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Revelation 16

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Revelation 16:1 . ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ . Although omitted, possibly because of its seeming contradiction to Revelation 15:8 , in many documents and editions (even by Tisch. 1854 and IX.), it is guaranteed by A, C, א , al., and is entirely suitable.

Revelation 16:2 . Instead of ἐπὶ τ . γ . (Elz., Beng.), read εἰς τ . γ . in accordance with A, B, C (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]; cf., already, Griesb.). But, according to the same witnesses and א , read ἐπὶ τ . ανθρ . (Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), instead of εἰς τ . ἀ . (Elz.).

Revelation 16:3 . ψυχὴ ζωῆς ἀπέθ ., τὰ ἐν τ . θαλ . So also A, C, Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The rec. ψυχ . ζῶσα ἀπέθ . ἐν τ . θαλ . ( א : ἐπὶ τ . θ .) makes the text easier.

Revelation 16:5 . ὅσιος . So A, B, C, Lach., Tisch. The rec. has interpolated καὶ ὁ . א has the art. without the καὶ (Tisch. IX.).

Revelation 16:7 . The interpretation ἄλλου ἐκ before τοῦ θυσιαστ . (Elz.) is rejected already by Beng., Griesb., in accordance with decisive testimonies.

Revelation 16:14 . The ἄ before ἐκπορεύεται (Elz., Tisch.) is satisfactorily maintained by A, B. Lach. has deleted it upon the authority of the Vulg. א 1 has the inf. indorsed by Ew. ii.; it is corrected: ἐκπορεύεται , without ἂ .

Revelation 16:17 . The ἀπὸ before τοῦ ναοῦ (B, Elz., Tisch.) is to be preferred to the ἐκ (A, Beng., Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]), because the latter appears to be written in order to mark the ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ in distinction from the ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου . א has only ἐκ τ . ναοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ .

Revelation 16:18 . ἄνθρωπος ἐγένετο . So A, 38, Lach., Tisch. Elz. (Beng., Griesb. [W. and H.]), with B, verss., interpret: οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἐγένοντο .

At the command of a voice sounding forth from the heavenly temple, the seven angels pour forth their vials upon the earth; yet the plagues caused thereby not only work no repentance in the inhabitants of the earth worshipping the beast, but have rather the effect of leading them to the open blasphemy of God who has sent these plagues. [3662] The more certainly, therefore, must these hardened men incur the now immediately impending final judgment, to which Revelation 16:15 also expressly alludes.

[3662] Revelation 16:9 ; Revelation 16:11 ; Revelation 16:21 .

All seven vials are poured forth successively, without interruption; for such does not occur either at Revelation 16:5-7 , or at Revelation 16:7 . This, as well as the circumstance also that the number seven of the vials appears to be resolved neither into three and four, as the epistles, [3663] nor into four and three, as the seals and trumpets, [3664] nor even into five and two, [3665] for the separation so prominent in the former series of visions, which could be found here with equal right in Revelation 16:5 sqq., vv., 9, 11, 15, nevertheless dare be exclusively sought in none of these passages, corresponds to the haste with which now the end itself, before which these last plagues (Revelation 15:1 ) still lie, draws on. That the vials have their place so directly before the actual end, is expressed also by the fact that the plagues proceeding therefrom are limited no longer to the third of the earth and its inhabitants, as was the case in the trumpet-plagues, which, however, were already still more violent than the seal-plagues pertaining only to a fourth, but they are inflicted upon the entire number of the inhabitants of the earth worshipping the beast (Revelation 16:2 ; Revelation 16:8 sqq.), and all the sea, together with all that lives therein. The special parallelizing of the vials with the trumpets, which occurs in the sense of the recapitulation theory, [3666] divides the progress, so clearly occurring and always accelerated, of the development which presses with great intensity to the catastrophe. Already the first vial has in its effect no analogy whatever with the first trumpet, so that the text of itself presents an obstacle to arbitrary parallelizing. The analogies which occur between vials 2, 3, and trumpets 2, 3, vial 6 and trumpet 6, vial 7 and seal 6, give no basis whatever for the recapitulation-parallelism, partly because the other numbers of the vials, trumpets (and seals) do not agree, partly because the seeming parallels are essentially distinguished from one another also in individual points; [3667] partly, also, because a certain repetition of particular means of plague, which, however, forms also a gradation of the same, was indeed unavoidable, since, for a thrice-repeated sevenfold series of visions, the sphere whence the prophetic contemplation of the plagues must be developed could not always offer new forms, and such plagues particularly must appear to be repeated, as presented themselves after the type of the Egyptian plagues to the contemplating mind of John.

[3663] Cf. p. 145.

[3664] Cf. pp. 256, 315 sq. So in this passage, Beng., Eichh., Ewald, Züllig.

[3665] Cf. De Wette.

[3666] Cf. Introduction, p. 13 sq.

[3667] Cf., e.g., vial 6 with trumpet 6.

Verse 1

Revelation 16:1 . μεγάλης φωνῆς ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ . According to Revelation 15:8 , the voice sounding from the heavenly temple can belong only to God himself. [3668] This is not expressed, because John with all fidelity limits himself to that which he recognized, and as he actually recognizes it.

ʼΥπάγετε . Cf. the ἈΠῆΛΘΕΝ , Revelation 16:2 , which is understood of itself in Revelation 16:3 , etc. The angels have possibly held themselves in readiness, standing at the gate of the temple (Revelation 15:5 sqq.); now they come to a place in heaven, whence they can pour forth the destructive contents of their vials.

Τ . ἘΠΤᾺ ΦΙΆΛΑς ΤΟῦ ΘΥΜΟῪ Τ . Θ . Cf. Revelation 15:7 . Targum, Isaiah 51:22 : “The vials of the cup of my wrath.” [3669]

ΕἸς ΤῊΝ ΓῆΝ . As Revelation 8:5 .

[3668] Beng., Züll., Hengstenb.

[3669] In Wetst.

Verse 2

Revelation 16:2 . The first vial poured forth upon the earth ( εἰς τὴν γῆν , in relation to Revelation 16:1 , as Revelation 8:7 to Revelation 8:5 ) produces a severe ulcer.

