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Bible Commentaries

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 16

Verse 1

Chapter 16 - The Seven Bowls of Wrath

The Seven Last Plagues (ch. 15 & 16)

The First Bowl, -Revelation 16:2 ..Earth

The Second Bowl, - Revelation 16:3 ..Sea

The Third Bowl, - Revelation 16:4-7 ..Rivers

The Fourth Bowl, -Revelation 16:8-9 ..Heavenly bodies

The Fifth Bowl, - Revelation 16:10-11 ..Throne (seat) of the Beast

The Sixth Bowl, -Revelation 16:12-14 ..River Euphrates

Armageddon, -Revelation 16:16 (Mountain of Megeddo

The Seventh Bowl, - Revelation 16:17-21 ..It is done! Finished! Complete!

[The 7 vials are similar to trumpets, ch. 8; "vials"= bowls.]

a great voice out of the temple . . Revelation 15:8 indicates this must be the voice of God. This last group of angels coming from the temple show they have the ultimate authority from God to do their assignment.

loud voice . . [mighty voice] . . While generally anonymous in Revelation, this likely refers to God’s voice; no one could enter the temple because His presence was there. - FSB

great loud . . There is a frequent use of the Greek adjective μεγαλης (megales) in this chapter. The NASB translators rendered this word “loud” here and in verse Revelation 16:17; “fierce” in verse Revelation 16:9; “great” in verses Revelation 16:12, Revelation 16:14, Revelation 16:18 (twice), and Revelation 16:19 (twice); and “huge” and “severe” in verse Revelation 16:21. (cf. Constable)

(The word also occurs nine times in chapter 18, which is an elaboration on the seventh bowl judgment introduced in Revelation 16:17-21 - Constable

Go your way . . God’s command to the angels to go do His bidding. The time has come for them to do the task He has for them.

upon the earth . . Lit., into the earth, here and in the next verse. - CBSC [εἰς, as in Revelation 14:19]

Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God . . This is an OT symbol for the judgment of God on unbelieving nations (cf. Psalms 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25; Ezekiel 22:31; Zephaniah 3:8). This term is used often in this context for God’s wrath on unbelievers (cf. vv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 12, 17) because of their blasphemy (cf. Revelation 16:9), their persecution of believers (cf. rev 16.6) and their stubborn refusal to repent (cf. Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 16:9-12). - Utley

Verse 2

First Plague = Judgment against the Earth

went . . Lit., went away, from the Angels’ place in Heaven before the Temple to the edge or “window” whence they can look down upon the earth. - CBSC

We may pictures the angels stepping forward, one by one to discharge their tasks in orderly fashion. (Swete)

poured out -- upon the earth . . When the first bowl is poured out on the earth, it will afflict not the land itself (contrast the first trumpet, Revelation 8:7) but earth’s inhabitants, who bear the beast’s mark, - ESVSB

a foul and loathsome sore . . Describes oozing, open wounds or ulcers, corresponding to Exodus 9:8-12. - FSB

Some see this as related to Deuteronomy 28:35, which is the cursing and blessing section of Moses’ covenant renewal. - Utley

a foul and loathsome sore . . The Septuagint (LXX) uses the same Gr. word to describe the boils that plagued the Egyptians (Exodus 9:9-11) and afflicted Job (Job 2:7). In the NT, it describes the open sores that covered the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:21). - MSB

mark of beast . . cf. Revelation 7:3; worshippers of Caesar were marked. Revelation 13:16;

those who worshiped his image . . Revelation 13:14-15;

Verse 3

Revelation 16:3

second . . The second and third bowls parallel the second and third trumpets (cf. Revelation 8:8-11) and also reflect the Exodus plagues of Exodus 7:17-21. - Utley

The second bowl will turn the waters of the sea into blood, and all sea life will die. The first plague on Egypt (Exodus 7:21) is magnified to universal dimensions. - ESVSB

angel . . Should be omitted, reading the second, as we had “the first” before. So in vv. 4, 8, 10, 12, 17. - CBSC

sea . . If those of the "earth" [v. 2] were the Jewish world, then those of the sea seems to represent sinful wicked Rome and the Gentile world.

the sea . . Various views as to whom the sea-men in this verse:

