Bible Commentaries
Revelation 9

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Fallen (πεπτωκοτα). Perfect active participle of πιπτω, already down. In Luke 10:18 note πεσοντα (constative aorist active, like a flash of lightning) after εθεωρουν and in Revelation 7:2 note αναβαινοντα (present active and linear, coming up, picturing the process) after ειδον.

Of the pit of the abyss (του φρεατος της αβυσσου). Αβυσσος is an old adjective (alpha privative and βυθος, depth, without depth), but η αβυσσος (supply χωρα place), the bottomless place. It occurs in Romans 10:7 for the common receptacle of the dead for Hades (Sheol), but in Luke 8:31 a lower depth is sounded (Swete), for the abode of demons, and in this sense it occurs in Revelation 9:1; Revelation 9:2; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:1; Revelation 20:3. Φρεαρ is an old word for well or cistern (Luke 14:5; John 4:11) and it occurs in Revelation 9:1 for the mouth of the abyss which is pictured as a cistern with a narrow orifice at the entrance and this fifth angel holds the key to it.

Verse 2

Opened (ηνοιξεν). First aorist active indicative of ανοιγνυμ. With the "key" (κλεις).

As the smoke of a great furnace (ως καπνος καμινου μεγαλης). The plague of demonic locusts is here turned loose. Καμινος is old word for a smelting-furnace, already in Revelation 1:15.

Were darkened (εσκοτωθη). First aorist passive indicative of σκοτοω, old causative verb from σκοτος, in N.T. only here, Revelation 16:10; Ephesians 4:18.

By reason of (εκ). "Out of," as a result of (Revelation 8:13).

Verse 3

Locusts (ακριδες). Also verse Revelation 9:7 and already in Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6 (diet of the Baptist). The Israelites were permitted to eat them, but when the swarms came like the eighth Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:13) they devoured every green thing. The smoke was worse than the fallen star and the locusts that came out of the smoke were worse still, "a swarm of hellish locusts" (Swete).

The scorpions (ο σκορπιο). Old name for a little animal somewhat like a lobster that lurks in stone walls in warm regions, with a venomous sting in its tail, in N.T. in Luke 10:19; Luke 11:12; Revelation 9:3; Revelation 9:5; Revelation 9:10. The scorpion ranks with the snake as hostile to man.

Verse 4

It was said (ερρεθη). First aorist passive indicative of ειπον.

That they should not hurt (ινα μη αδικησουσιν). Sub-final (object clause subject of ερρεθη) with ινα μη and the future active of αδικεω as in Revelation 3:9; Revelation 8:3. Vegetation had been hurt sufficiently by the hail (Revelation 8:7).

But only such men as (ε μη τους ανθρωπους οιτινες). "Except (elliptical use of ε μη, if not, unless) the men who (the very ones who)." For this use of οστις see Revelation 1:7; Revelation 2:24; Revelation 20:4.

The seal of God upon their foreheads (την σφραγιδα του θεου επ των μετωπων). Provided for in Revelation 7:3. "As Israel in Egypt escaped the plagues which punished their neighbours, so the new Israel is exempted from the attack of the locusts of the Abyss" (Swete).

Verse 5

That they should not kill them (ινα μη αποκτεινωσιν αυτους). Sub-final object clause (subject of εδοθη) with ινα μη and the subjunctive of αποκτεινω either present (continued action) or aorist (constative, form the same), the usual construction with ινα. The locusts are charged to injure men, but not to kill them.

But that they should be tormented (αλλ' ινα βασανισθησοντα). Sub-final clause again with ινα, but this time with the first future passive indicative (like Revelation 3:9; Revelation 6:4; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 13:12) of βασανιζω, old verb, to test metals (from βασανος, Matthew 4:24) by touchstone, then to torture like Matthew 8:29, further in Revelation 11:10; Revelation 12:2; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 20:10.

Five months (μηνας πεντε). Accusative of extent of time. The actual locust is born in the spring and dies at the end of summer (about five months).

Torment (βασανισμος). Late word for torture, from βασανιζω, in N.T. only in Revelation 9:5; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:15. The wound of the scorpion was not usually fatal, though exceedingly painful.

When it striketh a man (οταν παιση ανθρωπον). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and the first aorist active subjunctive of παιω (Matthew 26:51), old verb, to smite, "whenever it smites a man."

Verse 6

Men (ο ανθρωπο). Generic use of the article (men as a class).

