Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Earth-picture of the Seven Vials of Anger, or the End-judgment in its general aspect. (Ch. 16.)
General.—The special homiletical treatment of this section is, like that of others, made more difficult by the disagreement of exegeses. According to Hengstenberg, for instance, the earth denotes the earthly-minded; the sea, the sea of nations, the unquiet wicked world (in antithesis to the earthly-minded!); the fountains of waters, the sources of prosperity; the sun, that luminary in its burning quality, the type of the sufferings of this life; the throne of the Beast, the government of the Roman emperors; the Euphrates, the hinderance to the advance of the God-opposed world-power into the Holy Land, against the Holy City, against the Church.
According to Brandt, the earth is the Holy Land, which has become the scene of the world-kingdom of the Dragon; the sea is the mass of peoples united under the sceptre of the Beast; the rivers and fountains are the peoples and families in their still subsistent sunderment; the sun is the glowing sun and nothing more; the throne of the Beast is the sovereign power of the Beast; the Euphrates is the Beast out of the Earth, or Babylon.
The exposition of Sabel is in part better; The earth denotes the positive foundations of State and Church; the sea, the Gentile-Christian world of nations. Next, however, come some abortive interpretations: The waters of life [rivers] are the refreshing truths of salvation, and the fountains of waters are the schools at which they are taught; the sun is the Church of Jesus Christ; the throne of the Beast is the Antichristian world—its darkening is the confusion and shattering of that world—The Euphrates is well characterized as emblematic of the boundary line of the civilized world; the drying up of it betokens a change in political wisdom resulting in a new migration of nations, as it were.
The Vials of Anger should, above all, be compared with the Trumpets; and the antithesis between the Trumpets calling to repentance and the judgments of hardening, should be noted. The judgments of hardening may be elucidated by the Egyptian plagues, Isa. 6:10 and analogous passages. They are indicative of such judgments as ripen corruption—when it has come to be past healing—into its final development and consummation, thus resulting in blasphemy, which in itself is damnation (Rev 16:9, 11, 21), whilst, the Trumpets were designed to produce repentance. The first Vial of Anger readily suggests examples of the moral corruption and dissolution of individual states and communities (Babylon, Jerusalem, Rome, etc.) as warning signs.
In treating the second Vial of Anger we may touch upon the symptoms, of the empoisonment of popular life by writings, tendencies, conspiracies. The symbolic import of the rivers is sufficiently attested by Scripture—the Nile, the Euphrates, the Jordan, the brook of Siloah; the same remark applies to the fountains. A consideration of poisoned and poisoning, death-dealing currents and fountains or fountain minds, would be appropriate here. The transformation of the sun of revelation into a glowing and scorching mass, by human fanaticism, negative as well as positive, is easily intelligible. The darkening of the throne and kingdom of darkness may be explained by the crumbling of the power of falsehood into contradictions, partyisms and suicidal complots. The drying up of the Euphrates, as the abolition of the boundary line between the civilized and the barbarian world, has a rich significance. Abolition of the distinctions of religions, stations, culture, of the sexes (emancipation of women), etc.—Symbolic import of the frogs.—The dissolution and decomposition of the common spiritual vital air must be a presage that the common existence of those who breathe it is drawing to a close.—The downfall of things in the evening of the world will be, first, a downfall of the spirit-world (Rev 16:19); secondly, a downfall of nature; thirdly, a downfall of the relation between the human world and the life of nature.
Special.—[chap. 16] The Vials of Anger in comparison with Christ’s Cup of Suifering: 1. The similarity; 2. The contrast,—[Rev 16:2.] The noisome sore in a social and a spiritual sense: Deficit; corruption of morals; mortality, etc.—[Rev 16:3, 14.] Transformation of the waters into blood, as a retribution for the nefarious and mock-holy shedding of blood (Rev 16:5–7).—Apology for the avenging righteousness of God.—The blasphemies (Rev 16:9, 11, 21). How are they punished? Primarily, through themselves, (1) their madness, (2) their impotence, (3) their torment.—[Rev 16:12.] The dangers to Christian humanity lying dormant in the Orient. An Orient of mischief over against the Orient of salvation.—[Rev 16:13.] The three frogs. Even in respect to the terrors of the last time, a sacred irony of the Spirit is manifested, testifying to the freeness of the Spirit,—[Rev 16:14.] Enthusiasm of those inspired by the frogs.—[Rev 16:15.] The Coming of the Lord compared with the coming of a thief: 1. Strangeness of the figure; 2. Design of this strangeness.—[Rev 16:16.] Armageddon, or the theocratic battle-fields.—Battle-fields of the world, from their dark and their bright side.—The last battle-field: Armageddon, the scene of a conflict between the world and the spirit-realm.—[Rev 16:17.] It is done!—The last glorious revelation of Christ’s Spirit in His Church (Rev 16:18).—[Rev 16:19.] The falling of great Babylon into three parts, the announcement of the three judgments.—Crisis of nature in the evening of the world (Rev 16:20, 21).
STARKE: (This expositor continues his presentation of opposite views.) Rev 16:2. Those who regard this as already fulfilled, explain it mystically thus: The sore is the manifestly shameful and hurtful condition of the whole papistic Church. (In contrast to this view, there is a literal exposition of the empoisonment of earth and of life, and also an allegorical interpretation, referring the passage to the bad conscience and anguish of soul of the wicked.)—The wrath of man is greater than his power, but God has power to carry out His wrath (1 Ki. 19:2, 3).
Rev 16:4. Those who regard this plague as fulfilled see in it the blood-thirsty doctrines and counsels of the Pope.
Rev 16:6. God, in proportioning His punishments to the sins which have provoked them, teaches us that we should proportion our penitence to our sins.—The blood of saints is precious in God’s eyes; He forgetteth it not, but recompenseth it with righteous vengeance.
Rev 16:8. Interpretations of the sun:  The natural sun;  A mighty king;  The Beast (! Reinbeck).
Rev 16:9. Application to the wars of Charles VIII. and subsequent French kings in Italy.—As all things work together for the good of the pious, so all things, even the beams of the sun, work evil to the wicked (Rom. 8:28).—QUESNEL: The scourgings of God discover the heart; out of a perverse heart they bring forth blasphemies, out of a penitent heart they bring praise, humility and love.
Rev 16:10. Even thrones and majesties are not secure from the chastisement of God. He can in His wrath destroy entire and flourishing kingdoms—DIMPEL: Misuse not thy tongue for the flattery and excessive exaltation of the lofty, the distinguished and the rich, that thou mayest not afterwards, when God taketh such idols from thee, have to moan and lament, aye, and gnaw thy tongue for vexation; but let thy tongue daily tell of God’s righteousness.
Rev 16:10. Singular interpretation: The darkening of the Beast’s kingdom is the revelation, reaching far and wide, of all the abominations and vices of the Pope and the whole Roman clergy. Opposite (?) interpretation: The kingdom of the Beast despised by men.
Rev 16:12. Some: The drying up of the Euphrates is yet to come, although it might seem to be partially fulfilled in the kingdom of France, that being the most powerful kingdom of Europe, and the one that has afforded most protection to the Beast, in the persecution of the Huguenots, etc.—A great religious war is in prospect, the issue of which is greatly to be desired for the true Church.
Rev 16:13. The frogs: considered in respect of the Antichristian hellish trinity in which they originate—viz., the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet. Many a one who has a horror of the Devil when Scripture calls him a Dragon, listens to him with complacency when he speaks by the mouth of an unchaste woman, or a false teacher or godless babbler. The Devil has his apostles, as well as the Lord.—QUESNEL: Satan has his designs when he assembles armies, men have theirs, and God has His, to the realization of which last all things must conduce (Is. 10:6, 7).
QUESNEL: [Rev 16:17.] There is a seventh and last Vial for every individual sinner, but who knows it?
Rev 16:18. Some apprehend this mystically as referring to the Church: there shall be voices, open preaching of the Gospel, the thunder of the Divine word, and lightnings, the bright light of the Gospel, shall break forth again with power, and a remarkable movement of men’s souls shall be the result.
Rev 16:20. How foolish it is to attach ourselves to a world that fleeth away, and, like our desires, vanisheth.
Rev 16:21. God’s chastisements do not always make men better—they sometimes have a directly opposite effect.
BENGEL, Sechzig erbauliche Reden. The Trumpets make a wide circuit in a long time, but the Vials make quick work of it.—The four holy Beasts [Living-beings] are nearer to the Throne than the Angels in general, and these seven Angels in particular (recte!) [ch. 15:7].—The earth is Asia, the sea Europe, the rivers Africa (which contains the two principal rivers, the Nile and the Niger, etc.). The sun is the whole surface of the earth (partly, therefore, Asia, Europe and Africa again).
Rev 16:10. They still think that the Beast is right, and they become none other than they were, either internally or externally.
Rev 16:21. The whole creation is like an organ with many stops, and when one stop after another shall be drawn out as a plague upon the wicked, scorners shall learn somewhat that they look not for.
Briefe über Offenb. Joh. Ein Buch für die Starken, die schwach heissen (PFENNINGER).
Rev 16:1, 2. An evil and poisonous ulcer came upon the men who had the mark of the Beast and who worshipped his image. Another wonderful and repentance-preaching sparing of Christians.
Rev 16:8, 9. How strong must be our conviction of the immeliorability of these men.
Rev 16:17–21. The great earthquake, greater than any that had ever been, will, judging from Rev 16:20, bring about those great changes in the shape of the earth, whose embellishment is in prospect, which must precede the time of the Messiah’s government.—[Rev 16:21.] The last hail: I, for my part, confess that as often as I think of a violent—nay, of the most violent—fever of earth, I can never picture to myself all the symptoms, in their great variety and contrast, in sufficient grandeur and extraordinariness.
[From M. HENRY: Rev 16:15. When God’s cause comes to be tried, and His battles to be fought, all His people should be ready to stand up for His interest, and be faithful and valiant in His service.