1. Gentiles who supported Rome suffered.

2. Jews supporting Rome suffered at hands of both Jews and Romans.

3. Jews inJudea and elsewhere were persecuting Christians (cf. James, brother of the Lord; Antipas, etc.)

4. Rome and Nero were putting to death Paul and Peter (AD 64) .

[I do not take the "sea" to be literal, but representative of sinning and rebellous people or nations, Revelation 17:15, other than Jews and how they also suffer the wrath of God, using Egypt as a literal model. cf. Revelation 17:15, - WG]

blood as of a dead man . . This judgment and the one that follows mirror Exodus 7:17-24 - FSB

If the "sea" is taken literal, as many premillennialist do, then the "blood" must also be taken literal. - WG

The Second Bowl corresponds generally with the Second Trumpet (Revelation 8:8 f.), and both are suggested by the first Egyptian plague (Exodus 7:14 ff.). In Egypt the Nile alone is smitten; in Patmos the Seer naturally thinks first of the sea. The Aegean, receiving the contents of the second angel’s bowl, turns (as he had often seen it turn at sunset) to a blood red — γένετο οἷμα =äÈéÈä øÈí, Exodus 7:19 —he adds ς νεκροῦ, which brings up the picture of a murdered man weltering in his blood; - Swete

every living creature in the sea died . . In contrast to the one-third that perished as a result of the second trumpet judgment (see Revelation 8:8). - FSB

This is reminiscent of the second trumpet (Revelation 8:8-9), and of the first plague against Egypt (Exodus 7:20-25). - MSB

Verse 4

Revelation 16:4

third angel . . - his vial (bowl) poured out upon rivers and fountains

rivers and springs . . = Just as all the water in Egypt, John’s literal model, became blood, so God’s wrath upon all sinful nations and people will reach everywhere. Revelation 17:15.

springs of waters . . An allusion to Exodus 7:19 ff; simply indicating the completeness of God’s wrath upon the wicked. cf. Revelation 17:15. - WG

The smiting of the springs prevented any such measures as the Egyptians took for evading the effects of the plague (Exodus 7:24). - Swete

became blood . . Compare Revelation 8:10-11, where the rivers and streams are made bitter. -FSB

blood . . Reflecting the Exodus plagues of Exodus 7:17-21 (Utley).

Verse 5

angel of waters . . The angel who had the task of pouring out God’s wrath on the waters.

Some ancient Jewish rabbis believed that all the various elements (wind, water, fire, cf Revelation 14:18, see Utley’s note there) had angels in charge of them.

the angel of the waters . . This may reflect the intertestamental Jewish apocalyptic terminology of I Enoch 66:2. In Revelation there has been an angel in charge of the wind (cf. Revelation 7:1) and an angel in charge of fire (cf. Revelation 14:8), so it is not unusual to see an angel in charge of the water. Again, angelic mediation is common in intertestamental apocalyptic literature. - Utley

Angels and archangels are portrayed as having special roles in the hierarchy of heaven (see Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Luke 1:19, Luke 1:26; see also 1 Enoch 66:1–2). - NLTSB

You are righteous . . The angel pouring out God’s wrath declares God’s judgement and wrath is just.

This angel confirms these judgments as coming from God, who is both just and holy. - NLTSB

You have judged righteous . . Verse 6 says that the eternal God will judge justly because they have killed the believers and preachers of the gospel ( Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 7:9-17; Revelation 11:18; Revelation 17:6; Revelation 18:20). - MSB

The One who is etc. . . This phrase expresses God’s eternality (cf. Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17). - MSB

Verse 6

for . . Introduces the reason God’s judgments are just (vv. rev 16.5, rev 16.7) and recalls the martyrs’ appeals for God to judge persecutors and avenge their blood (Revelation 6:10; cf. Revelation 18:20; Revelation 19:2; Deuteronomy 32:43; 2 Kings 9:7; Psalms 79:10, Psalms 79:12; Isaiah 49:26). - NIVZSB

they . . This verse identifies the recipient of this judgment as Jerusalem and its leaders, Matthew 23:23-37.

shed the blood of saints and prophets . . Revelation 11:18; Revelation 18:20; God’s wrath is poured out upon those who poured out the blood of His saints and prophets Matthew 23:35-36. The author of Revelation reveals how Christ’s prophecy is fulfilled.

... referring to those who shed the blood of saints and prophets (see Revelation 17:6). Isaiah 49:26 promises that Israel’s bloodthirsty oppressors will be forced to drink their own blood. The heavenly altar, under which the martyrs’ souls pooled like sacrificial blood (Revelation 6:9), agrees with the angel’s judgment, echoing the song just sung by the victors (Revelation 16:7; cf. Revelation 15:3). People will receive from God exactly what they deserve (see notes on Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:13). - ESVSB

And you have given them blood to drink . . The punishment is described as fitting the crime (cf. Isaiah 49:26) though it is not literal but metaphorical.