Shall not find it (ου μη ευρησουσιν αυτον). Strong double negative ου μη with the future active indicative according to Aleph Q, but ευρωσιν (second aorist active subjunctive) according to A P (either construction regular). The idea here is found in Job 3:21; Jeremiah 8:3. "Such a death as they desire, a death which will end their sufferings, is impossible; physical death is no remedy for the βασανισμος of an evil conscience" (Swete).

They shall desire to die (επιθυμησουσιν αποθανειν). Future active of επιθυμεω, a climax to ζητησουσιν (they shall seek), to desire vehemently. Paul in Philippians 1:23 shows a preference for death if his work is done, in order to be with Christ, a very different feeling from what we have here.

Fleeth (φευγε). Vivid futuristic present active indicative of φευγω. Even death does not come to their relief.

Verse 7

The shapes (τα ομοιωματα). Old word from ομοιοω, to make like (from ομοιος, like), likeness, in N.T. only here, Romans 5:14; Philippians 2:7, "the likenesses were like" (ομοια). Hομοιωμα is "midway between μορφη and σχημα" (Lightfoot).

Unto horses (ιπποις). Associative-instrumental case, as is the rule with ομοιος (Revelation 1:15; Revelation 2:18; Revelation 4:6; Revelation 9:10; Revelation 9:19; Revelation 11:1; Revelation 13:2; Revelation 13:11), but with the accusative in Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14. So also ομοιο χρυσω (like gold) in this same verse.

Prepared for war (ητοιμασμενοις εις πολεμον). Perfect passive participle of ετοιμαζω. This imagery of war-horses is like that in Joel 2:4. "The likeness of a locust to a horse, especially to a horse equipped with armour, is so striking that the insect is named in German Heupferd (hay horse), and in Italian cavalett a little horse" (Vincent).

As it were crowns (ος στεφανο). Not actual crowns, but what looked like crowns of gold, as conquerors, as indeed they were (Revelation 4:4; Revelation 6:2; Revelation 12:1; Revelation 14:14). These locusts of the abyss have another peculiar feature.

As men's faces (ως προσωπα ανθρωπων). Human-looking faces in these demonic locusts to give added terror, "suggesting the intelligence and capacity of man" (Swete). Vincent actually sees "a distinct resemblance to the human countenance in the face of the locust."

Verse 8

They had (ειχαν). Imperfect active, late form as in Mark 8:7 in place of the usual ειχον.

As hair of women (ως τριχας γυναικων). That is long hair (1 Corinthians 11:15), with no reference to matters of sex at all, for ανθρωπων just before is used, not ανδρων (men as distinct from women). Perhaps the antennae of the locust were unusually long.

As the teeth of lions (ως λεοντων). Supply ο οδοντες (the teeth) before λεοντων. See Joel 1:6. The locust is voracious.

Verse 9

As it were breastplates of iron (ως θωρακας σιδερους). The θωραξ was originally the breast (from the neck to the navel), then the breastplate, only N.T. usage (Revelation 9:9; Revelation 9:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Ephesians 6:14). The armour for the breastplate was usually of iron (σιδερους, Revelation 2:27), but with the locusts it only seemed to be so (ως). However, the scaly backs and flanks of the locusts do resemble coats of mail. "The locusts of the Abyss may be the memories of the past brought home at times of Divine visitation" (Swete).

The sound of their wings (η φωνη των πτερυγων). Graphic picture of the onrush of the swarms of demonic locusts and the hopelessness of resisting them.

As the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to war (ως φωνη αρματων ιππων πολλων τρεχοντων εις πολεμον). Both metaphors here, the clatter and clangour of the chariot wheels and the prancing of the horses are found in Joel 2:4. Τρεχοντων is present active predicate participle of τρεχω, to run. Cf. 2 Kings 7:6; Jeremiah 47:3.

Verse 10

Tails (ουρας). Old word, in N.T. only in Revelation 9:10; Revelation 9:19; Revelation 12:4.

Like unto scorpions (ομοιας σκορπιοις). Aleph A wrongly have ομοιοις (agreeing with σκορπιοις instead of with ουρας). It is a condensed idiom for "like unto the tails of the scorpions" as we have it in Revelation 13:11 (cf. Matthew 5:20; 1 John 2:2).

Stings (κεντρα). Old word from κεντρεω (to prick, to sting), in N.T. only here, Acts 26:14 (about Paul); 1 Corinthians 15:55 (about death). It is used "of the spur of a cock, the quill of the porcupine, and the stings of insects" (Vincent). It was the goad used for oxen (Proverbs 26:3; Acts 26:14).