ἔλκος κακὸν καὶ πονηρόν . Cf. Exodus 9:10 sqq.; Deuteronomy 28:35 . [3670] The πονηρόν [3671] designates, besides the ΚΑΚῸΝ , which expresses only the evil nature, the virulence, malignity, and affliction of the ulcer. [3672]

ἘΠῚ ΤΟῪς ΑΝΘΡ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . , The accus. after ἘΠΊ results [3673] from the idea that the plague extends to the men. [3674]

Τ . ἜΧ . ΤῸ ΧΆΡΑΓΜΑ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Cf. Revelation 13:15 sqq., Revelation 14:9 sqq. Of such a pestilence as there was at Rome [3675] in Nero’s time, nothing is said.

[3670] LXX.: ἔλκος πονηρόν . So also Job 2:7 .

[3671] Suidas: ἐπιπονον .

[3672] Cf. my commentary on 1 John 3:12 .

[3673] Cf. Luke 1:65 ; Luke 3:2 . De Wette.

[3674] Cf. Winer, p. 380.

[3675] Volkm.

Verse 3

Revelation 16:3 . The second vial changes the great sea into blood, as that of a dead man, so that every thing living therein dies.

καὶ ἐγένετο αίμα ὡς νεκροῦ . According to the analogy of Revelation 8:8 ; Revelation 8:11 , ἡ θάλασσα is to be regarded as the subject to ἐγένετο . [3676] The advance of the present plague, in comparison with Revelation 8:8 , lies not only in that now the entire sea is changed into blood, and that every thing living therein dies, but also in that the sea becomes “as the blood of a dead man,” i.e., not a great pool of blood, as of many slain, [3677] but the horribleness of the fact is augmented in that the sea seems like the clotted and already putrefying blood of a dead man. [3678]

ψυχὴ ζωῆς . The var. correctly give the meaning: ψ . ζῶσα . [3679] The expression originates from Genesis 1:30 : ἜΧΕΙ ἘΝ ἘΑΥΤῷ ΨΥΧῊΝ ΖΩῆς . Cf. on the gen. limitation ΖΩῆς , Winer, p. 177 sq.

The ΤᾺ before ἘΝ Τ . ΘΑΛ . [3680] refers, as to meaning, to the individual ΚΤΊΣΜΑΤΑ comprised in the collective ΠᾶΣΑ ΨΥΧ . [3681]

[3676] Beng., etc. Against De Wette: es estand Blut .

[3677] νεκροῦ = νεκρῶν . C. a Lap., Eichh., De Wette, Hengstenb., etc.

[3678] Beng., Züll., etc.

[3679] Cf. Revelation 8:9 : κτίσματα τὰ ἕχοντα ψυχάς .

[3680] See Critical Notes.

[3681] Cf. Revelation 5:13 .

Verses 4-7

Revelation 16:4-7 . The third vial changes all other streams into blood. The angel of the waters and the heavenly altar praises the righteousness of God’s judgments.

καὶ ἐγένετο αίμα . “And it became blood,” i.e., blood came forth. It is true, indeed, that, as to the form of the expression, it is not said that the streams became blood; the reading is not ἐγένοντο . But the analogy with Revelation 8:11 [3682] suggests that the blood entered into the streams into which the vials were poured. [3683]

Since the streams are thus affected by the plague, the angel who presides over the waters is the first to recognize adoringly the righteousness of this Divine manifestation of wrath.

ΤΟῪ ἈΓΓΈΛΟΥ ΤῶΝ ὙΔΆΤΩΝ . Incorrectly, Grotius: “Because he emptied the vial into the waters.” A definite angel is meant, who is placed over the streams as a special sphere. [3684] There is an analogy not so much in what is presented in Revelation 7:1 and Revelation 14:18 , for what is said there of the angels of wind and fire [3685] is not meant in the same sense, as rather in the idea of the four beings who appear in Revelation 4:6 sqq. as representatives of earthly creatures. [3686] Precisely similar [3687] is Daniel’s representation of angelic princes who belong to particular nations. [3688] Cf. also Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr. , on this passage; and Eisenmenger, Entd. Judenth. , ii. 377 sq., where a large number of rabbinical expressions concerning earth-, sea-, fire-, and other angels, and their special names, are collected. In Bava Bathra , p. 72, 2, [3689] the prince of the sea is called רתב , after Job 26:12 ; in another book, [3690] he is called Michael, and seven less important angels stand beneath him.

ὍΣΙΟς . Cf. Revelation 15:4 . As the solemn formula ὪΝ ΚΑῚ ἩΝ [3691] does not allow an immediate combination with ὅσιος , [3692] and as before ὅσιος , neither ὁ , nor καὶ , nor καὶ ὁ , dare be read, [3693] and consequently the translation of Hengstenb. (“the godly”) is false, we can only, in the sense adopted by Luther, who, however, interpolates an “ and ,” regard the ὅσιος as placed with δίκαιος by asyndeton, as a predicate belonging to εἰ : “Righteous art thou, which art, and which wast, holy” [art thou], “because thou hast ordained such judgments:” ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρ . The ταῦτα refers to Revelation 16:4 , not to Revelation 16:3 ; for that which is the subject of treatment (Revelation 16:6 ) is drinking-water that is changed into blood, so that the inhabitants of the earth who have shed the blood of saints and prophets [3694] must drink blood. [3695] The closing words of the angelic discourse, ἌΞΙΟΙ ΕἸΣΙΝ , whose force is not destroyed by the absence of a connective, expressly designate that the enemies have merited this judgment.