The principle of lex talionis (the law of retribution), the basis of Roman and Jewish jurisprudence, means that God is completely just in judging and rewarding people on the basis of what they have done (see Revelation 2:23; Revelation 11:18; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 18:6; Revelation 20:12-13; Revelation 22:12). - NLTSB

It is their just due . . [they are worthy] . . [as they deserve] Cf. Here is God’s vengeance, or recompense. You will reap what you sow. Jewish religious leaders had killed prophets which God had sent to them, Matthew 23:29; Matthew 23:31; Matthew 23:34 Matthew 23:37; Luke 11:47; Luke 13:34; and now the day of God’s vengeance was upon them, Matthew 23:35-36.

For Days of Vengeance, see notes & links at Luke 21:22; and Revelation 18:20.

For it is their just due . . God’s judgment is fair and proper (cf. Exodus 21:25-27; Leviticus 24:19-20; Hebrews 10:26-31). - MSB

“Pharoah tried to drown the Jewish boy babies, but it was his own army that eventually drowned in the Red Sea [Exodus 1:22; Exodus 14:28]. Haman planned to hang Mordecai on the gallows and to exterminate the Jews; but he himself was hanged on the gallows, and his family was exterminated (Esther 7:10; Esther 9:10). King Saul refused to obey God and slay the Amalekites, so he was slain by an Amalekite (2 Samuel 1:1-6).”

The saints refer to all believers, and the prophets are those who delivered messages from God to humankind (cf. Revelation 11:18; Revelation 18:24). The angel affirmed that those guilty of slaying the saints and prophets deserve what they get. They took lives contrary to God’s will, and now God is taking their lives in exchange. - Constable

Verse 7

CF Revelation 6:9, cf. 5th Seal where we saw souls under the altar that had been slain. This pinpoints this judgment as God’s vengeance for the sheading of the blood of his saints.

heard another . .

from the altar . .

And I heard the altar saying . . The horns of the altar had already spoken in Revelation 9:13. This seems to refer to (1) souls that are under the altar (cf. Revelation 6:9; Revelation 14:18) or (2) the prayers of God’s children (cf. Revelation 8:3-5). It may also be simply a personification for graphic emphasis. - Utley

Even so . .

Lord God Almighty . .

true and righteous are Your judgments . . This may be an allusion to Psalms 19:9; Psalms 119:137. This is a helpful reminder in the midst of such terrible persecution toward Christians (cf. Revelation 15:4; Revelation 19:2). God will set all things straight one day! - Utley

Verse 8

cf. Revelation 6:12, Revelation 8:12

fourth angel . . The effects of the fourth angels bowl is upon the sun.

In OT these metaphors of the "heavenly bodies" (sun, moon, stars) was in reference to the governing leaders in those nations (kings, princes, governors, judges, etc.) Isaiah 24:23; Ezekiel 32:7-8;

scorch men with fire . . God’s wrath on national leaders is pictured in this metaphor.

This plague was the symbol of the punishment inflicted on the persecutors who had blasphemed God in the assumption of the powers and prerogatives of God by compelling the worship of the emperor’s image; and had thus branded the mark in the hands and on the foreheads of all who bowed in submission. - Wallace

with fire (ἐν πυρί) . . Lit., “in fire.” The element in which the scorching takes place. - VWS

Verse 9

Revelation 16:9

men were scorched . . This shows this metaphor is about men; men who are anti-God and will not repent and thus they receive the wrath of God.

they blasphemed . . Instead of repenting. The proper response to God’s judgments should be man’s repentance.

[When two 747 planes collided on the ground on Canary Island- the cockpit recording showed that the last word of the pilot was a curse with God’s name!]

they did not repent . . The purpose of God’s wrath is redemptive in the seals and trumpets (cf. Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 14:6-7; Revelation 16:9; Revelation 16:11), even though stubborn, rebellious mankind refuses to repent. In the bowls the hope of repentance has passed; only judgment remains! - Utley

give Him glory . . Man’s purpose in life is to glorify his Creator. These had turned against the Almighty Lord God.

Verse 10

Fifth Plague.

the throne of the beast [seat] . . The throne of Rome was afflicted. Again, God’s wrath being poured out. Nero killed himself to avoid the order of the Senate-- causing a brief civil war!!