Rev 16:21. Note here, 1. The greatest calamities that can befall men will not bring them to repentance without the grace of God working with them. 2. Those that are not made better by the judgments of God, are always the worse for them. 3. To be hardened in sin and enmity against God by His righteous judgments, is a certain token of utter destruction.—From THE COMPREHENSIVE COMMENTARY: Rev 16:9, 11, 21. Without the special, preventing grace of God the more men suffer, and the more plainly they see the hand of God in their sufferings, the more furiously they often rage against Him. Let then sinners now seek repentance from Christ, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, or they will hereafter have the anguish and horror of an unhumbled, impenitent and desperate heart, burning with enmity against God, as well as tortured by the fire of His indignation; and thus augmenting guilt and misery to all eternity. (SCOTT.)
Rev 16:15. These will be times of great temptation; and therefore Christ, by His apostle, called on His professed servants to expect His sudden coming, and to “watch,” that they might retain, and be found in, the garments of salvation, and not “walk naked,” and so be put to shame, as apostates or hypocrites; for the blessing would belong only to the watchful. (SCOTT.)—From WORDSWORTH: Vials are holy vessels. Wherever means of grace are not duly used, they recoil on those to whom they have been offered, and become means of punishment.—From VAUGHAN: Rev 16:15. The garments of the watcher must not be laid aside; he must have his loins girded about (for action), as well as his lights burning (Luke 12:35).—The peculiarity of Christ’s coming is that everything which seems to defer really brings it near; everything which seems to make it improbable is an argument of its certainty and of its approach. Behold, I come as a thief.—Awake, then, thou that steepest! Be not found of Him, when He cometh, drowsy and stupefied, overcharged with cares and riches and pleasures of this life; the lamp of grace expiring, or the garment of holiness laid aside.—From BONAR: Rev 16:15. These are words for all time, but specially for the last days. They (1) warn, (2) quicken, (3) rouse, (4) comfort. Note here, 1. The coming. Christ comes (1) as Avenger, (2) as Judge, (3) as King, (4) as Bridegroom. “As a thief;”—at midnight; when men are asleep; when darkness lies on earth; when men are least expecting Him; when they have lain down, saying: “Peace and safety.” Without warning, though with vengeance for the world in His hand: when all past warnings of judgment have been unheeded. Without further message; for all past messages have been in vain. Like a thief to the world, but like a Bridegroom to the Church. 2 The watching. Not believing, nor hoping, nor waiting merely; but watching. Watch upon your knees. Watch with your Bibles before you. Watch with wide open eye. Watch for Him Whom not having seen you love. 3. The keeping of the garments. Do not cast off your raiment either for sleep or for work. Do not let the world strip you of it. Keep it and hold it fast. It is heavenly raiment, and without it you cannot go in with your Lord when He comes. 4. The blessedness. It is blessed (1) because it cherishes our love; (2) it is one of the ways of maintaining our intercourse; (3) it is the posture through which He has appointed blessing to come, in His absence, to His waiting Church. 5. The warning. Adam was ashamed at being found naked when the Lord came down to meet him; how much more of shame and terror shall be to unready souls at meeting with a returning Lord! O false disciple, come out of your delusion and hypocrisy, lest you be exposed in that day of revelation! O sinner, make ready, for the day of vengeance is at hand!]
B.—REAL EARTHLY WORLD-PICTURE OF THE SEVEN VIALS OF ANGER; OR, THE END-JUDGMENT IN GENERAL
1And I heard a great vo B.—REAL EARTHLY WORLD-PICTURE OF THE SEVEN VIALS OF ANGER; OR, THE END-JUDGMENT IN GENERAL
1And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways [om. your ways], and pour out the [ins. seven1] vials of the wrath 2[anger of God upon [into the earth. And the first went departed, and poured out his vial upon into2] the earth; and there fell [came (ἐγένετο)] a noisome [an evil] and grievous sore3 upon the men which [who] had the mark of the beast3[wild-beast], and upon them which [who] worshipped his image. And the second angel [om. angel4] poured out his vial upon [into] the sea; and it became as the [om. as the] blood [ins. as] of a dead man [man]: and every living soul [or soul of life (ψυχὴ ζωῆς)] died [ins., the things] in the sea. 4And the third angel [om. angel5] poured out his vial upon [into] the rivers and [ins. the] fountains of [ins. the] waters; and they became blood [or there came blood (ἐγένετο6 αἷμα)]. 5And I heard the angel of the waters say [saying], Thou art righteous, O Lord, [om. O Lord,]7 which [who] art, and [ins. who] wast, and shalt be [om. and shalt be8—ins. the9 Holy]. [or who art and who wast holy,]9 because thou hast judged thus [didst6adjudge these things], [;] For [because] they have [om. have] shed [poured out] the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for7[om. for]10 they are worthy. And I heard another out of [om. another out of]11 the altar say [saying], Even so [Yea], [ins. O] Lord [ins. the] God [ins., the] Almighty 8[or, All-Ruler12], true and righteous are thy judgments. And the fourth angel [om. angel13] poured out his vial upon (ἐπί) the sun; and power [om. power9—ins. it] was given unto him [it] to scorch [ins. the] men with fire. And [ins. the] men were scorched with great heat [scorching], and [ins. they]14 blasphemed the name15 of God, which [who] hath power [the authority] over these plagues:and they repented not to give him glory. 10And the fifth angel [om. angel16] poured out his vial upon the seat [throne] of the beast [wild-beast]; and his kingdom was full of darkness [became darkened]; and they gnawed their tongues for [because of (ἐκ)—ins. the] pain, 11and blasphemed the God of [ins. the] heaven because of (ἐκ) their pains and [ins. because of (ἐκ)] their sores, and repented not of (ἐκ) their deeds [works]. 12And the sixth angel [om. angel17] poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates18; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of thekings of the east [who are from the sun-rising] might be prepared. 13And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come [om. three unclean spirits like frogs come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast [wild beast], and outof the mouth of the false prophet [ins., three unclean spirits as frogs]. [;] 14for they are the [om. the] spirits of devils [demons], working miracles [doing signs], which [that]19 go forth unto [upon (ἐπί)] the kings of the earth and [om. of the earth and]20 of the whole world [inhabited world (οἰκουμένης)], to gather them [ins. together] to the battle [war] of that [the] great day of God [ins. the] Almighty15[or All-Ruler12]. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest [that] he walk [ins. not] naked, and they see his shame. 16And he [or they]21 gathered them together into a [the22] place called in the [om.the] Hebrew tongue [om. tongue] Armageddon [or Harmagedon]. 17And the seventh angel [om. angel23] poured out his vial into [upon] the air; and there came a great24 voice out of25 the temple of heaven [om. of heaven26], from the throne, saying, It is done. 18And there were (ἐγένετο) [ins. lightnings, and] voices, and thunders, and lightnings [om., and lightnings]; and there was (ἐγένετο) a great earthquake, such as was not since [from the times when] men were [a man was]27 upon the earth, so mighty [such] an earthquake, and [om. and] so great.19And the great city was divided [became (ἐγένετο)] into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great [om. great] Babylon [ins. the great] came in remembrance [was remembered] before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of thefierceness [anger] of his wrath. 20And every island fled away [om. away], and the21[om. the ] mountains were not found. And there fell upon men [om. there fell upon men] a great hail [ins. as of a talent in weight descendeth] out of [ins. the] heaven [ins. upon the men], every stone about the weight of a talent [om. every stone about the weight of a talent]; and [ins. the] men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great [because great is the plague of it exceedingly].
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The seven Vials of Anger embrace the collective Earth-picture of the world-judgment in general. Hence the seventh Vial is comprehended together with the rest, and not, like the seventh Seal and the seventh Trumpet, made the basis of a new Seven. The seven Angels of Anger follow each other in rapid succession and with terrible effect; only, between the third and fourth Vials, there occurs a double digression, in a sort as a theodicy of these fearful judgments and for the tranquillization of the startled mind. Now if we hold fast the idea that anger is an infliction of death, death being the decomposition, the dissolution of life, the explanation, in general, of the present section is already established;—especially if we further consider that the anger, or death-judgment, of God is operative through the medium of the anger of the heathen [nations], or the frenzy of false enthusiasm. Once more we are reminded of the lofty consciousness and teleology of the plagues. Only at the command of a great voice from the smoke-filled Temple—at the bidding of God, therefore—do the Angels begin their work. Each one knows, in his quality of Angel, his particular rank in the angelic series, and his particular mission. The following is the succession of the outpourings of anger:
1. Into the earth. This, therefore, is the death, the vital decomposition and dissolution of the New Testament Theocracy, the external phenomenal form of the Church (and relatively of the Christian State, inasmuch as the old Theocracy embraced both State and Church). (See the Introduction, pp. 33 sq.; 2 Thess. 2) The effect of this first Vial is a malignant sore, with which all the worshippers of the Beast are smitten. The consummate idolatrous world-spirit in the Church, in churchly dignities and forms, results in an incurable fiery sore of fanatical self-consumption and self-destruction (2 Tim. 2:17). The form of this sore is intoxication through the medium of the cup of anger, i. e., the confusing false enthusiasm or fanaticism which it inspires as the product of the denial of all religious and moral principles.
2. Into the sea. The worldly life of state and nations likewise becomes the subject of a process of decomposition which leads to death. Consummate passionate subjectivism and party-spirit, in all the forms of senseless self-intoxication, in mercantile, socialistic, absolutist and many other directions, finally rupture all social, popular, and political coherence. The sea becomes blood (Ex. 7), and this blood is as that of a dead man; dead blood. All the goods of the social life of the nations lose their vital value, because they have become the property of consummate egoism. They are dead like the men who determine their value, and operate fatally upon every one who would carry on his life in this sea of blood. Every living being, it is declared, died in the sea.