Upon the angel’s ascription of praise, there follows yet, in Revelation 16:7 , another from the side of the altar, which, responding to the former and confirming it ( ΝΑΊ , Κ . Τ . Λ . ), makes a further reference in general to the judgments of God, and thus brings the entire ascription of praise from Revelation 16:5 to a conclusion. [3696]

ΤΟῦ -G0- ΘΥΣΙΑΣΤΗΡΊΟΥ -G0- ΛΈΓΟΝΤΟς -G0- . An attempt has been made to evade the idea of the text that the words of praise proceed from the altar itself, by the interpolation of ἌΛΛΟΥ (sc. ΑΓΓΈΛΟΥ ), ἘΚ before ΘΥΣ . , [3697] or by allegorizing, [3698] or by the supply of a personality. [3699] But De Wette correctly acknowledges [3700] the significant personification of the altar itself. This is in some measure prepared for already by Revelation 9:13 ; but the idea embodied therein is to be recognized from Revelation 6:10 sqq., Revelation 8:3 , Revelation 9:13 , Revelation 14:18 . From the same place whence the prayers for vengeance had arisen, and already special manifestations of God’s wrath had proceeded, the righteousness of all the judgments of God, whereby the longing of the saints is fully satisfied, is proclaimed.

[3682] Cf. also Revelation 16:3 .

[3683] Against De Wette.

[3684] Andr., C. a Lap., Ewald, Züll., De Wette, Hengstenb.

[3685] De Wette.

[3686] Cf. also Revelation 8:2 , where seven angels of special rank are mentioned.

[3687] Hengstenb. compares John 5:4 . Although he considers the water in this passage, as also Revelation 8:10 , as an allegorical designation of prosperity; although, further, the passage John 5:4 is spurious, and nothing whatever is said of an angel placed over the water in general, but only of one sent for a particular service to a single pool, yet he would have us find here “a delicate and inner bond” between the Apoc. and the Gospel.

[3688] Daniel 10:13 ; Daniel 10:21 ; Daniel 12:1 .

[3689] Schöttg.

[3690] Eisenmenger, p. 379.

[3691] The καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος is absent here, as in Revelation 11:17 , because the coming to judgment is already in process of execution.

[3692] Against De Wette: “Thou who art and wast holy.”

[3693] See Critical Notes, p. 414.

[3694] Cf. Revelation 13:7 ; Revelation 13:10 , Revelation 6:10 , Revelation 11:7 , Revelation 17:6 , Revelation 19:2 .

[3695] πεῖν . On this form, see Winer, p. 84.

[3696] Cf. Revelation 5:8 , Revelation 11:13-14 .

[3697] Luther, Züll., etc.

[3698] Beda: “The inner affection of saints, angels, or men, who by teaching rule the people.” Andr.: “The angelic powers as bearers of our prayers.”

[3699] Grot.: “viz., the angel who guards the spirits of the martyrs.” Cf. Revelation 6:10 . Ewald: “A voice proceeding from an inhabitant of heaven standing by the divine altar.” Cf. also Züll., Ebrard, etc.

[3700] Cf. also Beng. and Hengstenb., who nevertheless speak indefinitely of an angel of the altar.

Verses 8-9

Revelation 16:8-9 . The fourth vial, poured out upon the sun, produces [3701] terrific heat. Men, however, are not brought by all these plagues to repentance, but only to blasphemy of God.

ἘΔΌΘΗ ΑὐΤῷ ; viz., to the sun, [3702] not to the angel; [3703] the meaning is that by the pouring-forth of the vials upon the sun, this is in like manner made a means of plague, as in Revelation 16:3 the sea, and in Revelation 16:4 other streams. The sun receives ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑ adapted to its nature for these special plagues. [3704] It concurs with the false reference of the ἐδ . αυτῷ , that

Hengstenb. excepted, who wants to understand the sun, as well as also the fire, allegorically

Bengel refers the ἐν πυρί to still another fire than that proceeding from the glowing sun.

καῦμα μέγα . On the accus. with ἐκαυματίσθησαν , cf. Winer, p. 214.

καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν , κ . τ . λ . Just because men perceive that the plagues come from God, before whom they, nevertheless, will not bow, [3705] they become the more hardened.

[3701] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 8:12 .

[3702] De Wette, Bleek.

[3703] Beng., Hengstenb., Ew. ii.

[3704] Cf. the ἐδόθη , Revelation 6:4 ; Revelation 6:8 , Revelation 7:2 , Revelation 9:3 ; Revelation 9:5 .

[3705] Revelation 9:20 ; cf. Revelation 11:13 .

Verses 10-11

Revelation 16:10-11 . The fifth vial, poured upon the throne of the beast, brings an eclipse over his entire realm. This increase of sorrows also works upon the impenitent inhabitants of the earth in such a way that they blaspheme God.

ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον τοῦ θηρίου . The throne of the beast beheld in definite reality (Revelation 13:2 ), the actual centre of his entire kingdom, is here meant; incorrect are all interpretations [3706] which explain away the concrete clearness of the presentation. [3707]

καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ ἐσκοτωμένη , cf. Exodus 10:21 sqq.; Psalms 105:28 . Even in this special circumstance is the plague like the Egyptian, in that this darkness is produced not by an injury to the sun, [3708] but by an immediate miraculous act. [3709] By the expression ἐσκοτωμ . an external eclipse must be considered, so that the plague is homogeneous with those of the preceding vials. The false interpretation of the ἐσκοτωμ . in Grot., [3710] Calov., Vitr., Hengstenb., etc., coincides with the allegorical view of the whole. [3711] For the correct understanding of the ἐσκοτωμ ., it follows of itself that ἡ βασιλεία αὐτ . can designate not the rulership, [3712] but only the kingdom of the beast considered according to its geographical extent.

καὶ ἐμασῶντο τὰς γλώσσας , κ . τ . λ . “And they gnawed their tongues.” Andr., very properly: “The gnawing of the tongues shows the excess of the pain.” The text itself gives the explanation: ἐκ τοῦ πονόυ . [3713] The darkness causes a peculiar pain, because of its character as a plague. This particular ΠΌΝΟς , however, is, according to Revelation 16:11 , to be thought of in connection with the plagues produced by the preceding vials ( ΤῶΝ ΠΌΝΩΝ ΑὐΤ .), among which the first is still expressly emphasized: ΚΑῚ ἘΚ ΤῶΝ ἙΛΚῶΝ ΑὐΤ . The horrible darkness makes the other sufferings identified by Hengstenb. with the darkness which he understands figuratively still more oppressive and comfortless; for the last plagues also [3714] are, in comparison with the seal- and trumpet-plagues, so dreadfully increased, because, while the former plagues came successively, these vial-plagues occur in such a way that the one is combined with the other. During the fifth vial-plague, at all events the first, and without doubt the second and third, are still continuing. The fourth (Revelation 16:8 ) is naturally not to be regarded in connection with the fifth; but under the fourth, we are expressly referred to all the preceding plagues (Revelation 16:9 : ΤᾺς ΠΛΗΓ . ΤΑΎΤ . ).

