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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Revelation 9



Other Authors

Questions For Revelation Chapter Nine

1.Which angel sounded next?

2.At this what did John see fan?

3.From and to where did it fall?

4.What was given to him?

5.Ten what he did with it.

6.What arose out of it?

7.To what was it compared?

8. State immediate effects of the smoke

9.What came out of the smoke?

10.To what place did they come?

11.What was given unto them?

12."l"o what was this compared?

13.What were they prohibited from doing?

14.Whom were they to tonch?

15.What should they not do to the others?

16.But what should be done to them?

17.Describe their torment.

18.What will men seek in those days?

19.Shall they find it?

20.What will fiee from them?

21.Describe shape of these locusts.

22.What was on their heads?

23.Describe their faces.

24.What kind of hair did they have?

25.To what were their teeth likened?

26.What did they have made like as of iron?

27.Tell what their wings sounded like.

28.What kind of tails did they have?

29.With what were these tails provided?

30.Tell what they had power to do.

31.What did they have over them?

32.Over what was he an angel?

33.State his two names.

34.What has now passed?

35.How many are to follow?

36.Which angel sounded next?

37.What did John then hear?

38.To whom did the voice speak?

39.What was he commanded to loose?

40.Where were they bound?

41.For what time were the four angels prepared?

42.What were they prepared to do?

43.Tell what John heard at this time.

44.What was the number?

45.Tell what he saw in the vision.

46.Describe breast plates of the riders.

47.And describe the heads of the horses.

48.What came out of their mouths?

49.Tell what effect it had on men.

50.Where was their power located?

51.To what were the tails likened?

52.What could they do with them?

53.Tell the stubbornness of rest of the men

Verse 1

Verse1. It is fair to my readers to state that a number of commentators connect this chapter with Mohammed. In reasoning upon the subject some of them will mention certain things that could not have been true of any persons but the soldiers of Mohammed. But in their reasoning I note that the chief basis of their argumant is the idea that the literal characteristics of locusts and horses and soldiers, etc.. will not agree with any interpretation1-XC(!I)i. to apply the predictions to Mohammed. But we are in a book of symbols where it does not count for a conclusion to rely on the literal nature of things. On the principle of "giving others the benefit oi‘ the doubt," I am sure there were many facts and truths about Mohammedanism that correspond with the language of the several verses. Yet that could truly he said of some other noted impostors who have come into the world to poison the minds of men. The scope of history is so wide that one might find incldents to correspond with various characters he would select for the comparison. Against all of the above considerations I am keeping in mind that the Lord was concerned principally with the experiences of His people in connection with the Roman Empire, and the great apostasy that was formed by the corruption of His system with its union of church and state. In view of the aforesaid remarks I shall devote my comments to the items that were and are being fulfilled by the doings of the institution of Rome. Star fall from heaven is rendered "out of heaven fallen" by The Englishman"s Greek l"ew Testament. It denotes that John saw a star (symbol for a leader among men) that was in fallen condition, not that he saw it fall. That would be true of the head of Rome; he had fallen from the spiritual purity that exists in heavenly things. Bottomless pit is from ABUSSOS, which is explained at Luke 8:31 in the first volume of New Testament Commentary.

Verse 2

We have learned that the bottomless pit is the abode of demons (usually translated "devils" in the King James Version). These demons were suffered to come into the world at one time and afflict mankind. After that period was gone it was easy to refer to such a performance as a symbol of other activities in the politico-religious world, namely, the institution in which the church and state were united. Since this great apostate organization served the interests of Satan so much, it was appropriate to represent the Roman bishop as having a joint interest with him in opposing the true servants of God. Paul verifies this conclusion in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 where he says: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." Literally we would think of smoke coming out of a place where there is a. flame of fire ( Luke 16:24), but it is used symbolically which will be developed as the chapter proceeds.

Verse 3

We still have symbols but they are more definite. The smoke proves to have been a "smoke screen" that enclosed a swarm of locusts. That explained why the sun was darkened by the "smoke" in the preceding verse. It has been known many times that. this insect comes in such great numbers as to have the effect of a cloud that obscures the sun. In selecting a symbol the Lord would call attention to some literal fact that would truly represent some other fact or truth that is not literal. This swarm of locusts was the clergy of Rome acting on behalf of the apostate church, otherwise called Babylon the Great. As the swarm of locusts obscured the sun so the clergy of Rome would prevent the people from having the full benefit of the "Sun of Righteousness" ( Malachi 4:2). Scorpions is described by Thayer as follows: "The name of a little animal, somewhat resembling a lobster, which in warm regions [such as Hades, E.M.Z.] lurks especially in stone walls; it has a poisonous sting in its tail." -

Verse 4

Here we have another in- stance where the Lord uses a literal object to symbolize a fact that is not literal, except that He uses the symbol contrary to its usual behavior. This is not the only instance where a performance in nature is used "contrary" to its usual manner. (See Romans 11:24.) The natural thing is for the locusts to eat the very things this verse says they did not hurt. They were to hurt men only and not all of them even. Their destructive work was to be against the men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. Such men were true servants of God and no kind of oppression could actually hurt them. But on the principle that "evil sometimes works its own rebuke," the Lord suffers the workers of iniquity to be scourged by their own leaders. It is a historical fact that the dupes of Rome often suffer many hardships at the hands of the clergy. The writer of this paragraph knew a family in which a small son was compelled to earn. money, half of which was taken from him by the clergy though his widowed mother was much in need of it.

