Version, compare Acts 1:10; 10:30. golden girdles resembling the Lord in this respect (Revelation 1:13).
7. one of the four beasts Greek, "living creatures." The presentation of the vials to the angels by one of the living creatures implies the ministry of the Church as the medium for manifesting to angels the glories of redemption (Ephesians 3:10). vials "bowls"; a broad shallow cup or bowl. The breadth of the vials in their upper part would tend to cause their contents to pour out all at once, implying the overwhelming suddenness of the woes. full of . . . wrath How sweetly do the vials full of odors, that is, the incense-perfumed prayers of the saints, contrast with these!
8. temple . . . filled (Isaiah 6:4); compare Exodus 40:34; 2 Chronicles 5:14, as to the earthly temple, of which this is the antitype. the glory of God and . . . power then fully manifested. no man was able to enter . . . the temple because of God's presence in His manifested glory and power during the execution of these judgments.
Revelation 16:1-21. THE SEVEN VIALS AND THE CONSEQUENT PLAGUES.
The trumpets shook the world kingdoms in a longer process; the vials destroy with a swift and sudden overthrow the kingdom of "the beast" in particular who had invested himself with the world kingdom. The Hebrews thought the Egyptian plagues to have been inflicted with but an interval of a month between them severally [BENGEL, referring to SEDER OLAM]. As Moses took ashes from an earthly common furnace, so angels, as priestly ministers in the heavenly temple, take holy fire in sacred vials or bowls, from the heavenly altar to pour down (compare Revelation 8:5). The same heavenly altar which would have kindled the sweet incense of prayer bringing down blessing upon earth, by man's sin kindles the fiery descending curse. Just as the river Nile, which ordinarily is the source of Egypt's fertility, became blood and a curse through Egypt's sin.
1. a great voice namely, God's. These seven vials (the detailed expansion of the vintage, Revelation 14:18-20) being called "the last," must belong to the period just when the term of the beast's power has expired (whence reference is made in them all to the worshippers of the beast as the objects of the judgments), close to the end or coming of the Son of man. The first four are distinguished from the last three, just as in the case of the seven seals and the seven trumpets. The first four are more general, affecting the earth, the sea, springs, and the sun, not merely a portion of these natural bodies, as in the case of the trumpets, but the whole of them; the last three are more particular, affecting the throne of the beast, the Euphrates, and the grand consummation. Some of these particular judgments are set forth in detail in the seventeenth through twentieth chapters. out of the temple B and Syriac omit. But A, C, Vulgate, and ANDREAS support the words. the vials so Syriac and Coptic. But A, B, C, Vulgate, and ANDREAS read, "the seven vials." upon Greek, "into."
2. went Greek, "went away." poured out So the angel cast fire into the earth previous to the series of trumpets (Revelation 8:5). upon so Coptic. But A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac read, "into." noisome literally, "evil" (compare Deuteronomy 28:27, 35). The very same Greek word is used in the Septuagint as here, Greek, "helkos." The reason why the sixth Egyptian plague is the first here is because it was directed against the Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, so that they could not stand before Moses; and so here the plague is sent upon those who in the beast worship had practiced sorcery. As they submitted to the mark of the beast, so they must bear the mark of the avenging God. Contrast Revelation 7:3; Ezekiel 9:4, 6. grievous distressing to the sufferers. sore upon the men antitype to the sixth Egyptian plague. which had the mark of the beast Therefore this first vial is subsequent to the period of the beast's rule.
3. angel So B and ANDREAS. But A, C, and Vulgate omit it. upon Greek, "into." became as . . . blood answering to another Egyptian plague. of a dead man putrefying. living soul So B and ANDREAS. But A, C, and Syriac, "soul of life" (compare Genesis 1:30; 7:21, 22). in the sea So B and ANDREAS. But A, C, and Syriac read, "(as respects) the things in the sea."
4. (Exodus 7:20.) angel so Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS. But A, B, C, and Vulgate omit it.
5. angel of the waters that is, presiding over the waters. O Lord omitted by A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS. and shalt be A, B, C, Vulgate, and ANDREAS for this clause read, "(which art and wast) holy." The Lord is now no longer He that shall come, for He is come in vengeance and therefore the third of the three clauses found in Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:8 is here and in Revelation 11:17 omitted. judged thus literally, "these things." "Thou didst inflict this judgment."
6. (Revelation 11:18, end; Genesis 9:6; Isaiah 49:26.) An anticipation of Revelation 18:20, 24; compare Revelation 13:15. For A, B, C, and ANDREAS omit.
7. another out of omitted in A, C, Syriac, and Coptic. Translate then, "I heard the altar [personified] saying." On it the prayers of saints are presented before God: beneath it are the souls of the martyrs crying for vengeance on the foes of God.
8. angel so Coptic and ANDREAS. But A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac omit it. upon not as in Revelation 16:2, 3, "into." sun Whereas by the fourth trumpet the sun is darkened (Revelation 8:12) in a third part, here by the fourth vial the sun's bright scorching power is intensified. power was given unto him rather, "unto it," the sun. men Greek, "the men," namely, those who had the mark of the beast (Revelation 16:2).
9. men Greek, "the men." repented not to give him glory (Revelation 9:20). Affliction, if it does not melt, hardens the sinner. Compare the better result on others, Revelation 11:13; 14:7; 15:4.
10. angel omitted by A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac. But Coptic and ANDREAS support it. seat Greek, "throne of the beast": set up in arrogant mimicry of God's throne; the dragon gave his throne to the beast (Revelation 13:2). darkness parallel to the Egyptian plague of darkness, Pharaoh being the type of Antichrist (compare Notes, see note on Revelation 15:2, see note on Revelation 15:3; compare the fifth trumpet, Revelation 9:2). gnawed their tongues for pain Greek, "owing to the pain" occasioned by the previous plagues, rendered more appalling by the darkness. Or, as "gnashing of teeth" is one of the accompaniments of hell, so this "gnawing of their tongues" is through rage at the baffling of their hopes and the overthrow of their kingdom. They meditate revenge and are unable to effect it; hence their frenzy [GROTIUS]. Those in anguish, mental and bodily, bite their lips and tongues.
11. sores This shows that each fresh plague was accompanied with the continuance of the preceding plagues: there was an accumulation, not a mere succession, of plagues. repented not (Compare Revelation 16:9).
12. angel so Coptic and ANDREAS. A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac omit. kings of the east Greek, "the kings who are from the rising of the sun." Reference to the Euphrates similarly occurs in the sixth trumpet. The drying up of the Euphrates, I think, is to be taken figuratively, as Babylon itself, which is situated on it, is undoubtedly so, Revelation 17:5. The waters of the Euphrates (compare Isaiah 8:7, 8) are spiritual Babylon's, that is, the apostate Church's (of which Rome is the chief, though not exclusive representative) spiritual and temporal powers. The drying up of the waters of Babylon expresses the same thing as the ten kings stripping, eating, and burning the whore. The phrase, "way may be prepared for," is that applied to the Lord's coming (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Luke 1:76). He shall come from the East (Matthew 24:27; Ezekiel 43:2, "the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East "): not alone, for His elect transfigured saints of Israel and the Gentiles shall accompany Him, who are "kings and priests unto God" (Revelation 1:6). As the Antichristian ten kings accompany the beast, so the saints accompany as kings the King of kings to the last decisive conflict. DE BURGH and others take it of the Jews, who also were designed to be a kingdom of priests to God on earth. They shall, doubtless, become priest-kings in the flesh to the nations in the flesh at His coming. Abraham from the East (if Isaiah 41:2, 8, 9, refers to him, and not Cyrus) conquering the Chaldean kings is a type of Israel's victorious restoration to the priest-kingdom. Israel's exodus after the last Egyptian plagues typifies Israel's restoration after the spiritual Babylon, the apostate Church, has been smitten. Israel's promotion to the priest-kingdom after Pharaoh's downfall, and at the Lord's descent at Sinai to establish the theocracy, typifies the restored kingdom of Israel at the Lord's more glorious descent, when Antichrist shall be destroyed utterly. Thus, besides the transfigured saints, Israel secondarily may be meant by "the kings from the East" who shall accompany the "King of kings" returning "from the way of the East" to reign over His ancient people. As to the drying up again of the waters opposing His people's assuming the kingdom, compare Isaiah 10:26; 11:11, 15; Zechariah 10:9-11. The name Israel (Genesis 32:28) implies a prince with God. Compare Micah 4:8 as to the return of the kingdom to Jerusalem. DURHAM, several centuries ago, interpreted the drying up of the Euphrates to mean the wasting away of the Turkish power, which has heretofore held Palestine, and so the way being prepared for Israel's restoration. But as Babylon refers to the apostate Church, not to Mohammedanism, the drying up of the Euphrates (answering to Cyrus' overthrow of literal Babylon by marching into it through the dry channel of the Euphrates) must answer to the draining off of the apostate Church's resources, the Roman and Greek corrupt Church having been heretofore one of the greatest barriers by its idolatries and persecutions in the way of Israel's restoration and conversion. The kings of the earth who are earthly (Revelation 16:14), stand in contrast to the kings from the East who are heavenly.
13. unclean spirits like frogs the antitype to the plague of frogs sent on Egypt. The presence of the "unclean spirit" in the land (Palestine) is foretold, Zechariah 13:2, in connection with idolatrous prophets. Beginning with infidelity as to Jesus Christ's coming in the flesh, men shall end in the grossest idolatry of the beast, the incarnation of all that is self-deifying and God-opposed in the world powers of all ages; having rejected Him that came in the Father's name, they shall worship one that comes in his own, though really the devil's representative; as frogs croak by night in marshes and quagmires, so these unclean spirits in the darkness of error teach lies amidst the mire of filthy lusts. They talk of liberty, but it is not Gospel liberty, but license for lust. There being three, as also seven, in the description of the last and worst state of the Jewish nation, implies a parody of the two divine numbers, three of the Trinity, and seven of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4). Some observe that three frogs were the original arms of France, a country which has been the center of infidelity, socialism, and false spiritualism. A and B read, "as it were frogs," instead of "like frogs," which is not supported by manuscripts. The unclean spirit out of the mouth of the dragon symbolizes the proud infidelity which opposes God and Christ. That out of the beast's mouth is the spirit of the world, which in the politics of men, whether lawless democracy or despotism, sets man above God. That out of the mouth of the false prophet is lying spiritualism and religious delusion, which shall take the place of the harlot when she shall have been destroyed. the dragon Satan, who gives his power and throne (Revelation 13:2) to the beast. false prophet distinct from the harlot, the apostate Church (of which Rome is the chief, though not sole, representative), Revelation 17:1-3, 16; and identical with the second beast, Revelation 13:11-15, as appears by comparing Revelation 19:20 with Revelation 13:13; ultimately consigned to the lake of fire with the first beast; as is also the dragon a little later (Revelation 20:10). The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, "the mystery of iniquity," form a blasphemous Antitrinity, the counterfeit of "the mystery of godliness" God manifests in Christ, witnessed to by the Spirit. The dragon acts the part of God the Father, assigning his authority to his representative the beast, as the Father assigns His to the Son. They are accordingly jointly worshipped; compare as to the Father and Son, John 5:23; as the ten-horned beast has its ten horns crowned with diadems (Greek, Revelation 13:1), so Christ has on His head many diadems. While the false prophet, like the Holy Ghost, speaks not of himself, but tells all men to worship the beast, and confirms his testimony to the beast by miracles, as the Holy Ghost attested similarly to Christ's divine mission.
14. devils Greek, "demons." working miracles Greek, "signs." go forth unto or "for," that is, to tempt them to the battle with Christ. the kings of the earth and, etc. A, B, Syriac, and ANDREAS omit "of the earth and," which clause is not in any manuscript. Translate, "kings of the whole habitable world," who are "of this world," in contrast to "the kings of (from) the East" (the sun-rising), Revelation 16:12, namely, the saints to whom Christ has appointed a kingdom, and who are "children of light." God, in permitting Satan's miracles, as in the case of the Egyptian magicians who were His instruments in hardening Pharaoh's heart, gives the reprobate up to judicial delusion preparatory to their destruction. As Aaron's rod was changed into a serpent, so were those of the Egyptian magicians. Aaron turned the water into blood; so did the magicians. Aaron brought up frogs; so did the magicians. With the frogs their power ceased. So this, or whatever is antitypical to it, will be the last effort of the dragon, beast, and false prophet. battle Greek, "war"; the final conflict for the kingship of the world described in Revelation 19:17-21.
15. The gathering of the world kings with the beast against the Lamb is the signal for Christ's coming; therefore He here gives the charge to be watching for His coming and clothed in the garments of justification and sanctification, so as to be accepted. thief (Matthew 24:43; 2 Peter 3:10). they saints and angels. shame literally, "unseemliness" (Greek, "aschemosunee "): Greek, 1 Corinthians 13:5: a different word from the Greek in Revelation 3:18 (Greek, "aischunee ").
16. he rather, "they (the three unclean spirits) gathered them together." If English Version be retained, "He" will refer to God who gives them over to the delusion of the three unclean spirits; or else the sixth angel (Revelation 16:12). Armageddon Hebrew, "Har," a mountain, and "Megiddo" in Manasseh in Galilee, the scene of the overthrow of the Canaanite kings by God's miraculous interposition under Deborah and Barak; the same as the great plain of Esdraelon. Josiah, too, as the ally of Babylon, was defeated and slain at Megiddo; and the mourning of the Jews at the time just before God shall interpose for them against all the nations confederate against Jerusalem, is compared to the mourning for Josiah at Megiddo. Megiddo comes from a root, gadad, "cut off," and means slaughter. Compare Joel 3:2, 12, 14, where "the valley of Jehoshaphat" (meaning in Hebrew, "judgment of God") is mentioned as the scene of God's final vengeance on the God-opposing foe. Probably some great plain, antitypical to the valleys of Megiddo and Jehoshaphat, will be the scene.
17. angel so ANDREAS. But A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac omit it. into so ANDREAS (Greek, "eis "). But A and B, "upon" (Greek, "epi "). great so B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS. But A omits. of heaven so B and ANDREAS But A, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic omit. It is done "It is come to pass." God's voice as to the final consummation, as Jesus' voice on the cross when the work of expiation was completed, "It is finished."
18. voice . . . thunders . . . lightnings A has the order, "lightnings . . . voices . . . thunders." This is the same close as that of the seven seals and the seven thunders; but with the difference that they do not merely form the conclusion, but introduce the consequence, of the last vial, namely, the utter destruction of Babylon and then of the Antichristian armies. earthquake which is often preceded by a lurid state of air, such as would result from the vial poured upon it. men were so B, Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS. But A and Coptic read, "A man was." so mighty Greek, "such."
19. the great city the capital and seat of the apostate Church, spiritual Babylon (of which Rome is the representative, if one literal city be meant). The city in Revelation 11:8 (see note on Revelation 11:8), is probably distinct, namely, Jerusalem under Antichrist (the beast, who is distinct from the harlot or apostate Church). In Revelation 11:13 only a tenth of Jerusalem falls whereas here the city (Babylon) "became (Greek ) into three parts" by the earthquake. cities of the nations other great cities in league with spiritual Babylon. great . . . came in remembrance Greek, "Babylon the great was remembered" (Revelation 18:5). It is now that the last call to escape from Babylon is given to God's people in her (Revelation 18:4). fierceness the boiling over outburst of His wrath (Greek, "thumou orgees "), compare Note, see note on Revelation 14:10.
20. Plainly parallel to Revelation 6:14-17, and by anticipation descriptive of the last judgment. the mountains rather as Greek, "there were found no mountains."
21. fell Greek, "descends." upon men Greek, "the men." and men blasphemed God not those struck who died, but the rest. Unlike the result in the case of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:13), where "the remnant . . . affrighted . . . gave glory to the God of heaven." was Greek, "is."