ΤῸΝ ΘΕῸΝ ΤΟῦ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ . Cf. Revelation 11:13 . The designation has here a reference as in Revelation 16:9 the ΤΟῦ ἜΧ . ἘΞΟΥΣ ., Κ . Τ . Λ .

ΜΕΤΕΝ . ἘΚ Τ . ἜΡΓ . ΑὐΤ . Cf. Revelation 9:20 sq.

[3706] In violation also of the analogy of Revelation 16:2-4 ; Revelation 16:8 .

[3707] Against C. a Lap.: “Upon the kingdom and subjects of antichrist,” etc.

[3708] Cf. Revelation 16:8 sqq.

[3709] De Wette.

[3710] The Roman dominion lost much of its pristine splendor.

[3711] Cf. on Revelation 16:21 .

[3712] Hengstenb. Cf. Grot.

[3713] Cf., on the ἐκ , Revelation 16:11 ; Revelation 16:21 . Winer, p. 347.

[3714] Revelation 15:1 .

Verses 12-16

Revelation 16:12-16 . The sixth vial is poured upon the Euphrates, and causes it to dry up, in order that the kings of the East might pass through. Three unclean spirits, which in the form of frogs issue from the mouths of the dragon, and the two beasts serving the dragon, gather the inhabitants of the earth at Armagedon.

τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην . In the sense of Revelation 9:14 the starting-point is indicated, in a schematic way, for the kings coming from the East, for whom God himself makes the way by drying up the Euphrates. The correct estimate of this point is gained only by considering it in connection with the correct conception of “the kings” coming from “the East.” The problem in general is so to understand all the particular features of the representation (Revelation 16:12-16 ), especially also the significant local designation (Revelation 16:16 ), that this vial-vision correspond with the essential meaning of the other vials. Accordingly, as a whole, nothing else can be represented than a revelation of judgment pertaining to the inhabitants of the earth, according to the analogy of the plagues proceeding from the other vials. By a comparison with Revelation 9:14 sqq., the suggestion is readily made, that the Eastern kings themselves may be regarded the executors of the plagues. So Ewald, who refers to the Parthian allies with whom the returning Nero [3715] would go up against Rome. [3716] But the kings of the East belong rather to the ΒΑΣΙΛΕῖς Τῆς ΟἸΚΟΥΜΈΝΗς ὍΛΗς (Revelation 16:14 ), and appear as leaders of the inhabitants of the whole earth, and, accordingly, as instruments of the dragon and the beast (cf. Revelation 16:13 ), who go up to war, not against Babylon, but rather against believers. [3717] The kings of the East are identical with the ten kings (Revelation 17:12 sqq.) who give their power to the beast. [3718] Just as in Revelation 11:7 the beast from the abyss was mentioned proleptically, which nevertheless does not enter definitely into the development before ch. 13, so here a statement is made concerning definite kings ( ΤῶΝ ΒΑΣ . ΤῶΝ ἈΠῸ ἈΝ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . ), whose more specific relation to the beast [3719] does not become clear until from Revelation 17:12 sqq., but whose fate is indicated first only in this passage (Revelation 16:16 ), yet is not expressly stated until the actual end. [3720] For the plague of the sixth vial does not lie in the fact that those kings come, this is rather a proof of the apparently victorious defiance of the secular power, but that they assemble at Armagedon; i.e., a place where they shall be brought to naught with their insolent power. [3721] Bengel [3722] has already correctly acknowledged this by saying very appropriately, even though he very preposterously thinks of the inroads of the Turks: “It is these very kings who blindly incur the plagues.” While in Revelation 16:12 the coming of the kings was so stated, that thereby the purpose of God leading those enemies to destructive judgment might be marked; [3723] on the other hand, in Revelation 16:13 sq., it is emphasized as to how these Eastern and all kings of the earth in general are gathered together by the dragon to the conflict against believers. [See Note LXXIX., p. 425.] Immediately from the mouth of the dragon himself ( ἘΚ Τ . ΣΤΟΜ . ), [3724] and mediately from the dragon, from the mouths of the two beasts equipped by the same for the conflict against believers, [3725] three unclean spirits are sent forth, of those which serve the dragon, in order to bring together the kings of the earth.

ἈΚΆΘΑΡΤΑ . This formal attribute also [3726] designates the demoniacal nature of these spirits. [3727]

ὡς βάτραχοι . This addition is not to be referred to the mere ἀκάθαρτα , but designates, in the sense of the var. ὅμοια βατράχοις , the form in which those spirits appear. It is possible that this form of illustration depends upon an allusion to Exodus 8:1 sqq., [3728] although the batrachian form of the spirits bears no reference whatever to any peculiar pestilential nature of frogs, as the spirits are to be regarded only as such as, according to the wish of the dragon and of the two beasts, by their deceptive persuasion, move the kings to the expedition against Babylon. But what or who be meant by these three spirits, is a question originating from the same misunderstanding as that which, e.g., attempts in Revelation 9:14 sqq. to find a supposed fulfilment of prophecy within the sphere of ecclesiastical or secular-historical facts. To the false question, necessarily, the most arbitrary answers are given. The three spirits are, according to Grot.: “Divination by inspection of entrails, by the flight of birds, and the sibylline books, in which Maxentius trusted” (for Revelation 16:12-16 refer, according to Grot., Hammond, etc., to the rout of Maxentius by Constantine); according to Vitr., who explains the drying-up of the Euphrates by the circumstance that the kingdom of France, drained by its kings, could send no more money to the Pope, the spirits are to be understood as referring to the Jesuits; according to Calov.: “The Jesuits, Capuchins, and Calvinists;” according to others, [3729] “The Jesuits, Macchiavellians, and Spinozists.” Even Luther explains: “The frogs are the sophists, like Faber, Eck, Emser, etc., who banter much against the gospel, and yet effect nothing, and remain frogs.” But to the contemplation of the seer, the three spirits have the same reality as the dragon and his two beasts, from whose mouths the spirits actually proceeded. [3730]

