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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 16

Verse 1

A great voice (μεγαλης φωνης). Not an angel as in Revelation 5:2; Revelation 7:2; Revelation 10:3; Revelation 14:7; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:15; Revelation 14:18, but of God as Revelation 15:8 shows, since no one could enter the ναος.

Pour out (εκχεετε). Second aorist active imperative of εκχεω (same form as present active imperative). Blass would change to εκχεατε (clearly aorist) as in verse Revelation 16:6.

The seven bowls (τας επτα φιαλας). The article points to verse Revelation 16:7.

Verse 2

Went and poured out (απηλθεν κα εξεχεεν). Second aorist active indicative of απερχομα (redundant use like υπαγετε with εκχεετε, "go and pour out," in verse Revelation 16:1) and of εκχεω. Each angel "went off" to perform his task. For εξεχεεν see it repeated in verses Revelation 16:3; Revelation 16:4; Revelation 16:8; Revelation 16:10; Revelation 16:12; Revelation 16:17.

Into the earth (εις την γην). This same use of εις after εξεχεεν in verses Revelation 16:3; Revelation 16:4.

It became (εγενετο). "There came" (second aorist middle indicative of γινομα).

A noisome and grievous sore (ελκος κακον κα πονηρον). "Bad and malignant sore." Hελκος is old word for a suppurated wound (Latin ulcus), here, verse Revelation 16:11; Luke 16:21. See the sixth Egyptian plague (Exodus 9:10; Deuteronomy 28:27; Deuteronomy 28:35) and Job 2:7. The magicians were attacked in Egypt and the worshippers of Caesar here (Revelation 13:17; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 19:20).

Verse 3

Into the sea (εις την θαλασσαν). Like the first Egyptian plague (Exodus 7:12-41) though only the Nile affected then.

Blood as of a dead man (αιμα ως νεκρου). At the trumpet (Revelation 8:11) the water becomes wormwood. Here ως νεκρου is added to Exodus 7:19, "the picture of a murdered man weltering in his blood" (Swete). "Coagulated blood, fatal to animal life" (Moffatt).

Every living soul (πασα ψυχη ζωης). "Every soul of life" (Hebraism, Genesis 1:21, marked by life).

Even the things that were in the sea (τα εν τη θαλασση). "The things in the sea," in apposition with ψυχη. Complete destruction, not partial as in Revelation 8:9.

Verse 4

Into the rivers and the fountains of waters (εις τους ποταμους κα τας πηγας των υδατων). See Revelation 8:10 for this phrase. Contamination of the fresh-water supply by blood follows that of the sea. Complete again.

Verse 5

The angel of the waters (του αγγελου τον υδατων). Genitive case object of ηκουσα. See Revelation 7:1 for the four angels in control of the winds and Revelation 14:18 for the angel with power over fire. The rabbis spoke also of an angel with power over the earth and another over the sea.

Which art and which wast (ο ων κα ο ην). See this peculiar idiom for God's eternity with ο as relative before ην in Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8, but without ο ερχομενος (the coming on, the one who is to be) there for the future as in Revelation 11:17.

Thou Holy One (ο οσιος). Nominative form, but vocative case, as often. Note both δικαιος and οσιος applied to God as in Revelation 3:1; Revelation 15:3.

Because thou didst thus judge (οτ ταυτα εκρινας). Reason for calling God δικαιος and οσιος. The punishment on the waters is deserved. First aorist active indicative of κρινω, to judge.

Verse 6

For (οτ). Second causal conjunction (οτ) explanatory of the first οτ, like the two cases of οτ in Revelation 15:4.

They poured out (εξεχεαν). Second aorist active indicative of εκχεω with -αν instead of -ον.

Blood hast thou given them to drink (αιμα αυτοις δεδωκας πειν). Hαιμα (blood) is the emphatic word, measure for measure for shedding the blood of saints and prophets (Revelation 11:18; Revelation 18:24). Perfect active indicative of διδωμ, and so a permanent and just punishment. Πειν is the abbreviated second aorist active infinitive of πινω for πιειν (επιον). It is the epexegetical infinitive after δεδωκας. There was no more drinking-water, but only this coagulated blood.