John might be alluding to Rome, the political power of his time. Built on seven hills (Revelation 17:9), Rome’s empire spanned the sea (Revelation 13:1) and ruled the world (Revelation 13:7). - NLTSB

kingdom full of darkness . . For a year the people didn’t know who was going to emerge strong enough as there were three men who vied to take the throne, and it was Vespasion who came to power (AD 70)

The kingdom of the beast was full of darkness in Palestine. The same metaphor was used by Isaiah (Isaiah 13:10) to describe the fall of ancient Babylon; and Jesus adopted the same figure of speech (Matthew 24:29) in foretelling the darkness that settled over the Jewish state in the fall of Jerusalem. The same use of the symbol was made here in verse ten. - Wallace

and they . . the "men" of v.8; the senate and other leaders in Rome "gnawed their tongue" in their distress; and rival to the throne killed off each other before Vespasian came in and took control.

gnawed their tongues . . a metaphor for the distress of the those around the "beast."

Verse 11

Revelation 16:11

blasphemed the God of heaven . . The title "the God of heaven" was often used by Daniel Daniel 2:18. It appears in the NT only here and in Revelation 11:13.

their pains, and their sores . . They had "gnawed their tongue" in the metaphor, and now suffer the pain from it. The pain-metaphor would continue to fit the scorching of the sun in Revelation 16:8-9; and the sores of the first bowl Revelation 16:2.

...gnawed their tongues for pain--the symbol of retribution for the lies of deception and seduction their tongues had spoken; which was the method employed to brand the subjects of their deceit with the mark of emperor-worship. And in evidence of entire allegiance to the beast-power verse eleven declared that these representatives of Rome blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. - Wallace

and did not repent of their deeds . .

The plagues on Egypt were sent to expose the false gods of Egypt and cause the Egyptians to trust the God of Israel. The “curses” of Deut. 27–28 were sent to restore unbelieving Jews to faith and obedience.- Utley

"The Scriptures plainly refute the notion that wicked men will quickly repent when faced with catastrophic warnings of judgment. When confronted with the righteous judgment of God, their blasphemy is deepened and their evil purpose is accentuated.” - Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., p. 235.

Verse 12

Sixth Plague: River Euphrates is dried up.

Sixth angel . . Lit "the sixth"

Euphrates . . Called “the great river” 5 times in Scripture (cf. Revelation 9:14; Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 1:4), it flows some 1,800 mi. from its source on the slopes of Mt. Ararat to the Persian Gulf (see note on 9:14). It forms the eastern boundary of the land God promised to Israel (Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:4). - MSB

Euphrates . . This river was mentioned in Revelation 9:13-19 [in the sixth trumper, here the sixth bowl of wrath] when the demonic army crossed its borders to torture mankind. - Utley

The point seems to be that a restrain is removed that holds back a judgment of God upon Babylon, like in the prophesies of Isaiah and Jeremiah. - WG

great river Euphrates . . The Euphrates River served as Rome’s eastern border and protected Rome from invasion by the Parthian Empire. If the Euphrates were to dry up, Rome would be threatened. - FSB

The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had hoped he Parthians would join their revolt against Rome (Josephus’ Wars 7:4:2-3)

Referring to the way that the ancient Babylon was actually captured by Cyrus, by drawing off the water of the Euphrates into a reservoir, so as to make its bed passable for a few hours. Though not mentioned in Dan. 5, nor by Cyrus in his lately discovered account of the capture, there seems no doubt that this incident is historical: the details given in Hdt. I. 191 agree exactly with those of the predictions in Isaiah 44:27, Isaiah 45:3; Jeremiah 50:38, Jeremiah 50:44, Jeremiah 51:30-32, Jeremiah 51:36.- CBSC

water … dried up . . Recalls God’s promises to judge Babylon and restore his people (Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 44:27-28; Jeremiah 50:38; Jeremiah 51:36). - NIVZSB

water was dried up . . With its flow already reduced by the prolonged drought and intensified heat, God supernaturally will dry it up to make way for the eastern confederacy to reach Palestine (Is. 11:15). - MSB

the kings of the east . . Rather, from the east. In 17:16 we hear of the kings of the earth combining to attack Babylon, and the Euphrates may be dried up, only that the kings from the east may be able to advance to bear their part in the assault. - CBSC

the way of the kings from the east . .