3. Into the rivers and fountains of waters. Self-empoisonment of mental currents, and, what is still worse, self-empoisonment of fountains, the original life of geniuses and men of talent. And there became blood [ἐγένετο αἶμα]. It is not said that this blood was like that of a dead man. The life of minds, of mental culture—pouring forth in an unnatural state of obduracy and frenzied deification of self, frenzied deification and bestialization of man—becomes a nauseous and fatal death-draught for those who would quell their thirst at the fountains and streams of waters. The natural life-fountains and life-rivers of minds have, in the perversion of moral nature to unnaturalness, become fountains and rivers of deadly intoxication and mental distraction.—Now ensues a pause. The Seer hears the Angel of the waters speaking. And here let us avoid the pagan and also Rabbinical conception of spirits of nature,—water or fire angels in the literal sense of the term. The Angel of the waters, in this passage, is the Angel who brings anger upon the water, the Angel of the Divine rule as exercised over the surging, social nation-life of men; just as the Angel of the Altar (Rev 16:7) or of the fire (Rev 14:18) is the spirit or teleology of all fire of sacrifice on earth. The Angel of the waters adores the righteousness of God in this terrible judgment upon the waters. Men must now drink blood, because they have shed the blood of Saints and Prophets, i. e., also, because they have first turned the heavenly fountains of waters on earth, out of which it was designed that they should drink, into blood. The assent of the other Angel from the Altar28 designates the natural consequence of the ancient blood-guiltiness still more decidedly, in accordance with the idea of the Altar, as a righteous judgment of God.
4. Upon the sun. The sun of revelation itself; not in respect of its essence, but in respect of its shining and effect. The true shining of the sun is as vitalizing life; its effect is healthful vital heat. But how is it when men begin to make Christianity, in great part, a hot-blooded system of confession or negation, a thing of priesthood or of sects!—how is it when churchly fanaticism begins to produce Sicarii, as did Jewish fanaticism in the Jewish war! The fanatical heat of the one class calls forth increasingly the blasphemy of the other, instead of all being horrified at this frightful incapacity for receiving the simple sunshine of Christianity in purity, at this still more frightful capacity for converting the light of revelation into nothing but a misleading and infatuating power and a consuming passion.
5. Upon the throne of the Beast. The Beast must still be understood in the general sense, like the City of Babylon (Rev 16:19), for the branching of the one judgment into three judgments has not yet taken place. The throne of the Beast is the government, the system of Antichrist. His kingdom became darkened; this means, we think, that it became confused in its contradictions—it lost its consistency. For it was a sphere of spiritual and religious-moral darkness from the beginning. Such self-confusion is already to be seen where atheism and spiritism, bigotry and blasphemy, criticism and fanaticism hold high carnival together.—Then a mighty and poignant self-scorn comes over the haughty spirit of the associates of this kingdom, and they gnaw their tongues in the pain of their impotence and nothingness. They blaspheme the God of the Heaven because of their pains. In so far as they need an object for their blasphemy, therefore, they are still theists. They blaspheme God as the God of the Heaven—all that is transcendent is hateful to them because the Beast has become their god on earth.29 In so far, also, as Nature reflects the Divine lineaments of her Creator, she too, doubtless, becomes the object of their blasphemy; indeed she is occasionally blasphemed even now by some who make her the subject of their investigations. Because of their pains and because of their sores they blaspheme; the sores—i. e., the malignant ulcers which do not, as local focuses, eliminate the morbid matter from the system, but which overpower the life, changing it into morbid matter and consuming it—continue, therefore, from the first Anger-vial through all the stages of outpoured anger. This blasphemy of despair sets in instead of the repentance of faith.
6. Upon the great river, the Euphrates. Here also we look upon the Euphrates as the line of demarkation between the civilized world and the barbarous and savage world of the nations of the East (Rev 20; Ezek. 38. sqq.). We see, accordingly, that the army of horsemen (Rev 9:14) comes from the hither shore of the Euphrates, from the region of Babylon, the seat of the most ancient civilization, the type of all Antichristian world-monarchies (Dan. 7). On the other hand, the kings of the East [from the sun-rising] come from beyond the Euphrates, as the representatives of all the barbarism of the remotest world. The drying up of the Euphrates, therefore, signifies that the barrier-line between the civilized world and the rudest and roughest popular life is done away with, in a social as well as a terrestrial sense. In consequence of the mental confusion and distraction resultant upon a false over-refinement, the way is prepared for the hostile attack of rudeness and barbarism upon the seat of culture. Nevertheless, the Eastern barbarian kings come not uncalled. Three spirits, resembling frogs, proceed out of the mouth of the Dragon, and out of the mouth of the Beast, and out of the mouth of the False Prophet. Thus a frog-clamor with three variations is formed. The key of Satan is contempt of man (Job 2:4); the key of the Beast is the deification of man (2 Thess. 2); the key of the False Prophet is a bigoted training of man—a compound of the preceding two elements (Rev 13:13, 14). Thus these modern nightingales, the frogs, announce the new spring-time of mankind. As spirits they are spirits of demons, of such demons as engender moral possession; with this effect they come upon the kings of the earth and set on foot the great revolt-alliance for the war of the great day of God, Who, as the All-Ruler, over-rules even this uprising (see Rev 19:19, 20:8). As the greatest of catastrophes, this event shall come very suddenly and as in the night-time—hence the admonition of Rev 16:15. None should abandon himself to spiritual carelessness, as one that sleeps without his garments, for a man so doing might be cast out naked into the night. This admonition applies even to the pious, in reference to the last time. The rebel host gathers, as appointed by God the Judge, at a field of battle called Harmageddon [or, Armageddon].
The enigmatical name of Harmageddon or Harmagadon gives occasion for a precursory examination of the entire section. The three special judgments following, from chapter 17 on, are already visible in this general sketch of the judgment. This is manifestly the case with the incipient judgment upon the Beast (Rev 16:10), as compared with the consummate judgment upon the Beast, Rev 19:19. So, likewise, the judgment upon Babylon (chs. 17 and 18) is visible in the judgment of the first Anger-vial, poured out upon the earth. The second Vial of anger is annexed to the first; the third and fourth form a transition to the fifth. The reflection of the sixth Vial of anger we behold in the judgment upon Gog and Magog. When these are said to surround the camp of the Saints and the beloved City, it necessitates the reference of the name Har-Magedon (Mount of Decision or Sentence) to the Mount of Olives in accordance with Zech. 14:4. The mountains of Israel shall in general, according to Ezek. 38 and 39, be mountains of decision. A more precise definition of the locality, the valley of the dead (Rev 39:11), leads us into the region between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea—likewise, therefore, into the vicinity of the Mount of Olives. Hence, the Seer may have merely borrowed the name from the northern waters of Megiddo, where the Israelites conquered the heathen kings of Canaan (Judges 5:19), and from the southern plain of Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29), where Josiah was defeated by the Egyptians,—possibly with the idea that the mountain of Megiddo puts an end to the fluctuations between victory and defeat in the wars of the people of God.
7. Upon the air. The air is the vital element of the earth, the sea, the sweet waters, and mankind. With the decomposition of this vital element—which cannot be understood simply of the common spirit-world of humanity, but must be regarded as having reference also to the cosmical vital conditions of men and of the earth, because the end in the former sense necessarily brings with it the end in the latter sense—the death of the old form of the world is decided. Hence a great voice resounds from the Temple of Heaven and from the Throne, saying: It is done. This end of the world (see Rev 20:9 sqq.), however, is not the annihilation of the world, but its setting, in order to a resurrection. Hence the dying of the old world is accomplished amid lightnings, and voices, and thunders, annunciatory of a new world, and together with these comes the great earthquake whose like has never been since men were on the earth (see 2 Peter 3). And now out of the great general judgment, the three special judgments develop (Rev 16:19). The great City is broken up into three parts. The judgment upon great Babylon consists, primarily, in the fact that it is divided into a small, specific, mock-holy Babylon, into the demonic Kingdom of the Beast, and into a brutal, Satanic mob-kingdom (comp. Ezek. 38:21, 22). The cities of the nations [Gentiles] likewise fall—the ancient seats of worldly civilization; the islands of small and intimate communities vanish, as do also the towering mountains;—great, secluded churches, even proud, firm-based states are sought for now in vain. Equilibrium in the spiritual world as well as in nature is destroyed; all things waver betwixt fiery heat and deathly cold;—hence the formation of hailstones, of the weight of a talent, which fall upon men; these hailstones and their fall are, of course, not to be apprehended in a purely material sense, according to which they would dash all men to pieces, but they are still real and terrible enough to provoke the remnants of a recognition of God in the wicked to fresh blasphemy. With the partition of Babylon the Great, the judgment is in reality already decided, there being a reciprocal negation on the side of the parts, and the whole, consequently, being in process of complete dissolution; in like manner the tower-building of ancient Babel was put an end to, and, in its centrality, judged, by the Divine dispersion of those engaged therein.
We call attention once more to the fact that in Rev 16:19 the ramification of the great general End-judgment into the three special Judgments now following, is expressed.
[ABSTRACT OF VIEWS, ETC.]
By the American Editor
[ELLIOTT: Chs. 16:1–14; 11:15–19; 14:6–8; 15, relate to the same period (see on p. 281)—viz.: “The era of the French Revolution, as figured under the first six Vials of the seventh Trumpet,” a period extending from A. D. 1789 to A. D. 1848. Chs. 11:15–19; 15:1–16. 1 is the introduction and commencement of the Vial-outpouring.30—(Note the similarity of the first four Vials to the first four Trumpets. See on p. 201). Rev 16:2. The first Vial. The ἕλκος (expressive of the boil that broke forth on the Egyptians, comp. Ex. 9:9,—probably the plague-spot or the smallpox) figures “some extraordinary outbreak of moral and social evil, the expression of deep-seated disease within, with raging pain and inflammation as its accompaniment—disease of Egyptian origin perhaps in the Apocalyptic sense of the word Egypt, and alike loathsome, deadly, self-corroding, and infectious—that would arise somewhere in Papal Europe, shortly after the cessation of the Turkish woe, and on the sounding of what might answer to the seventh Trumpet’s blast; an evil, too, which would soon overspread and infect the countries of Papal Europe generally and their inhabitants.” It symbolizes “that tremendous outbreak of social and moral evil, of democratic fury, atheism, and vice, which was speedily 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; its outward vent, expression and organ in the Jacobin clubs, and their seditious and atheistic publications; its result, the dissolution of all society, all morals, and all religions; with acts of atrocity and horror accompanying scarce paralleled in the history of man; and suffering and anguish of correspondent intensity throbbing throughout the whole social mass, and corroding it—that which from France as a centre, spread like a plague, through its affiliated societies, to the other countries of Papal Christendom; and proved, wherever its poison was imbibed, to be as much the punishment as the symptom of the corruption.”
