The full question:

Provide an exegetical paper on Revelation 16:1-21.

Abstract

Revelation 16 provides a picture of the just judgments of God being poured out on the ungodly. The righteous rejoice because of this great God who brings justice to the earth. The wicked refuse to repent and are given exactly what they deserve as they reflect the beast they worship when they choose to curse God. These seven bowls are figurative rather than literal and describe the judgments God pours out over the inter-Advent age and in the final judgment. Much of the terminology finds its foundation in the Old Testament and it is critical to understand this background to further comprehend John’s Apocalypse. This is especially true regarding the redemptive-historical account in Exodus and Egypt which provides a basis for the bowls and unifies the entire chapter. God’s wrath is real and comes on all those who do not give him the glory he deserves. For every individual who does worship the Holy One who is and who was, must persevere and hold firm in the faith, staying awake.

 

Greek Text: Revelation 16:1-21

1 Καὶ ἤκουσα μεγάλης φωνῆς ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ[1] λεγούσης τοῖς ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλοις, Ὑπάγετε καὶ ἐκχέετε τὰς ἑπτὰ φιάλας τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς τὴν γῆν.

Καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐγένετο ἕλκος κακὸν καὶ πονηρὸν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς ἔχοντας τὸ χάραγμα τοῦ θηρίου καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας τῇ εἰκόνι αὐτοῦ.

Καὶ ὁ δεύτερος[2] ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ ἐγένετο αἷμα ὡς νεκροῦ, καὶ πᾶσα ψυχὴ ζωῆς ἀπέθανεν τὰ[3] ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ.

Καὶ ὁ τρίτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς ποταμοὺς καὶ τὰς πηγὰς τῶν ὑδάτων, καὶ ἐγένετο[4] αἷμα. καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος,

Δίκαιος εἶ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν, ὁ ὅσιος,

ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας,

ὅτι αἷμα ἁγίων καὶ προφητῶν ἐξέχεαν

καὶ αἷμα αὐτοῖς [δ]έδωκας[5] πιεῖν,

ἄξιοί εἰσιν[6].

καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου λέγοντος,

Ναὶ κύριε ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ,

ἀληθιναὶ καὶ δίκαιαι αἱ κρίσεις σου.

Καὶ ὁ τέταρτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ἥλιον, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ καυματίσαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐν πυρί. καὶ ἐκαυματίσθησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καῦμα μέγα καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἔχοντος τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τὰς πληγὰς ταύτας καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν δοῦναι αὐτῷ δόξαν.

10 Καὶ ὁ πέμπτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον τοῦ θηρίου, καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ ἐσκοτωμένη, καὶ ἐμασῶντο τὰς γλώσσας αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ πόνου, 11 καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐκ τῶν πόνων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἑλκῶν αὐτῶν καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν.

12 Καὶ ὁ ἕκτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν[7] Εὐφράτην, καὶ ἐξηράνθη τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα ἑτοιμασθῇ ἡ ὁδὸς τῶν βασιλέων τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου. 13 Καὶ εἶδον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ δράκοντος[8] καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ θηρίου καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ ψευδοπροφήτου πνεύματα τρία ἀκάθαρτα ὡς βάτραχοι 14 εἰσὶν γὰρ πνεύματα δαιμονίων ποιοῦντα σημεῖα, ἃ ἐκπορεύεται ἐπὶ τοὺς βασιλεῖς τῆς οἰκουμένης ὅλης συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν[9] πόλεμον τῆς ἡμέρας τῆς μεγάλης τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ παντοκράτορος. 15 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι[10] ὡς κλέπτης. μακάριος ὁ γρηγορῶν καὶ τηρῶν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, ἵνα μὴ γυμνὸς περιπατῇ καὶ βλέπωσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτοῦ. 16 καὶ συνήγαγεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν καλούμενον Ἑβραϊστὶ Ἁρμαγεδών[11].