In their tails (εν ταις ουραις αυτων). This locates "their power to hurt" (η εξουσια αυτων αδικησα, infinitive here, ινα αδικησουσιν in Revelation 9:4) in their tails. It might have been in other organs.

Verse 11

As king (βασιλεα). Predicate accusative and anarthrous. In Proverbs 30:27 it is stated that the locust has no king, but this is not true of these demonic locusts. Their king is "the angel of the abyss (verse Revelation 9:1) whose orders they obey."

His name is (ονομα αυτω). "Name to him" (nominative absolute and dative, as in Revelation 6:8).

In Hebrew (Εβραιστ). Adverb as in Revelation 16:16; John 5:2; John 19:13; John 19:17; John 19:20; John 20:16. Αβαδδων. A word almost confined to the Wisdom books (Job 26:6; Psalms 88:11; Proverbs 15:11). It is rendered in the LXX by Απωλεια, destruction.

In the Greek tongue (εν τη Hελληνικη). With γλωσση or διαλεκτω understood. As usual, John gives both the Hebrew and the Greek.

Apollyon (Απολλυων). Present active masculine singular participle of απολλυω, meaning "destroying," used here as a name and so "Destroyer," with the nominative case retained though in apposition with the accusative ονομα. The personification of Abaddon occurs in the Talmud also. It is not clear whether by Apollyon John means Death or Satan. Bousset even finds in the name Apollyon an indirect allusion to Apollo, one of whose symbols was the locust, a doubtful point assuredly.

Verse 12

The first woe (η ουα η μια). Note feminine gender ascribed to the interjection ουα as in Revelation 11:14, perhaps because θλιψις is feminine, though we really do not know. Note also the ordinal use of μια (one) like πρωτη (first) as in Revelation 6:1; Mark 16:2.

There come yet two Woes (ερχετα ετ δυο Ουα). Singular number ερχετα instead of ερχοντα, though δυο ουα. It is true that ουα is an interjection and indeclinable, but it is here used with δυο and is feminine just before, and not neuter.

Verse 13

A voice (φωνην μιαν). For μιαν as indefinite article see Revelation 8:13. Accusative case here after ηκουσα, though genitive in Revelation 8:13, a distinction between sound and sense sometimes exists (Acts 9:7; Acts 22:9), but not here as the words are clearly heard in both instances.

From (εκ). "Out of the horns." Note triple use of the genitive article here as of the accusative article with this identical phrase in Revelation 8:3 ("the altar the golden the one before the throne").

Verse 14

One saying to the sixth angel (λεγοντα τω εκτω). Accusative masculine singular active participle of λεγω, personifying φωνην and agreeing with it in case, though not in gender. This voice speaks to the sixth angel (dative case).

Which had the trumpet (ο εχων την σαλπιγγα). Nominative case in apposition with αγγελω (dative), the same anomalous phenomenon in Revelation 2:20; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 14:12. Swete treats it as a parenthesis, like Revelation 4:1; Revelation 11:15.

Loose (λυσον). First aorist (ingressive) active imperative of λυω, "let loose." Another group of four angels (Revelation 7:1) like Acts 12:4, described here "which are bound" (τους δεδεμενους). Perfect passive articular participle of δεω, evidently the leaders of the demonic horsemen (Revelation 9:15) as the four angels let loose the demonic locusts (Revelation 7:1), both quaternions agents of God's wrath.

At the great river Euphrates (επ τω ποταμω τω μεγαλω Ευφρατη). A regular epithet of the Euphrates (Revelation 16:12; Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7). It rises in Armenia and joins the Tigris in lower Babylonia, a total length of nearly 1800 miles, the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire next to Parthia.

Verse 15

Were loosed (ελυθησαν). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative of λυω, "were let loose."

Which had been prepared (ο ητοιμασμενο). Perfect passive articular participle of ετοιμαζω, to make ready (ετοιμος), in a state of readiness prepared by God (Revelation 12:6; Revelation 16:12; Matthew 25:34).

For the hour and day and month and year (εις την ωραν κα ημεραν κα μηνα κα ενιαυτον). For this use of εις with ητοιμασμενον see 2 Timothy 2:21. All preparation over, the angels are waiting for the signal to begin.

That they should kill (ινα αποκτεινωσιν). The same idiom in verse Revelation 9:5 about the fifth trumpet, which brought torture. This one brings death.

Verse 16

Of the horsemen (του ιππικου). Old adjective ιππικος from ιππος (horse), equestrian. The neuter articular singular το ιππικον, the horse or the cavalry in contrast with το πεζικον (the infantry), here only in N.T. For the numbers here see on Revelation 5:11; Revelation 7:4.