Rev 16:3. The second Vial. A judgment on the maritime power, commerce, and colonies of the countries of Papal Christendom—i. e., Spain, France and Portugal. It symbolizes—(1) The great naval war which continued A. D. 1793–1815, in which “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. It is most truly stated by Dr. Keith (Signs of Times, ii., p. 209) that the whole history of the world does not present such a period of naval war, destruction, and bloodshed.” (2) The revolt of the transatlantic colonies and the following bloodshed.
Rev 16:4–7. The third Vial. It symbolizes the judgment of war and bloodshed visited on the countries watered by the Rhine and the Danube, and on the sub-Alpine provinces of Piedmont and Lombardy, A. D. 1792–1805.
Rev 16:8, 9. The fourth Vial. This symbolizes a judgment on the German Emperor and the other sovereigns of Papal Christendom. Napoleon, A. D. 1806, compelled the renunciation by the Emperor of Austria of the title “Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and of Germany;” he also deposed the other papal kings, and “scorched men with fire,” A. D. 1806–1809. (Comp. the Explanation of the fourth Trumpet, p. 201).
Rev 16:10. The fifth Vial. A judgment on Rome (the throne of the seven hills), consecutive on that of the former Vial. Immediately after the battle of Wagram, A. D. 1809, the Pope was subjected to insult and spoliation, his temporal authority over the Roman State was abolished, and Rome itself was incorporated with France as the second city of the empire.31
Rev 16:10 (last clause), 11 set forth—(1) The severity of sufferings endured; (2) the blasphemy (a) of France in atheism, (b) of Papal countries (subsequently of France also), in ascribing Divine prerogatives to creatures; (3) the continuance in sin of those who had been punished, after the cessation of the preceding judgments.
Rev 16:12. The sixth Vial. The first portion symbolizes judgment on the Mohammedan Turk, begun A. D. 1820, in the assertion of independence by Ali Pacha of Yanina, and the immediately-following Greek insurrection, and continuing in the gradual decay of the empire to the present time. By the kings from the sun-rising are symbolized the Jews; the way for their return to their own land being prepared in the decay and fall of the Turkish Empire. By the three frogs are figured three unholy principles, going forth throughout the whole habitable world—viz.: (1) from the Dragon, heathen-like infidelity; (2) from the Beast, popery; (3) from the False Prophet, priestcraft.——Rev 16:15–22:15, together with Rev 14:9–20, represents “The present and the future, from A. D. 1849 to the Millennium and Final Judgment”.—the first portion of which is the æra of the seventh Vial. Rev 14:9–20 presents the primary and briefer series of prefigurations of the æra of the seventh Vial in the part without-written32 of the Apocalypse, down to the wine-press treading before the Millennium; this consists of four parts—(1) Rev 16:9–11, a public and notorious outcry of warning throughout European Christendom and its dependencies as to what is meant by the Beast and his image, and as to the fate of their followers; (2) Rev 16:12, 13, a deep impression and earnest inculcation, on the part of the true Church, of the near approach of the grand epoch of blessedness predicted in Scripture of departed saints; (3) Rev 16:11–16, the first grand act of the judgments of the consummation on Antichristendom; (4) Rev 16:17–20, the last judgment, a judgment unto blood, upon apostate Christendom. Rev 16:15–21 presents “The fuller Apocalyptic figuration, as within-written,33 of the events immediately preparatory to, and those included in, the seventh Vial; down to the wine-press treading, and destruction of the Beast and False Prophet, immediately before the Millennium;” in it are—(1) Rev 16:15, an introduction to the outpouring, the warning, indicating increased faithfulness on the part of the ministry in declaring the coming of the Lord and the duty of being prepared to meet Him (?); (2) Rev 16:16, the success of the unclean spirits in influencing kings and people against Christ and His Church; (3) Rev 16:17–20, the seventh Vial—realities yet future are symbolized, viz.: An extraordinary convulsion, darkening and vitiation of the moral and political atmosphere of Europe (having, perhaps, a literal groundwork in some ominous derangement of the natural atmosphere), ministering disease to each body politic, and, perhaps, resolving society for awhile into its primary elements; resulting, finally, in the resolution of the Papal Empire into a tri-partite form, in which form Rome (including its subject ecclesiastical State and the political tri-partition connected with it), is to receive its peculiar and appalling fate.
BARNES agrees, in the main, with Elliott; he makes, however, the following important differences in interpretation: 1. The pouring out of the fourth Vial upon the sun, etc. (Rev 16:8), indicates “that a scene of calamity and woe would ensue as if the sun should be made to pour forth such intense heat that men would be ‘scorched,’ ” the reference being to the wars following the French Revolution.—2. By the kings of the East (Rev 16:12) are to be understood the rulers of the East (Orient?); “All that is fairly implied in the language here is that the kings of the East would be converted to the true religion,” and that the destruction of the Turkish power would be in order thereto.—3. The three malign influences symbolized by the “frogs” (Rev 16:13) are not specifically characterized.—This author quotes largely from Allison’s History of Europe in support of his interpretations.
STUART regards the Vials as a series of judgments upon the enemies of the Church, terminating primarily in the death of Nero and the destruction of Jerusalem, and ultimately (?) in the destruction of the Pagan power under Constantine. He writes: “The author of the Book has given a sketch which corresponds, with a good degree of exactness, to the state of facts. The persecuting power of the unbelieving Jews ceased in the main with the destruction of Jerusalem. Hence the tempest and earthquake which lay that place in ruins, are the finale of the first catastrophe. But not so with the second. The death of Nero was indeed the destruction of the Beast, for the time being, and it made a temporary end of persecution. But the Beast still came up again from the pit; the contest was renewed, and, with many remissions, continued down to the time of Constantine. Rome, as heathen, then finally ceased to persecute. The Beast was finally slain.”
WORDSWORTH regards the visions of the Vials as partially fulfilled, and yet only as “a prelude and specimen of what will be more fully developed.” He interprets the εἰς with which the ἐξέχεε of the first three Vials is construed as denoting infusion into and admixture with the object of punishment, and the ἐπί of the last four as indicating the Divine vengeance as trampling upon it. His interpretation of the Vials is as follows: 1. This plague is upon men’s persons, and consists in physical and spiritual disease, the result of the teachings and practices of the Papacy.—2. The sea represents nations in a restless state, and the plague is that carnal men lose the genuine properties of men and become mere things.—3. This plague is inflicted on the resources of the Papacy; those things that once supplied it with wealth and power (indulgences, pretended miracles, etc.), become occasions and instruments of its suffering and shame.—4. The temporal splendor (sun) of the Papacy, by the galling exactions through which it is maintained, already scorches its subjects.—5. “The fifth Vial is poured upon the throne of the Beast; and his kingdom is darkened. Here is another reference to the plagues of Egypt, etc. (No exposition is given.)—6. This plague consists in the decay of supremacy, secular and spiritual, which is to Rome, the spiritual Babylon, the source of her glory and strength, as was the literal Euphrates to the literal Babylon. By the kings of the East are symbolized saints whose advance Rome has hindered.—7. The destruction of Rome, the mystical Babylon, “the capital city of the Empire of the Beast.”
ALFORD. This writer remarks generally concerning the Vials: 1. The series reaches on to the time of the end, and the whole of it is to be placed near that time. 2. As in the Seals and the Trumpets there is a marked distinction between the first four and the following three—the objects of the former being the earth, the sea, the springs of water, and the sun, those of the latter being more particularized. 3. As in the other series, so here there is a compendious and anticipatory character about several of the Vials, leading us to believe that those of which this is not so plain, partake of this character also. 4. We have no longer, as in the Trumpets, a portion of each element affected, but the whole. 5. While by the plague of the fourth Trumpet the sun is partially darkened, by that of the fourth Vial its power is increased.—He presents no affirmative views as to the nature of the specific plagues, save in the case of the last, which he regards as indicating the destruction of the city of Rome and the execution of vengeance on the mystic Babylon.—For particular remarks see under EXPLANATIONS IN DETAIL.