εἱσὶ γὰρ πνεύματα δαιμονίων ποιοῦντα σημεῖα . The parenthesis which designates the unclean spirits expressly as spirits of demons explains their efficacy by the remembrance that they are spirits of demons which could perform miraculous signs. Just as the dwellers upon the earth are brought by the false prophet to the adoration of the beast, [3731] not without the working of miracles, so these three spirits also use their miraculous signs as a means whereby they attempt to bring together the kings of the earth.

ἃ ἐκπορεύεται ἐπι τ . βασιλ . τῆς οἰκουμ . ὅλης , συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς , κ . τ . λ . As the words ἃ ἐκπορ . referring back to what precedes the parenthesis, relatively carry still further the clause κ . εἷδον ἐκ τ . στομ ., κ . τ . λ ., they supply in this way the partic. ἐκπορεύομενα not written in Revelation 16:13 .

ἐπὶ τοὺς βασιλ . Cf. Revelation 14:6 ; Matthew 3:7 . [3732] The kings of the whole earth, the rulers of all the inhabitants of the earth worshipping the beast, [3733] are those to whom the spirits here take their course. They be take themselves to the kings, “to gather them together” ( συναγαγεῖν , inf., as Revelation 12:17 ) “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” That this day is often not understood [3734] in its eschatological definitiveness, i.e., [3735] as the future day of final judgment, [3736] is owing to the fact that the relation of the sixth (and seventh) vial to the actual end [3737] is not properly appreciated. As by the mention of definite kings, Revelation 16:12 was comprehended already in the development of the proper final catastrophe, so Revelation 16:14 also, by the reference to the conflict against the saints to be undertaken by all the kings of the world combined on the day of final judgment, alludes to a point which does not actually occur until in the last time of Revelation 19:19 . [3738] But it is just this which corresponds with the character of the penultimate plagues among those that are “last,” [3739] that here the demoniacal spirits come forth, who unite those kings together with their hosts of people in an attack to be completed at the actual end, which will then result, on that great day, by the judgment of Almighty God ( Τ . ΘΕΟῦ Τ . ΠΑΝΤ . ), [3740] in the complete ruin of the enemies. [3741] But as thus reference is made from the sphere of the vials to the actual end, the artistic plan of the Apoc. again stands forth, involving with it that the nearer the proper final judgment with its distinct acts occurs, the more definitely appears the connection between it and its various forms of preparations, which have come into view in series of visions that, although they are distinct, yet interpenetrate one another.

In this also the feeling is expressed, that the day of judgment is impending so closely, that the comfort which is introduced with such emphasis in Revelation 16:15 is occasioned by the definite allusion to the same in Revelation 16:14 . [3742]

ἹΔΟῪ ἜΡΧΟΜΑΙ , Κ . Τ . Λ . The prophet speaks immediately as in the name of the Lord himself. [3743] With formal incorrectness, Hengstenberg says that Christ himself actually speaks.

Ώς ΚΛΈΠΤΗς , cf. Revelation 3:3 . On any day, at any hour, therefore, the Lord may come, and thus that great day of the Lord open. Upon this is based the admonition succeeding without express connection, which, first of all by proffering the blessed reward, [3744] encourages to watchfulness, [3745] and to the faithful keeping, by believers, of their garments, [3746] but then, also, on the other hand, does not refrain from threatening disgrace and punishment against the faithless. [3747] After the parenetic interlude, there follows in Revelation 16:16 the conclusion belonging to Revelation 16:14 : ΚΑῚ ΣΥΝΉΓΑΓΕΝ ΑὐΤΟΎς . As the subject we can regard neither the sixth-vial angel, [3748] nor God, [3749] nor the dragon, [3750] but only the ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΑ ΤΡΊΑ ἈΚΑΘ . (Revelation 16:13 ), [3751] since the ΣΥΝΉΓΑΓΕΝ , with the corresponding expression, designates that which was named in Revelation 16:14 , as the purpose of those spirits. [3752] The peculiar point of the entire section (Revelation 16:12-16 ) lies in the significant naming of the place of assembling of the antichristian kings of the world: In Hebrew the place is called ἉΡΜΑΓΕΔΏΝ . The name is to be explained either etymologically, i.e., from the meaning of the Hebrew words contained therein, or historically, i.e., so that the Hebrew proper name, by its reference to some fact of the O. T. history, appears characteristically for the present case, which is accordingly transferred to that Armagedon. The etymological explanation is attempted by many of the older writers without a proper foundation in a linguistic respect. [3753] The most admissible is the interpretation of Drusius, who understands the words חרמה “destruction,” and נדהון “army,” so that the entire name means “the slaughter of their army.” This is more correct in a linguistic respect, and as a matter of fact, than when Rinck makes of it a compound of אַרמון (which he regards as meaning “castle”) and נָדֵר “fortress,” and thus finds the capital designated; just as Grot., who in other respects follows, in etymological explanation, the footsteps of Drusius, solves it as “Mons Janiculus.” But if John had had in mind the obscure verbal interpretation of the name Arm., he would scarcely have refrained from giving the Greek explanation to his readers in Asia Minor; [3754] on which account we are the rather directed to the historical interpretation by a significant prototype. This has been attempted in various ways by Tichon., Ribera, Coccejus, Vitr., Bengel, Eichhorn, Ewald, Züllig, Hofm., Hengstenb., Ebrard, Bleek, Volkm., [3755] in combination with the etymological interpretation. [3756] The place at which, in the times of the judges, the Canaanite kings were slaughtered by the Israelites, [3757] and where King Josiah was defeated by the Egyptians, [3758] the LXX. call Μαγεδώ ( Μαγεδδὠ ). The allusion to one of the two events would be liable to no doubt whatever, if John had not named the locality meant by him as Ἀρμαγεδών ( חַר מִגִדּו ), i.e., Mount Megiddo, while the more express determinations in the O. T. read either ἐν τῷ πεδιώ Μαγ . [3759] or ἐπὶ ὕδατι Μαγ . [3760] But this additional circumstance, which also admits at least of a probable explanation, [3761] can in no way lead us astray as to the chief reference of the name Megiddo in the O. T. Yet the defeat of the people of God, and of his King Josiah, cannot be the prototype for this passage, [3762] as the subject here has respect to a defeat of antichristian enemies; [3763] but only the victory of Israel, [3764] as it is described in Judges 5:19 , won by God’s miraculous aid over the βασιλεῖς Χαναάν at Megiddo. By designating the place, therefore, where the antichristian kings assemble for battle against Christ and his Church, by that name, it is indicated that the fate of the antichristian kings shall be the same as that of the Canaanites formerly at Megiddo. With this thought, the designation Mount Megiddo appears also to correspond. For as the subject has to do not with an actual, but only with an ideal, geographical specification, in the designation Mount Meg., there can lie an intimation of the immovableness and victory of the Church of God. [3765] [See Note LXXX., p. 425.] This ideal character of the geographical designation prevents, however, the explanation that Armagedon is Rome, [3766] or the mountains of Judah, where the enemies are to gather until they are annihilated in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. [3767] Without any support whatever in the text is the view of Ew. ii., that since the numerical value of ארמנדון is the same as that of רומה חגדולח (viz., 304), by hieroglyphic art “Rome the great” is expressly designated. Concerning the number of a name, [3768] nothing whatever is said in this passage. [3769]

