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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 9



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Verse 1

Fallen (πεπτωκοταpeptōkota). Perfect active participle of πιπτωpiptō already down. In Luke 10:18 note πεσονταpesonta (constative aorist active, like a flash of lightning) after ετεωρουνetheōroun and in Revelation 7:2 note αναβαινονταanabainonta (present active and linear, coming up, picturing the process) after ειδονeidon the pit of the abyss (του πρεατος της αβυσσουtou phreatos tēs abussou). ΑβυσσοςAbussos is an old adjective (alpha privative and βυτοςbuthos depth, without depth), but η αβυσσοςhē abussos (supply χωραchōra 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. ΠρεαρPhrear 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 (ηνοιχενēnoixen). First aorist active indicative of ανοιγνυμιanoignumi With the “key” (κλειςkleis).

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

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

By reason of (εκek). “Out of,” as a result of (Revelation 8:13).

Verse 3

Locusts (ακριδεςakrides). Also 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 (οι σκορπιοιhoi skorpioi). 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 (ερρετηerrethē). First aorist passive indicative of ειπονeipon they should not hurt (ινα μη αδικησουσινhina mē adikēsousin). Sub-final (object clause subject of ερρετηerrethē) with ινα μηhina mē and the future active of αδικεωadikeō as in Revelation 3:9; Revelation 8:3. Vegetation had been hurt sufficiently by the hail (Revelation 8:7).

But only such men as (ει μη τους αντρωπους οιτινεςei mē tous anthrōpous hoitines). “Except (elliptical use of ει μηei mē if not, unless) the men who (the very ones who).” For this use of οστιςhostis see Revelation 1:7; Revelation 2:24; Revelation 20:4.

The seal of God upon their foreheads (την σπραγιδα του τεου επι των μετωπωνtēn sphragida tou theou epi tōn metōpōn). 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 αυτουςhina mē apokteinōsin autous). Sub-final object clause (subject of εδοτηedothē) with ινα μηhina mē and the subjunctive of αποκτεινωapokteinō either present (continued action) or aorist (constative, form the same), the usual construction with ιναhina The locusts are charged to injure men, but not to kill them.

But that they should be tormented (αλλ ινα βασανιστησονταιall' hina basanisthēsontai). Sub-final clause again with ιναhina but this time with the first future passive indicative (like Revelation 3:9; Revelation 6:4; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 13:12) of βασανιζωbasanizō old verb, to test metals (from βασανοςbasanos 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 πεντεmēnas pente). Accusative of extent of time. The actual locust is born in the spring and dies at the end of summer (about five months).

Torment (βασανισμοςbasanismos). Late word for torture, from βασανιζωbasanizō 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 παισηι αντρωπονhotan paisēi anthrōpon). Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan and the first aorist active subjunctive of παιωpaiō (Matthew 26:51), old verb, to smite, “whenever it smites a man.”

Verse 6

Men (οι αντρωποιhoi anthrōpoi). Generic use of the article (men as a class).

Shall not find it (ου μη ευρησουσιν αυτονou mē heurēsousin auton). Strong double negative ου μηou mē with the future active indicative according to Aleph Q, but ευρωσινheurōsin (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 βασανισμοςbasanismos of an evil conscience” (Swete).

They shall desire to die (επιτυμησουσιν αποτανεινepithumēsousin apothanein). Future active of επιτυμεωepithumeō a climax to ζητησουσινzētēsousin (they shall seek), to desire vehemently. Paul in Philemon 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 (πευγειpheugei). Vivid futuristic present active indicative of πευγωpheugō Even death does not come to their relief.

Verse 7

The shapes (τα ομοιωματαta homoiōmata). Old word from ομοιοωhomoioō to make like (from ομοιοςhomoios like), likeness, in N.T. only here, Romans 5:14; Philemon 2:7, “the likenesses were like” (ομοιαhomoia). ομοιωμαHomoiōma is “midway between μορπηmorphē and σχημαschēma ” (Lightfoot).

Unto horses (ιπποιςhippois). Associative-instrumental case, as is the rule with ομοιοςhomoios (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 ομοιοι χρυσωιhomoioi chrusōi (like gold) in this same verse.