LORD: The office of the seven Angela is simply to assist the revelation, by designating the commencement of the seven judgments, and distinguishing them as inflictions of Divine wrath; not to symbolize the agents on earth by whom they are caused. The interpretation of the several Vials is as follows: 1. The earth, when distinguished from the sea, etc., denotes the population of an empire under a settled government; the men were those who have the mark of the Wild-beast; the ulcer symbolizes an analogous disease of the mind; a restlessness and rancor of passion exasperated by agitating and noxious principles and opinions, that fill it with a sense of obstruction, degradation and misery—this ulcer represents the restlessness under injury, the ardor of resentment, hate, and revenge, the noxiousness and contagion of false principles and opinions that marked the commencement of the political disquiets of the European States toward the close of the last century.—2. The sea denotes the population of a central kingdom in violent commotion; it is to the animals that live in it what a people is to the monarchs, nobles, ecclesiastics, etc., who owe to them their support. This symbol denotes the second great act in the French Revolution, in which the people slaughtered one another, and exterminated all the influential ranks, king and queen, nobles, etc.—3. Rivers and fountains are to the sea what smaller exterior communities are to a great central nation. This symbol denotes the vast bloodshed in the other Apocalyptic kingdoms, in the insurrections and wars that sprung out of the French Revolution.—4. Those who exercise the government of a kingdom are to the people what the sun is to the land and sea. This symbol denotes that the rulers of the people on whom the preceding judgments fell, were to become armed with extraordinary and destructive powers, and to employ them in the most violent and insupportable oppression.—5. The ascription of a throne and kingdom to the Wild-beast shows that he is the symbol of the rulers of an empire. The effect of the Vial on the throne is not depicted, but only its consequence to the kingdom; the subversion of the throne, however, is implied—the event indicated is the subversion of the imperial throne of France, and re-establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in 1814 and 1815.—6. The Euphrates is used as a symbol in a relation analogous to that of the literal river to the literal Babylon. The entire symbol indicates that agencies are to be exerted by which vast crowds of the supporters of the nationalized hierarchies (see p. 283) are to be withdrawn from them. This Vial has already begun.—(Rev 16:13–16. The Dragon is the symbol of the rulers of the Eastern Roman Empire supporting an apostate Church, and arrogating the right of dictating the religion of their subjects, and implies that at the period of this event, a government is to subsist that shall nationalize the religion of that empire as under its last imperial head; the Wild-beast is the symbol of the civil rulers of the Kingdoms of the Western Empire; and the False-Prophet of the hierarchy of the Papal states. The unclean spirits represent ecclesiastics who profess to work miracles, and thus establish a Divine sanction to their mission; they induce the kings of the whole world to unite in a war to prevent the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom. The Great Day is the day when Christ shall visibly descend from Heaven and destroy His enemies and establish His Kingdom.)—7. This Vial is to be poured into the air which envelopes the globe, indicating that the great changes which follow it are to extend to all nations. Lightnings, voices, and thunders are symbols of the vehement thoughts and passionate expressions of multitudes, occasioned by the sudden discovery of momentous truth. The earthquake denotes a civil revolution in which the whole surface of universal society is to be thrown into disorder, and ancient political institutions to be shaken down. Great Babylon (p. 283) is to be divided into three parts. The cities of the nations are the hierarchies without the ten kings, as the Russian, Greek, etc.; these are to fall. Great Babylon is then to be destroyed. Every smaller combination of men symbolized by the islands is to be dissolved, etc. These events are to follow the Advent, to precede the vintage and perhaps the harvest, and are to occupy a considerable period.
GLASGOW interprets the Vials: 1. The Vial was poured out by the preaching of Luther in 1517; the woe was executed in the wars waged by Charles V., subsequent to 1519, against France and Rome.—2. Poured out in the great Protest in 1529; the woe executed in the immediately following wars.—3. The rivers and fountains represent the purer Christians that, living in the midst of a nominal Christianity, have spiritual life. The pouring out of this Vial is the shedding of Protestant martyrs’ blood, beginning in 1546; followed by the shedding of retributive blood.—4. Symbolizes a stroke (?) upon the ecclesiastical power. It began at the rising of the Tridentine Council in 1564, and was followed by the Popedom of Pius V., the revolution in Holland, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the invasion of the English coast by the Spanish Armada, etc., producing what has been styled “the counter-Reformation.”—5. The attitude of self-defence assumed by the Protestants against Rome, followed by the Thirty Years’ War.—6. The decay of the population and power of the nations that constitute Great Babylon, i. e., the Roman or Latin nations, beginning with the first French revolution.—7. The air represents the intellectual department of knowledge. The pouring out of this Vial symbolizes the remarkable changes in political ideas, and revolutions in governments that have taken place and are yet to take place in consequence of the unprecedented advance in Science and Philosophy, to terminate in the destruction of the systems of the heathen world (involved in the fall of the cities of the nations) and Romanism (involved in the fall of Babylon or Rome).—E. R. C.]
EXPLANATIONS IN DETAIL
On the different divisions of the Vials of Anger into four and three, and five and two, compare Düsterdieck, p. 489. The same commentator observes here (in variation from p. 21) that “all seven Vials are poured out one after the other without intermission.” At all events, the vehement haste of a rapid approach to the end is unmistakable. Though there is no longer question of a fraction that is smitten (first a fourth, then a third), yet the generalness of the phrase, on the earth, on the sea, etc., is not to be understood in a literally absolute sense, but only as a universal operation which draws the process of worldly history to a close; otherwise we could hear no more of an emerging Church of God, the Bride of Christ.
Rev 16:1. A great voice.—“This can belong only to God Himself (Bengel, Züllig, Hengstenberg).” Düsterdieck. The voice speaks, however, of the Vials of the anger of God.—The voice out of the Temple is the voice of the Temple itself. The house of salvation says: My work upon this hardened race is at an end; now let the reign of anger begin. In like manner it was the spirit of compassion, from the four horns of the Altar, which in its time gave the signal for the loosing of the hosts of horsemen by the Euphrates (see Rev 9:13). The Apostle Paul makes the entirely analogous declaration (1 Cor. 5): “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have determined.… to deliver the same unto Satan.” See Rom. 2:5.
Into the earth.—Here the earth embraces the whole sphere of the Vials of Anger, in distinction from [the earth of] Rev 16:2. Comp. Rev 8:5.
Rev 16:2. Into the earth.—The earth in a special sense, in accordance with its symbolical import (see above).—An evil and grievous sore.—Ex. 9:10, Deut. 28:35, Job 2:7. The malignant sore comes upon individual men from the earth—from the corrupt mass it fastens upon individuals; the corrupt character of the theocratic authority corrupts those characters that are subject to it, throws them into a condition of moral self-consumption. As they have marked themselves with the χάραγμα of the Beast, they are now, by way of retribution, marked with the sore.
Rev 16:3. Into the sea.—On the symbolical import of this, see Syn. View.—Blood as of a dead man.—“Not a great pool of blood, as of many slain (on νεκροῦ as=νεκρῶν, see à-Lapide, Eichh., De Wette, Hengsten., et al.), but the horribleness of the fact is increased by the circumstance that the sea seems like the coagulated and already putrefying blood of a dead man (Bengel, Züllig, et al.).” Düsterd. Since the blood of a living person quickly coagulates, the difference does not seem so very great. The main thing is that it is changed as into dead blood of dead men, in which no living being can be without dying. Fearful deadly poisoning of the life of the nations. That which had its being in this sea, lost its life in it. “Τὰ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ is in apposition” (Ebrard).
Rev 16:4–7. Into the rivers and fountains of waters.—The drinkableness of this blood, as contrasted with that of the sea, should, we think, not be premised34. Here the drinking of blood is a punishment; in Rev 17:6 it appears as an offence meriting punishment. In the latter passage, the effect of fanatical blood-shedding, intoxicating even to frenzy, is meant; here we have the punishment of men with the drinking, repugnant to nature, of blood—the imbibing of nauseous and pernicious draughts of moral death (ever provocative of greater thirst) which they derive from those very streams and fountains that should give them clear, refreshing, living water.
And I heard the Angel of the waters saying.—This Angel is certainly not the guardian Angel of the physical waters (see De Wette, p. 156, with reference to Rev 7:1—“Angels over the winds”—and Rev 14:18—an Angel over fire), but neither is he merely “the Angel who emptied the Vial upon the water” (Grot., Ebrard). As sacrifices and prayers have a divinely ordained mission, represented by the fire-Angel, so geniuses—or the source-points of spiritual [geistig=intellectual, spiritual, as distinct from material] life—and spiritual [geistig] currents have their divinely-appointed mission. The spirit of the Divine destination of spirits and spirit-currents, therefore, gives utterance to the subsequent deliverance upon the great criminality of those men who have perverted these Divine appointments into the unnatural and horrible opposite of that which they were intended to be—into fountains and rivers of blood and death. According to Düsterdieck, the four Living-beings are analogous to the Angel over the water; he perceives a similarity to them in the Danielic Angel-princes also, whom he mentions (p. 492) in connection with Rabbinical conceptions (“earth-angels, sea-angels, fire-angels and the like).” Hengstenberg violently assumes a connection between our passage and John 5:4.
Who art and Who wast.—“The καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος is wanting here as in Rev 11:17, because the coming to judgment is already in process of fulfillment.”—Holy, ὅσιος.—In this retribution, God has shown not only His righteousness, but also His ὁσιότης, His holy and pure personal dignity, the Divine humanity of His government, as making visitation in this judgment for the criminal contempt of personal dignity. [The term ὅσιος has reference to the covenant love and mercy of Jehovah toward His own people. It is here used as the most fitting ascription to Him who had avenged the blood of His ἄγιοι, His consecrated ones, upon their persecutors.35—E. R. C.]—The blood of saints. —Matt. 23:35; Rev. 6:10, 17:6, 18:24, 19:2.
From the altar.36—The spirit of human destiny is not alone in adoring the righteousness and purity of God in this judgment; the spirit of sacrifice, of reconciliation, of intercession, joins in the sentiments uttered by the former. Over against the praise of Jehovah, the voice from the Altar brings in view the almighty sovereignty of God, the rule of Elohim Sabaoth, and instead of God’s holiness it magnifies, together with the righteousness, the truth in the judgments of God. These do not appear simply at the end, unmediated; they are prepared from the beginning by the prophecies of the Scriptures, of the human conscience, and of history. The bold and hence difficult expression personifying the Altar, has been the subject of manifold conjectures and additions, such as the following: Another Angel from the Altar [E. V.]; the Angel who keeps watch over the spirits under the Altar; an inhabitant of Heaven standing by the Altar, etc. The explanation of Bede: Interior affectus sanctorum vel angelorum vel hominum, does not properly belong in this category of supplements cited by Düsterdieck. See Rev 9:13. According to Düsterdieck, the idea of the speaking Altar is intelligible from chaps. 6:10, 8:3, 9:13, 14:18. But no more than we are at liberty to identify all Altar-visions, may we identify the voice of the Altar itself and the voice of soul-lives beneath it crying for vengeance. According to Hengstenberg, “the Altar itself here rejoices at the vengeance” for the “blood shed upon it” (?).
Rev 16:8, 9. Upon the sun.—Reference is not had to the sun considered by and for itself; but neither is the sun, “in its burning quality,” “the figure of the sufferings of this life.” The operation of the sun of revelation is intended (comp. Rev 8:12). This operation—which is Christianity,—from being an enlightening and warming agency of blessing, is, by the anger-fire of fanaticism, over which the anger of God rules injudgment, converted into a glowing fire-shine [instead of the former and proper sun-shine.—TR.], which makes men hot with great heat (passive); hereupon men, unable to distinguish between this fervid glow of an externalized Christianity and the name of God, Divine revelation itself, blaspheme the name of the God Who has authority over these plagues, instead of becoming converted (and so distinguishing between revelation-faith and fanaticism) and giving Him glory. This obduracy must be distinguished from impenitency (Rev 9:20).—It was given unto it; αὐτῷ—to the sun (De Wette, et al.). Bengel and others incorrectly: to the Angel.