Analysis of the Chapter
THIS chapter has a close connexion in design with the previous chapter. In that, pledges and assurances had been given that all the enemies of religion would be cut off, and that the church would be ultimately triumphant, and particularly that that formidable Antichristian power represented by the "beast" would be destroyed. This chapter commences the statement in regard to the manner in which these pledges would be accomplished, and the statement is pursued through the subsequent chapters, giving in detail what is here promised in a general manner. The vision in this chapter may be thus described:
I. The writer sees a new sign or wonder in heaven. Seven angels appear, having the seven last plagues that fill up or complete the wrath of God; representing the wrath that is to come upon the beast, or the complete overthrow of this formidable Antichristian power, yet. 1.
II. Those who in former times had "gotten the victory over the beast," now appear standing on a sea of glass, rejoicing and rendering thanks for the assurance that this great enemy of the church was now to be destroyed, and that now all nations were to come and worship before God, Rev. 15:2-4.
III. The writer sees the interior of the temple opened in heaven, and the seven angels, having the seven plagues, issuing forth to execute their commission. They come clothed in pure and white linen, and girded with golden girdles. One of the four beasts before the throne forthwith gives them the seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, to empty them upon the earththat is, to bring upon the beast the predicted destruction. The temple is immediately filled with smoke, so that no one might enterS; that is, no one could now approach to make intercession, and the destruction of this great enemy's power is now certain, Rev. 15:5-8.
This chapter, therefore, is merely introductory to what follows, and its interpretation is attended with no particular difficulty. It is a beautiful scenic representation preparatory to the infliction of predicted judgments, and designed to introduce the account of those judgments with suitable circumstances of solemnity.
1. And I saw another sign in heaven. Another wonder or extraordinary symbol. The word sign hereshmeionis the same which in Rev. 12:1, 3; 13:13, is rendered wonder and wonders, and in Rev. 13:14; 16:14; 19:20, miracles. The word is not elsewhere found in the book of Revelation, though it is of frequent occurrence in other parts of the New Testament. See it explained in See Note on Rev. 12:1.
Here it is used to denote something wonderful or marvellous. This is represented as appearing in heaven, for the judgments that were to fall upon the world were to come thence. Compare Rev. 11:19; Rev. 12:1; 14:1, 6, 13-14, 17.
Great and marvellous. Great and wonderful, or fitted to excite admirationqaumaston. The subsequent statements fully justify this, and show that the vision was one of portentous character, and that was fitted to hold the mind in astonishment.
Seven angels. Compare Note on Rev. 1:4.
Having the seven last plagues. The article here, "the seven last plagues," would seem to imply that the plagues referred to had been before specified, or that it would be at once understood what is referred to. These plagues, however, have not been mentioned before, and the reason why the article is used here seems to be this: the destruction of this great Antichristian power had been distinctly mentioned, Revelation 14. That might be spoken of as a thing now well known, and the mention of it would demand the article; and as that was well known, and would demand the article, so any allusion to it, or description of it, might be spoken of in the same manner, as a thing that was definite and fixed, and hence the mention of the plagues by which it was to be accomplished would be referred to in the same manner. The word plaguesplhgaß, from plhghmeans properly a wound caused by a stripe or blow, and is frequently rendered stripe and stripes, Luke 12:48; Acts 16:23, 33; 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:23.
It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament except in the book of Revelation. In this book it is rendered wound in Rev. 13:3, 12, 14; and plagues in Rev. 9:20; 11:6; 15:1, 6, 8; 16:9, 21; 18:4, 8; 21:9; 22:18.
It does not occur elsewhere. The secondary meaning of the word, and the meaning in the passage before us, is a stripe or blow inflicted by God; calamity or punishment. The word "last" means those under which the order of things here referred to would terminate; the winding up of the affairs respecting the beast and his imagenot necessarily the closing of the affairs of the world. Important events were to occur subsequent to the destruction of this Antichristian power, (Chapters 19-22) but these were the plagues which would come finally upon the beast and his image, and which would terminate the existence of this formidable enemy.
For in them is filled up the wrath of God. That is, in regard to the beast and his image. All the expressions of the Divine indignation towards that oppressive and persecuting power will be completed or exhausted by the pouring out of the contents of these vials. Compare Note on Rev. 10:7, where the word rendered filled upetelesqhis rendered finished.
2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass. In Rev. 4:6, a similar vision is recorded"And before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto a crystal." See Note on Rev. 4:6.
The sea of glass here means a sea, clear, pellucid, like glass: an expanse that seemed to be made of glass. There it was entirely clear; here it is mingled with fire.
Mingled with fire. That is, a portion of the sea was red like fire. It was not all clear and pellucid, as in Rev. 4:6, but it was, as it were, a tesselated expanse, composed in part of what seemed to be glass, and in part of a material of a red or fiery colour. In the former case, (Rev. 4:6,) the emblem was designed to represent the pure worship of heaven without reference to any other symbolic design, and hence the sea is wholly clear and pellucid; here, in connexion with the purpose of furnishing an appropriate symbol of the Divine Majesty, there is united the idea of punishment on the foes of God, represented by the fiery or red colour. If it is proper, from conjecture, to suggest the meaning of this as an emblem, it would be that the foundationthe main elementof all the Divine dealings is justice or holinessrepresented by the portion of the sea that seemed to be glass; and that there was, in this case, intermingled with that, the image of wrath or angerrepresented by the portion that was fiery or red. The very sight of the pavement, therefore, on which they stood when worshipping God, would keep before their minds impressive views of his character and dealings. And them that had gotten the victory over the beast. Rev. 13:11. That is, they who had gained a victory in times of persecution and temptation; or they whom the "beast" had not been able, by arts or arms, to subdue. The persons referred to here, I suppose, are those who in the long dominion of the Papal power, and amidst all its arts and corruptionsits threats and persecutionshad remained stedfast in the truth, and who might thus be said to have gained a victoryfor such victories of piety, virtue, and truth, amidst the corrupting influences of sin and error, and the intimidations of power, are the most important that are gained in this world.
And over his image. See Note on Rev. 13:14-15; The meaning is, that they had not been led to apostatize by the dread of the power represented here by the "image of the beast." In all the attempts of that power to subdue themto intimidate themto induce them to give up their attachment to the truth as it is in Jesusthey had remained stedfast in the faith, and had triumphed.
And over his mark. See Note on Rev. 13:16.
Over all the attempts of the beast to fix his mark upon them, or to designate them as his own.
And over the number of his name. See Notes on Rev. 13:17, Rev. 13:18.
Over all the attempts to fix upon them that mysterious number which expressed his name. The general sense is, that in times of general error and corruption; when the true friends of Christ were exposed to persecution; when every effort was made to induce them to become the followers of the "beast," and to yield to the corrupt system represented by the "beast," they remained unmoved, and adhered firmly to the truth. The number of such in the aggregate was not small; and with great beauty and propriety they are here represented as rejoicing and giving thanks to God on the overthrow of that corrupt and formidable power.
Stand on the sea of glass. That is, before God. They are now seen in heaven, redeemed and triumphant.
Having the harps of God. Harps that pertained to the worship of God; harps to be employed in his praise. See Note on Rev. 14:2.
3. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God. A song of thanksgiving and praise, such as Moses taught the Hebrew people to sing after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage See Exodus 15. The meaning here is not that they would sing that identical song, but that as Moses taught the people to celebrate their deliverance with an appropriate hymn of praise, the redeemed would celebrate their delivery and redemption in a similar manner. There is an obvious propriety here in referring to the "song of Moses," because the circumstances are very similar; the occasion of the redemption from that formidable Antichristian power here referred to had a strong resemblance to the rescue from Egyptian bondage.
And the song of the Lamb. The hymn which is sung in honour of the Lamb, as their great deliverer. Compare Note on Rev. 5:9, seq.
Saying, Great and marvellous are thy works. See Note on Rev. 15:1.
The meaning is, that great power was evinced in redeeming them; and that the interposition of the Divine goodness in doing it was marvellous, or was such as to excite wonder and admiration.
Lord God Almighty. This would seem to mean the same thing as the expression so common in the Old Testament, "Jehovah, God of hosts." The union of these appellations gives solemnity and impressiveness to the ascription of praise, for it brings into view the fact that he whose praise is celebrated is Lordthe JEHOVAHthe uncreated and eternal One; that he is Godthe creator, upholder, and sovereign of all things; and that he is Almightyhaving all power in all worlds. All these names and attributes are suggested when we think of redemption; for all the perfections of a glorious God are suggested in the redemption of the soul from death. It is the Lordthe Ruler of all worlds; it is Godthe Maker of the race, and the Father of the race, who performs the work of redemption; and it is a work which could be accomplished only by one who is Almighty. Just and true. The attributes of justice and truth are brought prominently into view also in the redemption of man. The fact that God is just, and that in all this work he has been careful to maintain his justice, (Rom. 3:26;) and the fact that he is true to himself, true to the creation, true to the fulfilment of all his promises, are prominent in this work, and it is proper that these attributes should be celebrated in the songs of praise in heaven.
Are thy ways. Thy ways or dealings with us, and with the enemies of the church. That is, all the acts or "ways" of God in the redemption of his people had been characterized by justice and truth.
Thou King of saints. King of those who are holy; of all who are redeemed and sanctified. The more approved reading here, however, is King of nationso basileuß twn eqnwninstead of King of saintstwn agiwn. So it is read in the critical editions of Griesbach, Tittmann, and Hahn. The sense is not materially affected by the difference in the reading.
4. Who shall not fear thee, Lord. Reverence and adore thee; for the word fear, in the Scriptures, is commonly used in this sense when applied to God. The sense here is, that the judgments about to be inflicted on the beast and his image should and would teach men to reverence and adore God. There is, perhaps, included here also the idea of awe, inasmuch as this would be the effect of punishment.
And glorify thy name. Honour theethe name being put for the person who bare it. The sense is, that, as a consequence of these judgments, men would be brought to honour God, and to acknowledge him as the Ruler of the earth.
For thou only art holy. That is, in these judgments he would show himself to be a holy God; a God hating sin, and loving righteousness and truth. When it is said that he "only" is holy, the expression is used, of course, in a comparative sense. He is so pure that it may be said that, in comparison with him, no one else is holy. Compare Note on Job 4:18 ".
For all nations shall come and worship before thee. That is, as the result of these punishments inflicted on this dread Antichristian power, they shall come and worship thee. Everywhere in the New Testament the destruction of that power is connected with the promise of the speedy conversion of the world.
For thy judgments are made manifest. To wit, on the beast. That formidable power is overthrown, and the grand hindrance to the universal spread of the true religion is now taken away! Compare Note on Isa. 26:9.
5. And after that I looked. After I had seen in vision the redeemed thus referred to, celebrating the praises of God, I saw the preparation made for the execution of these purposes of judgment.
And, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony. Not the whole temple, but only that part to which this name was given, The word tabernacleskhnhmeans properly a booth, hut, tent, and was the name commonly given to the tent or tabernacle that was erected in the wilderness for the service of God. See Note on Acts 7:44.
The same word came naturally to be applied to the temple that was reared for the same purpose in Jerusalem. It is called the "tabernacle of testimony," because it was a testimony or witness of the presence of God among the peoplethat is, it served to keep up the remembrance of him. See Note on Acts 7:44, where the same Greek phrase is used as here-rendered there "tabernacle of witness." The word temple herenaoßdoes not refer to the whole of the building called the "temple," but to the holy of holies. See Note on Heb. 9:3.
This was regarded as the peculiar dwelling-place of God; and it was this sacred place, usually closed from all access, that now seemed to be opened, implying that the command to execute these purposes came directly from God himself.
In heaven. That is, that part of heaven which corresponds to the most holy place in the temple was opened; to wit, that which is the peculiar residence of God himself.
Was opened. Was thrown open to the view of John, so that he was permitted to look, as it were, upon the very dwelling-place of God. From his holy presence now came forth the angels to execute his purposes of judgment on that Antichristian power which had so long corrupted religion and oppressed the world.
6. And the seven angels. See Note on Rev. 15:1.
Came out of the temple. Were seen to come from the temple; that is, from the immediate presence of God.
Having the seven plagues. See Note on Rev. 15:1.
Each one entrusted with a single "plague" to be executed upon the earth. The meaning here is, that they were designated or appointed to execute those plagues in judgments. The symbols of their officethe golden vialswere given to them afterwards, Rev. 15:7.
Clothed in pure and white linen. The emblem of holinessthe common representation in regard to the heavenly inhabitants. See Note on Rev. 3:4.
Compare Matt. 17:2; Luke 9:29; Mark 16:5.
And having their breasts girded with golden girdles. See Note on Rev. 1:13.
The meaning is, that they were attired in a manner befitting their rank and condition.
7. And one of the four beasts. See Note on Rev. 4:6-7.
Which one of the four is not mentioned. From the explanation given of the design of the representation of the "four beasts," or living creatures, in See Note on Rev. 4:6-7, it would seem that the meaning here is, that the great principles of that Divine government would be illustrated in the events which are now to occur. In events that were so closely connected with the honour of God and the triumph of his cause on the earth, there was a propriety in the representation that these living creatures, symbolizing the great principles of Divine administration, would be particularly interested.
Gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials. The word here usedfialhmeans, properly, "a bowl or goblet, having more breadth than depth."Rob. Lex. Our word vial, though derived from this, means rather a thin, long bottle of glass, used particularly by apothecaries and druggists. The word would be better rendered by bowl or goblet, and probably the representation here was of such were bowls as used in the temple service. See Note on Rev. 5:8.
They are called, in Rev. 16:1, "vials of the wrath of God;" and here they are said to be "full of the wrath of God." The allusion seems to be to a drinking cup or goblet filled with poison, and given to persons to drinkan allusion drawn from one of the methods of punishment in ancient times. See Note on Rev. 14:10.
These vials or goblets thus became emblems of Divine wrath to be inflicted on the beast and his image. Full of the wrath of God. Filled with that which represented his wrath; that is, they seemed to be filled with a poisonous mixture, which being poured upon the earth, the sea, the rivers, the sun, the seat of the beast, the river Euphrates, and into the air, was followed by severe Divine judgments on this great Antichristian power. See Rev. 16:2-4, 8, 10, 12, 17.
Who liveth for ever and ever. The eternal God. The particular object in referring to this attribute here appears to be, that though there may seem to be delay in the execution of his purposes, yet they will be certainly accomplished, as he is the ever-living and unchangeable God. He is not under a necessity of abandoning his purposes, like men, if they are not soon accomplished.
8. And the temple was filled with smoke. The usual symbol of the Divine presence in the temple. See Note on Isa. 4:6 ".
From the glory of God. From the manifestation of the Divine Majesty. That is, the smoke was the proper accompaniment of the Divine Being when appearing in majesty. So on Mount Sinai he is represented as appearing in this manner: "And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly," Exod. 19:18. The purpose here seems to have been partly to represent the smoke as the proper symbol of the Divine presence, and partly to represent it as so filling the temple that no one could enter it until the seven plagues were fulfilled.
And from his power. Produced by his power; and the symbol of his power.
And no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. Till those vials had been poured out, and all that was indicated by them was accomplished. The meaning here seems to be, that no one would be permitted to enter to make intercession-to turn away his wrathto divert him from his purpose. That is, the purpose of punishment had been formed, and would certainly be executed. The agents or instrumentalities in this fearful work had been now sent forth, and they would by no means be recalled. The mercy-seat, in this respect, was inaccessible; the time of judgment on the great foe had come, and the destruction of the grand enemy of the church was certain. The point, therefore, at which this vision leaves us, is that where all the preparations are made for the infliction of the threatened punishment on the grand Antichristian power which had so long stood up against the truth; where the agents had prepared to go forth; and where no intercession will ever avail to turn away the infliction of the Divine wrath. The details follow in the next chapter.
Analysis of the Chapter
THE previous chapter had described the preparation for the last plagues that were to come upon that mighty Antichristian power to which this series of prophetic visions refers. All is now ready; and this chapter contains the description of those seven last "plagues" under which this power would reel and fall. These" plagues" are described as if they were a succession of physical calamities that would come upon this Antichristian power, and bring it to an end; though, perhaps, it is not necessary to look for a literal infliction of such calamities. The course of the exposition thus far will lead us to regard this chapter as a description of the successive blows by which the Papacy will fall. A part of this is still undoubtedly future, though perhaps not far distant; and, in reference to this, and to some portions of the remainder of the book, there may be more difficulty in satisfying the mind than in the portions Which pertain to past events. The chapter comprises statements on the following points:
A command is issued from the temple to the seven angels, to go and execute the commission with which they were entrusted, Rev. 16:1.