17 Καὶ ὁ ἕβδομος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ἀέρα, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν φωνὴ μεγάλη ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου2 λέγουσα, Γέγονεν. 18 καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας, οἷος οὐκ ἐγένετο ἀφʼ οὗ ἄνθρωπος ἐγένετο[12] ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς τηλικοῦτος σεισμὸς οὕτως μέγας. 19 καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ πόλις ἡ μεγάλη εἰς τρία μέρη καὶ αἱ πόλεις τῶν ἐθνῶν ἔπεσαν. καὶ Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη ἐμνήσθη ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ δοῦναι αὐτῇ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ. 20 καὶ πᾶσα νῆσος ἔφυγεν καὶ ὄρη οὐχ εὑρέθησαν. 21 καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη ὡς ταλαντιαία καταβαίνει ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν θεὸν ἐκ τῆς πληγῆς τῆς χαλάζης, ὅτι μεγάλη ἐστὶν ἡ πληγὴ αὐτῆς σφόδρα.[13]

Introduction

The seven bowls of God’s wrath (Rev 15:7) are poured out on the ungodly in chapter sixteen. It is a continuation of the just judgments of God which leads ‘to a climactic eschatological battle’ and results ‘in the final judgment of the evil world system’.[14] The martyrs who cry out for justice (6:10) and all who follow the Lamb can join in the rejoicing of God’s character (16:5-7), while the wicked are enraged by the Almighty God, refuse to repent and gather for a futile war against him (16:8-21).[15] The number of plagues reveals the figurative nature of the bowls, seven being the number of ‘completeness’.[16] They are the complete judgment of the wicked which not only demonstrate ‘God’s incomparability and the just judgment of sinners, but ultimately the glory of God’ (15:8; 16:9).[17] This paper will exegete each verse in the two major sections: three bowls and the response of the righteous (16:1-7); four bowls and the response of the wicked (16:8-21).[18]

Three Bowls of Justice and the Response of the Righteous (1-7)

These first three bowls and the response that comes from them emphasise the glory God deserves because of his justice that he displays through the wrath he pours out on human beings who deserve such punishment.[19] The grape harvest in chapter fourteen provides some of the context seen within these bowls. The third angel’s speech of those who have the mark of the beast will ‘drink the wine of God’s wrath’ (9-11) provides some of the concepts that are carried on in these bowls that hold ‘the wine of God’s wrath that results from the trodding of the grapes from the harvest of the earth’ (19).[20] Part of the challenge for readers today is realising the glory and praise God deserves from this display of his wrath.[21]

Verse 1

Καὶ ἤκουσα μεγάλης φωνῆς ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ λεγούσης τοῖς ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλοις, Ὑπάγετε καὶ ἐκχέετε τὰς ἑπτὰ φιάλας τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς τὴν γῆν.

John hears (ἤκουσα) a great voice (μεγάλης φωνῆς[22]). There is a plethora of options for the identity of this voice.[23] From the preceding verses (15:5-8) it seems fitting that this is God himself as ‘being in his heavenly temple and by the allusion to Isaiah 66:6’ which speaks of the voice of the LORD that comes from the temple (ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ).[24] Therefore, these ‘plagues are released by none less than God’ who commissions the seven angels (τοῖς ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλοις).[25] The two imperatives that follow (Ὑπάγετε καὶ ἐκχέετε) are ‘inceptive or conative’[26] and the ‘coordinate clause’ is introduced by the conjunction καὶ which ‘functions as a final clause to express purpose.[27] The Old Testament is formative for Revelation and chapter sixteen is no different. Psalm 79:6, 12 provides a basis for verse one and the LXX uses ‘pour out God’s wrath’ (ἐκχέετε… τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ) to indicate judgment (Ezek 14:19; Jer 10:25).[28] The bowls (φιάλας) are first mentioned in Revelation chapter five which refers to the prayers of the saints (5:8). This provides ‘some connection between the cries to God for justice and the judgment that is poured out’.[29] These bowls being poured out by angels seems to be metaphorical rather than literal in which case the following descriptions of the effects of the woes ‘is also metaphorical’.[30]

Verse 2: First Bowl

Καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐγένετο ἕλκος κακὸν καὶ πονηρὸν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς ἔχοντας τὸ χάραγμα τοῦ θηρίου καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας τῇ εἰκόνι αὐτοῦ.