Rev 16:10, 11. Upon the throne of the Wild-beast.—As in the fourth Vial of Anger the judgment upon Babylon, the Harlot, is already foreshadowed, so in this fifth Vial the judgment upon the Beast, and in the sixth the judgment upon Gog and Magog (see Rev 13:2; 2 Thess. 2) are intimated.—The throne of the Beast is the principial system upon which the power of the Antichristian life of the people rests. There is no question of the fact that the principle of the absolute sovereignty of the absolute quantitative majority is the root of the most godless and mischievous confusions and seditious agitations, and that with the loosing of these confusions, induced by the Angel of anger, a great intellectual and social darkness must of necessity diffuse itself over that kingdom (not rulerdom) of the Beast which, in an ethical sense, was already darkened. That there may be an allusion to the Egyptian darkness is not, indeed, to be denied; it, however, plays no important part here.—They gnawed their tongues.—Together with the sensation of torment, the emotion of rage is expressed, as in the wailing and gnashing of teeth.—Blasphemed the God of the Heaven.—The blasphemy is directed no longer simply against the name of God, revelation, but against the God of the Heaven, the primeval revelation of God, and God in His universal revelation—hence, against all that is Divine. They have now reached the stage of recognizing, in the incipient ruin of the bestial kingdom, all the foregoing plagues, as plagues, but instead of now, at last, repenting of their works, they pass from their unbelief to that demonic belief in which they do indeed recognize the God of Heaven as the author of their plagues and sores, but recognize Him only consciously to blaspheme Him even in this phase of heavenly omnipotence and glory. Ebrard queries how a darkening or mere withdrawal of light can be conceived of as causing so great torments. The key to this problem is, he thinks, furnished by the locust-plague of the fifth Trumpet—the present darkness being occasioned, as he maintains, by a host of scorpions—and he declares that “any man who is not wilfully blind must be able to see this.” The sores of Rev 16:11 are also, as he thinks, distinguished from those of Rev 16:2, as the consequences of the unmentioned scorpion-stings. The problem as here set forth presupposes sensuous causes and effects; in the spiritual realm, however, there is nothing easier of conception than that the incipient darkening of the Antichristian Kingdom and all the fanatical hopes based upon it should result in the rage and torment of despair.
Rev 16:12–16. Upon the great river [Lange: the] Euphrates.—See SYN. VIEW; comp. Rev 9:14. Above all things we must distinguish between the starting-point of this side of the Euphrates (Rev 9.) and that of beyond the Euphrates. Therein is contained not merely a distinction, but also a contrast. It is wrong, therefore, to identify the Eastern kings with the four Angels (Ebrard). As little are they identical with the ten kings, Rev 17:12, who give their power to the Beast (De Wette, Düsterd.). The preparation of the judgment upon the Beast was treated of under the fifth Vial of anger. References to Eastern kings or Parthian allies ([confederated with Nero against Rome] Ewald), in the interest of the so-called synchrono-historical interpretation, need no more than a mention. An utter misapprehension of the sixth plague is manifested in Bengel’s designation of the imminent judgment upon the kings as itself the plague, into which the kings run. The plague, undoubtedly, culminates in the barely intimated defeat of the kings; but their very coming is a plague also, because, like the Hun and Mongol trains, they sweep away with them to the battle against God all the unsealed men and powers on their road. On account of the laying bare of the Euphrates’ bed, an event of historical occurrence in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, it is maintained by some (Hofmann, Ebrard, De Wette, Brückner) that a battle of the Eastern kings against the spiritual Babylon is intended. To De Wette this passage suggests the passage of Israel through the Jordan. A number of interpretations of the kings see in De Wette, p. 157. Alcasar: The Apostles and Evangelists; Bullinger and others: Believing princes; Grotius: Constantine the Great; Vitringa: The Kingdom of France. Others: The King of Persia, the Barbarians, the Turks, the Flavians. Jews adopting the Christian faith (Herder: the Babylonish Jews who go to the aid of those of Palestine), etc.
Out of the mouth of the Dragon, etc.—Combined operation of all the evil powers. Out of the three great mouths go forth three unclean spirits, as spirits of seduction. Or rather they have gone forth from these mouths and now exist independently, although at the time of the last battle, in which Gog and Magog are judged, the Beast and the False Prophet are already destroyed (Rev 19:10). On the other hand, some expositors would fain read in Rev 16:14 ἐκπορεύεσθαι instead of ἐκπορεύεται, in order, by means of an artificial construction (see Hengstenberg), to gain the missing verb—which would, however, occasion material difficulties. The seed of rebellion lives on in impure spirits in that ring of heathenism which encircles the Millennial Kingdom. Be it, moreover, considered that here we are still in the course of the collective unitous description of the preparation for the General Judgment, and the colors of the three judgments still play into each other.
As frogs.—This similarity is borne by the unclean spirits themselves; it is not their uncleanness simply that is denoted by the ὡς (as according to Hengstenberg). The Egyptian frogs (Ex. 8) were plaguing spirits because they went everywhere and defiled every thing with their uncleanness; these are plaguing spirits because they go forth to all parts as unclean demons, and seduce the kings of the earth to war against the City of God. They operate as spirits of demons, i. e., through ethico-psychical domination, after the analogy of possession. Even after the judgment upon the centralization of evil in the Harlot, in the Beast, and in the False Prophet, Satanic evil shall continue to exist in a seed of evil reminiscences amongst the heathen, and in demonic operations. The expedition to which they excite the Eastern peoples is not directed against Babylon=Rome, for this has already (Rev 17:18) incurred judgment. Hengstenberg says that the expedition is directed against Canaan, i. e., the Church, and that the prediction has reference “not to something that shall happen at some one future time, but to that which is to be continually repeated.” It is also asserted that Rome is not referred to, because all the other plagues have an œcumenical character. As if it were not called urbs from orbis. That the expedition is really not directed against Babylon-Rome is evident from the order of the judgments. According to Grotius, by the three frogs should be understood three forms of superstition to which Maxentius was addicted (the first is extispicium, not exstispicium); according to Luther, the sophists—namely, Faber, Eck and Emser; according to Vitringa, the Jesuits (the dried Euphrates being France, drained by its kings); according to Calovius, the Jesuits, Capuchins and Calvinists, etc. According to Düsterdieck, we should not ask what is to be understood by these three spirits—i. e., they are schematical—importing nothing. According to Artemidor (see De Wette), the frogs are significant of jugglers and buffoons. Aristophanes portrayed their allegorical significance long before the writing of the Apocalypse. The frog has been used as a symbol in manifold connections (see Friedrich, Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur, p. 611). A lively interpretation of these little impotent, yet withal vociferous, dwellers in slime, see in Ebrard, p. 435. Friedrich brings out the additional fact that frogs have impudent eyes.
Doing signs.—By this can be meant only lying apparent miracles37—a description which applies to demonic miracles in general. De Wette speaks of an infatuating eloquence. The charm of eternally-repeated phrases is resident in will-magic, in the overpowering of weak souls by the semblance of assurance.—The kings of the whole inhabited world.—This expression is conditioned by the preceding words: the Eastern kings; although these may finally draw yet other powers into their vortex.—To the war of the great day.—The two days and the two battles [wars] (Rev 19:19, 20:9) are as yet wrapped together in one—in such a manner, however, that the last battle is faintly visible. See Ezek. 38, 39; Dan 12:1; Zech. 12, 14.—The day of the last end-judgment, properly so-called (Jude 6). Thus Bengel, De Wette, and others. Other interpretations: the day is the entire time from the passion of Christ to the end (Bede). “The day of God has a comprehensive character, denoting all the phases of God’s judgments, etc.” (Hengst.) This is an attempt at the obliteration of definities—paving the way for his theory of the Millennial Kingdom.
[The expressions, day of the Lord, great day of the Lord, etc., are of frequent occurrence in the New Testament; see Acts 2:20; 1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10, 12. These passages (with the exception, perhaps, of those in 2 Peter), together with the one under consideration, seem to refer to the day of Christ’s appearing for the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom (comp. Rev 19:11–21; Matt. 24:30 sqq.), and not to the day of Final Judgment (comp. Rev 20:11–15; Matt. 25:31 sqq.) See Excursus on THE FUTURE COMINGS OF THE LORD, p. 339.—E. R. C.]
Behold, I come as a thief.—A practical, warning digression of the Apostle, as in similar great decisive moments. As a vivid reminder of a saying of the Lord, he introduces the Lord as immediately speaking (see Matt. 24:43, 44, Luke 12:39, Rev. 3:3). [Not a digression of the Apocalyptist, but a solemn re-affirmation by the Spirit of the warning of Jesus and His Apostles; comp. Matt. 24:43, 44; Mark 13:35, 36; Luke 12:39; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10.—E. R. C.] The peculiar form of Christ’s admonition—as recommending watchfulness—is doubtless based upon the fact that He is speaking to believing readers. The keeping of the garments of salvation is an idea which lies the closer at hand since the glance of the Seer passes beyond even the day of the Parousia and the secure years of the Millennial Kingdom.