The first angel pours out his vial upon the earthfollowed by a plague upon those who had worshipped the beast and his image, Rev. 16:2.
The second angel pours out his vial upon the sea followed by the death of all that were in the sea, Rev. 16:3.
The third angel pours out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they become blood. This is followed by an ascription of praise from the angel of the waters, because God had given to those who had shed the blood of the saints blood to drink, with a response from the altar that this was just, Rev. 16:4-7.
The fourth angel pours out his vial upon the sun, and an intenser heat is given to it to scorch men. The consequence is, that they blaspheme the name of God, but repent not of their sins, Rev. 16:8, 9.
The fifth angel pours out his vial upon the very seat of the beast, and his kingdom is full of darkness. Men still blaspheme the name of God, and repent not of their sins, Rev. 16:10, 11.
The sixth angel pours out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. The consequence is, that the waters of the river are dried up, so that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared. The writer sees also, in this connexion, three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, that go forth into all the earth to gather all nations to the great day of the battle of God Almighty, Rev. 16:12-16.
The seventh angel pours out his vial into the air, and a voice is heard answering that "it is done:" the time of the consummation has comethe formidable Antichristian power is to come to an end. The great city is divided into three parts; the cities of the nations fall; great Babylon thus comes up in remembrance before God to receive the punishment which is her due. This terrific scene is accompanied with voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, and with great haila tempest of wrath beating upon that formidable power that had so long stood up against God, Rev. 16:17-21. The detail of the actual destruction of this power is carried forward in the subsequent chapters.
1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple. A loud voice out of the temple as seen in heaven, (See Note on Rev. 11:19,) and that came, therefore, from the very presence of God.
Saying to the seven angels. That had the seven vials of wrath. See Notes on Rev. 15:1, 7.
Go your ways. Your respective ways, to the fulfilment of the task assigned to each.
And pour out the vials of the wrath of God. Empty those vials; cause to come upon the earth the plagues indicated by their contents. The order in which this was to be done is not intimated. It seems to be supposed that that would be understood by each.
Upon the earth. The particular part of the earth is not here specified, but it should not be inferred that it was to be upon the earth in general, or that there were any calamities in consequence of this pouring out of the vials of wrath, to spread over the whole world. The subsequent statements show what parts of the earth were particularly to be affected.
2. And the first went. Went forth from heaven, where the seat of the vision was laid.
And poured out his vial upon the earth. That is, upon the land, in contradistinction from the sea, the rivers, the air, the seat of the beast, the sun, as represented in the other vials. In Rev. 16:1, the word earth is used in the general sense to denote this world as distinguished from heaven; in this verse it is used in the specific sense, to denote land as distinguished from other things. Compare Mark 4:1; 6:47; John 6:21; Acts 27:29, 43-44.
In many respects there is a strong resemblance between the pouring out of these seven vials, and the sounding of the seven trumpets, in chapters 8 and 9, though they refer to different events. In the sounding of the first trumpet, (Rev. 8:7,) it was the earth that was particularly affected, in contradistinction from the sea, the fountains, and the sun: "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were east upon the earth." Compare Rev. 8:8, 10, 12.
In regard to the symbolical meaning of the term earth, considered with reference to Divine judgments, See Note on Rev. 8:7.
And there fell a noisome and grievous sore. The judgment here is specifically different from that inflicted under the first trumpet, Rev. 8:7. There it is said to have been that "the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." Here it is that there fell upon men a noisome and grievous sore." The two, therefore, are designed to refer to different events, and to different forms of punishment. The word rendered sore properly denotes a wound, (Hom. Il. xi. 812,) and then, in later writers, an ulcer or sore. It is used in the New Testament only in the following places: Luke 16:21, "the dogs came and licked his sores;" and in Rev. 16:2, 11, where it is rendered sore, and sores. It is used in the Septuagint, in reference to the boils that were brought upon the Egyptians, in Exod. 9:9-12, and probably Deut. 28:27; in reference to the leprosy, Lev. 13:18-20, 23; in reference to the boil, ulcer, or elephantiasis brought upon Job, Job 2:7; and in reference to any sore or ulcer, in Deut. 28:35. In all these places it is the translation of the word ? Shehhinrendered in our English version boil, Exod. 9:9-11; Lev. 13:18-20, 23; 2 Kings 20:7; Job 2:7
Isa. 38:21; and botch, Deut. 28:27, 35. The proper meaning, therefore, is that of a sore, ulcer, or boil of a severe and painful character; and the most obvious reference in the passage, to one who was accustomed to the language of Scripture, would be to some fearful plague like that which was sent upon the Egyptians. In the case of Hezekiah, (2 Kings 20:7; Isa. 38:21,) it was probably used to denote a plague-boil, or the black leprosy. See Note on Isa. 38:21.
The word "noisome"kakon, evil, badis used here to characterize the plague referred to as being peculiarly painful and dangerous. The word grievousponhron, bad, malignant, hurtfulis further used to increase the intensity of the expression, and to characterize the plague as particularly severe. There is no reason to suppose that it is meant that this would be literally inflicted, any more than it is in the next plague, where it is said that the "rivers and fountains became blood." What is obviously meant is, that there would be some calamity which would be well represented or symbolized by such a fearful plague. Upon the men. Though the plague was poured upon "the earth," yet its effects were seen upon "men." Some grievous calamity would befall them, as if they were suddenly visited with the plague.
Which had the mark of the beast. See Note on Rev. 13:16-17.
This determines the portion of the earth that was to be afflicted. It was not the whole world; it was only that part of it where the "beast" was honoured. According to the interpretation proposed in chapter 13, this refers to those who are under the dominion of the Papacy.
And upon them which worshipped his image. See Notes on Rev. 13:14, 15.
According to the interpretation in chapter 13, those are meant who sustained the civil or secular power to which the Papacy gave life and strength, and from which it, in turn, received countenance and protection.
In regard to the application or fulfilment of this symbol, it is unnecessary to say that there have been very different opinions in the world, and that very different opinions still prevail. The great mass of Protestant commentators suppose that it refers to the Papacy; and of those who entertain this opinion, the greater portion suppose that the calamity referred to by the pouring out of this vial is already past, though it is supposed by many that the things foreshadowed by a part of these" vials" are yet to be accomplished. As to the true meaning of the symbol before us, I would make the following remarks:
(1.) It refers to the Papal power. This application is demanded by the results which were reached in the examination of chapter 13. See the remarks on the "beast" in See Note on Rev. 13:1-2, 11, and on the "image of the beast" in See Note on Rev. 13:14-15.
This one mighty power existed in two forms closely united, and mutually sustaining each otherthe civil or secular, and the ecclesiastical or spiritual. It is this combined and consolidated powerthe Papacy as suchthat is referred to here, for this has been the grand Antichristian power in the world.
(2.) It refers to some grievous and fearful calamity which would come upon that power, and which would be like a plague-spot on the human bodysomething which would be of the nature of a Divine judgment resembling that which came upon the Egyptians for their treatment of the people of God.
(3.) The course of this exposition leads us to suppose that this would be the beginning in the series of judgments which would terminate in the complete overthrow of that formidable power. It is the first of the vials of wrath, and the whole description evidently contemplates a series of disasters which would be properly represented by these successive vials. In the application of this, therefore, we should naturally look for the first of a series of such judgments, and should expect to find some facts in history which would be properly represented by the vial "poured upon the earth."
(4.) In accordance with this representation, we should expect to find such a series of calamities gradually weakening, and finally terminating the Papal power in the world, as would be properly represented by the number seven.
(5.) In regard now to the application of this series of symbolical representations, it may be remarked that most recent expositorsas Elliott, Cunninghame, Keith, Faber, Lord, and others, refer them to the events of the French revolution, as important events in the over- throw of the Papal power; and this, I confess, although the application is attended with some considerable difficulties, has more plausibility than any other explanation proposed. In support of this application, the following considerations may be suggested:
(a) France, in the time of Charlemagne, was the kingdom to which the Papacy owed its civil organization and its strengtha kingdom to which could be traced all the civil or secular power of the Papacy, and which was, in fact, a restoration or re-construction of the old Roman powerthe fourth kingdom of Daniel. See Note on Dan. 7:24-28, and compare Note on Rev. 13:3, 12-14.
The restoration of the old Roman dominion under Charlemagne, and the aid which he rendered to the Papacy in its establishment as to a temporal power, would make it probable that this kingdom would be referred to in the series of judgments that were to accomplish the overthrow of the Papal dominion.
(b) In an important sense, France has always been the head of the Papal power. The king of France has been usually styled, by the popes themselves, "the eldest son of the church." In reference to the whole Papal dominion in former times, one of the principal reliances has been on France, and, to a very large extent, the state of Europe has been determined by the condition of France. "A revolution in France," said Napoleon, "is sooner or later followed by a revolution in Europe."Alison. Its central position; its power; its direct relation to all the purposes and aims of the Papacy, would seem to make it probable that, in the account of the final destruction of that power, this kingdom would not be overlooked.
(c) The scenes which occurred in the times of the French revolution were such as would be properly symbolized by the pouring out of the first, the second, the third, and the fourth vials. In the passage before usthe pouring out of the first vialthe symbol employed is that of "a noisome and grievous sore"boil, ulcer, plague-spot- "on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image." This representation was undoubtedly derived from the account of the sixth plague on Egypt, (Exod. 9:9-11;) and the sense here is, not that this would be literally inflicted on the power here referred to, but that a calamity would come upon it which would be well represented by that, or of which that would be an appropriate emblem. This interpretation is further confirmed by Rev. 11:8, where Rome is referred to under the name of Egypt, and where it is clear that we are to look for a course of Divine dealing in regard to the one resembling that which occurred to the other. See Note on Rev. 11:8.
Now this "noisome and grievous sore" would well represent the moral corruption, the pollution, the infidelity, the atheism, the general dissolution of society that preceded and accompanied the French revolution; for that was a universal breaking out of loathsome internal diseaseof corruption at the centreand in its general features might be represented as a universal plague-spot on society, extending over the countries where the beast and his image were principally worshipped. The symbol would properly denote that "tremendous outbreak of social and moral evil, of democratic fury, atheism, and vice, which was specially seen to characterize the French revolution: that of which the ultimate source was in the long and deep-seated corruption and irreligion of the nation; the outward vent, expression, and organ of its Jacobin clubs, and seditious and atheistic publications; the result, the dissolution of all society, all morals, and all religion; with acts of atrocity and horror accompanying, scarce paralleled in the history of men; and suffering and anguish of correspondent intensity throbbing throughout the social mass and corroding it; that which, from France as a centre, spread like a plague throughout its affiliated societies to the other countries of Papal Christendom, and was, wherever its poison was imbibed, as much the punishment as the symptoms of the corruption within." Of this sad chapter in the history of man, it is unnecessary to give any description here. For scenes of horror, pollution, and blood, its parallel has never been found in the history of our race, and as an event in history it was worthy of a notice in the symbols which portrayed the future. The full details of these amazing scenes must be sought in the histories which describe them, and to such works as Alison's History of Europe, and Burke's Letters on a Regicide Peace, the reader must be referred. A few expressions copied from those letters of Mr. Burke, penned with no design of illustrating this passage in the Apocalypse, and no expectation that they would be ever so applied, will show with what propriety the spirit of inspiration suggested the phrase, "a noisome and grievous sore" or plague-spot, on the supposition that the design was to refer to these scenes. In speaking of the revolutionary spirit in France, Mr. Burke calls it "the fever of aggravated Jacobinism," "the epidemic of atheistical fanaticism," "an evil lying deep in the corruptions of human nature," "the malignant French distemper," "a plague, with its fanatical spirit of proselytism, that needed the strictest quarantine to guard against it," whereof though the mischief might be "skimmed over" for a time, yet the result, into whatever country it entered, was "the corruption of all morals," "the decomposition of all society," etc. But it is unnecessary to describe those scenes farther. The "world has them by heart," and they can never be obliterated from the memory of man. In the whole history of the race, there has never been an outbreak of evil that showed so deep pollution and corruption within.
(d) The result of this was to affect the Papacya blow, in fact, aimed at that power. Of course, all the infidelity and atheism of the French nation, before so strongly Papal, went just so far in weakening the power of the Papacy; and in the ultimate result it will perhaps yet be found that the horrid outbreaks in the French revolution were the first in the series of providential events that will result in the entire overthrow of that Antichristian power. At all events, it will be admitted, I think, that on the supposition that it was intended that this should be descriptive of the scenes that occurred in Europe at the close of the last century, no more expressive symbol could have been chosen than has been employed in the pouring out of this first vial of wrath.
3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea. So the second trumpet, (Rev. 8:8,) "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood." For the meaning of this as a symbol, See Note on Rev. 8:8.
And it became as the blood of a dead man. "Either very bloody, like a mangled corpse, or else coloured, as it were, with the dark and almost black blood of a dead man."Prof. Stuart, in loc. The latter would seem to be, most probably, the meaning; implying that the ocean would become discoloured, and indicating that this was the effect of blood shed in great quantities on its waters. In Rev. 8:8 it is, "the sea became blood;" here the allusion to the blood of a dead man would more naturally suggest the idea of naval conflicts, and of the blood of the slain poured in great quantities into the deep.
And every living soul died in the sea. In Rev. 8:9, it is said that "the third part of the creatures that were in the sea died, and the third part of the ships were destroyed." Here the destruction is more general; the calamity is more severe and awful. It is as if every living thingpasa quch zwsahad died. No emphasis should be put on the word soul here, for the word means merely a creature, a living thing, an animal, Acts 2:43; 3:23; Rom. 13:1; 1 Cor. 15:45.
See Rob. Lex. sub voce, c. The sense here is, that there would be some dreadful calamity, as if the sea were to be changed into dark blood, and as if every living thing in it were to die. In inquiring into the proper application of this, it is natural to look for something pertaining to the sea, or the ocean, (See Note on Rev. 8:8-9,) and we should expect to find the fulfilment in some calamity that would fall on the marine force, or the commerce of the power that is here referred tothat is, according to the interpretation all along adopted, of the Papal power; and the proper application, according to this interpretation, would be the complete destruction or annihilation of the naval force that contributed to sustain the Papacy. This we should look for in respect to the naval power of France, Spain, and Portugal, for these are the only Papal nations that have had a navy. We should expect, in the fulfilment of this, to find a series of naval disasters, reddening the sea with blood, which would tend to weaken the power of the Papacy, and which might be regarded as one in the series of events that would ultimately result in its entire overthrow. Accordingly, in pursuance of the plan adopted in explaining the pouring out of the first vial, it is to be observed that immediately succeeding, and connected with, the events thus referred to, there was a series of naval disasters that swept away the fleets of France, and that completely demolished the most formidable naval power that had ever been prepared by any nation under the Papal dominion. This series of disasters is thus noticed by Mr. Elliott, iii. 329, 330: "Meanwhile the great naval war between France and England was in progress; which, from its commencement in February, 1793, lasted for above twenty years, with no intermission but that of the short and delusive peace of Amiens; in which war the maritime power of Great Britain was strengthened by the Almighty Providence that protected her to destroy everywhere the French ships, commerce, and smaller colonies; including those of the fast and long-continued allies of the French, Holland and Spain. In the year 1793, the greater part of the French fleet at Toulon was destroyed by Lord Hood; in June, 1794, followed Lord Howe's great victory over the French off Ushant; then the taking of Corsica, and nearly all the smaller Spanish and French West India islands; then, in 1795, Lord Bridport's naval victory, and the capture of the Cape of Good Hope; as also soon after of a French and Dutch fleet, sent to retake it; then, in 1797, the victory over the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent, and that of Camperdown over the Dutch; then, in succession, Lord Nelson's three mighty victoriesof the Nile in 1798, of Copenhagen in 1801, and, in 1805, of Trafalgar. Altogether in this naval war, from its beginning in 1793, to its end in 1815, it appears that there were destroyed near 200 ships of the line, between 300 and 400 frigates, and an almost incalculable number of smaller vessels of war and ships of commerce. The whole history of the world does not present such a period of naval war, destruction, and bloodshed." This brief summary may show, if this was referred to, the propriety of the expression, "The sea became as the blood of a dead man;" and may show also that, on the supposition that it was intended that these events should be referred to, an appropriate symbol has been employed. No language could more strikingly set forth these bloody scenes.
4. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters. This coincides also with the account of the sounding of the third trumpet, (Rev. 8:10-11:) "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven burning as a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters." As to the meaning of the phrase, "rivers and fountains of waters," See Note on Rev. 8:10-11.
We found, it was supposed, in the application of that passage, that the invasion of the Roman empire by Attila, king of the Huns, was referred to, affecting mainly those parts of the empire where the rivers and streams had their origin. The analogy would lead us, in the fulfilment of the passage before us, to look for some similar desolations on those portions of Europe. See Note on Rev. 16:7.
And they became blood. This would properly mean that they became as blood, or became red with blood; and it would be fulfilled if bloody battles were fought near them so that they seemed to run blood.
5. And I heard the angel of the waters say. The angel who presides over the element of water; in allusion to the common opinion among the Hebrews that the angels presided over elements, and that each element was committed to the jurisdiction of a particular angel. Compare Note on Rev. 7:1.
Thou art righteous, O Lord. In view of the judgments that reddened these streams and fountains with the blood of men, the angel ascribes righteousness to God. These judgments seemed terriblethe numbers slain were so vastthe bloody stream indicated so great slaughter, and such severity of the Divine judgment; yet the angel sees in all this only the act of a righteous God bringing just retribution on the guilty.
Which art, and wast, and shalt be. That is, who art eternalexisting now; who hast existed in all past time; and who will exist ever onward. See Note on Rev. 1:8.
The reason why this attribute of God is here referred to, seems to be that the mind of the angel adverts to it in the changes and desolations that were occurring-around him. In such overturnings among mensuch revolutions of kingdomssuch desolations of Warthe mind naturally turns to one who is unchanging; to one whose throne is from everlasting to everlasting.
Because thou hast judged thus. Hast suffered these wars to occur that have changed rivers and fountains to blood.
6. For they have shed the blood of saints. The nations here referred to. They have been engaged in scenes of bloody persecution, and this is a just recompense.
And prophets. Teachers of religion; ministers of truth. It is not necessary to understand the word prophets here in its technical sense as denoting those who are raised up by God and sent forth as inspired men, but it may be understood in its more common signification in the New Testament as denoting teachers of religion in general. See Notes on Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 14:1.
And thou hast given them blood to drink. To wit, by turning the streams and fountains into blood, Rev. 16:4. Blood had been poured out in such abundance that it seemed to mingle with the very water that they drank. This was a recompense for their having, in those very regions, poured out so much blood in persecuting the saints and prophetsthe pious private members of the church, and the public teachers of religion.
For they are worthy. That is, they deserve this; or, this is a just recompense for their sins. It is not intended that those who would thus suffer had been individually guilty of this, or that this was properly a punishment on them; but it is meant that in those countries there had been bloody persecutions, and that this was a fit recompense for what had there occurred.
7. And I heard another. Evidently another angel, though this is not specified.
Out of the altar. Either the angel of the altarthat is, who presided over the altar, (Prof. Stuart;) or an angel whose voice seemed to come from the altar. The sense is essentially the same. The writer seemed to hear a voice coming from the altar responding to what had just been said in regard to the judgment of God, or to his righteousness in bringing the judgment upon men, Rev. 16:5. This was evidently the voice of some one who was interested in what was occurring, or to whom these things particularly appertained; that is, one who was particularly connected with the martyrs referred to, whose blood was now, as it were, to be avenged. We are naturally reminded by this of the martyr-scene in Rev. 6:9-11, in the opening of the fifth seal, though it cannot be supposed that the same events are referred to. There "the souls of those that had been slain for the word of God" are represented as being "under the altar," and as crying to God to "avenge their blood on them who dwelt on the earth." Here a voice is heard with reference to martyrs, as of one interested in them, ascribing praise to God for having brought a righteous judgment on those who had shed the blood of the saints. They are both, for similar reasons, connected with the "altar," and the voice is heard proceeding from the same source. In regard to the meaning of the word altar here, and the reason why the martyrs are represented in connexion with it, See Note on Rev. 6:9.
True and righteous are thy judgments. Responding to what is said in Rev. 16:5. That is, God is "true" or faithful to his promises made to his people, and "righteous" in the judgments which he has now inflicted. These judgments had come upon those who had shed the blood of the martyrs, and they were just.
In regard to the application of this, there are several things to be said. The following points are clear:
(a) That this judgment would succeed the first mentioned, and apparently at a period not remote.
(b) It would occur in a region where there had been much persecution.
(c) It would be in a Country of streams, and rivers, and fountains.
(d) It would be a just retribution for the bloody persecutions which had occurred there. The question now is, where we shall find the fulfilment of this, assuming that the explanation of the pouring out of the first vial is correct. And here, I think; there can be no mistake in applying it to the events bearing on the Papacy, and the Papal powers, which followed the French revolution. The next material event, after that revolution, was the invasion of Italy, where Napoleon began his career of victories, and where he first acquired his fame. At this stage of my examination of this passage, I looked into Alison's History of Europe, to see what events, in fact, the followed the scenes of confusion, crime, blood, atheism, and pollution in French revolution, and I found that the next chapters in these eventful scenes were such as would be well represented by the vial poured upon the rivers and fountains, and by their being turned into blood. The detail would be too long for my limits, and I can state merely a summary of a few of the chapters in that History. Chapter 19 contains the "History of the French Republic from the fall of Robespierre to the establishment of the Directory"comprising properly the closing scenes of "the Reign of Terror," Chapter 20 contains an account of the campaign in Italy in 1796, embracing, as stated in the summing up of contents in this chapter, the "Battles of Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego; the passage of the bridge of Lodi, and fall of Milan; the siege of Mantua, and the battle of Castiglione; the battles of Caldero and Arcola; and the battles of Rivoli and Mantua." This is followed (chapter 23) With an account of the campaign of 1797, which closed with the fall of Venice; and this is followed (chapter 26) with an account of the Invasion of Switzerland etc. It is unnecessary to dwell on the details of the wars which followed the French revolution, on the Rhine, the Po, and the Alpine streams of Piedmont and Lornhardy. The slightest acquaintance with that history will show the propriety of the following remarks:
(a) These wars occurred in regions under the influence of the Papacy, for these were all Papal states and territories.
(b) These scenes followed closely on the French revolution, and grew out of it as a natural consequence, and would be properly represented as a second "vial" poured out immediately after the first.
(c) The country is such as here supposed"of rivers and fountains"for, being mostly a mountainous region, it abounds with springs, and fountains, and streams. Indeed, on the supposition that this is the land referred to, a more appropriate description could not have been given of it than is found in this passage. One has only to look upon a map of Northern Italy to see that there is no other portion of the world which would more naturally be suggested when speaking of a country abounding in "rivers and fountains of water." The annexed admirable Map of this region, for which I am indebted to the work of Dr. Alexander Keitk, on the Signs of the Time, will clearly illustrate this passage, and the corresponding passage in Rev. 8:10-11. Let any one look at the Po and its tributaries on the Map, and then read with attention the twentieth chapter of Alison's History of Europe, (vol. i, pp. 391-424,) and he will be struck with the appropriateness of the description on the supposition that this portion of the book of Revelation was designed to refer to these scenes; for he cannot but see that the battles there described were fought in a country in every way corresponding with the statement here,
(d) This country corresponds with the description here given in another respect. In Rev. 16:5-6, there is a tribute of praise rendered to God, in view of these judgments, because he was righteous in bringing them upon a land where the blood of saints and prophets had been sheda land of martyrs. Now this is applicable to the circumstances supposed, not of only in the sense that Italy in general had been the land where the blood martyrs had been shedthe land of Roman persecution, alike under Paganism and the Papacybut true in a more definite sense from the fact that this was the very region where the persecutions against the Waldenses and the Albigenses had been carried onthe valleys of Piedmont. In the times of Papal persecution these valleys had been made to flow with the blood of the saints; and it seemed, at least, to be a righteous retribution that these desolations of war, these conflagrations, and these scenes of carnage, should occur in that very land, and that the very fountains and streams which had before been turned into blood by the slaughter of the friends of the Saviour, should now be reddened with the blood of men slain in battle. This is, perhaps, what John saw in vision: a land where persecution had raged, and the blood of the holy had flowed freely, and then the same land brought under the awful judgments of God, and the fountains and streams reddened with the blood of the slain. There was a propriety, therefore, that a voice should be heard ascribing righteousness to God for avenging the blood of the saints, (Rev. 16:5-6,) and that another voice should be heard from the "altar" of the martyrs (Rev. 16:7) responding and saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."
(e) It may be added, to show the propriety of this, that this was one of the series of events which will be found in the end to have contributed to the overthrow of the Papal power: for a blow was struck in the French invasion of Italy from which Rome has never recovered, and sentiments were diffused as the result in favour of liberty which it has been difficult ever since to suppress, and which are destined yet to burst out in favour of freedom, and to be one of the means of the final destruction of the power. Compare Alison's History of Europe, vol. i. p. 403.
8. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun. Toward the sun, or so as to reach the sun. The effect was as if it had been poured upon the sun, giving it an intense heat, and thus inflicting a severe judgment upon men. This corresponds also with the fourth trumpet, (Rev. 8:12,) where it is said that the "third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars." For the general meaning of this symbol, See Note on Rev. 8:2, that place. The idea is, that a scene of calamity and woe would occur as if the sun should be made to pour forth such intense heat that men would be "scorched." It cannot be supposed that the sun would be literally made hotter, or that the exact nature of these calamities would be that men would be consumed by its rays.
And power was given unto him. To the sun. The meaning is, that a calamity would follow as if such an increased power should be given to its rays.
To scorch men with fire. Literally, "And it was given him to scorch men with fire;" that is, with heat so great that it seemed to be fire. The Greek wordkaumatisaimeaning to burn, to scorchis used in the New Testament only in Matt. 13:6; Mark 4:6; Rev. 16:8-9, in all which places it is rendered scorch and scorched. Compare, however, the use of the word kauma, in Rev. 7:16; 16:9; kausiß, in Heb. 6:8; kausow, in 1 Pet. 3:10, 12; and kauswn, in Matt. 20:12; Luke 12:55; James 1:11.
The notion of intense or consuming heat is implied in all the forms of the word; and the reference here is to some calamity that would be well represented by such an increased heat of the sun.
9. And men were scorched with great heat. That is, as above expressed, calamity came upon them which would be well represented by such heat. It is said that this calamity would come upon men, and we are to suppose that it would be such that human life would be particularly affected; and as that heat of the sun must be exceedingly intense which would cut down men, we are to suppose that the judgment here referred to would be intensely severe.
And blasphemed the name of God. The effect would be to cause them to blaspheme God, or to reproach him as the author of these calamities; and in the fulfilment of this we are to look for a state of things when there would be augmented wickedness and irreligion, and when men would become worse and worse, notwithstanding the woes that had come upon them.
Which hath power over these plagues. Who had brought these plagues upon them, and who had power to remove them.
And they repented not. The effect was not to produce repentance, though it was manifest that these judgments had come upon them on account of their sins. Compare Note on Rev. 9:21.
To give him glory. To turn from sin; to honour him by lives of obedience. Compare Note on John 9:24.
In regard to the application of this, the following things may be remarked:
(a) That the calamity here referred to was one of the series of events which would precede the overthrow of the "beast," and to contribute thatfor to this all these judgments tend.
(b) In the order in which it stands, it is to follow, and apparently to follow soon, the third judgments the pouring of the vial upon the fountains and streams.
(c) It would be a calamity such as if the sun, the source of light and comfort to mankind, were smitten, and became a source of torment.
(d) This would be attended by a great destruction of men, and we should naturally look in such an application for calamities in which multitudes of men would be, as it were, consumed.
(e) This would not be followed, as it might be hoped it would, by repentance, but would be attended with reproaches of God, with profaneness, with a great increase of wickedness.
Now, on the supposition that the explanation of the previous passages is correct, there can be no great difficulty in supposing that this refers to the wars of Europe following the French Revolution; the wars that preceded the direct attack on the Papacy, and the overthrow of the Papal government. For these events had all the characteristics here referred to.
(a) They were one of a series in weakening the Papal power in Europeheavy blows that will yet be seen to have been among the means preliminary to its final overthrow.
(b) They followed in their order the invasion of Northern Italyfor one of the purposes of that invasion was to attack the Austrian power there, and ultimately through the Tyrol to attack Austria itself Napoleon, after his victories in Northern Italy, above referred to, (compare chapter twenty of Alison's History of Europe,) thus writes to the French Directory: "Coni, Ceva, and Alexandria are in the hands of our army; if you do not ratify the convention, I will keep their fortresses and march upon Turin. Meanwhile, I shall march to-morrow against Beaulieu, and drive him across the Po; I shall follow close at i. his heels, overawe Lombardy, and in a month be in the Tyrol, join the army of the Rhine, and carry our united forces into Bavaria. The design is worthy of you, of the army, and of the destinies of France."Alison, 401.
(c) The campaign in Germany in 1796 followed immediately this campaign in Italy. Thus, in chapter twenty of Alison's History, we have an account of the campaign in Italy; in chapter twenty-one we have the account of the campaign in Germany; and the other wars in Europe that continued so long, and that were so fierce and bloody, followed in quick successionall tending, in their ultimate results, to weaken the Papal power, and to secure its final overthrow.
(d) It is hardly necessary to say here that these wars had all the characteristics here supposed. It was as if the sun were smitten in the heavens, and power were given to scorch men with fire. Europe seemed to be on fire with musketry and artillery, and presented almost the appearance of the broad blaze of a battle-field. The number that perished was immense. These wars were attended with the usual form. And consequencesblasphemy, profaneness, and reproaches of God in every yet there was another effect wholly in accordance with the statement here, that none of these judgments brought men to "repentance, that they might give God the glory." Perhaps these remarks, which might be extended to great length, will show that, on the supposition that it was intended to refer to those scenes by the outpouring of this vial, the symbol was well-chosen and appropriate.
10. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast. The previous judgments had been preparatory to this. They all had a bearing on this, and were all preliminary to it; but the "seat"the home; the centre of the power of the beasts had not yet been reached. Here, however, there was a direct blow aimed at that power, still not such yet as to secure its final overthrow, for that is reserved for the pouring out of the last vial, Rev. 16:17-21. All that is represented here is a heavy judgment which was merely preliminary to that final overthrow, but which affected the very seat of the beast. The phrase "the seat of the beast"ton qronon tou yhrioumeans the seat or throne which the representative of that power occupied; the central point of the Antichristian dominion. Compare Note on Rev. 13:2
See also Rev. 2:13. I understand this as referring to the very seat of the Papal powers Romethe Vatican.
And his kingdom was full of darkness. Confusiondisorderdistress; for darkness is often the emblem of calamity, Isa. 59:9-10; Jer. 13:16; Ezek. 30:18; 32:7-8; 34:12; Joel 2:2.
And they gnawed their tongues for pain. This is a "most significant expression of the writhings of anguish." The word rendered gnawed does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, nor is the expression elsewhere used in the Bible; but its meaning is plainit indicates deep anguish.
11. And blasphemed the God of heaven. The same effect which it was said would be produced by the pouring out of the fourth vial, Rev. 16:9.
Because of their pains and their sores. Of the calamities that had come upon them.
And repented not of their deeds. See Note on Rev. 16:9.
Compare Rev. 9:21.