They are worthy (αξιο εισιν). "Terrible antithesis" (Swete) to Revelation 3:4. The asyndeton adds to it (Alford).

Verse 7

O Lord God, the Almighty (Κυριε ο θεος ο παντοκρατωρ). Just as in Revelation 15:3 in the Song of Moses and of the Lamb, vocative with the article ο. "Judgments" (κρισεις) here instead of "ways" (οδο) there, and with the order of the adjectives reversed (αληθινα κα δικαια, true and righteous).

Verse 8

Upon the sun (επ τον ηλιον). Not εις (into) as in verses Revelation 16:2; Revelation 16:3; Revelation 16:4. The fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12) affected a third of the sun, moon, and stars with a plague of darkness, but here it is a plague of extreme heat.

To scorch with fire (καυματισα εν πυρ). First aorist active infinitive of καυματιζω, late (Plutarch, Epictetus) causative verb (from καυμα, heat), in N.T. only here and verse Revelation 16:9; Matthew 13:6; Mark 4:6. The addition of εν πυρ (in fire, with fire) intensifies the picture.

Verse 9

Were scorched (εκαυματισθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of same verb.

With great heat (καυμα μεγα). Cognate accusative retained with the passive verb. Old word (from καιω to burn), in N.T. only Revelation 7:16 and here. For blaspheming the name of God see Revelation 13:6; James 2:7; Romans 2:24; 1 Timothy 6:1. They blamed God for the plagues.

They repented not (ου μετενοησαν). This solemn negative aorist of μετανοεω is a refrain like a funeral dirge (Revelation 9:20; Revelation 16:11). In Revelation 11:13 some did repent because of the earthquake. Even deserved punishment may harden the heart.

To give him glory (δουνα αυτω δοξαν). Second aorist active infinitive of διδωμ, almost result. For the phrase see Revelation 11:13; Revelation 14:7; Revelation 19:7.

Verse 10

Upon the throne of the beast (επ τον θρονον του θηριου). That is Rome (Revelation 13:2). The dragon gave the beast his throne (Revelation 2:13).

Was darkened (εγενετο εσκοτωμενη). Periphrastic past perfect passive with γινομα and σκοτοω (Revelation 9:2). Like the darkness of the Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:22) and worse, for the effects of the previous plagues continue.

They gnawed their tongues (εμασωντο τας γλωσσας αυτων). Imperfect middle of μασαομα, old verb (to chew), from μαω (to knead), only here in N.T.

For pain (εκ του πονου). "Out of distress" (cf. εκ in Revelation 8:13), rare sense of old word (from πενομα to work for one's living), in N.T. only here, Revelation 21:4; Colossians 4:13. See Matthew 8:12.

Verse 11

They blasphemed (εβλασφημησαν)

and they repented not (κα ου μετενοησαν). Precisely as in verse Revelation 16:9, which see. Not just because of the supernatural darkness, but also "because of their pains" (εκ των πονων αυτων, plural here and same use of εκ) and their sores (κα εκ των ελκων αυτων, as in verse Revelation 16:2, only plural, and same use of εκ).

Of their works (εκ των εργων αυτων). "Out of their deeds," and addition to verse Revelation 16:9.

The God of heaven (τον θεον του ουρανου). As in Daniel 2:44. Like the pride of Nebuchadrezzar against Jehovah.

Verse 12

Upon the great river, the river Euphrates (επ τον ποταμον τον μεγαν τον Ευφρατην). The sixth trumpet brings up the river Euphrates also (Revelation 9:14), only there επ with the locative, while here επ with the accusative. Note triple use of the article τον here.

Was dried up (εξηρανθη). First aorist (prophetic) passive of ξηραινω (Revelation 14:15). Cf. Zechariah 10:11.