[3715] Cf. Revelation 13:3 .

[3716] “In order to sustain Nero, attending antichrist, they come to destroy the city.” Cf. also Eichh., Heinr., Volkm., Hilgenf.; Ebrard also belongs here, in so far as he identifies the kings of the East with the four angels (Revelation 9:15 ), and regards their expedition directed first, at least, against Babylon, and then, of course, also against believers.

[3717] Cf. Revelation 12:17 , Revelation 13:7 , Revelation 17:12 sqq., Revelation 19:19 .

[3718] De Wette.

[3719] Cf. Revelation 16:13 .

[3720] Cf. Revelation 19:19 .

[3721] See on Revelation 16:16 .

[3722] Cf. De Wette, Hengstenb.

[3723] Cf. Micah 4:12 sq.

[3724] Cf. Revelation 9:17 , Revelation 11:5 . Incorrectly, C. a Lap., etc.: “At the command.”

[3725] Revelation 13:1 ; Revelation 13:11 .

[3726] Matthew 10:1 ; Mark 1:26 .

[3727] Revelation 16:14 : πνεύμ . δαιμονίων . Cf. Revelation 18:2 .

[3728] Ew. ii.

[3729] Cf. Wolf.

[3730] Cf., besides, Revelation 9:17 sq., also Revelation 9:1-11 .

[3731] Revelation 13:12 sqq.

[3732] Winer, p. 380.

[3733] Revelation 14:6 ; Revelation 14:11 , Revelation 13:3 sq., 12.

[3734] So Beng., De Wette; cf. also Ew. i., who, however, like Eichh., refers only to the devastation of Rome.

[3735] Cf. Revelation 16:15 .

[3736] Matthew 7:22 ; Luke 17:24 ; Luke 17:31 ; Hebrews 10:25 ; Jude 1:6 . Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 .

[3737] Cf. Beda: “The ὴμερα is the entire time from the Lord’s passion.” Hengstenb.: “The day of God has a comprehensive character, which unites into one picture all the phases in it of the judgment of God against ungodly wickedness.”

[3738] Cf. also Ew. ii. and Volkm.

[3739] Revelation 15:1 .

[3740] Cf. Revelation 1:8 , Revelation 11:17 , Revelation 16:7 .

[3741] Cf. Revelation 16:16 .

[3742] Cf. Revelation 13:9 sqq., Revelation 14:12 sqq.

[3743] Cf. Revelation 22:7 ; Revelation 22:12 ; Revelation 22:20 ; De Wette.

[3744] Cf. Revelation 14:3 , Revelation 19:9 , Revelation 22:7 ; Revelation 22:14 .

[3745] Revelation 3:2 sq.

[3746] Cf. Revelation 3:18 , Revelation 7:14 .

[3747] Cf. Revelation 3:18 , also Revelation 7:9 ; Revelation 7:14

[3748] Beng.

[3749] Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[3750] Revelation 16:13 ; Ew. ii.; Volkm.: “The beast.”

[3751] Ewald, Bleek, De Wette.

[3752] ἀ ἑκπορ . συναγαγεῖν . Observe here also the sing, with the ἃ .

[3753] According to Beda, Ἁρμαγ . is meant to be “a holy city, i.e., the Church.” He compares then Revelation 20:9 . Yet he regards also possible: “insurrection against what precedes,” “a spherical mountain,” so as to designate “a place of the godless.” Andr. interprets, διακοπή . It indicates the extermination ( ἐκκόπτεσθαι ) of enemies. C. a Lap. explains: “The artifice of the congregation, because God, as it were, by an artifice will unite those kings with antichrist, so as to destroy all in one day.” More to the same effect in the Crit. Sacr . Luther has the gloss: “In German, doomed warriors, accursed equipment, or unsuccessful warriors, from Herem and Gad.”

[3754] Cf. Revelation 9:11 ; Beng., Hengstenb.

[3755] Cf. also De Wette, who, however, vacillates.

[3756] Vitr., Eichh., Züllig.

[3757] Judges 5:19 .

[3758] 2 Kings 23:29 sqq.; 2 Chronicles 35:22 . Cf. Zechariah 12:11 .

[3759] 2 Chron., l. c.

[3760] Judg., l. c.

[3761] See above.