Verse 5

Not kill them. The clergy needed to retain their dupes that they might further exploit them for their own selfish interests. Five months is a definite period of time if takeni1iterally, but in actual history we do not find such processes as have been described being so exact in their beginning and ending. The figure refers to some particular period in the history of the apostate church when the oppression by the clergy was active to an extraordinary degree.

Verse 6

Seek death and shall not find it. There are some things worse than death ( Jeremiah 8:3). I once heard a lecture by a woman who had escaped from the clutches of Rome. In that lecture the speaker related the experiences of a woman who was being tortured as a result of self-inflicted wounds induced by the heresies of Rome. This victim moaned and sighed as if death at once would have been a relief,

Verse 7

It was fitting that these locusts were in the form resembling war horses, for the apostate institution has not hesitated at using carnal warfare for its defense whenever it was thought necessary. Crown of gold indicates both authority and wealth, and the clergy of Rome have ever been equipped with both, in order to carry out the schemes of the headquarters of the corrupt organization. Faces of men is an important identification also, because while the use of war horses is necessary in the program of Rome, it also requires the scheming trickery of human intelligence.

Verse 8

Hair of women . . . teeth of lions; this is a very interesting combination. In 1 Corinthians 11:15 it is shown that women are expected to have long hair (that being the only distinction between the hair of women and that of men as far as the appearance is concerned.) Women are supposed to be milder and less harmful in their natural disposition. Hence when these creatures first appear they are regarded as women and thus would not be suspected as being such as needed to be avoided. But they had teeth like those of lions which indicates that they were in reality a dangerous group of creatures. That is a true picture of the clergy of Rome, including all from the pope down to the humblest priest.

Verse 9

A breastplate is a piece for the protection of the vital parts of the body, The apostate church stood be- hind its clergy and gave them all the protection necessary. Sound of their wings. The locusts have wings literally and since the symbolism is still drawn from those insects it is appropriate to mention that part of their anatomy. Yet we know it is not to be taken literally, for the rest of the verse represents them sounding like war chariots drawn by horses going into battle.

Verse 10

This is the same as verses3,4.

Verse 11

See the remarks at verse1for the meaning of bottomless pit. The angel of this place would mean some outstanding character who was in partnership with the influences of that domain. The capitalized words of this verse are used by John as proper nouns, but in Bible times most names of persons had special meaning. That of the ones in this verse means "destroyer," and it is certainly an appropriate name in view of the destructive work and tendencies of the leaders of Rome. This king or angel would be either the pope or some special member of the clergy who had unusual success in controlling the others. It is noteworthy that John connects this evil arrangement with the bottomless pit which is the abode of fallen angels called demons.

Verse 12

Two woes more is a reference to the statement of the angel in Revelation 8:13, who announced that three woes more were to be pronounced against the inhabitants of the earth. One of them has been announced and two more are waiting to be sounded.

Verse 13

The golden altar was in the first room of the tabernacle and placed by the vail that separated the second room. Just through the vail was the-ark where God met with the high priest to speak to him. Hence the voice John heard was coming from the presence of God.

Verse 14

The voice was giving instructions to the sixth angel. The river Euphrates is a significant subject in connection with God"s people.The ancient city of Babylon was situated on its banks, which was the capital of the first of the four world empires. The word "babylon" came to meanconfusion and was finally applied to the great institution of the apostate church, concerning which we are now reading in our studies. It was fitting, therefore, that these four angels should be represented being located in this river. The particular events which they were to announce are not named, but the train of happenings is not interrupted. It "means that the disciplinary treatment which the dupes of Rome were suffered to have come upon them was continuing. It will be well now to read the comments at 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. There it will be seen that God sent certain judgments upon the citizens of the apostate institution, using their own people and practices as the instrument by which judgments were to be sent. That is what is going on in our chapter, and the four angels are merely some of the specific agencies within the corrupt institution for this epoch in the punishments.

Verse 15

The hour, day, month and year are exact periods of time when literally considered, but they are to be understood in the same light as "five months" in verse5 which the reader should see. Likewise he should see the comments at chapter8: 9 for the meaning of third part.

Verse 16

The number of the army is another exact figure if taken literally, but the meaning is that a great army was serving the interests of the evil institution. And I heard the number of them. The conjunction and is not in all copies and it is unnecessary, for the sentence means that John was not sizing up the army personally but the number was announced to him.

Verse 17

Some commentators see an invasion of heathen armies into the domain of the Roman Empire. No doubt things of that nature took place at certain times through the centuries. However, the fundamental background of the vision being shown to John has not been changed, hence I believe all these descriptive phrases are symbolical of the fierceness of the judgments which the dupes of Rome brought upon themselves. For that reason I shall not attempt any further comments on the descriptions.

Verse 18

Verse18. See the comments at chap-

ter8: 9 for the significance of third


Verse 19

These creatures were invested with powers at the two extremities of their bodies, which indicates how complete was the agency that God suffered to come upon the citizens of the corrupt organization,

Verse 20

The worship of devils and other forms of idolatry that are mentioned refers to the worship of dead "saints" that was practiced by the members of the apostate church. They also introduced images into their churches and they would fall down before them (even as they do in our day) which constituted the idol worship condemned here. Repented not. Notwithstanding all the hardships that had been brought upon the leaders and many of their followers by their corrupt practices, the others (rest of the men) did not "learn their lesson" so as to be induced to repent.

Verse 21

These are literal crimes which doubtless many of them committed, for it is well established that the apostate church deals in all of such means to further the interests of the corrupt institution.


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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 9:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

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