And He [or they], etc.—The combatants are, without their will or even their knowledge, under the guidance of God, Who brings them to the battle-ground of their defeat (Ezek. 39:2). The subject of συνήγαγεν is God (Hengsten., Ebrard); not the sixth Angel (Bengel), nor the Dragon (Ewald), nor, still less, the unclean spirits (Bleek, De Wette [Düsterdieck]).38 Harmageddon.—See SYN. VIEW. On the different interpretations of Harmageddon, see Düsterdieck, p. 499. (Etymological interpretations: Excidium exercitus; the Capitol; Mount Janiculus. Historical interpretations: The Megiddo of Jud. 5:19, or the Megiddo of Josiah, 2 Kings 23:29; comp. Zech. 12:11.) Düsterdieck indeed notes the fact that the term mountain of Megiddo (הַרמְגִדּזֹ) differs from both of the Old Testament appellations—the waters of Megiddo, and the valley (Germ., Ebene=plain] of Megiddo; he, however, looks upon this distinction as an accessory circumstance, and thinks that there can be a reference only to the place where the Israelites were victorious over the kings of Canaan (Jud. 5:19). But why should not the fateful name of Megiddo have given occasion to a symbolical compound, with reference to Ezekiel and Zechariah?—denoting, therefore, the mountains of Jerusalem in a symbolical sense. On the repeated reference to Rome in Ewald, see Düsterdieck.—In an architectonic aspect it is very noteworthy that the sixth plague conducts us to the place of judgment at Harmageddon, without describing the judgment itself.
[Harmagedon.—“It is evidently in the meaning of the Hebrew name of this place that its appropriate significance lies. For otherwise why should ἑβραϊστί be prefixed to it? … But this circumstance does not deprive the name of geographical reality; and it is most probable on every account that such reality exists here. The words τὸν τόπον τὸν καλούμενον would surely not be used except of a real place habitually so named, or by a name very like this. Nor need we search very far for the place pointed out. הר־מגדּז, the Mountain of Megiddo, designates at least the neighborhood where the Canaanitish kings were overthrown by Barak, Jud. 5:19; an occasion which gave rise to one of the two triumphal songs of Israel recorded in the Old Testament, and therefore one well worthy of symbolizing the great final overthrow of the kings of the earth leagued against Christ.39 That the name slightly differs from that given in the Old Testament, where it is the plain (2 Chron. 35:22) or the waters (Judg. 5:19) of Megiddo, is of slight consequence, and may be owing to a reason which I shall dwell on below. The LXX. in both places adopt the form which we have here, Μαγεδώ—δών or δδώ. Nor must it be forgotten that Megiddo was connected with another overthrow and slaughter, viz., that of Josiah by Pharaoh-Necho (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron. 35:22), which, though not analogous to this predicted battle in its issue, yet served to keep up the character of the place as one of overthrow and calamity; cf. also Zech. 12:11, and the striking description, 2 Chron. 35:25, of the ordinance of lamentation for Josiah. At Megiddo also another Jewish king, Ahaziah, died of the wounds received from Jehu, 2 Kings 9:27. The prefix Har, signifying ‘mountain,’ has its local propriety, see Stanley’s description of the plain of Esdraelon, in the opening of his Sinai and Palestine, Rev 9. … Still there may have been a deeper reason which led to, or, at all events, justified the prefix. As the name now stands, it has a meaning ominous of the great overthrow which is to take place on the spot. Drusius, believing the word to be merely a mystic one, explains it to be חרמא גדהזן ‘internecio exercitus eorum,’ the overthrow of their army. But, conceding and maintaining the geographical reality, must not we suppose that such a name, with such a sound, so associated with the past, bore to a Hebrew ear, when used of the future, its ominous significance of overthrow? It is remarkable that in Zech. 12:11, where the mourning for Josiah is alluded to, the LXX. render not the plain of Megiddo, but ἐν πεδίῳ ἐκκοπτομένου, and this agrees with the interpretation of Andreas here, who supposes the name equivalent to διακοπή.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:17–21. And the seventh Angel poured out his vial upon the air.—The air is the common life-sphere of men. The Anger-Vial in the air is, therefore, in the first place a deadly decomposition of the spiritual life-sphere of men, resulting in the falling asunder of great communities. And this is the immediate result depicted in Rev 16:19. But with the separation of the three powers, Babylon, the Beast, Gog and Magog, is also introduced the cosmical decomposition of the earthly life-sphere—the end of the world.—From the temple, from the throne.—The throne does not appear to us to be expressive merely of a climax, in order to the more certain indication that the voice comes from God Himself (Düsterd.). From the Throne is, primarily, a modification—hence there is no καί to connect it with the preceding sentence. The Temple is the Holy of Holies; the Throne is the covering of the Ark of the Covenant. The consonance of Temple and Throne is the consonance of the economy of Christ and the economy of the Father. It is, in fine, a unisonous deliverance of the sentiment of the Church of God, as well as of the terrestrial cosmos, through which the voice of God is heard, saying: It is done! The end is decided. We take the word absolutely, with Eichhorn and others (actum est)—not, however, in the following sense: now is done that which was commanded (in Rev 16:1) (Bengel, Düsterd., et al.). A learned digression explains:: fuit Roma (Grotius).
And there were lightnings, etc.—Rev 11:19. Hengstenberg: “We have again reached precisely the same point at which we were already in Rev 11.” Approximately true. According to Hofmann, the present vision comes to an end in the midst of Rev 16:18, and with the words καὶ σεισμός, etc., a new leading vision begins. On the evangelical import of the lightnings and thunders, see SYN. VIEW.—There follows then a great earthquake, such as was never heard of before—a convulsion of earthly relations to their very foundations, so that the Christian world is sundered into three parts, more truly, even, than the Jewish world was thus rent previous to the first Parousia of Christ.—And the great City.—We have already more than once pointed out the decisive import of this passage. It contains the key to all that follows, as a summary declaration, namely, of the General Judgment and as a disposition of the three following special judgments (Babylon—the Beast—Gog and Magog). Hence it results also that the great City, as such, must comprehend all three parts, and consequently that it can denote neither Christian nor Pagan Rome, though Rome is its highest representative point. Still further from the truth is the reference to Jerusalem (Bengel, Herder, Hofmann, et al.). Considered in and for itself, the great City is an ideal City, embracing all Antichristianity in the Occident and in the Orient. According to Hengstenberg (who remarks that two Cities in the Apocalypse bear the title of great, Jerusalem and Babylon, i. e., Rome), not only are we to avoid thinking of Jerusalem in this connexion, but we are also to put Christian Rome out of our thoughts—the City, he maintains, can be only a heathen City, heathen Rome. A certain tender care for “Christian” Rome is hardly mistakable here. It is impossible, however, that eschatological Antichristianity should ripen in a heathen City, knowing nothing properly of Christianity.—Became into three parts.—“The number three (comp. Rev 8:7, 8, 11, 12) has, perchance, a special reference to the three arch-enemies, Rev 16:13” (Ebrard). Düsterdieck: The Beast and the False Prophet, however, are regarded as one vanquished power (Rev 19.). The severance of two hostile powers is rightly insisted upon by Ebrard (p. 451); it cannot, however, be said that the third comes direct from the abyss, for the Eastern kings are on the ground; further, the specific Antichrist, in the narrower sense of the term, is the Beast (Rev 19), not Satan (Rev 20).—Babylon the great was remembered, etc.—Acts 10:31. Great Babylon is but the more definite designation of the great City. She receives the anger-wine of the seventh Vial of Anger to drink, and the effect of this wine continues through all the three special judgments now following. The anger of wrath [τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς] is aptly symbolized by the wine-cup; i. e., psychical intoxication and drunkenness, spiritual delirium-tremens, is the common fundamental trait whence, in all three judgments, death proceeds.—The cities of the nations [Lange: Heiden], etc.—See SYN. VIEW. Rev 16:20—According to Hengstenb., the islands and the mountains are indicative of kingdoms. “Together with the islands and the mountains” (says the same expositor) “the sea, also, has vanished.” In a physical connection this is no necessary consequence, and in a symbolical connection we are constrained to ask: In what respect has the sea vanished?
Rev 16:21. And a great hail, as of a talent in weight, etc.—“Hailstones of the weight of a mina are called incredibly great by Diodor. Sic. xix. 45, but our passage mentions hailstones of the weight of a talent, which contains sixty minas; they are, therefore, probably of equal weight with the stones used in the catapults” (Düsterdieck; comp. De Wette, p. 161). According to Ebrard, the hail of a hundred-pounds’ weight, “symbolizes the tremendous blows of suffering and sorrow which the world sustains in this time of revolution.”40 Hail is a specific devastating atmospheric discharge arising from the tension of the physical extremes of heat and cold, and their conflict. Thus, after the dissolution of human fellowship, the most ruinous conflicts of the extreme parties will arise; most fearful in their effects, however, will be the momentary coalitions that will take place—a truth typically exemplified at the crucifixion of Christ [where Sanhedrin and rabble, Jew and Roman, for the time made common cause.—TR.]. But the great fluctuations of nature in the ageing cosmos are also expressed in this figure.—And men blasphemed God.—In order to be able to blaspheme God, they are in a sense become monotheists again [or, rather, the fearful exigency has startled them out of their false systems and brought their inner consciousness of the One Almighty to the surface.—TR.]. It is, certainly, not necessary to suppose that those who are struck by such a hail, blaspheme as they are dying (Hengstenberg). “Some are precipitated lifeless to the earth, others blaspheme” (Düsterdieck). “We are, assuredly, not to imagine that actual natural hail is meant” (Ebrard). This blasphemy is the result of the rage with which they are irritated by a course of worldly affairs which is utterly incomprehensible to them, and by the hostile view of the world which confronts them. Even now not only radicalism, but also liberalism operates thus upon the minds of the hierarchical party; and, vice versâ, not only papacy, but even Christianity itself has the like effect upon anarchico-revolutionary spirits. Even in view of the objective world and the course of the times, extremists become increasingly irritated. Especially, not only socialistic, but also absolutist fanaticism is at a loss for money, weapons, wind and weather for the prosecution of extreme party-aims. All-sided pessimism, the issue of optimistic extravagances.—Different historical interpretations of the Vials of Anger, see in Düsterdieck, p. 503.
[ADDITIONAL NOTE ON THE SEVEN VIALS]
By the American Editor
[In the judgment of the writer, the vision of the Seven Vials relates to events still future—events the last of which will immediately precede the advent of Christ for the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom. The plagues predicted are to be executed upon the opposers of Christ and His true followers—upon the followers of the Beast (i. e., the world-power, p. 272) and Babylon (i. e., the apostate or world-allied Church, see ADD. NOTE on p. 317); the whole series, possibly, constituting that which in Rev 7:14 is styled simply “the great tribulation” (see ADD. NOTE, pp. 191 sq.).