That may be made ready (ινα ετοιμασθη). Purpose clause with ινα and the first aorist passive of ετοιμαζω. Common verb in Rev. (Revelation 8:6; Revelation 9:7; Revelation 9:15; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:2).

The way for the kings (η οδος των βασιλεων). Objective genitive βασιλεων.

That come from the sunrising (των απο ανατολης ελιου). "Those from the rising of the sun," the kings from the east (cf. Matthew 2:2) in their march against Rome. Parthia in particular resisted Rome before Trajan's day.

Verse 13

Coming out of (εκ alone, no participle ερχομενα).

Of the dragon (του δρακοντος). That is Satan (Revelation 12:3; Revelation 12:9).

Of the beast (του θηριου). The first beast (Revelation 13:1; Revelation 13:12) and then just the beast (Revelation 13:14; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 16:10), the brute force of the World-power represented by the Roman Empire" (Swete).

Of the false prophet (του ψευδοπροφητου). Cf. Matthew 7:15; Acts 13:6; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7. Identified with the second beast (Revelation 13:11-14) in Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10. So the sixth bowl introduces the dragon and his two subalterns of chapters Revelation 16:12; Revelation 16:13 (the two beasts).

Three unclean spirits (πνευματα τρια ακαθαρτα). Out of the mouths of each of the three evil powers (the dragon and the two beasts) comes an evil spirit. See the use of mouth in Revelation 1:16 (Revelation 9:17; Revelation 11:5; Revelation 12:15; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21) as a chief seat of influence. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 we have "the breath of his mouth" (the other sense of πνευμα). For ακαθαρτον (unclean) with πνευμα see Mark 1:23; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:2; Acts 5:16; Acts 8:7. Christ expelled unclean spirits, but His enemies send them forth" (Swete). See Zechariah 13:2 "the false prophets and the unclean spirits."

As it were frogs (ως βατραχο). Cf. Exodus 8:5; Leviticus 11:10. Old word, here alone in N.T. Like loathsome frogs in form.

Verse 14

Spirits of devils (πνευματα δαιμονιων). "Spirits of demons." Explanation of the simile ως βατραχο. See 1 Timothy 4:1 about "deceiving spirits and teachings of demons."

Working signs (ποιουντα σημεια). "Doing signs" (present active participle of ποιεω). The Egyptian magicians wrought "signs" (tricks), as did Simon Magus and later Apollonius of Tyana. Houdini claimed that he could reproduce every trick of the spiritualistic mediums.

Which go forth (α εκπορευετα). Singular verb with neuter plural (collective) subject.

Unto the kings (επ τους βασιλεις). The three evil spirits (dragon and the two beasts) spur on the kings of the whole world to a real world war. "There have been times when nations have been seized by a passion for war which the historian can but imperfectly explain" (Swete).

To gather them together (συναγαγειν). Second aorist active infinitive of συναγω, to express purpose (that of the unclean spirits).

Unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty (εις τον πολεμον της ημερας της μεγαλης του θεου του παντοκρατορος). Some take this to be war between nations, like Mark 13:8, but it is more likely war against God (Psalms 2:2) and probably the battle pictured in Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:19. Cf. 2 Peter 3:12, "the day of God," his reckoning with the nations. See Joel 2:11; Joel 3:4. Paul uses "that day" for the day of the Lord Jesus (the Parousia) as in 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:16; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:8.

Verse 15

Behold, I come as a thief (ιδου ερχομα ως κλεπτης). The voice of Christ breaks in with the same metaphor as in Revelation 3:3, which see. There comes one of seven beatitudes in Rev. (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:14). For γρηγορων (watching) see Revelation 3:2, and for τηρων (keeping), Revelation 1:3.

Lest he walk naked (ινα μη γυμνος περιπατη). Negative purpose clause with ινα μη and the present active subjunctive of περιπατεω, and note predicate nominative γυμνος (naked).