In regard to the fulfilment and application of this, the following general remarks may be made here:
(a) It would succeed, at no great interval probably, what is referred to under the previous "vials," and would be one in the series tending to the same result.
(b) It would fall directly on the seat of the authority of the "beast"on the central power of the Papacy, according to the interpretation of the other symbols; and we should look, therefore, for some calamity that would come upon Rome itself, and still more specifically upon the Pope himself, and those immediately around him.
(c) This would be attended with deep distress and darkness in the Papal dominions.
(d) There would be an increase of what is here called "blasphemy;" that is, of impiety and reproaches of the Divine Being.
(e) There would be no repentance produced. There would be no reformation. The system would be as corrupt as it was before, and men would be as much under its influence. And
(f) we should not expect that this would be the final overthrow of in the system. That is reserved for the outpouring of the seventh and last vial the series, (Rev. 16:17-21,) and under that the system would be overthrown, and would come to an end. This is distinctly stated in the account of that "vial" and therefore we are not to expect to find, in the application of the fifth "vial," that the calamity brought upon "the seat of the beast" would be such that it would not recover for a time, and maintain apparently, in some good degree, its former power and influence. With this view of what we are to expect, and in connexion with the explanations of the previous symbols, it seems to me that there can be no hesitation in applying this to the direct attacks on the Papal power and on the pope himself, as one of the consequences of the French Revolution, and to the calamities that were thus brought upon the Papal states. In order to show the appropriateness of this application, I will state a few facts which will show that, on the supposition that it was the intention in this symbol to refer to the Papal power at that time, the symbol has been well chosen, and has been fulfilled. And, in doing this, I will merely copy from Alison's History of Europe (vol. i. pp. 542-546) a few statements, which, like many that have been quoted from Mr. Gibbon in the former part of these Notes, would seem almost to have been penned in view of this prophecy, and with a view to record its fulfilment. The statement is as follows:
"The Ecclesiastical States were the next objects of attack. It had long been an avowed object of ambition with the Republican government to revolutionize the Roman people, and plant the tricolour flag in the city of Brutus, and fortune at length presented them with a favourable opportunity to accomplish the design.
"The situation of the pope had become, since the French conquests in Italy, in the highest degree precarious. Cut off by the Cisalpine republic from any support from Austria; left by the treaty of Campo Formio entirely at the mercy of the French republic; threatened by the heavings of the democratic spirit within his own dominions; and exposed to all the contagion arising from the complete establishment and close vicinity of republican governments in the north of Italy the was almost destitute of the means of resisting so many seen and unseen enemies. The pontifical treasury was exhausted by the immense payments stipulated by the treaty of Tolentino; while the activity and zeal of the revolutionary clubs in all the principal towns of the Ecclesiastical States was daily increasing with the prospect of success. To enable the government to meet the enormous demands of the French army, the principal Roman families, like the pope, had sold their gold, their silver, their jewels, their horses, their carriagesin a word, all their valuable effects; but the exactions of the republican agents were still unabated. In despair, they had recourse to the fatal expedient of issuing a paper circulation; but that, in a country destitute of credit, soon fell to an inconsiderable value, and augmented rather than relieved the public distress. Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon, had been appointed ambassador at the court of Rome; but as his character was deemed too honourable for political intrigue, Generals Duphot and Sherlock were sent along with him, the former of whom had been so successful in effecting the overthrow of Genoese aristocracy. The French embassy, under their direction, soon became the centre of the revolutionary action; and those numerous ardent characters with which the Italian cities abound, flocked there as to a common focus, from whence the next great explosion of democratic power was to be expected. In this extremity, Pins VI., who was above eighty years of age, and sinking into the grave, called to his counsels the Austrian general Provera, already distinguished in the Italian campaigns; but the Directory soon compelled the humiliated pontiff to dismiss that intrepid counsellor. As his recovery then seemed hopeless, the instructions of government to their ambassador were to delay the proclamation of a republic till his death, when the vacant chair of St. Peter might be overturned with little difficulty; but such was the activity of the revolutionary agents, that the train was ready to take fire before that event took place, and the ears of the Romans were assailed by incessant abuse of the ecclesiastical government, and vehement declamations in favour of republican freedom.
"The resolution to overturn the Papal government, like all the other ambitious projects of the Directory, received a very great impulse from the reascendent of Jacobin influence at Paris, by the results of the revolution of 18th Fructidor. One of the first measures of the new government was to despatch an order to Joseph Bonaparte at Rome, to promote, by all the means in his power, the approaching revolution in the Papal states; and, above all things, to take care that at the pope's death no successor should be elected to the chair of St. Peter. Napoleon's language to the Roman pontiff became daily more menacing. Immediately before setting out for Rastadt, he ordered his brother Joseph to intimate to the pope that three thousand additional troops had been forwarded to Ancona; that if Provera was not dismissed within twenty-four hours, war would be declared; that if any of the revolutionists who had been arrested were executed, reprisals forthwith would be exercised on the cardinals; and that, if the Cisalpine republic was not instantly recognised, it would be the signal for immediate hostilities. At the same time ten thousand troops of the Cisalpine republic advanced to St. Leon, in the Papal duchy of Urbino, and made themselves masters of that fortress; while at Ancona, which was still garrisoned by French troops, notwithstanding its stipulated restoration by the treaty of Tolentino to the Holy See, the democratic party openly proclaimed the Anconite Republic.' Similar revolutionary movements took place at Corneto, Civita Vecchia, Pesaro, and Senigaglia; while at Rome itself, Joseph Bonaparte, by compelling the Papal government to liberate all persons confined for political offences, suddenly vomited forth upon the capital several hundreds of the most heated republicans in Italy. After this great addition, measures were no longer kept with the government. Seditious meetings were constantly held in every part of the city; immense collections of tricolour cockades were made to distinguish the insurgents, and deputations of the citizens openly waited on the French ambassador to invite him to support the insurrection, to which he replied, in ambiguous termsThe fate of nations, as of individuals, being buried in the womb of futurity, it is not given to me to penetrate its mysteries.'
"In this temper of men's minds, a spark was sufficient to occasion an explosion. On the 27th of December, 1798, an immense crowd assembled, with seditious cries, and moved to the palace of the French ambassador, where they exclaimed, Vive la Republique Romaine!' and loudly invoked the aid of the French to enable them to plant the tricolour flag on the Capitol. The insurgents displayed the tricolour cockade, and evinced the most menacing disposition; the danger was extreme; from similar beginnings the overthrow of the governments of Venice and Genoa had rapidly followed. The Papal ministers sent a regiment of dragoons to prevent any sortie of the revolutionists from the palace of the French ambassador; and they repeatedly warned the insurgents that their orders were to allow no one to leave the precincts. Duphot, however, indignant at being restrained by the pontifical troops, drew his sword, rushed down the staircase, and put himself at the head of one hundred and fifty armed Roman democrats, who were now contending with the dragoons in the courtyard of the palace. He was immediately killed by a discharge ordered by the sergeant commanding the patrol of the Papal troops; and the ambassador himself, who had followed to appease the tumult, narrowly escaped the same fate. A violent scuffle ensued; several persons were killed and wounded on both sides; and, after remaining several hours in the greatest alarm, Joseph Bonaparte, with his suite, retired to Florence.
"This catastrophe, however, obviously occasioned by the revolutionary schemes which were in agitation at the residence of the French ambassador, having taken place within the precincts of his palace, was, unhappily, a violation of the law of nations, and gave the Directory too fair a ground to demand satisfaction. But they instantly resolved to make it the pretext for the immediate occupation of Rome and overthrow of the Papal government. The march of troops out of Italy was countermanded, and Berthier, the commander-in-chief, received orders to advance rapidly into the Ecclesiastical States. Meanwhile, the democratic spirit burst forth more violently than ever at Ancona and the neighbouring towns, and the Papal authority was soon lost in all the provinces on the eastern slope of the Appenines. To these accumulated disasters the pontiff could only oppose the fasts and prayers of an aged conclaveweapons of spiritual warfare little calculated to arrest the conquerors of Arcola and Lodi.
"Berthlet, without an instant's delay, carried into execution the orders of the Directory. Six thousand Poles were stationed at Rimini to cover the Cisalpine Republic; a reserve was established at Tolentino; while the commander-in-chief, at the head of eighteen thousand veteran troops, entered Ancona. Having completed the work of revolution in that turbulent district, and secured the fortress, he crossed the Appenines; and, advancing by Foligno and Nami, appeared on the 10th of February before the Eternal City. The pope, in the utmost consternation, shut himself up in the Vatican, and spent night and day at the foot of the altar in imploring the Divine protection.
"Rome, almost defenceless, would have offered no obstacle to the entrance of the French troops; but it was part of the policy of the Directory to make it appear that their aid was invoked by the spontaneous efforts of the inhabitants. Contenting himself, therefore, with occupying the castle of St. Angelo, from which the feeble guards of the pope were soon expelled, Berthier kept his troops for five days encamped without the walls. At length, the revolutionists having completed their preparations, a noisy crowd assembled in the Campo Vaccino, the ancient Forum; the old foundations of the Capitol were made again to resound with the cries, if not the spirit, of freedom, and the venerable ensigns, S. P. Q. R., after the lapse of fourteen hundred years, again floated in the winds. The multitude tumultuously demanded the overthrow of the Papal authority; the French troops were invited to enter; the conquerors of Italy, with a haughty air, passed the gates of Aurelian, defiled through the Piazza del Popolo, gazed on the indestructible monuments of Roman grandeur, and, amid the shouts of the inhabitants, the tricolour flag was displayed from the summit of the Capitol.
"But while part of the Roman populace were surrendering themselves to a pardonable intoxication upon the faneled recovery of their liberties, the agents of the Directory were preparing for them the sad realities of slavery. The pope, who had been guarded by five hundred soldiers ever since the entry of the Republicans, was directed to retire into Tuscany; his Swiss guard relieved by a French one, and he himself ordered to dispossess himself of all his temporal authority. He replied, with the firmness of a martyr, I am prepared for every species of disgrace. As supreme pontiff, I am resolved to die in the exercise of all my powers. You may employ forceyou have the power to do so; but know that, though you may be masters of my body, you are not so of my soul. Free in the region where it is placed, it fears neither the events nor the sufferings of this life. I stand on the threshold of another world; there I shall be sheltered alike from the violence and impiety of this.' Force was soon employed to dispossess him of his authority; he was dragged from the altar in his palace, his repositories all ransacked and plundered, the rings even torn from his fingers, the whole effects in the Vatican and Quirinal inventoried and seized, and the aged pontiff conducted, with only a few domestics, amid the brutal jests and sacrilegious songs of the French dragoons, into Tuscany, where the generous hospitality of the grand duke strove to soften the hardships of his exile. But, though a captive in the hands of his enemies, the venerable old man still retained the supreme authority in the Church. From his retreat in the convent of Chartreuse, he yet guided the counsels of the faithful; multitudes fell on their knees wherever he passed, and sought that benediction from a captive which they would, perhaps, have disregarded from a triumphant pontiff.
"The subsequent treatment of this venerable man was as disgraceful to the republican government as it was honourable to his piety and constancy as the head of the Church. Fearful that from his virtues and sufferings he might have had too much influence on the continent of Italy, he was removed by their orders to Leghorn, in Hatch, 1799, with the design of transferring him to Cagliari in Sardinia; and the English cruisers in the Mediterranean redoubled their vigilance, in the generous hope of rescuing the father of an opposite church from the persecution of his enemies. Apprehensive of losing their prisoner, the French altered his destination; and forcing him to traverse, often during the night, the Appenines and the Alps in a rigorous season, he at length reached Valence, where, after an illness of ten days, he expired, in the eighty-second year of his age, and the twenty-fourth of his pontificate. The cruelty of the Directory increased as he approached their dominions, all his old attendants were compelled to leave him, and the father of the faithful was allowed to expire, attended only by his confessor. Yet even in this disconsolate state he derived the highest satisfaction from the devotion and reverence of the people in the provinces of France through which he passed. Multitudes from Gap, Vizelle, and Grenoble, flocked to the road to receive his benediction; and he frequently repeated, with tears in his eyes, the words of Scripture, Verily, I say unto you, I have not seen such faith, no, not in Israel.'
"But long before the pope had sunk under the persecution of his oppressors, Rome had experienced the bitter fruits of republican fraternization. Immediately after the entry of the French troops commenced the regular and systematic pillage of the city. Not only the churches and the convents, but the palaces of the cardinals and of the nobility were laid waste. The agents of the Directory, insatiable in the pursuit of plunder, and merciless in the means of exacting it, ransacked every quarter within its walls, seized the most valuable works of art, and stripped the Eternal City of those treasures which had survived the Gothic fire and the rapacious hands of the Spanish soldiers. The bloodshed was much less, but the spoil collected incomparably greater, than at the disastrous sack which followed the death of the constable Bourbon. Almost all the great works of art which have since that time been collected throughout Europe, were then scattered abroad. The spoliation exceeded all that the Goths or Vandals had effected. Not only the palaces of the Vatican, and the Monte Cavallo, and the chief nobility of Rome, but those of Castel Gandolfo, on the margin of the Alban Lake, of Terraelna, the Villa Albani, and others in the environs of Rome, were plundered of every article of value which they possessed. The whole sacerdotal habits of the pope and cardinals were burned, in order to collect from the flames the gold with which they were adorned. The Vatican was stripped to its naked walls; the immortal frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo remained in solitary beauty amid the general desolation. A contribution of four millions in money, two millions in provisions, and three thousand horses, was imposed on a city already exhausted by the enormous exactions it had previously undergone. Under the direction of the infamous commissary Hailer, the domestic library, museum, furniture, jewels, and even the private clothes of the pope were sold. Nor did the palaces of the Roman nobility escape devastation. The noble galleries of the cardinal Braschi, and the cardinal York, the last relic of the Stuart line, underwent the same fate. Others, as those of the Chigi, Borghese, and Doria palaces, were rescued from destruction only by enormous ransoms. Everything of value that the Tolentino had left in Rome became the prey of republican cupidity, and the very name of freedom soon became odious, from the sordid and infamous crimes which were committed in its name.
"Nor were the exactions of the French confined to the plunder of palaces and churches. Eight cardinals were arrested and sent to Civita Casteliana, while enormous contributions were levied on the Papal territory, and brought home the bitterness of conquest to every poor man's door. At the same time, the ample territorial possessions of the church and the monasteries were confiscated, and declared national property; a measure which, by drying up at once the whole resources of the affluent classes, precipitated into the extreme of misery the numerous poor who were maintained by their expenditure, or fed by their bounty. All the respectable citizens and clergy were in fetters; and a base and despicable faction alone, among whom, to their disgrace be it told, were found fourteen cardinals, followed in the train of the oppressors; and, at a public festival, returned thanks to God for the miseries they had brought upon their country." (In this connexion, I may insert here the remarkable calculation of Robert Fleming, in his work entitled Apocalyptical Key or the pouring out of the Vials, first published m 1701. It is in the following words: "The fifth vial, (Rev. 16:10-11,) which is to be poured out on the seat of the beast, or the dominions which more immediately belong to and depend on the Roman see; that, I say, this judgment will probably begin about the year 1794, and expire about A.D. 1848; or that the duration of it upon this supposition will be the space of fifty-four years. For I do suppose that seeing the Pope received the title of Supreme Bishop no sooner than A.D. 606, he cannot be supposed to have any vial poured upon his seat immediately (so as to ruin his authority so signally as this judgment must be supposed to do) until the year 1848, which is the date of the twelve hundred and sixty years in prophetical account when they are reckoned from A.D. 606. But yet we are not to imagine that this will totally destroy the Papacy, (though it will exceedingly weaken it,) for we find that still in being and alive when the next vial is poured out," [pp. 124, 125, Cobbin's edition.] It is a circumstance remarkably in accordance with this calculation, that in the year 1848 the Pope was actually driven away to Gaeta, and that at the present time (1851) he is restored, though evidently with diminished power.)
12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. On the situation of that river, and the symbolical meaning of this language, See Note on Rev. 9:14-21.