The first καὶ ‘functions as a discourse marker’[31] to the first (ὁ πρῶτος) one who poured out his bowl (ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ) on the earth (εἰς τὴν γῆν). The aorist indicative verb ἀπῆλθεν (went) gives the impression that after the angel ‘discharged their tasks, they disappeared from the scene’.[32] The third καὶ in the verse introduces the clause with a ‘cause-and-effect relationship to the previous clause’ which is called a ‘consecutuum’ and allows a translation of ‘with the result that’.[33] The pouring of the bowl causes a harmful and painful sore (ἕλκος κακὸν καὶ πονηρὸν) on those who have the mark of the beast and who worship its image. This is based on the ‘literal Egyptian plague of boils (Exod. 9:9-11), which is summarized in Deut. 28:27, 35 as an “evil sore” (ἕλκει πονηρῷ)’.[34] In this bowl we see the beginning of the Old Testament principle of lex talionis (law of retribution): ‘if you want to receive a mark, a mark you shall receive’.[35] Here the sore is still seen as metaphorical just as the bowls are metaphorical for God’s judgments.[36] Wall suggests that the back ground for this bowl are the sores on Job[37] and though he recognises the differences it seems more likely to refer to the exodus plagues, ‘which are clearly in mind throughout Revelation 16’.[38] This judgment is unique in comparison to what has come before that it only ‘affects those who reject God’ which bears similarities with most of the Exodus plagues, more ‘than the seals or trumpets’.[39] This judgment should lead to repentance but just like the Egyptians it seems most do not.[40]

Verse 3: Second Bowl

Καὶ ὁ δεύτερος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ ἐγένετο αἷμα ὡς νεκροῦ, καὶ πᾶσα ψυχὴ ζωῆς ἀπέθανεν τὰ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ.

The second (ὁ δεύτερος) bowl (τὴν φιάλην) poured out (ἐξέχεεν) bears remarkable similarities to the second trumpet (Rev 8:8-9) as both references are based on Exodus 7:17-21, the first plague.[41] The second trumpet and the second bowl both refer to a similar type of judgment the only difference is the intensification from partial (⅓) judgment in the trumpet to a total affect in the bowl. This indicates that ‘what can be applied partially can also be applied universally at times throughout the inter-advent age’.[42] Both the second trumpet and the second bowl both could refer metaphorically to economic judgment.[43] It could also refer to the effects of warfare or famine.[44] Today people who depend not necessarily on the sea but on ‘materialism and comfort, while turning away from God, so the Creator will take away that comfort and the source of that materialism’.[45] The blood (αἷμα) like a corpse (ὡς νεκροῦ), could refer to ‘coagulated’ blood but the following phrase, ‘every living soul died’ (πᾶσα ψυχὴ ζωῆς ἀπέθανεν), ‘points to the simple reality that blood means death’.[46] The sea (τῇ θαλάσσῃ) most probably refers to ungodly humanity.[47] This view agrees with twenty-one of the twenty-four occurrences of θαλάσσῃ in John’s apocalypse.[48]

Verse 4: Third Bowl

Καὶ ὁ τρίτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς ποταμοὺς καὶ τὰς πηγὰς τῶν ὑδάτων, καὶ ἐγένετο αἷμα.

The third bowl that is poured out bears many similarities to the second bowl. They both appear to be based on the plague on the Nile (Exod 7:14-21) and are intensified from the trumpet judgments (Rev 8:8-11).[49] While the second bowl takes away the economy, the third bowl strips them of their drinking water (Ps 78:44). Both could be metaphorically referring to economic suffering and have the ungodly in mind.[50] Furthermore, just as the Egyptian plagues demonstrated God’s ultimate power over the gods of the Egyptians, so in Greek and Roman mythology the god of the sun (Apollo)[51] and the god of the sea (Neptune/Poseidon) along with various other gods of the rivers are powerless before Yahweh.[52] The phrase τὰς πηγὰς τῶν ὑδάτων (the springs of waters) may be translated as simply ‘the springs’ as the ‘second articular noun functions as a gen. of apposition’.[53] The use of blood (αἷμα) once again refers to people ‘suffering and even dying’.[54]

The first three bowls bring the wrath of God on the wicked and emphasise lex talionis. They largely follow the first three trumpets and reflect the plagues of the Exodus.[55] God judges the new Egypt, the world, and condemns the wicked who have mistreated his people and serve other gods. The swift moving action then comes to a pause. This pause does not contain the anguish of pain from the plagues of the wrath of God but recognition of God’s character.[56] It is essentially a ‘doxological hymn justifying the divine judgment’.[57]

Verse 5

καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος,

Δίκαιος εἶ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν, ὁ ὅσιος,

ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας,

This unexpected pause in the sequence of the bowls (Rev 16:5-7) provide evidence that the bowls thus far have been ‘figurative for judgment on persecutors of God’s people’.[58] They also emphasise the key point that God is just by forming an inclusio with δίκαιος (just).[59] The section appears to be predominantly based upon the song of Moses in the previous chapter (15:3-4).[60] John heard (ἤκουσα) the angel of the waters (τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων).[61] This angel praises God based on the fact (ὅτι) he brought these just judgments. The threefold name of God already used in Revelation (1:4, 8; 4:8) seems to be cut short (ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν), unless the holy one (ὁ ὅσιος[62]) is used here to designate ‘God’s sovereign uniqueness in beginning to execute end-time judgment in his role as “the one who is coming”’.[63] Though much of what is happening is terrifying, perspective is key at this moment. The ones who are ‘seated in heaven…are able to see the whole picture, this is God being just in these judgments’ for it is here again that God answers ‘the prayer of the martyrs in 6:10’.[64] This is a perspective that people today must realise in their awe of God and his character.