Verse 17

And thus I saw in the vision (κα ουτως ειδον εν τη ορασε). Nowhere else does John allude to his own vision, though often in Dan. (Daniel 7:2; Daniel 8:2; Daniel 8:15; Daniel 9:21).

Having (εχοντας). Accusative masculine plural of εχω, probably referring to the riders (τους καθημενους επ' αυτων) rather than to the horses (τους ιππους).

Breastplates as of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone (θωρακας πυρινους κα υακινθινους κα θειωδεις). There is no ως (as) in the Greek, but that is the idea of these three adjectives which are only metaphors. Πυρινος is an old adjective (from πυρ, fire), here only in N.T. Hυακινθος is also an old word (from υακινθος, hyacinth, then of a sapphire stone Revelation 21:20), of a red color bordering on black, here only in the N.T. Θειωδης is a late word (from θειον, brimstone), sulphurous, here only in N.T.

As the heads of lions (ως κεφαλα λεοντων). This of the horses, war-horses as always in the Bible except in Isaiah 28:28. These horses likewise have "fire and smoke and brimstone" (θειον, brimstone, is old word, in N.T. only in Rev. and Luke 17:29) proceeding (εκπορευετα, singular because it comes first and the subjects afterwards) out of their mouths. Both rider and horse are terrible.

Verse 18

By these three plagues (απο των τριων πληγων τουτων). Our "plague" or stroke from πλησσω, as in Luke 10:30 and often in Rev. (Revelation 9:20; Revelation 11:6; Revelation 15:1; Revelation 15:6; Revelation 15:8; Revelation 16:9; Revelation 18:4; Revelation 18:8; Revelation 22:18). It is used in Exodus 11:1 for the plagues in Egypt. The three plagues here are the fire, smoke, and brimstone which proceed from the mouths of the horses.

Was killed (απεκτανθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of αποκτεινω, to kill, third person plural, though το τριτον is neuter singular because a collective idea. See same form in verse Revelation 9:20.

Verse 19

The power (η εξουσια). As in Revelation 2:26; Revelation 6:8. This power of the horses is both in their mouths (because of the fire, smoke, brimstone) and in their tails, "for their tails are like unto serpents" (α γαρ ουρα αυτων ομοια οφεσιν). Associative-instrumental case οφεσιν after ομοια. Οφις is old word for snake (Matthew 7:10).

Having heads (εχουσα κεφαλας). Feminine present active participle of εχω, agreeing with ουρα (tails).

With them (εν αυταις). Instrumental use of εν. Surely dreadful monsters.

Verse 20

Repented not (ου μετενοησαν). First aorist active indicative of μετανοεω. The two-thirds of mankind still spared did not change their creed or their conduct.

Of the works (εκ των εργων). For this use of εκ after μετανοεω see Revelation 2:21; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 16:11. By "works" (εργων) here idolatries are meant, as the next verse shows.

That they should not worship (ινα μη προσκυνησουσιν). Negative purpose clause with ινα μη and the future active of προσκυνεω as in Revelation 9:5.

Devils (τα δαιμονια). Both in the O.T. (Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalms 96:5; Psalms 106:37) and in the N.T. (1 Corinthians 10:21) the worship of idols is called the worship of unclean spirits. Perhaps this is one explanation of the hideous faces given these images. "The idols" (τα ειδωλα 1 John 5:21, from ειδος, form, appearance) represented "demons," whether made of gold (τα χρυσα) or of silver (τα αργυρα) or of brass (τα χαλκα) or of stone (τα λιθινα) or of wood (τα ξυλινα). See Daniel 5:23 for this picture of heathen idols. The helplessness of these idols, "which can neither see nor hear nor walk" (α ουτε βλεπειν δυναντα ουτε ακουειν ουτε περιπατειν), is often presented in the O.T. (Psalms 113:12; Psalms 115:4).

Verse 21

Of their murders (εκ των φονων αυτων). Heads the list, but "sorceries" (εκ των φαρμακων) comes next. Φαρμακον was originally enchantment, as also in Revelation 21:8, then drug. For φαρμακια see Revelation 18:34; Galatians 5:20. The two other items are fornication (πορνειας) and thefts (κλεμματων, old word from κλεπτω, here alone in N.T.), all four characteristic of demonic worship and idolatry. See other lists of vices in Mark 7:21; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15. Our word "pharmacy" as applied to drugs and medicine has certainly come a long way out of a bad environment, but there is still a bad odour about "patent medicines."

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 9". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.