The reference there was supposed to be to the Turkish power, and the analogy of interpretation would seem to require that it should be so understood here. There is every reason, therefore, to suppose that this passage has reference to something in the future history of the Turkish dominions, and to some bearing of the events which are to occur in that history on the ultimate downfall of the Antichristian power referred to by the "beast."
And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. That is, as the effect of pouring out the vial. There is an allusion here, undoubtedly, to the dividing of the waters of the Red Sea, so that the children of Israel might pass. See Exod. 14:21-22. Compare Note on Isa. 11:15.
In this description, the Euphrates is represented as a barrier to prevent the passage of "the kings of the East" on their way to the West for some purpose not yet specified; that is, applying the symbol of the Euphrates as being the seat of the Turkish power, the meaning is, that that power is such a hindrance, and that in some way that hindrance is to be removed as if the waters of an unbridged and unfordable river were dried up so as to afford a safe and easy passage through. Still there are several inquiries as to the application of this which is not easy, and as it refers to what is still future, it may be impossible to answer. The language requires us to put upon it the following interpretation:
(a) The persons here referred to as "kings of the East" were ready to make a movement towards the West, over the Euphrates, and would do this if this obstruction were not in their way. Who these "kings of the East" are is not said, and perhaps cannot be conjectured. The natural interpretation is, that they are the kings that reign in the East, or that preside over the countries of the eastern hemisphere. Why there was a proposed movement to the West is not said. It might have been for conquest, or it might have been that they were to bring their tribute to the spiritual Jerusalem, in accordance with what is so often said in the prophets, that under the gospel kings and princes would consecrate themselves and their wealth to God. See Psa. 72:10-11, "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall clown before him." So also Isa. 60:4-6, 9, 11, "Thy sons shall come from far.The forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.All they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense.The isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them.Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought." All that is fairly implied in the language used here is, that the kings of the east would be converted to the true religion, or that they were at the time referred to in a state of readiness to be converted if there were no hindrance or obstruction.
(b) There was some hindrance or obstruction to their conversion; that is, as explained, from the Turkish power: in other words, they would be converted to the true faith if it were not for the influence of that power.
(c) The destruction of that power, represented by the drying up of the Euphrates, would remove that obstruction, and the way would thus be "prepared" for their conversion to the true religion. We should most naturally, therefore, look in the fulfilment of this for some such decay of the Turkish power as would be followed by the conversion of the rulers of the East to the gospel.
13. And I saw three unclean spirits. They assumed a visible form which would well represent their odiousnessthat of frogsbut still they are spoken of as "spirits." They were evil powers, or evil influences, (Rev. 16:14, "spirits of devils,") and the language here is undoubtedly designed to represent some such power or influence, which would, at that period, proceed from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet,
Like frogs. batracoiß. This word does not occur in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. It is properly translated frogs. The frog is here employed clearly as a symbol, and it is designed that certain qualities of the "spirits" here referred to should be designated by the symbol. For a full illustration of the meaning of the symbol, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. II. lib. v. cap. Iv. According to Bochart, the frog is characterized, as a symbol,
(1) for its rough, harsh, coarse voice;
(2) on this account as a symbol of complaining or reproaching;
(3) as a symbol of empty loquacity;
(4) as a symbol of heretics and philosophers-as understood by Augustine;
(5) because the frog has its origin in mud, and lives in mud, as a symbol of those who are born in sin, and live in pollution;
(6) because the frog endures all changes of the seasoncold and heat, summer, winter, rain, frostas a symbol of monks who practise self-denial;
(7) because the frog, though abstemious of food, yet lives in water and drinks often, as a symbol of drunkards;
(8) as a symbol of impudence;
(9) because the frog swells his size, and distends his cheeks, as a symbol of pride. See the authorities for these uses of the word in Bothart. How many or few of these ideas enter into the symbol here, it is not easy to decide. We may suppose, however, that the spirits referred to would be characterized by pride arrogance, impudence, assumption of authority; perhaps impurity and vileness, for all these ideas enter into the meaning of the symbol. They are not here probably symbols of persons, but of influences or opinions which would be spread abroad, and which would characterize the age referred to. The reference is to what the "dragon," the "beast," and the "false prophet" would do at that time in opposing the truth, and in preparing the world for the great and final conflict.
Out of the mouth of the dragon. One of which seemed to issue from the mouth of the dragon. On the symbolic meaning of the "dragon," See Note on Rev. 12:3.
It, in general, represents Satan, the great enemy of the church; perhaps here Satan under the form of Heathenism or Paganism, as in Rev. 12:3-4. The idea then is, that, at the time referred to, there would be some manifestation of the power of Satan in the heathen nations, which would be bold, arrogant, proud, loquacious, hostile to truth, and which would be well represented by the hoarse murmur of the frog.
And out of the mouth of the beast. The Papacy as above explained, chapter thirteen. That is, there would be some putting forth of arrogant pretensions; some loud denunciation or complaining; some manifestation of pride and self-consequence, which would be well represented by the croaking of the frog. We have seen above, See Notes on Rev. 6:5; Rev. 6:6, that although the fifth vial was poured upon "the seat of the beast," the effect was not to crush and overthrow that power entirely. The Papacy would still survive, and would be finally destroyed under the outpouring of the seventh vial, Rev. 16:17-21. In the passage before us we have a representation of it as still living; as having apparently recovered its strength; and as being as hostile as ever to the truth, and able to enter into a combination, secret or avowed, with the "dragon" and the "false prophet," to oppose the reign of truth upon the earth.
And out of the mouth of the false prophet. The word rendered false prophetyeudoprofhtoudoes not before occur in the book of Revelation, though the use of the article would seem to imply that some well-known power or influence was referred to by this. Compare Note on Rev. 10:3.
The word occurs in other places in the New Testament, Matt. 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; Acts 13:6; 2 Pet. 2:1 1 John 4:1; and twice elsewhere in the book of Revelation, with the same reference as here, Rev. 19:20; 20:10. In both these latter places it is connected with the "beast." "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet." "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are." It would seem then to refer to some power that was similar to that of the beast, and that was to share the same fate in the overthrow of the enemies of the gospel. As to the application of this, there is no opinion so probable as that it alludes to the Mohammedan powernot strictly the Turkish power, for that was to be "dried up" or to diminish; but to the Mohammedan power as such, that was still to continue for awhile in its rigour, and that was yet to exert a formidable influence against the gospel, and probably in some combination, in fact, if not in form, with Paganism and the Papacy. The reasons for this opinion are,
(a) that this was referred to in the former part of the book is one of the formidable powers that would arise, and that would materially affect the destiny of the worldand it may be presumed that it would be again referred to in the account of the final consummation- see Rev. 9:1-11;
(b) the name "false prophet" would better than any other describe has that power, and would naturally suggest it in future timesfor to no one that ever appeared in our world could the name be so properly applied as to Mohammed; and
(c) what is said will be found to agree with the facts in regard to that power, as, in connexion with the Papacy and with Paganism, constituting the sum of the obstruction to the spread of the gospel around the world.
14. For they are the spirits of devils. On the meaning of the word used here, See Note on Rev. 9:20.
It is used here, as it is in Rev. 9:20, in a bad sense as denoting evil spirits. Compare Notes on Matt. 4:1-2, 24.
Working miracles. Working what seemed to be miracles; that is, such wonders as to deceive the world with the belief that they were miracles. See Note on Rev. 13:13-14, where the same power is ascribed to the "beast."
Which go forth unto the kings of the earth. Which particularly affect and influence kings and rulers. No class of men have been more under the influence of Pagan superstition, Mohammedan delusion, or the Papacy, than kings and princes. We are taught by this passage that this will continue to be so in the circumstances referred to.
And of the whole world. That is, so far that it might be represented as affecting the whole worldto wit, the Heathen, the Mohammedan, and the Papal portions of the earth. These still embrace so large a portion of the globe, that it might be said that what would affect those powers now would influence the whole world.
To gather them. Not literally to assemble them all in one place, but so to unite and combine them that it might be represented as an assembling of the hosts for battle.
To the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Not the day of judgment, but the day which would determine the ascendency of true religion in the worldthe final conflict with those powers which had so long opposed the gospel. It is not necessary to suppose that there would be a literal "battle," in which God would be seen to contend with his foes; but there would be that which might be properly represented as a battle. That is, there would be a combined struggle against the truth, and in that God would appear by his Providence and Spirit on the side of the church, and would give it the victory. It accords with all that has occurred in the past, to suppose that there will be such a combined struggle before the church shall finally triumph in the world.
15. Behold, I come as a thief. That is, suddenly and unexpectedly. See Notes on Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2.
This is designed evidently to admonish men to watch, or to be in readiness for his comingsince, whenever it would occur, it would be at a time when men were not expecting him.
Blessed is he that watcheth. Compare Matt. 24:42-44. The meaning here is, that he who watches for these events, who marks the indications of their approach, and who is conscious of a preparation for them, is in a better and happier state of mind than he on whom they come suddenly and unexpectedly.
And keepeth his garments. The allusion here seems to be to one who, regardless of danger, or of the approach of an enemy, should lay aside his garments and lie down to sleep. Then the thief might come and take away his garments, leaving him naked. The essential idea, therefore, here, is the duty of vigilance. We are to be awake to duty and to danger; we are not to be found sleeping on our post; we are to be ready for deathready for the coming of the Son of man.
Lest he walk naked. His raiment being carried away while he is asleep.
And they see his shame. Compare Note on Rev. 3:18.
The meaning here is, that, as Christians are clothed with the garments of righteousness; they should not lay them aside, so that their spiritual nakedness should be seen. They are to be always clothed with the robes of salvation; always ready for any event, however soon or suddenly it may come upon them.
16. And he gathered them together. Who gathered them? Prof. Stuart renders it, "they gathered them together," supposing that it refers to the "spirits"pneumatain Rev. 16:13, and that this is the construction of the neuter plural with a singular verb. So De Wette understands it. Hengstenberg supposes that it means that God gathered them together; others suppose that it was the sixth angel; others that it was Satan; others that it was the beast; and others that it was Christ. See Poole's Synopsis in loc. The authority of De Wette and Prof. Stuart is sufficient to show that the construction which they adopt is authorized by the Greek, as indeed no one can doubt, and perhaps this accords better with the context than any other construction proposed. Thus, in Rev. 16:14, the spirits are represented as going forth into the whole world for the purpose of gathering the nations together to the great battle, and it is natural to suppose that the reference is to them here as having accomplished what they went forth to do. But who are to be gathered together? Evidently those who in Rev. 16:14 are described by the word "them"the "king of the earth, and the whole world;" that is, there will be a state of things which would be well described by a universal gathering of forces in a central battle-field. It is by no means necessary to suppose that what is here represented will literally occur. There will be a mustering of spiritual forces; there will be a combination and a unity of opposition against the truth; there will be a rallying of the declining powers of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism, as if the forces of the earth, marshalled by kings and rulers, were assembled in some great battle-field where the destiny of the world was to be decided.
Into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. The word Armageddonarmageddwnoccurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is not found in the Septuagint. It seems to be formed from the Hebrew ? Har MegiddoMountain of Megiddo. Compare 2 Chron. 35:22, where it is said that Josiah "came to fight in the valley of Megiddo." Megiddo was a town belonging to Manasseh, although within the limits of Issachar, Josh. 17:11. It had been originally one of the royal cities of the Canaanites, (Josh. 12:21,) and was one of those of which the Israelites were unable for a long time to take possession. It was rebuilt and fortified by Solomon, (1 Kings 9:15,) and thither Ahaziah king of Judah fled when wounded by Jehu, and died there, 2 Kings 9:27. It was here that Deborah and Barak destroyed Sisera and his host, (Judg. 5:19;) and it was in a battle near this that Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-nechoh, 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chron. 35:20-25. From the great mourning held for his loss, it became proverbial to speak of any grievous mourning as being "like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon," Zech. 12:11. It has not been found easy to identify the place, but recent searches have made it probable that the vale or plain of Megiddo comprehended, if it was not wholly composed of, the prolongation of the plain of Esdra-elon towards Mount Carmel; that the city of Megiddo was situated there; and that the waters of Megiddo, mentioned in Judg. 5:19, are identical with the stream Kishon in that part of its course. See Biblical Repository, i. 602, 603. It is supposed that the modern town called Lejjun occupies the site of the ancient Megiddo.Robinson's Biblical Researches, iii. 177-180. Megiddo was distinguished for being the place of the decisive conflict between Deborah and Sisera, and of the battle in which Josiah was slain by the Egyptian invaders, and hence it became emblematic of any decisive battle-fieldjust as Marathon, Leuctra, Arbela, or Waterloo is. The word "mountain" in the term Armageddon" Mountain of Megiddo"seems to have been used because Megiddo was in a mountainous region, though the battles were fought in a valley adjacent. The meaning here is, that there would be, as it were, a decisive battle which would determine the question of the prevalence of true religion on the earth What we are to expect as the fulfilment of this would seem to be, that there will be some mustering of strengthsome rallying of forcessome opposition made to the kingdom of God in the gospel by the powers here referred to which would be decisive in its character, and which would be well represented by the battles between the people of God and their foes in the conflicts in the valley of Megiddo. As this constitutes, according to the course of the exposition by which we have been conducted, an important division in the book of Revelation, it may be proper to pause here, and make a few remarks. The previous parts of the book, according to the interpretation proposed, relate to the past, and thus far we have found such a correspondence between the predictions and facts which have occurred as to lead us to suppose that these predictions have been fulfilled. At this point, I suppose, we enter on that part which remains yet to be fulfilled, and the investigation must carry us into the dark and unknown future. The remaining portion comprises a very general sketch of things down to the end of time, as the previous portion has touched on the great events pertaining to the church and its progress for a period of more than one thousand eight hundred years. A few general remarks, therefore, seem not inappropriate at this point.
(a) In the previous interpretations we have had the facts of history by which to test the accuracy of the interpretation. The plan pursued has been, first, to investigate the meaning of the words and symbols, entirely independent of any supposed application, and then to inquire whether there have been any facts that may be regarded as corresponding with the meaning of the words and symbols as explained. Of this method of testing the accuracy of the exposition we must now take our leave. Our sole reliance must be in the exposition itself, and our work must be limited to that.
(b) It is always difficult to interpret a prophecy. The language of prophecy is often apparently enigmatical; the symbols are sometimes obscure; and prophecies relating to the same subject are often in detached fragments, uttered by different persons at different times, and it is necessary to collect and arrange them, in order to have a full view of the one subject. Thus the prophecies respecting the Messiah were many of them obscure, and indeed apparently contradictory, before he came; they were uttered at distant intervals, and by different prophets; at one time one trait of his character was dwelt upon, and at another another; and it was difficult to combine these so as to have an accurate view of what he would be, until he came. The result has shown what the meaning of the prophecies was; and at the same time has demonstrated that there was entire consistency in the various predictions, and that to one who could have comprehended all, it would have been possible to combine them so as to have had a correct view of the Messiah, and of his work, even before he came. The same remark is still more applicable to the predictions in the book of Revelation, or to the similar predictions in the book of Daniel, and to many portions of Isaiah. It is easy to see how difficult it would have been, or rather how impossible by any human powers, to have applied these prophecies in detail before the events occurred; and yet, now that they have occurred, it may be seen that the symbols were the happiest that could have been chosen, and the only ones that could with propriety have been selected to describe the remarkable events which were to take place in future times.
(c) The same thing we may presume to be the case in regard to events which are to occur. We may expect to find
(1) language and symbols that are, in themselves, capable of clear interpretation, as to their proper meaning;
(2) the events of the future so sketched out by that language and by those symbols, that we may obtain a general view that will be accurate; and yet
(3) an entire impossibility of filling up beforehand the minute details.
In regard, then, to the application of the particular portion now before us, Rev. 16:12-16, the following remarks may be made:
(1) The Turkish power, especially since its conquest of Constantinople under Mohammed II. in 1453, and its establishment in Europe, has been a grand hindrance to the spread of the gospel. It has occupied a central position; it has possessed some of the richest parts of the world; it has, in general, excluded all efforts to spread the pure gospel within its limits; and its whole influence has been opposed to the spread of pure Christianity. Compare Note on Rev. 9:14-21.
