Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 9

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Apocalypse 9

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  THE SEVEN TRUMPETS  8, 2 -- 11, 19 (continued)

2.  The First Six Trumpets  8, 7 -- 9, 21 (continued)

9, 1-12:  The Fifth Trumpet.  This is the first "Woe" proclaimed by the eagle.  A star . . . fallen: the emblem of a fallen star is used elsewhere in the Bible.  Isaias (14, 12) speaks of Lucifer as fallen from heaven.  The star here represents a spirit, and can be identified with Satan in 11.  Bottomless pit: the dwelling of the evil spirits.    2.  The first result of the opening of the pit: smoke issued in such volume as to obscure the atmosphere.    3.  The second result: locusts with the power of scorpions.  This is a reference to the eighth Egyptian plague (Ex. 10, 12-15), but the locusts here are able to sting and cause torture.    4.  Whatever the plague, it cannot hurt God's children (Luke 10, 18 f).

There follows in 7-12 a picture of the locusts.  From the description it is evident that these locusts are not natural.  Their characteristics are partly drawn from the prophets (Joel 1, 4 ff) and partly original with John.  They symbolize the infernal spirits and Satan their leader.

9, 13-21:  The Sixth Trumpet.  The second "Woe" announced by the eagle.  The plague under this trumpet resembles the last, though it is more aggravated in nature.  Again there is a vast host, with the powers of the horse, the lion and the viper, but the destructive elements are increased.  They have power not only to torment but also to kill a great part of the human race.

The golden altar: the same as in 8, 3.  Who had been kept ready: the time of the plague had been definitely fixed.  Whatever the nature of the plague, it was an affliction that was both vindictive and medicinal.  It was designed to bring about repentance.  Two-thirds of the profane world had time to repent, but we are told that they did not.  What about the Christians?  We are not told; but the silence of the prophet leads us to suppose that they turned from blasphemy.  Cf. the letter to Philadelphia.


Confraternity Bible:

The Fifth Trumpet  1* And the fifth angel sounded the trumpet, and I saw that a star had fallen from heaven upon the earth, and there was given to him the key of the bottomless pit.  2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and there came up smoke out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.  3 And out of the smoke there came forth locusts upon the earth.  And there was given to them power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.  4 And they were told not to hurt the grass of the earth or any green thing or any tree; but only the men who do not have God's seal upon their foreheads.  5* And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torture them for five months; and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.

6 And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; and they will long to die and death will flee from them.  7 And in appearance the locusts were like horses made ready for battle; and there were on their heads crowns as it were like gold; and their faces were like the faces of men.  8 And they had hair like the hair of women; and their teeth were like the teeth of lions.  9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of many horse-chariots running to battle.  10 And they had tails like those of scorpions and there were stings in their tails; and they had power to harm mankind for five months.  11* And they had over them a king, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek Apollyon; in Latin he has the name Exterminans.

12 The first woe is past; behold, two woes are yet to come hereafter!

The Sixth Trumpet  13 And the sixth angel sounded the trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Loose the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."  15* And the four angels were loosed who had been kept ready for the hour and day and month and year, that they might kill the third part of mankind.  16 And the number of the army of horsemen was twenty thousand times ten thousand.  I heard the number of them.

17 And this is how I saw the horses in the vision: they who sat upon them had breastplates like to fire and to hyacinth and to sulphur, and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and from their mouths issued fire and smoke and sulphur.  18 By these three plagues the third part of mankind was killed, by the fire and the smoke and the sulphur which issued from their mouth.  19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails.  For their tails are like serpents, and have heads, and with them they do harm.

20 And the rest of mankind, they who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands so as not to worship the demons and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.  21 And they did not repent of their murders or of their sorceries or of their immorality or of their thefts.
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*

1: A star: perhaps Lucifer.  This is confirmed by the words, the key of the bottomless pit.  This key was given to the fallen star, and therefore the star is an individual.

5: Five months: the general period of a locust plague is about five months.

11: Abaddon: i.e., destruction.  Apollyon: i.e., destroyer.

15: Who had been kept ready for the hour: the loosing of the angels would take place at a definite period, the year, month, day and hour of which are known, in accordance with the Providence of God.