Verse 6

ὅτι αἷμα ἁγίων καὶ προφητῶν ἐξέχεαν

καὶ αἷμα αὐτοῖς [δ]έδωκας πιεῖν,

ἄξιοί εἰσιν.

Though the principle of lex talionis has been seen previously in Revelation this verse contains it ‘with more force and clarity’.[65] The introductory ὅτι (because) refers to verse five as further evidence for the declaration of God’s character being just. God’s judgment is right in that the punishment fits the crime. For the ungodly have poured out the blood of the holy ones and the prophets (αἷμα ἁγίων καὶ προφητῶν[66] ἐξέχεαν) and God has given them blood to drink (καὶ αἷμα αὐτοῖς [δ]έδωκας πιεῖν[67]).[68] The verb ἐκχέω is used in this verse for pouring out the blood of the saints and is used for the pouring out of every bowl of God’s judgment. This highlights ‘the principle that God fits the punishment to the crime’.[69] The use of blood (αἷμα) in both cases refers to degrees of suffering which includes death (e.g. Isa 49:26; Ps 79:3, 10).[70] This also reflects the struggles that the seven churches are facing (e.g. 2:10, 13). The last clause is quite abrupt (ἄξιοί εἰσιν) and could be understood as either God being worthy or the persecutors being worthy. Since the ungodly persecutors are the closest antecedent it seems more likely that those who have shed blood are worthy of these judgments which fits well with the theme of lex talionis.[71]

Verse 7

καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου λέγοντος,

Ναὶ κύριε ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ,

ἀληθιναὶ καὶ δίκαιαι αἱ κρίσεις σου.

The voice John heard (ἤκουσα) from the altar (τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου) is unusual as it is the only place in Revelation where it is said to have spoken.[72] It becomes clearer when the altar is connected with the idea of the prayers of all the saints (Rev 8:3), where the martyrs under the altar (ὑποκάτω τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου) cry out for vengeance and here they respond ‘with an affirmation of God’s character and sovereignty’.[73] The use of ναὶ (indeed) is for emphatic emphasis of the previous ‘angelic proclamation about God in vv 5-6’.[74] This is then followed by an emphasis on God’s sovereignty and a repetition of the song of Moses (15:3).[75] In Deuteronomy 32:4 the God of the Exodus is praised for he is just and so the inclusio of δίκαιος (just) ends the description of God’s great and true (ἀληθιναὶ) judgments which highlight his character.[76]

Four Bowls and the Response of the Wicked (8-21)

Within these next four bowls of God’s wrath John explains the reaction of the wicked to God’s justice.[77] Four key characters have been introduced in the preceding chapters i.e. the dragon (Rev 12), the beast (13:1-10), the false prophet (13:11-18) and Babylon (14:6-11). In chapter sixteen a ‘reversal’ begins where ‘the four foes are eliminated simultaneously, as is evident from the repetition of wording and OT allusions in the descriptions of their defeat’ (16:14; 19:19; 20:8).[78] Babylon’s demise begins (16:17-21; 17-18) followed by the next two (19:17-20) and finally the dragon (20:10). There are more bowls of judgment for the inter-advent age but there is also the final judgment depicted where the ‘time for repentance will come to an end’.[79] It is clear that ‘God’s eternal kingdom is unpalatable to the kingdoms of humanity and for this reason evokes ferocity and hostility’.[80] In these judgments every Christian must stay awake, ‘ready dressed, or are we like Laodicea’ (3:17) for there is a great just God who protects his people and judges evil.[81]

Verse 8: Fourth Bowl

Καὶ ὁ τέταρτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ἥλιον, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ καυματίσαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐν πυρί.