The writer is disposed to regard the terms earth, sea, rivers and fountains, and sun, of the first four Vials (Rev 16:2–10), as having been used literally—the prophecy being that these should be so affected as to cause them to give forth deleterious influences.—If by the Beast is to be understood the world-power, then, probably, by the pouring of the fifth Vial on his throne (Rev 16:10) we are to understand some influence upon established civil governments—either destructive, covering the nations with the darkness of anarchy; or strengthening, producing the darkness which flows from tyrannical oppression.—By the Euphrates of the sixth Vial we are, probably, to understand, with Wordsworth, Lord, and others, that which is to the mystical Babylon what the literal river was to the literal city. If this view be correct, then may we regard the symbol as indicating that current of opinion amongst worldlings in favor of, or those multitudes in the world allied to, the Apostate Church (“many waters” of Rev 17:1 and 15?). The drying up of these waters, or their falling away from Babylon, would prepare the way for her destruction set forth, Rev 17:16. May it not be that the kings from the sun-rising are those mentioned Rev 17:12, 13, 16, who are to destroy the Harlot (i. e., Babylon, comp. Rev 17:1 and 5)—and who are described as from the sun-rising from the fact either that when the Apocalyptist wrote they were below the horizon of vision, yet to arise (Rev 17:12); or that they were to come from the East? By the frogs (Rev 16:13, 14) we may understand teachers of evil, instigated by Satan, and some having civil and others ecclesiastical authority, and working miracles (see Additional Comment on Rev 13:13, p. 270), who shall seduce the nations into an assault on Christ and His true Church. For an explanation of Harmagedon, see the extract from Alford on p. 302.—The seventh Vial poured out upon the air may indicate an effect produced upon the literal atmosphere, at once universal in its influence and producing fearful convulsions in the realms of nature and in human society (comp. Isa. 13:6–10; Joel 2:1, 2, 10, 30, 31; 3:15; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24, 25; Luke 21:25, 26; Acts 2:19, 20;41 Rev. 6:12–17; see also Note on the sixth Seal, p. 179). The destruction of Babylon, here alluded to, is described in the following chapters.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:1. [Crit. Eds. generally give ἑπτά with א. A. B*. C. Vulg., etc.; Lange omits with P. 1, 28, etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:2. Εἰς instead of ἐπί. [So Crit. Eds. with אc. A. B*. C. P., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:2. ̓Επί instead of εἰς. [So Crit. Eds. with א. A. B*. C. P., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:3. [Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. omit ἄγγελος with אc. A. C. P., Am., Fuld., Demid., Tol., etc.; Lange retains with B*., Clem., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:4. [Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. omit ἄγγελος with א. A. B*. C. P., Vulg., etc.; Lange retains with 1, 35, etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:4. [Lange, Alf., Treg., Tisch. give ἐγένετο with א. B*. C. P. 1, Vulg., etc.; Lachmann reads ἐγένοντο with A. 36, 96, etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:5. [Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. omit Κύριε with א. A. B*. C. P. 1, Am., Fuld., Demid., Tol, etc.; Lange retains with Clem., Lips., Æth.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:5. [Ἐρχόμενος is without authority; all Crit. Eds. read ὅσιος.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:5. Ὅσιος without καἱ ὅ. [So also Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. (1859), with A. B*. C.; Tisch. (8th Ed.) gives ὅ with א. P.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:6. [Crit. Eds. generally omit with A. B*. C. P. etc.; א gives ὅπερ.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:7. [Crit. Eds., with א. A. C. P., give simply τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου λέγοντος.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:7. [See Additional Comment on Rev 1:8, p. 93.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:8. [Crit. Eds. generally omit ἅγγελος with A. B*. C. P., Am., Fuld., Tol., etc.; Lange retains, with א. 1, 6, Clem., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:9. [Gb., Sz., Tisch. (1859) insert οἱ ἄνθρωποι with B*.; Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. (8th Ed.) read as above, with א. A. C. P. 1, 36, Vulg., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:9. [Crit. Eds. generally read τὸ ὄνομα; A. gives ἐνώπιον.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:10. [Crit. Eds. generally omit with א. A. B*. C. P., Am., Fuld., Demid., Tol, etc.; it is given in 35, 36, etc., Clem., etc.; Lange brackets.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:12. [Crit. Eds. generally omit as in preceding Note; Lange retains.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:12. [Gb., Sz., Tisch. (8th Ed.) omit the article before Euphrates with א. B*. P., etc.; Lach., Alf., Tisch. (1859), Lange, prefix it, with A. C. 1, etc.; Treg. brackets.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:14. The reading ἐκπορεύεσθαι is unimportant. [Alf., Treg., Tisch. read ἂ ἐκπορεύεται. This reading is adopted above.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:14. [Omitted by Crit. Eds. with א. A. B*., Vulg., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:16. [Crit. Eds. read συνήγαγεν with A. B*. C. P., etc.; א. gives -γον. Lange translates he, regarding God as the subject (see in loc.); the more natural reference, however, is to the πνεύματα of Rev 16:14, which, as a neuter plural, may be the subject of a verb in the singular.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:16. [Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. give τόν with A. B*. 1, etc.; Lange omits with א. 14, etcּ—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:17. [Crit. Eds. generally omit with א*. A. B*., Am., Fuld., Tol, etc.; Lange retains with אc. 28, 35, etc., Clem., etc.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:17. [Lange, Treg., Tisch. give μεγάλη with א. B*., Vulg.; Gb., Lach., Alf. omit with A. 1, 12, 46.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:17. Ἀπὸ τοῦ ναοῦ, ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου. [So also Tisch. (1859) with B*.; Gb., Lach., Alf., Treg., Tisch. (8th Ed.) give ἐκ instead of the first ἀπό, with א. A. 1, etc. The latter reading is adopted above.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:17. [Τοῦ οὐρανοῦ is omitted by Crit. Eds.; it occurs only in B*. 1, 6, 38, Arm.—E. R. C.]
Rev 16:18. Ἀνθρωπος ἐγένετο. [So Crit. Eds. with A. 38, Cop., Arm., Æth.; 1, 7, 8, etc., read οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἐγένοντο.—E. R. C.]
[See EXPLANATIONS IN DETAIL, Rev 16:7.—E. R. C.]
[May not a sense of the contrast between their own wretched condition and the condition of the blessed inmates of Heaven induce this peculiar form of blasphemy?—TR.]
[Elliott calls attention to the fearful convulsions in nature—tempests, hail-storms, re-opening volcanoes, earthquakes (Rev 11:19)—that preceded the outbreak of the French Revolution.—E. R. C.]
[BARNES, in support of a similar view, quotes the following: “In this connection, 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 in 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 he 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 receive his authority so signally as this judgment must be supposed to all) 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.’ p. 68. Ed. New York. 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.”—E. R. C.]
[See foot-note, 2d column, p. 201.—E. R. C.]
[See foot-note, 2d column, p. 201.—E. R. C.]
[Lange has reference, probably, to the following passage in Düsterdieck: “Ταῦτα refers to Rev 16:4, not to Rev 16:3, for reference is had (Rev 16:6) to drinkable water which is turned into blood, so that the inhabitants of the earth, who have shed the blood of Saints and Prophets (comp. Rev 13:7, 10, 6:10, 11:7, 17:6, 19:2) are now constrained to drink blood.” Düsterdieck, however, does not assert that the water of the rivers and fountains is any more drinkable in its transformed state, as blood, than the blood of the sea.—TR.]
[This is one of the two occurrences of ὅσιος in the Apocalypse, the other being in Rev 15:4. In other portions of the New Testament it appears only in Acts 2:27; 13:34, 35; 1 Tim. 2:8; Titus 1:8; Heb. 7:26 (ὁσιότης, Luke 1:75; Eph. 4:24; ὁσίως, 1 Thess. 2:10). It is a term of comparatively frequent occurrence in the LXX., and is there generally employed to translate חםיד; it is also occasionally used for תמים, תם, טהור, זך. CREMER writes: “The meaning of חסיד is to be defined according to חסר (see Hupfeld on Ps. 4:4). This word, which is=goodness, kindness, is used to denote God’s holy love towards His people Israel, ‘both as the source and as the result of His sovereign choice and covenant with them;’ when applied to men ‘it does not denote the corresponding covenant relationship and feeling of Israel toward God (not even in 2 Chron. 6:42 cf.; Isa. 55:3; 57:1), but love and mercifulness towards others who are united with as in the same holy covenant. It is generally used of love descending from above to those beneath, and not of love ascending.’ ” See also Alexander on Ps. 4:4 (3). It is a fact worthy of notice that ὅσιος is never used in the LXX. for קדוש, or any other word which ἅγιος is employed to render, save in one instance, Prov. 22:11, where it is used to translate טהור, which in a single instance, Lev. 10:14, is translated ἅγιος. And yet these terms are, in the E. V. of the New Testament, almost invariably translated by the one word holy!—E. R. C.]
[See TEXT. AND GRAMM., Note 11.—E. R. C.]
[See Add. Comment on Rev 13:13, p. 270.—E. R. C.]
[See TEXT. AND GRAM., Note 21.—E. R. C.]
[It is worthy of note that the Song of Deborah and Barak is in measure adopted both by David and the Apostle Paul as descriptive (symbolic) of Messianic triumphs; comp. Judges 5:12; Ps. 68:18; Eph. 4:8.—E. R. C.]
[GLASGOW finds the objective of this prophecy in the tremendous cannon-balls—some of 600 pounds’ weight—employed in modern warfare.—E. R. C.]
[The Apostle Peter quoted this prophecy of Joel without intending to teach that it had received its ultimate fulfillment in events attending the Pentecostal effusion. It seems impossible to resist the conclusions that the words of our Lord in Matt. 24:29, etc., have reference to convulsions in nature immediately preceding his second Advent, and that the prophecies of Isaiah and Joel, though they may have already received partial and typical fulfillments, have ultimate respect to the same events.—E. R. C.]
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.