"By its laws, it was death to a Mussulman to apostatize from his faith, and become a Christian; and examples, not a few, have occurred in recent times to illustrate it." It is not until quite recently, and that under the influence of missionaries in Constantinople, that evangelical Christianity has been tolerated in the Turkish dominions.
(2.) The prophecy before us implies that there would be a decline of that formidable powerrepresented by the "drying up of the great river Euphrates." See Note on Rev. 16:12.
And no one can be insensible to the fact that events are occurring which would be properly represented by such a symbol; or that there is, in fact, now such a decline of that Turkish power, and that the beginning of that decline closely followed, in regard to time, if not in regard to the cause, the events which it is supposed were designed by the previous vialsthose connected with the successive blows on the Papacy and the seat of the beast. In reference, then, to the decline of that power, we may refer to the following things:
(a) The first great cause was internal revolt and insurrection. In 1820, Ali Pasha asserted his independence, and by his revolt precipitated the Greek insurrection which had been a long time secretly preparingan insurrection so disastrous to the Turkish power.
(b) The Greek insurrection followed. This soon spread to the AEgean isles, and to the districts of Northern Greece, Epirus, and Thessaly; while at the same time the standard of revolt was raised in Wallachia and Moldavia. The progress and issue of that insurrection are well known. A Turkman army of 30,000 that entered the Morea to reconquer it was destroyed in 1823 in detail, and the freedom of the peninsula was nearly completed by the insurgents. By sea the Greeks emulated their ancestors of Salamis and Mycale; and, attended with almost uniform success, encountered and vanquished the superior Turkish and Egyptian fleets. Meanwhile the sympathies of Western Christendom were awakened in behalf of their brother Christians struggling for independence; and just when the tide of success began to turn, and the Morea was again nearly subjected by Ibrahim Pasha, the united fleets of England, France, and Russia (in contravention of all their usual principles of policy) interposed in their favour; attacked and destroyed the Turco-Egyptian fleets in the battle of Novatiao, (September, 1827,) and thus secured the independence of Greece. Nothing had ever occurred that tended so much to weaken the power of the Turkish empire.
(c) The rebellion of the great Egyptian Pasha, Mehemet Ali, soon followed. The French invasion of Egypt had prepared him for it, by having taught him the superiority of European discipline, and thus this event was one of the proper results of those described under the first four vials. Mehemet Ali, through Ibrahim, attacked and conquered Syria; defeated the Sultan's armies sent against him in the great battles of Hems, of Nezib, and of Iconium; and, but for the intervention of the European powers of England, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, by which he was driven out of Syria, and forced back to his proper Pashalie Egypt, he would probably have advanced to Constantinople and subdued it.
(d) There has been for centuries a gradual weakening of the Turkish power. It has done nothing to extend its empire by arms. It has been resting in inglorious ease, and, in the meantime, its wealth and its strength have been gradually decreasing. It has lost Moldavia, Wallachia, Greece, Algiers, and, practically, Egypt; and is doing nothing to recruit its wasted and exhausted strength. Russia only waits for a favourable opportunity to strike the last blow on that enfeebled power, and to put an end to it for ever.
(e) The general condition of the Turkish empire is thus described by the Rev. Mr. Walsh, chaplain to the British Ambassador to Constantinople: "The circumstances most striking to a traveller passing through Turkey is its depopulation. Ruins where villages had been built, and fallows where land had been cultivated, are frequently seen with no living thing near them. This effect is not so visible in larger towns, though the cause is known to operate there in a still greater degree. Within the last twenty years, Constantinople has lost more than half its population. Two conflagrations happened while I was in Constantinople, and destroyed fifteen thousand houses. The Russian and Greek wars were a constant drain on the janisaries of the capital; the silent operation of the plague is continually active, though not always alarming; it will be no exaggeration to say that, within the period mentioned, from three to four hundred thousand persons have been swept away in one city in Europe by causes which were not operating in any othersconflagration, pestilence, and civil commotion. The Turks, though naturally of a robust and vigorous constitution, addict themselves to such habits as are very unfavourable to populationthe births do little more than exceed the ordinary deaths, and cannot supply the waste of casualties. The surrounding country is, therefore, continually drained to supply this waste in the capital, which, nevertheless, exhibits districts nearly depopulated. We see every day life going out in the fairest portion of Europe; and the human race threatened with extinction in a soil and climate capable of supporting the most abundant population."Walsh's Narrative, pp. 2226, as quoted in Bush on the Millennium, 243, 244. The probability now is, that this gradual decay will be continued; that the Turkish power will more and more diminish; that one portion after another will set up for independence; and that, by a gradual process of decline, this power will become practically extinct, and what is here symbolized by the "drying up of the great river Euphrates" will have been accomplished.
(3.) This obstacle removed, we may look for a general turning of the princes, and rulers, and people of the Eastern world to Christianity, represented (Rev. 16:12) by its being said that "the way of the kings of the East might be prepared." See Note on Rev. 16:12.
It is clear that nothing would be more likely to contribute to this, or to prepare the way for it, than the removal of that Turcoman dominion which for more than four hundred years has been an effectual barrier to the diffusion of the gospel in the lands where it has prevailed. How rapidly, we may suppose, the gospel would spread in the East, if all the obstacles thrown in its way by the Turkish power were at once removed!
(4.) In accordance with the interpretation suggested on Rev. 16:13-14, we may look for something that would be well represented by a combined effort on the part of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism, to stay the progress and prevent the spread of evangelical religion. That is, according to the fair interpretation of the passage, we should look for same simultaneous movement as if their influence was to be about to cease, and as if it were necessary to arouse all their energies for a last and desperate struggle. It may be added that, in itself, nothing would be more probable than this; but when it will occur, and what form the aroused enemy will assume, it would be vain to conjecture.
(5.) And in accordance with the interpretation suggested on Rev. 16:15, we are to suppose that something will occur which would be well represented by the decisive conflicts in the valley of Megiddo; that is, something that will determine the ascendency of true religion in the world, as if these great powers of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism should stake all their interests on the issue of a single battle. It is not necessary to suppose that this will literally occur, and there are no certain intimations as to the time when what is represented will happen; but all that is meant may be that events will take place which would be well represented by such a conflict. Still, nothing in the prophecy prevents the supposition that these combined powers may be overthrown in some fierce conflict with Christian powers.
17. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air. This introduces the final catastrophe in regard to the "beast"his complete and utter overthrow, accompanied with tremendous judgments. Why the vial was poured into the air is not stated. The most probable supposition as to the idea intended to be represented is, that, as storms and tempests seem to be engendered in the air, so this destruction would come from some supernatural cause, as if the whole atmosphere should be filled with wind and storm; and a furious and desolating whirlwind should be aroused by some invisible power.
And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven. The voice of God. See Note on Rev. 11:19.
From the throne. See Note on Rev. 4:2.
This shows that it was the voice of God, and not the voice of an angel.
Saying, It is done. The series of judgments is about to be completed; the dominion of the beast is about to come to an end for ever. The meaning here is, that that destruction was so certain, that it might be spoken of as now actually accomplished.
18. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings. Accompanying the voice that was heard from the throne. See Note on Rev. 4:5.
And there was a great earthquake, etc. See Notes on Rev. 6:12; Rev. 11:19.
The meaning is, that a judgment followed as if the world were shaken by an earthquake, or which would be properly represented by that.
So mighty an earthquake, and so great. All this is intensive, and is designed to represent the severity of the judgment that would follow.
19. And the great city was divided into three parts. The city of Babylon; or the mighty power that was represented by Babylon. See Note on Rev. 14:8.
The division here mentioned into three parts was manifestly with reference to its destructioneither that one part was smitten and the others remained for a time, or that one form of destruction came on one part, and another on the others. In Rev. 11:13, it is said, speaking of "the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt"representing Rome, that "the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand," (See Note on Rev. 11:13;) here it is said that the whole city, in the calamities that came upon it, was divided into three portions, though it is evidently implied that, in these calamities, the whole city was sooner or later destroyed. Prof. Stuart (in loc.) supposes that the number three is used here, as it is throughout the book, "in a symbolical way," and that the meaning is, that "the city was severed and broken in pieces, so that the whole was reduced to a ruinous state." He supposes that it refers to Pagan Rome, or to the Pagan Roman persecuting power. Others refer it to Jerusalem, and suppose that the allusion is to the divisions of the city, in the time of the siege, into Jewish, Samaritan, and Christian parties; others suppose that it refers to a division of the Roman empire under Honorins, Attalus, and Constantine; others to the fact, that when Jerusalem was besieged by Titus, it was divided into three factions; and others that the number three is used to denote perfection, or the total ruin of the city. All that, it seems to me, can be said now on the point is,
(a) that it refers to Papal Rome, or the Papal power;
(b) that it relates to something yet future, and that it may not be possible to determine with precise accuracy what will occur;
(c) that it probably means that, in the time of the final ruin of that power, there will be a threefold judgmenteither a different judgment in regard to some threefold manifestation of that power, or a succession of judgments, as if one part were smitten at a time. The certain and entire ruin of the power is predicted by this, but still it is not improbable that it will be by such divisions, or such successions of judgments, that it is proper to represent the city as divided into three portions.
And the cities of the nations fell. In alliance with it, or under the control of the central power. As the capital fell, the dependent cities fell also. Considered as relating to Papal Rome, the meaning here is, that what may be properly called "the cities of the nations" that were allied with it would share the same fate. The cities of numerous nations" are now, and have been for ages, under the control of the Papal power, or the spiritual Babylon; and the calamity that will smite the central power as suchthat is, as a spiritual powerwill reach and affect them all. Let the central power at Rome be destroyed; the Papacy cease; the superstition with which Rome is regarded come to an end; the power of the priesthood in Italy be destroyed, and however widely the Roman dominion is spread now, it cannot be kept up. If it falls in Rome, there is not influence enough out of Rome to continue it in beingand in all its extended ramifications it will die, as the body dies when the head is severed; as the power of provinces ceases when ruin comes upon the capital. This the prophecy leads us to suppose will be the final destiny of the Papal power.
And great Babylon. See Note on Rev. 14:8.
Came in remembrance before God. That is, for purposes of punishment. It had been, as it were, overlooked. It had been permitted to carry on its purposes, and to practise its abominations, unchecked, as if God did not see it Now the time had come when all that it had done was to be remembered, and when the long-suspended judgment was to fall upon it.
To give unto her the cup of the wine, etc. To punish; to destroy her. See Note on Rev. 14:10.
20. And every island fled away. Expressive of great and terrible judgments, as if the very earth were convulsed, and everything were moved out of its place. See Note on Rev. 6:14.
And the mountains were not found. The same image occurs in Rev. 6:14. See Note on Rev. 6:14.
21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven. Perhaps this is an allusion to one of the plagues of Egypt, Exod. 9:22-26. Compare Note on Rev. 11:19.
For a graphic description of the effects of a hail storm, See Note on Isa. 30:30, second edition. Compare Note on Job 38:22.
Every stone about the weight of a talent. The Attic talent was equal to about 55 lbs. or 56 lbs. Troy weight; the Jewish talent to about 113 lbs. Troy. Whichever weight is adopted, it is easy to conceive what must be the horror of such a storm, and what destruction it must cause. We are not, of course, to suppose, necessarily, that this would literally occur; it is a frightful image to denote the terrible and certain destruction that would come upon Babylon; that is, upon the Papal power.
And men blasphemed God. See Note on Rev. 16:9.
Because of the plague of the hail. Using the word plague in allusion to the plagues of Egypt.
For the plague thereof was exceeding great. The calamity was great and terrible. The design of the whole is to show that the destruction would be complete and awful.
This finishes the summary statement of the final destruction of this formidable Antichristian power. The details and the consequences of that overthrow are more fully stated in the subsequent chapters. The fulfilment of what is here stated will be found, according to the method of interpretation proposed, in the ultimate overthrow of the Papacy. The process described in this chapter is that of successive calamities that would weaken it and prepare it for its fall; then a rallying of its dying strength; and then some tremendous judgment that is compared with a storm of hail, accompanied with lightning, and thunder, and an earthquake, that would completely overthrow all that was connected with it. We are not, indeed, to suppose that this will literally occur; but the fair interpretation of prophecy leads us to suppose that that formidable power will, at no very distant period, be overthrown in a manner that would be well represented by such a fearful storm.
Jewish New Testament Commentary
Seven angels have "seven bowls" (16:1) containing the seven plagues. These bowls are poured out on the earth (16:2-21); and with them, God's fury is finished.
Those defeating the beast (13:1-8 &N, 13:11-12&N), its image (13:14-15), and the number of its name (13:17-18 &N) are seen standing by the sea of glass (see 4:6N), just as the Israelites stood by the Red Sea after their Egyptian pursuers were drowned in it. At that time the Israelites sang the song of Moshe (Exodus 15:1-18; see 13:4&N), which is included in its entirety in the daily morning synagogue service and liberally quoted again in the twice-daily blessing after the Sh'ma. The victors over the beast will sing the Song of Moses, signifying that true believers in Yeshua fully identify with the Jewish people.
The song of the Lamb, as given in vv. 3b 4, is not sung to or about the Lamb, but by the Lamb to God just as the Song of Moses was sung by Moses and not to him. Just as the victorious Jewish people learned and sang the song which Moses sang (Exodus 15:1), so the victorious believers in heaven learn and sing the song which the Lamb sings. Like the Song of Moses the Song of the Lamb exults in the just ways of God, using the language of the Tanakh as found in Jeremiah 10:7; Amos 3:13, 4:13; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 86:9-10, 92:6(5), 98:1, 111:2, 139:14, 145:17; 1 Chronicles 16:9, 12. But unlike the Song of Moses it also brings out that in the final judgment God is revealed as king of the nations, king of the whole world, as prophesied in Zechariah 14:9, so that all nations will come and worship before him as predicted in the continuation of that passage (Zechariah 14:16-20).
The sanctuary (that is, the Tent of Witness). The word "tent" appears only here in Revelation. If there was a Hebrew original underlying our Greek text, this phrase, unique in ancient literature, could be explained as a corruption of "the Temple of God in heaven," which appears with the same verb ("was opened") at 11:19. If the phrase stands as translated, the "sanctuary" is the Holy of Holies, which was also the location (or "tent") of the ark of the Covenant (MJ 9:4&N), called the ark of the Testimony throughout Exodus 25-40. Verse 8 supports this rendering, for we read that the smoke from God's Sh'khinah filled the sanctuary; in Exodus and Ezekiel God's glory inhabited the sanctuary. These final "bowl" plagues come from God's ultimate holiness.
MJ 9:5 understands "the k'ruvim..., casting their shadow on the lid of the Ark," as "representing the Sh'khinah," in the earthly Holy of Holies. Thus it is no surprise to find that in heaven the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God's Sh'khinah (see Paragraph (3) of MJ 1:2-3N). At 13:6, the beast insulted God's "name and his Sh'khinah, and those living in heaven" and "was allowed to make war on God's holy people and to defeat them." Now the tables are turned, with God's people victorious, and God's fury about to be poured out on those who follow the beast.
The seven bowls of God's fury, introduced in 15:1, 7-8, contain the third set of seven judgments in the book of Revelation, the others being the seal judgments of 5:1-9, 6:1-17, 8:1ff., and the shofar judgments of 8:2-11:15ff. The bowl judgments are poured out in this chapter.
Like the plague of boils which affected only the Egyptians (Exodus 9:8-11), these disgusting and painful sores appear only on unbelievers, the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image. According to v. 11, despite the pain of these sores, their hearts, like Pharaoh's, remain hard they never turn from their sins to glorify God (v. 9) but curse him to the end (v. 21).
