Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 16

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Apocalypse 16

Supplemental Commentary:

V.  THE SEVEN BOWLS  15, 5 -- 16, 21 (continued)

2.  The First Six Bowls  16, 1-12

16, 1-7:  The First Three Bowls.  A loud voice: in 17 the voice is heard to come from the throne, the voice here seems to be the same; therefore God Himself gives the signal to pour the bowls of divine wrath upon the earth.

The result of the first bowl: a sore and grievous wound.  This resembles the sixth Egyptian plague (Ex. 9, 8-12).  The second bowl: the sea . . . became blood.  This resembles the first Egyptian plague in which the Nile was turned to blood.  Cf. the second trumpet (8, 8).  The third bowl: the effect is the same as that of the second bowl.  They poured out the blood of the saints, now God gives them blood to drink.  The altar: cf. 8, 8 f; 9, 1 f.

16, 8-12:  The Second Three Bowls.  The result of the fourth bowl: mankind were scorched with a great heat.  The fifth bowl: the kingdom of the beast became dark.  This resembles the ninth plague of Egypt (Ex. 10, 22).  But the failure of their light does not lead to repentance.  The sixth bowl: the waters of the Euphrates were dried up.  That a way might be made ready: in preparation for war.

3.  An Intermediate Vision and the Seventh Bowl  16, 13-21

16, 13-16:  The Unclean Spirits.  In this vision the dragon, the beast of the sea, and the false prophet (the beast of the earth) reappear.  Armagedon: i.e., the mountain of Megiddo.  The neighboring plain of Esdraelon was the great battle-ground of the Holy Land.  The name is used here symbolically: the war of the kings against the Lamb will terminate here.  The name is a prophecy of disaster.

16, 17-21:  The Seventh Bowl.  The result of the seventh bowl is a great cataclysm.  Babylon the great: i.e., Rome.  And yet not even this worked repentance; men still blasphemed God.  This, as the effects of the other six bowls, can be taken in the physical sense, of disease, death, war, etc., and in the moral sense of moral corruption and dissolution.

Confraternity Bible:

The First Three Bowls  1* And I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth."  2* And the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a sore and grievous wound was made upon the men who have the mark of the beast, and upon those who worshipped its image.  3 And the second poured out his bowl upon the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every live thing in the sea died.  4 And the third poured out his bowl upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they became blood.

5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, "Thou art just, O Lord, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because thou hast judged these things; 6 because they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, blood also thou hast given them to drink; they deserve it!"  7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, O Lord God almighty, true and just are thy judgments."

The Second Three Bowls  8 And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun, and he was allowed to scorch mankind with fire.  9 And mankind were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.  10 And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and its kingdom became dark, and they gnawed their tongues for pain.  11 And they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their wounds, and they did not repent of their works.  12 And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates, and dried up its waters, that a way might be made ready for the kings from the rising sun.

The Unclean Spirits  13 And I saw issuing from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.  14 For they are spirits of demons working signs, and they go forth unto the kings of the whole earth to gather them together for the battle on the great day of God almighty.  15* "Behold, I come as a thief!  Blessed is he who watches and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."  16* And he gathered them together in a place that is called in Hebrew Armagedon.

The Seventh Bowl  17 And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air, and there came forth a loud voice out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It has come to pass!"  18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, and there was a great earthquake such as never has been since men were first upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it.  19 And the great city came into three parts; and the cities of the nations fell.  And Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of his fierce wrath.  20 And every island fled away, and the mountains could not be found.  21 And great hail, heavy as a talent, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail; for it was very great.


1: Loud voice: the divine voice from the throne itself.

2: The plague falls on those who carry the mark of the beast; it resembles the sixth Egyptian plague, the plague of boils.

15: Behold, I come: the voice of Christ.

16: Armagedon: or, as in Hebrew, "Har-Megiddo," i.e., the mountain of Megiddo.  The place indicated here is the plain of Esdraelon, the great battlefield of Palestine; here the fortunes of kings have been decided, here rulers fought and fell.  This battleground becomes the symbol of the divine struggle.