[3762] It is said incorrectly (Hengstenb., Hofm., etc.), that the reference to the defeat of Josiah is rendered the more probable by the example of Zechariah 12:11 ; for if on the one hand the contents of Zech. l. c. are completely distinct from those of this passage, it is also to be observed that the LXX., of whom John is by no means independent, do not have there the name Μαγεδώ at all. They explain it as ἐν πεδίῳ ἐκκοπτομένου . With this the above-cited interpretation of Andreas is in remarkable agreement. Possible, and of interesting facility, is the explanation of Hitzig (cf. Hilgenf., p. 440): Ἀρμαγ . = ער מ״ , i.e., the city M. Cf. also Kienlen. But it is not perceptible why John would not have abode by the mere name Μαγ ., if he had not wished to give the idea of the mountain.

[3763] Against Ewald, Hengstenb.; also against Hofm., Schriftbew ., II. 2, p. 639, who, however, makes the alteration, that in the beginning of the war the experience of the saints shall be that of the Israelites at Megiddo, but that finally the enemies shall be trodden down in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

[3764] Beng., Ebrard, Klief.

[3765] Cf. Psalms 121:1 ; Psalms 125:2 .

[3766] Ewald.

[3767] Züllig.

[3768] Cf. Revelation 13:18 .

[3769] Bleek already has declared against Ew.


LXXIX. Revelation 16:12 . τῶν βασιλέω τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς

In entire harmony with Düsterdieck, Alford: “In order to understand what we here read, we must carefully bear in mind the whole context. From what follows under this same vial, we learn that the kings of the whole earth are about to be gathered to the great battle against God, in which he shall be victorious, and they shall utterly perish. The time is now come for this gathering; and, by the drying-up of the Euphrates, the way of those kings who are to come from the East is made ready. To suppose the conversion of Eastern nations, or the gathering-together of Christian princes, to be meant, or to regard the words as relating to any auspicious event, is to introduce a totally incongruous feature into the series of vials which confessedly represent ‘the seven last plagues.’ ”


LXXX. Revelation 16:16 . Ἁρμαγεδών

So also Gebhardt (p. 274): “It is clear that by this name we are to understand Megiddo, which Judges 5:19 , 2 Kings 23:29 , 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 (cf. Zechariah 12:10-11 ), mention as the great battlefield of the O. T. But a mere statement of locality cannot be intended, for then it would not be called Armageddon, but Megiddo or Magedon; nor would it be said that the locality was so called in the Hebrew. This addition, as well as the compound name, compels us to notice the verbal meaning, and yet not the etymological meaning of Magedon, which John, on account of its difficulty, would certainly have added in Greek (cf. Revelation 9:11 ), but only that Armageddon in Hebrew means Hill of Megiddo. It is in the highest degree probable, that, in this designation, the seer refers to Zechariah 12:11 : ‘in the Valley of Megiddo,’ valley, symbol of defeat; hill, of victory, and wishes us to understand that what the heathen once did against Josiah and his people at Megiddo would now find its counterpart in what they did against Jesus and his followers; but that as once, in the Valley of Megiddo, the theocracy was borne to the grave with Josiah, so, in Armageddon, the Hill of Megiddo, the Lord would avenge the crime of the heathen.” The point of comparison here is rather with the battle of Judges 5:19 , as Ebrard shows, and Düsterdieck seems to intimate, than with that of 2 Kings 23:29 , as Gebhardt states. Thomson ( Central Palestine and Phœnicia , p. 213) explains the adoption of the local name for that of the great prophetic conflict, by the fact that the Apostle John was a native of Galilee, well acquainted with the natural features and ancient history of the great plain of Esdraelon to which it belonged. So, too, Stanley ( Sinai and Palestine , p. 330): “If that mysterious book proceeded from the hands of a Galilæan fisherman, it is the more easy to understand why, with the scene of those many battles constantly before him, he should have drawn the figurative name of the final conflict between the hosts of good and evil from ‘the place which is called, in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon,’ i.e., the city or mountain of Megiddo.” See also Alford.

Verses 17-21

Revelation 16:17-21 . The seventh vial poured into the air brings after a voice proceeding from the throne of God has proclaimed the end unprecedented plagues upon the chief city of the beast and the entire empire. Yet men continue their blasphemy of God.

ἐπὶ τὸυ ἀέρα . Cf. Revelation 16:8 .

φωνὴ μεγ . ἀπὸ τοῦ ναοῦ . According to this, the voice of God himself is to be understood just as in Revelation 16:1 ; the further designation ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου shows this with still greater certainty. As the command to pour forth the vials was imparted by God himself, so there also comes forth from God’s own mouth the final exclamation comprised in one word: Γέγονεν . This γέγονεν , “ factum est ,” [3770] refers to Revelation 16:1 ; now that is done which is there commanded. [3771] Cf. Revelation 21:6 , where, likewise, a definite determination of the subject results from the connection. Thus the explanation of Eichh., Ewald, [3772] is far out of the way, while that of Grot., [3773] which recalls the Virgilian: Fuimus Troes , is inapposite.

καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ , κ . τ . λ . The same signs, only extremely heightened, which also, Revelation 11:19 , signalize the immediately impending entrance of the actual end; yet the misunderstanding as though in Revelation 16:20-21 the end itself were described is removed by the text itself, because it treats of a particular vial-plague, which, like the preceding, expressly makes known, also in Revelation 16:21 ( Κ . ἘΒΛΑΣΦ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . ), its only preparatory significance with respect to the actual final judgment.

Κ . ἘΓΈΝ . ΠΌΛΙς ΜΕΓΆΛΗ ΕἸς ΤΡΊΑ ΜΈΡΗ , Κ . Τ . Λ . From the connection of ch. 13, as well as from the context, ch. 16, it undoubtedly follows that “the great city,” which was rent into three parts, is identical with “great Babylon,” [3774] i.e., the metropolis of the world, which appeared in ch. 13 in the form of the beast from the sea. [3775] In addition to the great city divided into three parts, [3776] the other “cities of the nations” which fall down are also mentioned. The great city, or great Babylon, is, therefore, heathen Rome, [3777] not Jerusalem. [3778] The heathen metropolis is affected in the same way by the mighty earthquake which the last vial brings, but in a heightened degree, as in Revelation 11:13 , the city of Jerusalem is by the final visitation in the second woe. But there the last plague, which comes upon Jerusalem before the final judgment, [3779] works repentance in the rest; while in the heathen metropolis, and in the entire realm of the beast, all the plagues, even those which are most dreadful, effect nothing but persevering blasphemy of God. [3780]

ἘΜΝΉΣΘΗ ἙΝΏΠΙΟΝ Τ . Θ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . On the expression, cf. Acts 10:31 ; on the thing designated, Psalms 10:13 .