O HaKadosh, "O Holy One." Rabbinic writings often refer to God as HaKadosh, barukh hu, "the Holy One, blessed be he"; as, for example, in the well-known Aleinu prayer recited near the end of each synagogue service: "We bend the knee, bow and acknowledge before the supreme King of kings, HaKadosh, barukh hu [the Holy One, blessed be he],... that he is our God, there is none else." Here too the reference is to God the Father, but at Ac 2:27, 13:35, quoting Psalm 16:10, the term applies to the Messiah.
This verse and 17:6, 16 echo Isaiah 49:26, where God says to Israel, "I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will be drunk on their own blood." The nations that fight against God's people will shed each other's blood in internecine warfare. Compare Ezekiel 38:21-22, Haggai 2:21-22 and Zechariah 14:12-13 (which also suggests the first and fifth bowl judgments).
Here is the New Testament's most cogent description of the normal behavior of hardened sinners. They cursed the name of God... instead of turning from their sins, the result of which would have been to give him glory. Although God had the authority over these plagues, these unbelievers, in their irrationality, instead of entreating the only one who could help them, curse him. They recognize that God controls the plagues but blame him instead of themselves, since, being amoral and materialistic, they see no causal connection between their own sinful behavior and these events as judgment. They remain unrepentant throughout the chapter (see vv. 11, 21 and v. 2N).
The War of Armageddon (Hebrew Har Megiddo, v. 16&N), the final earthly battle, is demonically inspired (vv. 13-14). In v. 14 it is called the war of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva'ot ("the Lord of Heavenly Armies" or "YHVH of Hosts"; see 1:8N). In this conflict the kings of the whole inhabited world (vv. 12, 14, 16) come against God's people; but God, through his Messiah Yeshua (v. 15), wins the victory (19:11-21 &NN) after "Babylon the Great" has been destroyed (v. 19&N; compare Zechariah 12, 14).
The River Euphrates was the center of the major pagan civilizations that pressed against Israel in Tanakh times, and when Revelation was written it was the center of the Parthian kingdom which continually warred with Rome. Think of the Euphrates as the launching point of attack, whether of angel-mediated judgment (9:14), the kings from the east (v. 12), or the whole inhabited world (v. 14).
I am coming like a thief. Yeshua interjects his own personal warning into the vision of the bowl judgments. Quoting his own words (3:3 &N) he cautions believers to keep their clothes clean (compare 3:4-5a&N).
The place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo ("Mount Megiddo") or possibly "Ir Megiddo" ("City of Megiddo"). The Greek word here is "Armageddon" there is no Greek letter to represent the Hebrew "h" sound, and "n" is often added to Greek renderings of foreign words. But in Zechariah 12:10-11, which also places Megiddo in the context of the Last Days, the Hebrew word is actually "Megiddon":
"...they will look on Me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son.... On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddon."
Hadad-Rimmon was the place in the Valley of Yizreel (Jezreel) near Megiddo where king Yoshiyahu (Josiah) fell at the hands of Pharaoh Nekhoh in 609 B.C.E. (2 Kings 23:29-30).
The city of Megiddo, which overlooks the Yizreel Valley and guards a major pass on the ancient Via Maris ("Way of the Sea") connecting Egypt with Syria, has seen many battles and much mourning. The archeological remains, spanning a period from the Chalcolithic Age (4 th millennium B.C.E.) to the Persian conquest (7 th century C.E.), consist of twenty levels, indicating the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times. In this valley Dvorah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4-5; Megiddo is mentioned at Judges 5:19) and Gidon the Midianites (Judges 6-8). In modern times both Napoleon (1799) and General Allenby (1918) defeated the Turks near Megiddo. The hundred square miles of the Yizreel Valley would provide more than enough space for the conflict envisioned in the book of Revelation.
However, the final war may not take place at Har Megiddo at all, but in Jerusalem, at Har Migdo, the "mount of his choice fruit," i.e., the mountain of God's blessing, Mount Zion. Mount Zion has already been mentioned at 14:1; moreover, the imagery resembles Joel's picture of the Day of Adonai, when God's power goes forth from Mount Zion against the forces of evil (Joel 2:1-11, 4:16-17 3:16-17); compare also Isaiah 31:4-9). The next passage (vv. 17-21) resembles 14:14-20, which also draws on imagery from Joel 4 (see 14:14-20N). Strengthening the case further Zechariah 12:11, cited above, mentions Jerusalem along with Megiddon.
Babylon the Great (see 14:8N) was split into three parts, that is, destroyed, as detailed in the next two chapters. The judgment imagery is taken from the Prophets; see 14:14-20N.
Made her drink the wine from the cup of his raging fury. Compare Jeremiah 25:15, 25:26-31.
The people cursed God for the plague of hail. See v. 2N, v. 9N, 8:7&N, Exodus 9:22-35.
Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament
1. The seven last plagues (plhga»ß epta» ta»ß esca¿taß). Lit., seven plagues the last. Rev., "which are the last." See on Mark 3:10; Luke 10:30.
Is filled up (etele÷sqh). More correctly, brought to an end (te÷loß). Rev., finished. Lit., was finished, the prophetic aorist, which speaks of a thing foreseen and decided as if already done.
2. A sea of glass (qa¿lassan uJali÷nhn). Rev., better, a glassy sea. See on ch. 4:6.
Had gotten the victory over the beast (nikw×ntaß ek touv qhri÷ou). The expression is peculiar. Lit., conquered out of The construction is unique in the New Testament. The phrase signifies, not as A.V., victory over, but coming triumphant out of (ek). So Rev., that come victorious from the beast.
Over his mark. Omit.
Standing on (epi÷). Better, as Rev., by: on the shore of, as did the Israelites when they sang the song alluded to in ver 3.
The harps of God. Omit the. Instruments devoted wholly to His praise. Compare ch. 5:8; 14:2.
3. The song of Moses. See Exodus 15. Compare Deuteronomy 32; to which some refer this allusion.
The servant of God. See Exodus 14:31; Numbers 12:7; Psalm 105:26; Hebrews 3:5.
The song of the Lamb. There are not two distinct songs. The song of Moses is the song of the Lamb. The Old and the New Testament churches are one.
Great and marvelous are Thy works. Psalm 111:2; 139:14; 1 Chronicles 16:9.
Just and true are Thy ways. Rev., righteous for just. See Deuteronomy 32:4.
King of saints (basileu\ß tw×n aJgi÷wn). The readings differ. Some read for saints, eqnw×n of the nations; others aiw¿nwn of the ages. So Rev. Compare Jeremiah 10:7.
4. Who shall not fear Thee? See Jeremiah 10:7. Omit thee.
Holy (o¢sioß). See on Luke 1:75. The term is applied to Christ in Acts 2:27, 35; Hebrews 7:26. To God only here and ch. 16:5, where the correct reading is oJ o¢sioß thou holy one, instead of oj eso/menoß which shalt be.
All nations shall come. Compare Psalm 86:9; Isaiah 2:2-4; 66:23; Micah 4:2.
Judgments (dikaiw¿mata). Not merely divine decisions, but righteous acts generally. So Rev. Primarily, the word signifies that which has been deemed right so as to have the force of law. Hence an ordinance (Luke 1:6; Hebrews 9:1; Romans 1:32). A judicial decision for or against (Romans 5:16). A righteous deed. See ch. 19:8.
5. Behold. Omit.
The temple of the tabernacle (oj nao\ß thvß skhnhvß). The sanctuary of the tabernacle. See on Matthew 4:5.
Of the testimony. See Acts 7:44. The tabernacle was called "the Tabernacle of the Testimony" because it contained the ark with the law of God which testifies against sin. See Exodus 25:16, 21; 30:36; 34:29; 38:21. Compare ch. 11:19.
6. Linen (li÷non). The Rev. follows the reading li÷qon stone, after the analogy of Ezekiel 28:13, "Every precious stone was thy covering." The idea is that of raiment studded with precious stones. See on ch. 2:17.
White (lampro\n). Mostly applied in the New Testament to clothing, as Luke 23:11; Acts 10:30; James 2:2. Also to the water of life (ch. 22:1), and the morning-star (ch. 22:16). Rev., bright.
Girt round their breasts. As the Lord in the vision of 1:13; where, however, mastoiß paps is used instead of sth/qh breasts.
7. Vials (fia¿laß). Rev., bowls. See on ch. 5:8.
8. Smoke. Compare Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10; Psalms 18:8; Isaiah 6:4; Ezekiel 10:2-4.
None was able to enter. "God cannot be approached at the moment when He is revealing Himself in all the terrors of His indignation" (Milligan). See Exodus 19:21.
1. The vials. Add seven.
2. And the first went. Each angel, as his turn comes, with draws (uJpa¿gete, see on John 6:21; 8:21) from the heavenly scene.
There fell (ege÷neto). Lit., there came to pass. Rev., it became. Elliott, very aptly, there broke out.
Noisome and grievous (kako\n kai« ponhro\n). Similarly the two cognate nouns kaki÷a and ponhri÷a malice and wickedness occur together in 1 Corinthians 5:8. Ponhro/ß emphasizes the activity of evil. See on Luke 3:19.
Sore (eºlkoß). See on Luke 16:20. Compare the sixth Egyptian plague, Exodus 9:8-12, where the Septuagint uses this word eºlkoß boil. Also of the boil or scab of leprosy, Leviticus 13:18; king Hezekiah's boil, 2 Kings 20:7; the botch of Egypt, Deuteronomy 28:27, 35. In Job 2:7 (Sept.) the boils are described as here by ponhro/ß sore.
3. It became (ege÷neto). Or there came.
Blood. Compare Exodus 7:19.
As of a dead man. Thick, corrupt, and noisome.
Living soul (yuch\ zw×sa). The best texts read yuch\ zwhvß soul of life.
4. The third angel. Omit angel.
They became (ege÷neto). There is no necessity for rendering the singular verb in the plural. We may say either it became or there came.
5. The angel of the waters. Set over the waters as other angels over the winds (ch. 7:1) and over the fire (ch. 14:18).
O Lord. Omit.
And shalt be. Following the reading oj eso/menoß. Read oj o¢sioß Thou Holy One.
Thou didst thus judge (tauvta e¶krinaß). Lit., Thou didst judge these things.
6. For they are worthy. Omit for.
7. Another out of the altar. Omit another out of, and read, as Rev., I heard the altar. The altar personified. Compare ch. 6:9, where the souls of the martyrs are seen under the altar and cry how long.
Almighty. Add the article: the Almighty.
8. The fourth angel. Omit angel.
Power was given (edo/qh). Rev., it was given.
With fire (en puri÷). Lit., "in fire." The element in which the scorching takes place.
9. Repent to give Him glory. Glorify Him by repentance.
His kingdom was darkened. Compare Exodus 10:21, 22.
They gnawed (emassw×nto). Only here in the New Testament.
For pain (ek touv po/nou). Strictly, from their pain. Their, the force of the article touv.
12. Euphrates. See on ch. 9:14.
Of the east (aÓpo\ tw×n aÓnatolw×n hjli÷ou). Lit., as Rev., from the sunrising. See on Matthew 2:2; and dayspring, Luke 1:78.
13. Frogs. Possibly With reference to Exodus 8:1-14.
14. Of the earth and of the whole world. Omit of the earth and.
World (oikoume÷nhß). See on Luke 2:1.
The battle (po/lemon). Rev., more literally, war. Battle is ma¿ch.
That great day (ekei÷nhß). Omit. Read, as Rev., "the great day."
15. Behold shame. These words are parenthetical.
As a thief. Compare Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10.
Watcheth (grhgorw×n). See on Mark 13:35; 1 Peter 5:8
Keepeth his garments. "During the night the captain of the Temple made his rounds. On his approach the guards had to rise and salute him in a particular manner. Any guard found asleep when on duty was beaten, or his garments were set on fire. The confession of one of the Rabbins is on record that, on a certain occasion, his own maternal uncle had actually undergone the punishment of having his clothes set on fire by the captain of the Temple" (Edersheim, "The Temple," etc.).
Shame (aÓschmosu/nhn). Only here and Romans 1:27. From aÓ not and schvma fashion. Deformity, unseemliness; nearly answering to the phrase not in good form.
16. Armageddon. The proper Greek form Ar Magedw¿n. The word is compounded of the Hebrew rAh mountain, and Nwø;dgVm or wø;dgVm: the mountain of Megiddo. On Megiddo standing alone see Judges 1:27; 1 Kings 4:12; 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27. See also Judges 5:19; Zechariah 12:11; 2 Chronicles 35:22; 2 Kings 23:30. "Bounded as it is by the hills of Palestine on both north and south, it would naturally become the arena of war between the lowlanders who trusted in their chariots, and the Israelite highlanders of the neighboring heights. To this cause mainly it owes its celebrity, as the battle-field of the world, which has, through its adoption into the language of Revelation, passed into an universal proverb. If that mysterious book proceeded from the hand of a Galilean fisherman, it is the more easy to understand why, with the scene of those many battles constantly before him, he should have drawn the figurative name of the final conflict between the hosts of good and evil, from the place which is called in the Hebrew tongue Harmagedon'" (Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine").
Megiddo was in the plain of Esdraelon, "which has been a chosen place for encampment in every contest carried on in Palestine from the days of Nabuchodonozor king of Assyria, unto the disastrous march of Napoleon Buonaparte from Egypt into Syria. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Christian crusaders, and anti Christian Frenchmen; Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, and Arabs, warriors of every nation that is under heaven, have pitched their tents on the plain of Esdraelon, and have beheld the banners of their nation wet with the dews of Tabor and Hermon" ("Clarke's Travels," cit. by Lee). See Thomson's "Land and Book" (Central Palestine and Phoenicia), p. 208 sqq.; and Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine," ch. ix.
Two great slaughters at Megiddo are mentioned in the Old Testament; the first celebrated in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:19), and the second, that in which king Josiah fell (2 Kings 23:29). Both these may have been present to the seer's mind; but the allusion is not to any particular place or event. "The word, like Euphrates, is the expression of an idea; the idea that swift and overwhelming destruction shall overtake all who gather themselves together against the Lord" (Milligan).
21. Hail. See Exodus 9:18.
Every stone about the weight of a talent (wÓß talanti÷aia). The adjective, meaning of a talent's weight, agrees with hail; hail of a talent's weight; i.e., having each stone of that weight. Every stone is therefore explanatory, and not in the text. Hailstones are a symbol of divine wrath.
Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 52a: Revelation 1-5, Volume 52b: Revelation 6-16 & Volume 52c: Revelation 17-22, David E. Aune
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament: Revelation of St. John the Divine, Albert Barnes
The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24 and The Book of Ezekiel: Chapter 25-48: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Damiel I. Block
An Introduction to the New Testament, D. A. Carson & Douglas J. Moo
Dr. Constable's Notes on Revelation, Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Dallas Theological Seminary (his class notes)
Revelation: Four Views. A Parallel Commentary, Steve Gregg
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871 Edition, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, Dennis E. Johnson
Revelation Unveiled, Tim LaHaye
Macarthur New Testament Commentary Series: Revelation 1-11, Revelation 12-22, John MacArthur
The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of Revelation, Robert H. Mounce
The Preacher's Commentary: 1,2 & 3 John/Revelation, Earl F. Palmer
Exploring Revelation: Am Expository Commentary, John Phillips
The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation, Vern S. Poythress
"Behold, He Cometh": A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on the Book of Revelation, John R. Rice
Jewish New Testament Commentary, David H. Stern
Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary and Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary, Robert L. Thomas,
Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Marvin R. Vincent
The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Revelation, Michael Wilcock
IVP Pocket Dictionaries:
Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzke and Cherith Fee
Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, Arthur G. Patzia and Anthony J. Petrotta -
Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of
Religion, Stephen Evans -
Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament
Greek, Matthew S. DeMoss Intervarsity Press' New Testament Commentary Intervarsity Press' New Bible Commentary Intervarsity Press' Hard Sayings of the Bible
IVP Pocket Dictionaries:
- Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzke and Cherith Fee Nordling
- Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, Arthur G. Patzia and Anthony J. Petrotta
- Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion, Stephen Evans
- Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek, Matthew S. DeMoss
Intervarsity Press' New Testament Commentary
Intervarsity Press' New Bible Commentary
Intervarsity Press' Hard Sayings of the Bible
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