And they see his shame (κα βλεπωσιν την ασχημοσυνην αυτου). Continuation of the final clause with present active subjunctive of βλεπω. Ασχημοσυνην is old word (from ασχημων, indecent, 1 Corinthians 12:23), in N.T. only here and Romans 1:27, a euphemism for την αισχυνην (Revelation 3:18).

Verse 16

They gathered (συνηγαγεν). Second aorist active indicative of συναγω, singular (the three unclean spirits), like εκπορευετα in verse Revelation 16:14.

Har-Magedon (Hαρ Μαγεδων). John proceeds now after the interruption in verse Revelation 16:15. Perhaps "the mountains of Megiddo" though not certain. Megiddo is in the valley of Esdraelon, and by the waters of Megiddo (the Kishon) Israel gained a decisive victory over Sisera (Judges 5:19), celebrated in Deborah's song. See also Revelation 20:8; Revelation 20:4.

Verse 17

Upon the air (επ τον αερα). All men breathe the air and this is worse than the smiting of the earth (verse Revelation 16:2), the sea (Revelation 16:3), the fresh waters (Revelation 16:4), the sun (Revelation 16:8).

A great voice (φωνη μεγαλη). The voice of God as in Revelation 16:1.

It is done (Γεγονεν). Perfect active indicative of γινομα. Like Γεγοναν in Revelation 21:6. The whole series of plagues is now complete.

Verse 18

And there were (κα εγενοντο). "And there came" (same verb ginomai). See Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19 for this list of terrible sounds and lightnings, and for the great earthquake (σεισμος μεγας) see Revelation 6:12; Revelation 11:13 (cf. Luke 21:11).

Such as was not (οιος ουκ εγενετο). Qualitative relative with γινομα again, "such as came not."

Since there were men (αφ' ου ανθρωπο εγενοντο). "Since which time (χρονου understood) men came."

So great an earthquake, so mighty (τηλικουτος σεισμος ουτω μεγας). Quantitative correlative τηλικουτος rather than the qualitative τοιουτος, to correspond with οιος (not οσος). And then ουτω μεγας repeats (redundant) τηλικουτος. Cf. Mark 13:19 for οια--τοιαυτη about like tribulation (θλιψις).

Verse 19

Was divided into three parts (εγενετο εις τρια μερη). "Came into three parts" (γινομα again). In Revelation 11:3 a tenth part of the city fell. Babylon (Rome) is meant (Revelation 17:18).

Fell (επεσαν). Second aorist active indicative of πιπτω (-αν form in place of -ον).

Was remembered (εμνησθη). First aorist (prophetic) passive indicative of μιμνησκω. Babylon (Rome) had not been overlooked. God was simply biding his time with Rome.

To give unto her (δουνα αυτη). Second aorist active infinitive of διδωμ, epexegetic use as in Revelation 11:18; Revelation 16:9.

The cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath (το ποτηριον του οινου του θυμου της οργης αυτου). "The cup of the wine of the wrath of his anger," using both θυμος (boiling rage) and οργη (settled anger). See both in Jeremiah 30:24.

Verse 20

Fled (εφυγεν). Second aorist active indicative of φευγω. Islands sometimes sink in the sea in earthquakes (Revelation 6:14).

Were not found (ουχ ευρεθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of ευρισκω. See Revelation 20:11 for the same idea.

Verse 21

Hail (χαλαζα). As in Revelation 8:17; Revelation 11:19.

Every stone about the weight of a talent (ως ταλαντιαια). Old adjective (from ταλαντον), here only in N.T., but in Polybius and Josephus. See Exodus 9:24 for the great hail in Egypt and also Joshua 10:11; Isaiah 28:2; Ezekiel 38:22 for hail as the symbol of God's wrath. In the LXX a ταλαντον ranged in weight from 108 to 130 pounds.

Because of the plague of hail (εκ της πληγης της χαλαζης). "As a result of the plague of hail." This punishment had the same effect as in verses Revelation 16:9; Revelation 16:11.

Exceeding great (Μεγαλη--σφροδρα). Emphatic positions at ends of the clause (great--exceedingly).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/revelation-16.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.