Verse 13

Revelation 16:13

three . . Apparently one each out of the mouth of the three here mentioned, thus three. - WG ["an unholy trinity" - MSB].

three unclean spirits . . In the next verse, Revelation 16:14 "spirits of demons" that are liars and deceitful. A deceiving spirit had lured King Ahab into battle, 1 Kings 22:21-23. - WG

like frogs . . Like the plagues of Egypt, an allusion to Exodus 8:1-15, God’s judgment & punishment; not literal frogs, are in view here. Something to the Jewish mind was considered very vile and detestable, Leviticus 11:11; Leviticus 11:41. - WG

(It may well be that the church of John’s day understood the very specific meaning of these symbols.)

Unclean spirits emerge as frogs (cf. Exodus 8:2-11) from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet in order to deceive world rulers with delusions of victory over “the Lord and … his Anointed” (Psalms 2:1-2) - ESVSB

mouth of the dragon . . = Satan, The Devil; Revelation 12:3; Revelation 12:9;

mouth of the [sea] beast . . = Rome

mouth of the false prophet [land beast] . . Identified by Revelation 19:20 with the second beast of Revelation 13:11. False pagan religious foes, (Rome’s supporting religious forces ).

This is the first time that the second beast (cf. Revelation 13:11) is called “the false prophet,” but from now on he will be referred to by this name every time (cf. Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 21:10). - Utley

These three are referred as "the unholy trinity" and their defeat is in two stages; the sea beast and the false prophet in the valley of Megiddo (cf. Revelation 16:12-16); and Satan at the end with the second coming of Christ, cf. Revelation 20:7-10.

False prophet specifies the identity and activity of the “second beast” of Revelation 13:11-17. God’s people are repeatedly warned of prophets who are not authorized by God yet promote false teaching and deceptive prophecies among the covenant community (Deuteronomy 13:1-2; Jeremiah 14:14; Lamentations 2:14; Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3). Jesus rebukes the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira for tolerating false teachers and prophets (Revelation 2:14-15, Revelation 2:20). - NIVZSB

[See H.B. Swete at this point for Ramsay’s (Letters to the Seven Churches, pp. 97, 101, ff) view on the identity of these the "land beast" and "false prophet. H.B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John]

Verse 14

the spirits of demons . . The frogs, Revelation 16:13, from the mouths of the "unholy trinity."

performing signs . . Signs are for the purpose of providing credentials (authentication) that gain the approval or acceptance of the sign-worker. cf. Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:4; cf. Mark 13.22.

kings of the earth and . . whole world . . The army that Rome put together to come against Judah and Jerusalem was made up of units from all over the world. [cf. Josephus, Wars 5:1:6 and 5:2:1 ]

gather them to battle . . Titus overthrew Jerusalem with armies from all nations under Rome’s control.

that great day of God Almighty . . See Joel 2:11 (Joel 3:2, Joel 3:4) where it was a notable day of God’s judgment upon the nation of Israel and Jerusalem for their idolatry and other crimes (where God’s agent was rendering justice was the Babylonians).

On this occasion in Revelation, specifically for their rejection of Christ and shedding the blood of the saints and prophets whom God had sent Matthew 23:24-38; Luke 11:50-51 Revelation 16:6; Revelation 18:24 (where God’s agent was an army made up of the vassals of Rome.)

Verse 15

Behold I come . . St John apparently hears, and writes down as he hears, the words of Christ spoken in the midst of his vision. - CBSC

coming like a thief . . cf. Revelation 3:3; A picture of being watchful and prepared used by the Lord and other writers of the scriptures. See Matthew 24:43-44, where the Lord uses it specifically in the context of Jerusalem’s fall and the time of the temple’s destruction

See also Paul and Peter’s use of the metaphor 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 2 Peter 3:10;

blessed . . The third beatitude in Revelation. (cf. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).

he who watches . . The imagery pictures a soldier ready for battle, or a homeowner watchful for the arrival of a thief. - MSB

[This] Recalls Jesus’ rebukes of Sardis (Revelation 3:2-3) and Laodicea (Revelation 3:17-18) for their spiritual complacency and danger. - NICZSB

keeps his garments . . A metaphor for maintaining a holy life and a right relationship with God.

