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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 15

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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This very short chapter and the one to follow introduce the seven vials or bowls containing the wrath of God. In the New King James Version they are called plagues that are contained in golden bowls. This section is one of the most difficult to interpret. There is greater variety of interpretation here than in any other section, with the possible exception of the number 666.

The interpretation I use here should:

1. Be consistent with the interpretation with the rest of the book.

2. Be understood by those who first read and studied this prophecy.

3. Not be applied to any specific event, but show a principle, which is applicable to Christians throughout the Christian age.

The seven angels are instructed to pour out the contents of their bowl. These bowls contain plagues. They are plagues that send out the wrath of God.

In summary, the plagues are seen as harming various parts of creation. Many commentators try to find a parallel with the plagues sent upon Egypt in the book of Exodus. While both sets of plagues come from God, they are very different. The plagues in Egypt were all physical. These final plagues of God’s wrath are spiritual in nature.

Number| Harms| Reference

1 Earth Rev_16:2

2 Sea Rev_16:3

3 Rivers Rev_16:4-7

fountains of


4 Sun Rev_16:8-9

5 Seat of Rev_16:10-11

the beast

6 Euphrates Rev_16:12-16

7 Into the air Rev_16:17-21

Woodruff makes some excellent comments about this chapter. “As this chapter is studied, careful attention must be paid to the interpretation of 11:6 because in it is contained the ideas upon which this entire interpretation is based. Speaking to the “two witnesses,” which represent Christians, 11:6 says, “These have power … to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” Christians have the power to smite the earth with plagues.” (1, 258)

Verse 1

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

A. John sees seven angels. These angels have the seven “last plagues.”

B. We are told three important things here.

1. These are the “last” plagues.

2. They are from the wrath of God.

3. They represent the “complete” wrath of God.

C. Again we have seven angels and seven plagues. Since “seven” is the number of divine completeness, the image is presented here to show this is the total, complete, and final wrath of God.

Verse 2

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

A. In the middle of all this “wrath” and “plagues” is the calmness of God. There is no mass confusion or hysteria. God is not flying off in a “fit of rage.”

B. The wrath of God comes from a calm determination to meet out punishment to the wicked on earth.

C. On this sea, calm as glass, is fire. The fire of God’s wrath. The fire of retribution. The fire of eternal punishment.

D. Around this calm sea are all who remained faithful. They did not receive the mark of the beast. They did not succumb to the temptation to worship the beast. They have suffered great tribulation and persecution. They overcame death. They overcame temptation. They are now in the calmness of God’s presence. They offer to God worship and praise.

Verse 3

3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!

A. Christians are singing people. The apostles sang a hymn after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. ( Mat_26:30 ) James asks if we are happy. If we are happy, we sing. These faithful saints who have overcome are rejoicing. They sing the song of the Lamb.

B. The words to this song are words of praise. God is great, marvelous, powerful, and Almighty. God is true to His word. God promised a reward for the faithful. They are now rejoicing that their faith in these words is not misplaced.

C. Have you sung this song lately? Have you taken time to just praise and magnify the Lord God for his majesty and power?

Verse 4

4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”

A. The song continues here. The second verse points out that the enemies of God will also fear Him. Who will fear God? Answer: All will, at some point, honor, recognize and fear God. For the world of unbelievers, this fear of God will be too little and too late. But, they will confess that Jesus is Lord. ( Php_2:9-11 )

B. God is a Holy God. Only God is only holy. We have not done enough study on the holiness of our God. We must learn to appreciate His holy nature.

C. All people will confess and worship God. It will be too late, but they will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.

D. This song also praises God for his judgments. Some Christians have questioned if a loving God would send anyone to punishment in an eternal hell. The answer is at least three-fold.

1. God will not cause them to be lost. They are lost because of the choices they made. Just as in our judicial system, a judge is not the one who sends someone to prison. They are sent to prison because of their decision to violate the law. God will announce the sentence. The “cause” is their decision to sin.

2. God will pour out wrath on the disobedient . 2Th_1:8-9 is clear that God will punish those who do not believe in God and those who do not obey the gospel. They will suffer eternal punishment. ( Mat_25:46 )

3. All faithful Christians will agree with God’s judgment . Some seem to question the judgment of God. I believe this verse, and some others in Revelation, show that when judgment comes, we will agree that God had to judge the wicked or He would not be a Holy and Just God. The holiness of God requires that sin be separated from Him. He cannot allow wicked, evil and sinful men to be in His presence. God cannot be Just and allow the evil beast to be rewarded just like those the beast killed and persecuted. Even we humans have a sense of justice.

Verse 5

5 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.

A. Now the temple is opened. This temple is in heaven. This is not the temple of the Jewish system.

B. Of course the tabernacle, and later the temple, represents the very presence of God. The Mercy Seat above the Ark of the Covenant was in the Most Holy Place. ( Exo_25:8 ; 2Ch_7:12 )

Verse 6

6 And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.

A. Out of the temple, from the very seat of God, come seven angles with seven plagues.

B. They are in pure bright (white) linen. White linen is the righteousness of the saints. (19:8) They have golden bands around their bodies. There is some symbolism with the “Christian armor” and the “girdle of truth.” ( Eph_6:14 )

Verse 7

7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.

A. According to 11:6, the two witnesses (Christians) have the power to harm the earth with plagues. Christians have two sources of power to inflict plagues.

1. Word of God . The Word of God is powerful. ( Heb_4:12 ) It is described as a two-edged sword. ( Eph_6:17 ) We can smite the earth by the power and authority of the Word of God.

2. Prayer . Christians have at their disposal the power of prayer. ( Eph_6:18 ) Prayer can bring rain and stop rain. Prayer can change people, situations and circumstances. Christians have the ability to appeal to the throne of God directly. God can, in harmony with His eternal will and purpose, answer the plea and petition of Christians.

B. The golden vials contain the wrath of our Eternal God. The four living creatures are the same ones introduced in chapter 4. They are around the throne, close to God and serving God.

Verse 8

8 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

A. Here is a dramatic climax to this chapter and the drum roll to begin the final plagues from the wrath of God.

B. There is smoke. This is not the smoke of tormenting fire. This smoke is said to be from the glory of God and from His power.

C. The temple is open. It is not ready to allow us to enter, yet. It is open to allow out the angels with the wrath of God. When the wrath is complete, we will be allowed inside.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 15". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-15.html. 2021.
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