Prepared for war (ητοιμασμενοις εις πολεμονhētoimasmenois eis polemon). Perfect passive participle of ετοιμαζωhetoimazō 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 στεπανοιhos stephanoi). 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 αντρωπωνhōs prosōpa anthrōpōn). 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 (ειχανeichan). Imperfect active, late form as in Mark 8:7 in place of the usual ειχονeichon hair of women (ως τριχας γυναικωνhōs trichas gunaikōn). That is long hair (1 Corinthians 11:15), with no reference to matters of sex at all, for αντρωπωνanthrōpōn just before is used, not ανδρωνandrōn (men as distinct from women). Perhaps the antennae of the locust were unusually long.

As the teeth of lions (ως λεοντωνhōs leontōn). Supply οι οδοντεςhoi odontes (the teeth) before λεοντωνleontōn See Joel 1:6. The locust is voracious.

Verse 9

As it were breastplates of iron (ως τωρακας σιδερουςhōs thōrakas siderous). The τωραχthōrax 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 (σιδερουςsiderous Revelation 2:27), but with the locusts it only seemed to be so (ωςhōs). 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 πωνη των πτερυγωνhē phōnē tōn pterugōn). 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 πωνη αρματων ιππων πολλων τρεχοντων εις πολεμονhōs phōnē harmatōn hippōn pollōn trechontōn eis polemon). Both metaphors here, the clatter and clangour of the chariot wheels and the prancing of the horses are found in Joel 2:4. ΤρεχοντωνTrechontōn is present active predicate participle of τρεχωtrechō to run. Cf. 2 Kings 7:6; Jeremiah 47:3.

Verse 10

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

Like unto scorpions (ομοιας σκορπιοιςhomoias skorpiois). Aleph A wrongly have ομοιοιςhomoiois (agreeing with σκορπιοιςskorpiois instead of with ουραςouras). 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 (κεντραkentra). Old word from κεντρεωkentreō (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 αυτωνen tais ourais autōn). This locates “their power to hurt” (η εχουσια αυτων αδικησαιhē exousia autōn adikēsai infinitive here, ινα αδικησουσινhina adikēsousin in Revelation 9:4) in their tails. It might have been in other organs.

Verse 11

As king (βασιλεαbasilea). 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 (Revelation 9:1) whose orders they obey.”

His name is (ονομα αυτωιonoma autōi). “Name to him” (nominative absolute and dative, as in Revelation 6:8).

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

In the Greek tongue (εν τηι ελληνικηιen tēi Hellēnikēi). With γλωσσηιglōssēi or διαλεκτωιdialektōi understood. As usual, John gives both the Hebrew and the Greek.

Apollyon (ΑπολλυωνApolluōn). Present active masculine singular participle of απολλυωapolluō meaning “destroying,” used here as a name and so “Destroyer,” with the nominative case retained though in apposition with the accusative ονομαonoma 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 ουαι η μιαhē ouai hē mia). Note feminine gender ascribed to the interjection ουαιouai as in Revelation 11:14, perhaps because τλιπσιςthlipsis is feminine, though we really do not know. Note also the ordinal use of μιαmia (one) like πρωτηprōtē (first) as in Revelation 6:1; Mark 16:2.

There come yet two Woes (ερχεται ετι δυο Ουαιerchetai eti duo Ouai). Singular number ερχεταιerchetai instead of ερχονταιerchontai though δυο ουαιduo ouai It is true that ουαιouai is an interjection and indeclinable, but it is here used with δυοduo and is feminine just before, and not neuter.

Verse 13

A voice (πωνην μιανphōnēn mian). For μιανmian as indefinite article see Revelation 8:13. Accusative case here after ηκουσαēkousa 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 (εκek). “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 τωι εκτωιlegonta tōi hektōi). Accusative masculine singular active participle of λεγωlegō personifying πωνηνphōnēn 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 σαλπιγγαho echōn tēn salpigga). Nominative case in apposition with αγγελωιaggelōi (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 (λυσονluson). First aorist (ingressive) active imperative of λυωluō “let loose.” Another group of four angels (Revelation 7:1) like Acts 12:4, described here “which are bound” (τους δεδεμενουςtous dedemenous). Perfect passive articular participle of δεωdeō 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 (επι τωι ποταμωι τωι μεγαλωι Ευπρατηιepi tōi potamōi tōi megalōi Euphratēi). 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 (ελυτησανeluthēsan). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative of λυωluō “were let loose.”