ΤῸ ΠΟΤΉΡΙΟΝ Τ . ΟἸΝ . Τ . ΘΥΜΟῦ Τῆς ὈΡΓῆς ΑὐΤΟΥ . The expression [3781] is just as full as possible, because it is intended to state how the wrath ( ὈΡΓΉ ) existing in God operates in its entire force. Vitr. explains ΘΥΜῸς Τῆς ὈΡΓῆς excellently by excandescentia irae . [3782] [See Note LXXXI., p. 426.] On Revelation 16:20 ; cf. Revelation 6:14 .

Ώς ΤΑΛΑΝΤΙΑΊΑ . The monstrous size of the hail, whereby the plague is rendered so dreadful. [3783] Hailstones of the weight of a mina ( μνααῖ αι ), Diodor. Sicul., xix. 45, already calls incredibly great; but in this passage hailstones of the weight of a talent, which contains sixty minae, therefore, designates them as so heavy as though thrown, like sling-stones, from catapults. [3784]

κ . εβλασφήμησαν , κ . τ . λ . It dare not be urged [3785] that here also the impenitence is not expressly mentioned, and it is not here stated that this immediately fatal hail left no time for repentance, that the men thus struck by the same could, only when dying, still blaspheme; [3786] for it is scarcely the meaning, that those individuals, who have been struck by the dreadful hail, utter their blasphemies in the very moment of death; but rather, while the hail falls, the men blaspheme, i.e., those not immediately struck by it, who, nevertheless, have before their eyes the plague threatening them every moment. Some fall, struck dead; others blaspheme.

[3770] Vulg.

[3771] Luke 14:22 ; Beng., De Wette, Hengstenb.

[3772] Actum est , i.e., the end and sure destruction of Rome is at hand.

[3773] Fuit Roma . Cf. also Vitr.

[3774] Cf. Revelation 14:8 .

[3775] Cf also ch. 17.

[3776] The number three (cf. Revelation 8:7-8 ; Revelation 8:11 ; Revelation 8:13 ) has possibly a reference to the three chief enemies, Revelation 16:13 (Ebrard).

[3777] Alcas., Ewald, De Wette, Volkm., Bleek, Hengstenb.

[3778] Andreas, C. a Lap., Beng., Züll., Stern., Ebrard, etc., who increase the confusion by explaining the great city, partly, like Ebrard, in the sense of Revelation 11:8 ; and great Babylon, on the other hand, according to Revelation 14:8 .

[3779] Cf. Revelation 11:15 sqq.

[3780] Revelation 16:21 . Cf. Revelation 16:9 ; Revelation 16:11 .

[3781] Cf. Revelation 14:10 .

[3782] “Irascibility of anger.”

[3783] Revelation 16:21 b .

[3784] Cf. Joseph., B. J. , v. 6, Revelation 3 : ταλανταῖοι

οί βαλλόμενοι πέτροι .

[3785] Beng., Hengstenb.

[3786] Hengstenb.

The vial-visions have received an allegorical interpretation in the same way as the seal- and trumpet-visions. As an example the following may be noticed: [3787] Wetst., who in it all saw a representation of the Vitellian war, explained Revelation 16:2 of diseases in the army of Vitellius, Revelation 16:3 of the treachery of the fleet, Revelation 16:19 the τρία μέρη (the three parties), as the Vitellian, the Flavian, and that of the Roman people. The last, Grot. refers to the fact that Totila had demolished the third of the walls of Rome. Nevertheless, the explanation of three classes of men has found most approval. [3788] Vitr. interprets Revelation 16:2 as referring to the exposure of the corruption of the Church by the Waldenses; Revelation 16:3 , to wars between the Popes and the Emperors (1056 1211); Revelation 16:4 , to the Church’s thirst for blood, manifested in Castnitz; Revelation 16:10 sq., to the obscuring of the Papacy by the Reformation. [3789] Beng. and Hengstenb. repeat their explanations, known already from the former visions, that the earth, Revelation 16:2 , is Asia; the sea, Revelation 16:3 , is Europe; [3790] that Revelation 16:3 refers to the shedding of blood in war, and Revelation 16:4 to the infringement of prosperity. [3791] The islands and mountains, Revelation 16:20 , are, according to Andr., churches and church-teachers; according to Hengstenb., kingdoms.

[3787] Cf. on Revelation 16:12 sqq.

[3788] Beda: “The godless state brings war in three ways upon the Church; viz., through the heathen, the Jews, and the heretics.” Andr.: Christians, Jews, and Samaritans in Jerusalem. Alcas.: Christians, heathen, and neutrals in Rome during the time of Constantine.

[3789] Cf. Calov., etc.

[3790] Beng.

[3791] Hengstenb.


LXXXI. Revelation 16:19 . τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς

Cremer: “ θυμός denotes the inward excitement, and ὀργή the outward manifestation of it; cf. Deuteronomy 29:20 ; Numbers 32:14 ; Isaiah 9:19 ; Jos 7:26 ; 1 Samuel 28:18 .” Trench: “The general result is, that in θυμός is more of turbulent commotion, the boiling agitation of the feelings, either presently to subside and disappear, or else to settle down into ὀργή , wherein is more of an abiding and settled habit of the mind, with the purpose of revenge.” Thayer ( Lexicon ): θυμός , “anger forthwith boiling up, and soon subsiding; ὀργή , on the contrary, denotes indignation which has arisen gradually and become more settled.”

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 16". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/revelation-16.html. 1832.
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