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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 16

 

 

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Introduction

Revelation 16. The Vision of the Bowls and the Plagues.—The seven bowls correspond to the seven seals and the seven trumpets, but there is this difference: "the beast" or Antichrist has now made his appearance in the drama, and the wrath of God is poured out upon him and his worshippers.


Verses 1-10

Revelation 16:2. The first bowl. The wrath of God is poured out on the worshippers of the beast, i.e. Antichrist, i.e. Nero.—mark of the beast: Revelation 13:16*.—worshipped his image: i.e. the image or statue of the emperor (cf. Revelation 13:14 f.).

Revelation 16:3. The second bowl, like the second trumpet (Revelation 8:8), destroys the "living creatures in the sea." Cf. also the first of the Egyptian plagues (Exodus 7:7-21).

Revelation 16:4. The third bowl, following the precedent of the third trumpet (Revelation 8:10), destroys the rivers and springs.

Revelation 16:5. angel of the waters: in later Jewish thought every part of nature was under the control of some angel. The Book of Enoch (6:62) speaks of "the angels which were over the powers of the waters." Here the angel recognises the righteousness of the Divine action.

Revelation 16:6. The explanation of the form which the Divine retribution assumed.

Revelation 16:7. the altar saying: "a response comes to the angel of the waters from the altar in heaven" (Swete).

Revelation 16:8. The fourth bowl, like the fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12), affects the sun, but whereas the trumpet diminishes its power, the bowl intensifies its heat

Revelation 16:10. The fifth bowl. The first four bowls produce general effects, but now the wrath of God smites the beast (Nero or Domitian) on his throne.


Verses 11-16

Revelation 16:12. The sixth bowl lets loose forces in the Far East, at or near the river Euphrates (Revelation 9:14*), to attack and destroy the Roman Empire.—Euphrates . . . dried up: the object of this is to make it easy for the nations of the Far East to swoop down on the Roman Empire.

Revelation 16:13. dragon . . . beast . . . prophet: Revelation 12:3*, Revelation 13:1; Revelation 13:11*; "the prophet" here is the beast that comes up out of the earth in Revelation 13:11.—unclean spirits . . . frogs: metaphor for evil influences and impure impulses. [In Persian mythology frogs are regarded as agents of Satan.—A. J. G.]

Revelation 16:14. unto the kings: to marshal the forces of unrighteousness to resist the doom of God.

Revelation 16:15. Here the story of doom is interrupted for the moment, and a word of comfort and exhortation is vouchsafed to the Christians.

Revelation 16:16. The prophet resumes, and pictures the mustering of the forces on the final battle-field at Har-Magedon (the more correct way of spelling the familiar Armageddon). The name Har-Magedon means "the mountains of Megiddo." We should naturally have looked for a word signifying the plain of Esdraelon on which Megiddo was situated, since that place was the scene of many battles in which the armies of Israel were concerned, and merited the description of G. A. Smith, "the classic battleground of Scripture." There were mountains near at hand, however, and the writer may have been influenced by Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 38:21; Ezekiel 39:2; Ezekiel 39:4, where the forces of Gog meet their overthrow "upon the mountains of Israel" (cf. Isaiah 14:25).


Verses 17-21

Revelation 16:17. The seventh bowl. The scene of destruction this time is "the air." A mighty earthquake and a storm of hail follow, which involve the whole world, and specially Rome, in ruin.—lightnings . . . thunders: so also after the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:19).—a great earthquake: earthquakes followed the opening of the sixth and seventh seals (Revelation 6:12, Revelation 8:5) and the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:19), but this earthquake is described as the greatest of all.

Revelation 16:19. the great city: here undoubtedly Rome (Revelation 11:8*).—Babylon: Rome (cf. Revelation 14:8, 1 Peter 5:13*).

Revelation 16:21. great hail: cf. the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:19).—a talent was a round weight ranging from 108 to 130 lbs.—blasphemed God: the plagues only hardened the hearts of the opponents of Christianity (cf. Revelation 9:21).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Revelation 16:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/revelation-16.html. 1919.

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