... his soldiers must stay awake and dressed lest they be caught naked, to their shame (cf. Revelation 3:18). - ESVSB

and keepeth his garments . . The forewarned householder sits up with his clothes on, and the thief will decamp as soon as he sees him. If he were not forewarned, he might hear the thief at work, and start naked out of bed, but would be too late for anything but a fruitless chase in unseemly and ridiculous guise. - CBSC

walk naked -- see his shame . . In the ancient Near East, conquering armies often paraded prisoners of war naked to expose them to as much shame as possible (compare Ezekiel 23:24-29). - FSB

Titus actually did parade his prisoners from Jerusalem in a procession in Rome celebrating his victory. Whether they were actually naked or not I do not know. - WG

Verse 16

And he gathered them . . More probably, and they [the unclean spirits] gathered them. The sentence goes on from the end of v. 14, v. 15 being strictly parenthetical. - CBSC

they gathered them . . Apparently in the sense that they gathered themselves together, or assembled at this location.

called in Hebrew . . But the insertion of “in the Hebrew tongue” perhaps indicates, that the meaning of the name Megiddo (which is apparently “cleaving”) is more important than the geographical note. - CBSC

Armageddon . . Harmagedon -- Har-Magedon -- This word is spelled differently in several Greek manuscripts. There have been several theories to describe this name (which appears nowhere else in Hebrew or Greek literature): - Utley

"Ar" = the city of, (KJV); or "Har" = Mountain of, (RSV).

Only time Armageddon is mentioned in all the Bible is here. Mt or hill of Megeddo. The most prominent place of battle in the O.T. times.

Judges 5:19 * Deborah

Judges 6:33; Judges 7:1 * Gideon

1 Samuel 31:8 * Saul killed

2 Kings 9:27 * Jehu slew Ahaziah there

2 Kings 23:28-29 * Josiah killed by Pharaoh Neco

Megeddo = symbolized where righteousness and unrighteousness fought. To say "Armageddon" was like us speaking of "The Alamo", "Waterloo" and "Pear Harbor", "Remember the Main!" Normandy"

Armageddon . . The spelling which has the best authority is “Harmagedon.” The meaning, according as we read Ar or Har, is “the City” or “the Mountain of Megiddo.”

But the insertion of “in the Hebrew tongue” perhaps indicates, that the meaning of the name Megiddo (which is apparently “cleaving”) is more important than the geographical note.

There is some truth (though some exaggeration) in the description of the plain of Esdraelon as “the battle-field of Palestine:” but the only occasions when Megiddo is mentioned in connexion with a battle are Judges 5:19, 2 Kings 23:29 (cf. Zechariah 12:11). Of course Megiddo or its neighbourhood (“the Mountain of Megiddo” might be Tabor or that conventionally called Little Hermon) - CBSC

Armageddon . . “Mount Megiddo” in Hebrew.

Megiddo, also called the Plain of Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:22; Zechariah 12:11), was an ancient city that Solomon fortified (1 Kings 9:15). Megiddo was strategically located along the main highway from Egypt to Syria in the Jezreel Valley and was the site of key battles (Judges 5:19-21; 2 Kings 23:29) - NIVZSB

Armageddon . . The Greek word used here, harmageddōn, could be a reference to Megiddo in the Esdraelon plain, but this is not definitive since Megiddo is a plain, not a mountain (the first part of the Greek word, har, is Hebrew for “mountain”). In the ot, Megiddo was the site of significant conflicts (e.g., Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chronicles 35:22).

John may be drawing on a well-known battle site to indicate symbolically the final conflict between God and the dragon, as he has elsewhere drawn on the symbolism associated with Babylon (see Rev 14:8 and note) and Mount Zion (see Revelation 14:1 and note) - FSB

Armageddon . . The Heb. name for Mt. Megiddo, 60 mi. N of Jerusalem. The battle will rage on the nearby plains, site of Barak’s victory over the Canaanites (Judg. 4), and Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judg. 7). Napoleon called this valley the greatest battlefield he had ever seen. - MSB

The name Armageddon (or Harmagedon) is probably derived from har (“mountain,” “hill”) plus Megiddo, which was one of the three cities fortified by Solomon along with Gezer in the south and Hazor in the north (1 Kings 9:15). The fortress of Megiddo stood on a hill in the largest pass through the Carmel range, strategically guarding the Jezreel Valley. The city was situated on the Via Maris, the main highway between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Many armies used this route, and the site became known as a bloody battlefield. It was here, for instance, that Pharaoh Neco, on his way to fight the Assyrians, killed Josiah (2 Kings 23:29). - NLTSB

Armaeddon . . This becomes a symbolic term to indicate a great battle. Not to be understand as a battle at this literal site, but used as a metaphor or an idom for a great warring contest.

Verse 17

Verse 17 is parallel to Revelation 10:7 and the 7th trumpet. and the It is Finished.

the seventh . . Pours out his bowl of God’s wrath.

into the air . . Lit. upon the air, according to the best reading. Nothing further is said about the air.