Which had been prepared (οι ητοιμασμενοιhoi hētoimasmenoi). Perfect passive articular participle of ετοιμαζωhetoimazō to make ready (ετοιμοςhetoimos), 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 και ημεραν και μηνα και ενιαυτονeis tēn hōran kai hēmeran kai mēna kai eniauton). For this use of ειςeis with ητοιμασμενονhētoimasmenon see 2 Timothy 2:21. All preparation over, the angels are waiting for the signal to begin.

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

Verse 16

Of the horsemen (του ιππικουtou hippikou). Old adjective ιππικοςhippikos from ιπποςhippos (horse), equestrian. The neuter articular singular το ιππικονto hippikon the horse or the cavalry in contrast with το πεζικονto pezikon (the infantry), here only in N.T. For the numbers here see Revelation 5:11; Revelation 7:4.

Verse 17

And thus I saw in the vision (και ουτως ειδον εν τηι ορασειkai houtōs eidon en tēi horasei). 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 (εχονταςechontas). Accusative masculine plural of εχωechō probably referring to the riders (τους κατημενους επ αυτωνtous kathēmenous ep' autōn) rather than to the horses (τους ιππουςtous hippous).

Breastplates as of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone (τωρακας πυρινους και υακιντινους και τειωδειςthōrakas purinous kai huakinthinous kai theiōdeis). There is no ωςhōs (as) in the Greek, but that is the idea of these three adjectives which are only metaphors. ΠυρινοςPurinos is an old adjective (from πυρpur fire), here only in N.T. υακιντοςHuakinthos is also an old word (from υακιντοςhuakinthos hyacinth, then of a sapphire stone Revelation 21:20), of a red color bordering on black, here only in the N.T. ΤειωδηςTheiōdēs is a late word (from τειονtheion brimstone), sulphurous, here only in N.T.

As the heads of lions (ως κεπαλαι λεοντωνhōs kephalai leontōn). 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” (τειονtheion brimstone, is old word, in N.T. only in Rev and Luke 17:29) proceeding (εκπορευεταιekporeuetai 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 τουτωνapo tōn triōn plēgōn toutōn). Our “plague” or stroke from πλησσωplēssō 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 (απεκταντησανapektanthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of αποκτεινωapokteinō to kill, third person plural, though το τριτονto triton is neuter singular because a collective idea. See same form in Revelation 9:20.

Verse 19

The power (η εχουσιαhē exousia). 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” (αι γαρ ουραι αυτων ομοιαι οπεσινhai gar ourai autōn homoiai ophesin). Associative-instrumental case οπεσινophesin after ομοιαιhomoiai ΟπιςOphis is old word for snake (Matthew 7:10).

Having heads (εχουσαι κεπαλαςechousai kephalas). Feminine present active participle of εχωechō agreeing with ουραιourai (tails).

With them (εν αυταιςen autais). Instrumental use of ενen Surely dreadful monsters.

Verse 20

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

Of the works (εκ των εργωνek tōn ergōn). For this use of εκek after μετανοεωmetanoeō see Revelation 2:21; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 16:11. By “works” (εργωνergōn) here idolatries are meant, as the next verse shows.

That they should not worship (ινα μη προσκυνησουσινhina mē proskunēsousin). Negative purpose clause with ινα μηhina mē and the future active of προσκυνεωproskuneō as in Revelation 9:5.

Devils (τα δαιμονιαta daimonia). Both in the O.T. (Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 96:5; Psalm 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 ειδωλαta eidōla 1 John 5:21, from ειδοςeidos form, appearance) represented “demons,” whether made of gold (τα χρυσαta chrusā) or of silver (τα αργυραta argurā) or of brass (τα χαλκαta chalkā) or of stone (τα λιτιναta lithina) or of wood (τα χυλιναta xulina). 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 δυνανται ουτε ακουειν ουτε περιπατεινha oute blepein dunantai oute akouein oute peripatein), is often presented in the O.T. (Psalm 115:4; Psalm 135:15-18).

Verse 21

Of their murders (εκ των πονων αυτωνek tōn phonōn autōn). Heads the list, but “sorceries” (εκ των παρμακωνek tōn pharmakōn) comes next. ΠαρμακονPharmakon was originally enchantment, as also in Revelation 21:8, then drug. For παρμακιαpharmakia see Revelation 18:23; Galatians 5:20. The two other items are fornication (πορνειαςporneias) and thefts (κλεμματωνklemmatōn old word from κλεπτωkleptō 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.”


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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 9:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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