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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 16

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Christ’s Final Wrath. Chapters 1516 (Romans 2:5)

This is the fifth parallel section. The central idea is: “God will not tolerate sinful men forever. “It once again begins with Christ’s First Coming. “But the wicked, with actions and words, have called death to themselves, and thinking it a friend, have made an agreement with it, because they choose to be part of it.”

Verse 1


Go and pour out the seven bowls. This is God’s authorization for what follows. [The Bowls of Wrath are a lot like the plagues sent on Egypt (see Exodus chapters 710); and they parallel the Trumpets of Warning (Rev. ch 89). The first Trumpet (Revelation 8:7) affects the earth; so does the first Bowl (Revelation 16:2): The second Trumpet affects the sea; so does the second Bowl. The third Trumpet the rivers; likewise the third Bowl. The fourth both affect the sun. The fifth the pit of the abyss or the throne of the beast. The sixth the river Euphrates. The seventh brings in the Second Coming and the end of the world.]

Verse 2


Poured out his bowl on the earth. Disease (such as Acts 12:21-23); land disasters in general (see note on Revelation 8:7). Note that the Trumpets affect only a third of the earth; but the Bowls affect the whole earth!

Verse 3


Poured out his bowl on the sea. All disasters which involve the sea. (See note on Revelation 8:8.)

Verse 4


Poured out his bowl on the rivers. All disasters which come from the land waters. (See note on Revelation 8:10.)

Verses 5-7


I heard the angel. He declares the justice of what God is doing! God’s people have cried out for vengeance (Revelation 6:9-11); and God heard them and promised to answer these prayers (Revelation 8:1-5).

Verses 8-9


Poured out his bowl on the sun. The fourth Trumpet brings the heavens themselves as tools to be used against the enemies of Christ’s church! (See note on Revelation 8:12. ) Some think Deuteronomy 28:20-22 applies here, and that man’s cruelty to each other is included in this.

Verses 10-11


Poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. This shows the incredible cruelty of man to each other. Governments fall! Political chaos brings economic depression! The throne of the beast is the center of anti-christian government. When Assyria falls, or Babylon, or Rome, the whole universe of the ungodly seems to crash down around them! Compare notes on Revelation 9:6; Matthew 24:21.

Verses 12-14


Poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates. The sixth Trumpet introduces war in general (see notes on Revelation 9:14). Here the Bowl brings us to Armageddon. See notes on Revelation 11:4-10. These verses are a picture-symbol. The river represents the wicked world. The unclean spirits look like frogs to show their hideous, repulsive nature. They represent the power and influence of hell introduced into the thoughts and actions of mankind. The kings from the east and the kings over the whole earth come together to war against the messianic community – MOTIVATED by hell itself! The central idea is Satan and the powers of hell at work in our world. But God uses the horror that war brings to warn the ungodly (Trumpet) and to punish the rebel (Bowl). Satan uses war in his attempt to destroy God’s people. In the continuing cycle of Armageddon, Satan destroys his own followers by forcing them to fight against God and his church. Compare 2 Kings 19:32-36, which is the “picture” of the final Armageddon. That final Armageddon comes just before the Second Coming. Therefore the sixth bowl is Armageddon, and the seventh bowl is the Day of Judgment. The events of the first six bowls repeat again and again, but reach their final form just before and in connection with the Last Day.

Verses 15-16

15–16. Listen! I am coming like a thief! At the peak of Satan’s effort, Christ suddenly appears! Compare Revelation 20:9. The ungodly will be caught “naked” by this! As the kings come to Armageddon, the seventh bowl is poured out.

Verse 17


Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl in the air. Satan’s last effort at crushing God’s people ends before it has any chance of succeeding, as the seventh bowl brings the Judgment. It is done! God’s decree has been carried out. The work is complete. The seventh bowl brings our world of time to an end.

Verses 18-21


There were flashes of lightning. These verses are symbolic of the horror of Judgment. The final collapse of Babylon is a crushing blow to all who have the mark of the beast. The earth breaking to pieces and the huge hail stones are part of the picture. The central idea is that in the final Judgment, the entire empire of evil is to be destroyed! As the great stones of hail fall from the sky, they symbolize the complete wrath of God directed against all the ungodly (see Jude 1:14-16). But even as they stand on the brink of hell, these ungodly rebels curse God and blaspheme him!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/revelation-16.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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