As defined before, the symbol of the air represented the sphere of life and influence of the wicked nations. In Ephesians 2:1 Satan was named the prince of the power of the air-- not the actual exercise of power, but of influence--the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. - Wallace

loud voice out of the temple . . God’s voice, the one in Revelation 16:1.

It is done . . “It is done!” is best translated, “It has been and will remain done” (cf. John 19:30). - MSB [repeated in Revelation 21:6]

More literally, it is come to pass: but the same word is used in St Luke 14:22 - CBSC

With the outpouring of the final bowl God announced that His series of judgments for this period in history was complete. This statement is proleptic since it anticipates the completion of the seventh bowl judgment, which John had yet to reveal (cf. Revelation 21:6). - Constable

it is done,’ ‘it has come to pass’; ...here the singular refers to the whole series of plagues now completed, or to the decree which set it in motion; ... The Voice is specially appropriate in this connexion, since these plagues are “the last” (Revelation 15:1); there remain no further manifestations of this kind. - CBSC

"It is done!" . . The battle is over, It is finished, see. Revelation 10:7

The great voice from the temple-throne that ordered the plagues, understood to be that of God Himself, now declared the end in vs. 17 --it is done-- that is, the plagues had been accomplished, the mission of the seven angels had been fulfilled. - Walace

It is finished! . . Jesus uttered these same words from the cross when he had finished his work (John 19:30). No one can ultimately fight God. Therefore, this scene pictures an end to rebellion against God. What remains are various descriptions of the end. - NLTSB

What is done, finished? -- Luke 21:20. John views this from the end, as something that is to shortly come to pass, Revelation 1:1-2. It is the completion of God’s wrath against "the great city" v.19, also known as the "great Babylon" Revelation 16:19. (Jerusalem, Revelation 11:8)

When the great Dragon, Satan, is also judged and men stand before God’s throne for judgment, and the righteous receive heaven, this statement "It is done!" is repeated, Revelation 21:6.

Verse 18

God speaks -- not a time like this before!

Revelation 10:7 // Luke 21:11 // Matthew 24:21 parallel

noises and thunderings and lightnings . . Revelation 8:5, Revelation 11:19. Here the best reading is lightnings and voices and thunders. - CBSC

Among the strongest of indications that God is speaking. John 12:29; Such as at Mt Sinai, and other intense moments when God express His will.

great earthquake . . . Revelation 6:12, Revelation 11:13; but this earthquake seems distinguished from those as surpassing them greatly in degree: - CBSC

These eschatological signs symbolize the destruction of the anti-God forces throughout the world (cf. Hebrews 12:27). So great is the earthquake of God’s judgment that it reaches the strongholds of organized evil represented by the cities of the pagans. Even the great city Babylon, which seduced all the earth’s kings and inhabitants (Revelation 17:2 ), now comes under final sentence - EBCNT

earthquake ... not since men were on the earth . . A hyperbolic way of saying “the most violent earthquake of all time.” - FSB

Since we are told these are "signs" or "symbols", Revelation 1:1, we are not to take the description here as literal but are to understand this as an event that greatly shakes the politico-historical situation in the world such as never before. The destruction of the Jewish economy had it’s effect upon the entire world since scatter Jews occupied positions of wealth, political power, trade and merchandising, was catastrophic.

such as was not ... cf. Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21;

16:18–20 The catastrophic events of this judgment scene recapitulate the scenes portraying the destruction of the world (Revelation 6:12-14; Revelation 11:13). They also foreshadow the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) when the earth will be dismantled to make way for the new creation (Revelation 21:1; cp. Isaiah 45:2; Romans 8:19-22). - NLTSB

16:18 Lightning, thunder, and the greatest earthquake this planet has ever experienced will accompany, and to some extent produce, the desolation that follows. The storm theophany again appears at the end of another series of judgments (cf. Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19). These are signs of divine judgment, but this earthquake is much larger than any previous one (cfRevelation 6:12; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:13, Revelation 11:19; Haggai 2:6; Hebrews 12:26-27). - Constable

Verse 19

great city divided . . The great earthquake, a symbol political upheaval, left Jerusalem was divided into three opposing and warring factions. (Revelation 11:8)

In the US we are use to political symbols on the editorial page of newspapers. For example, if the morning after an election we see the cartoon of gleeing elephant swinging a donkey around over head and then jumping up and down on it, what come to you mind? There seems to have always been such symbols. cf. Genesis 49:6-22 the symbols and banners of each of the 12 tribes of Israel, etc. And Daniel’s symbols for the great empires of the world.- WG

Josephus 5:1:1 (read)

"... it so happened that the sedition at Jerusalem was revived, and parted into three factions, and that one faction fought against the other; which partition in such evil cases may be said to be a good thing, and the effect of Divine justice. Now as to the attack the zealots made upon the people, and which I esteem the beginning of the city’s destruction, it hath been already explained after an accurate manner ..."

the great city . . Probably Jerusalem, as in Revelation 11:8. It seems pointless to suppose Babylon to be mentioned twice over: while on the other view there is a climax. - CBSC

three parts . . It is just possible that there may be a reference to the three parties of John, Eleazar, and Simon, into which Jerusalem was divided at the time of its siege by Titus. - CBSC

cities of the nations fell . . Not only Jerusalem but "cities" are to feel the effect of God’s wrath upon "great Babylon". See Ezekiel 5:5

Babylon ... Revelation 17:5 The city is referred to also as a woman, a harlot. She is to receive a special outpouring of God’s wrath as prophesied in Isaiah 13:6-13. Chapters 27-18 give details of its destruction and effect.

Cup of wine of God’s wrath -- Note that the Battle Hymn of the Republic alludes to this concept also. Revelation 14:10

the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath . . Drunkenness was an OT metaphor for God’s judgment (cf. Psalms 60:3; Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 25:15-16, Jeremiah 25:27-28). - Utley

Verse 20

Symbolic of great distress, (earthquakes and volcanos). (Revelation 6:14)

Many commentary writers forget Revelation’s introduction in Revelation 1:1 that the revelation is in "signs" and tend to make Revelation 16:18-21 literal. But it is "signs" or "symbols" of God’s judgment upon a city that was to "shortly come to pass" for "the time is at hand" (Revelation 1:3) to those to whom the letter is addressed.

And lest the readers have forgotten the imminence of the fulfillment of this prophecy, the writer again reminds us as he closes his writing, Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:10.

While chapters 17 and 18 can be used by many to say the city prophesied is about Rome, the fall of Rome was too far into the future of the readers in those seven church to whom this was sent. The fall of Rome was not "to shortly come to pass" nor was "the time at hand" when this was written.

All the internal evidence of the book and it’s correlation with Christ’s own prophecy points to Jerusalem as the "Babylon" and the "harlot" in the book. It’s government was supported and endorsed by Rome until when it turned and devoured the city and nation.

every island fled away . . As sinking into the sea.

every island fled . . Because of the quake in v. 18, the earth appeared to be running away. This type of language is used to describe divine punishment in the ot (e.g., Nahum 1:3-5).- FSB [cf. Psalms 97:5; Micah 1:4]

mountains were not found -- There is no hiding place from God’s wrath.

Verse 21

cf. Isaiah 28:2

great hail from heaven . .

huge hailstones . . Hailstones have always been the sign of God’s judgment (cf. Joshua 10:11; Isaiah 28:2). This is another possible allusion to the Egyptian plagues (cf. Exodus 9:24). - Utley

weight of a talent . . The weight of the hailstones is intended for us to see that there is no escape the certain wrath of God.

While some notice that the stones thrown by the engines at the siege of Jerusalem are said to have been of a talent weight, this is again the temptation to slip into a literal understanding of something that is symbolic of awesomeness of God’s wrath.

about one hundred pounds each . . This is literally “a talent weight.” The weight of “talents” in the Ancient Near East has varied from 45 to 138 pounds. Their exact weight is unknown, but these are obviously exaggerated weights to show the damage and death they will cause. - Utley

men blasphemed God . . Judgment, wrath and adversity don’t always turn people back to God.

Example: a speaker in B’ham who had been present at the Canary Island runway collision of two planes which was the worse plane disaster of all time,( fireball, etc. see Readers Digest article about it), said that the cockpit recording revealed the pilots last words as he realized the disastrous collision was imminent was a curse using God’s name. Instead of a prayer, a curse!

blasphemed God . . Despite the severity of these plagues, the people of the world again cursed God rather than recognizing his reason for the judgments (see Revelation 9:20; Revelation 16:9, Revelation 16:11). - NLTSB

plague was exceedingly great . . It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. (Jonathan Edwards) see Hebrews 10:27; Hebrews 10:31.

By such language John describes the rising pitch of God’s wrath on the rebellious powers of the earth. - ECBNT

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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Revelation 16". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/revelation-16.html. 2021.