The fourth and fifth bowls are closely related in their description of the cosmic (ἐπὶ τὸν ἥλιον) judgments with similarities to the ninth plague (Exod 10:21-23) and the fourth (Rev 8:12) and fifth trumpets (9:1-11).[82] This judgment is ‘likely not literal’ as ‘patterns of similar imagery in the OT and Judaism’ have a figurative view.[83] The burning of people (καυματίσαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους) was given (ἐδόθη) by God as this is a ‘divine passive’.[84] This is an intensification on previous signs of the sun where the judgment has been restricted in part (6:12; 8:12; 9:2) but here ‘the sun scorches people with a heat so fierce that it can be said to be with fire’ (ἐν πυρί).[85]

Verse 9

καὶ ἐκαυματίσθησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καῦμα μέγα καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἔχοντος τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τὰς πληγὰς ταύτας καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν δοῦναι αὐτῷ δόξαν.

There is some repetition from the previous verse (καὶ ἐκαυματίσθησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καῦμα μέγα[86]) for emphasis.[87] The imagery of the contrast in Revelation 7:16 and the basis of the Old Testament (Isa 49:10) all point to the concept of earthly security, particularly economic deprivation.[88] The burning by fire here ‘anticipates the final judgment of “Babylon”’ (Rev 17:16; 18:8).[89] The wicked do the complete opposite and they cursed (ἐβλασφήμησαν) the name of God (τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ) who had authority over these plagues (τοῦ ἔχοντος τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τὰς πληγὰς ταύτας). This retort shows that they know exactly who God is and his responsibilities. [90] Though these description continue in metaphors, what is being described ‘is real enough’.[91] The plagues (τὰς πληγὰς) are plural inferring that this is speaking of not only the fourth bowl but the bowls before and after this plague.[92] The final καὶ can function as an ‘adversatiuum’ to be translated as ‘but’.[93] If they would repent (μετενόησαν) that would give glory to God (αὐτῷ δόξαν) but they refuse. The concept of repentance is a ‘recurring’ theme in this chapter.[94] It is a concept that flows throughout the pages of Revelation, beginning with the letters to the churches (2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19; 9:20-21; 16:9, 11). God desires the rebellious to return to him.[95][96] Ultimately, God’s glory is the intention of all his salvific and just judgments.

Verse 10: Fifth Bowl

Καὶ ὁ πέμπτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον τοῦ θηρίου, καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ ἐσκοτωμένη, καὶ ἐμασῶντο τὰς γλώσσας αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ πόνου,

The fifth (ὁ πέμπτος) bowl (τὴν φιάλην) contains a change from the first four relating to nature but now this one and the next two ‘take us to the operation of the powers of evil’ (ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον τοῦ θηρίου).[97] There are similarities to the fourth trumpet and the ninth plague (Ex 10:22). There is also a contrast between the darkness here and ‘the light of the glory of God in the holy city’ (Rev 21:23).[98] This throne ‘represents the beast’s authority over his realm’ and reminds the reader of a similar reference in Pergamum (2:13) where ‘the center of Roman government and of the imperial cult’ is in control.[99] This darkness (ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ ἐσκοτωμένη) could refer to ‘internal rebellion’ or the ‘removal of political and religious power from the state’.[100] Here, again, there is a type of precursor to the final judgment (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).[101] The gnawing (ἐμασῶντο) is an imperfect verb containing the idea of an ongoing action which makes this judgment seem all the more painful.

Verse 11

καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐκ τῶν πόνων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἑλκῶν αὐτῶν καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν.

The saints appeal to God ‘for protection’ but the people curse (ἐβλασφήμησαν) God ‘instead of asking him to end their suffering’.[102] John reminds the reader of God’s majesty with the title of ‘the God of heaven’ (τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ[103]) ‘but these earth-dwellers could not recognize the majesty of heaven when they saw it’.[104] Just as with Pharaoh the same furthering of hardness persists despite the plagues.[105] Those suffering know who is the cause of their pain and sores (ἐκ τῶν πόνων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἑλκῶν αὐτῶν).[106] This knowledge ‘only embitters them against their Creator’.[107] Earlier in the letter to Thyatira, repentance from idolatry is required, otherwise the result will be a ‘great tribulation’ (2:22). Here, they refuse to repent from their works (καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν). They continued on in their ‘lifestyle of sin’.[108] In this chapter there is clear warnings of the danger of compromising with sin and a deep desire for the readers to repent.[109]

Verse 12: Sixth Bowl

Καὶ ὁ ἕκτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην, καὶ ἐξηράνθη τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα ἑτοιμασθῇ ἡ ὁδὸς τῶν βασιλέων τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου.

The sixth one (ὁ ἕκτος) to pour out his bowl (ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ), pours it on the great river Euphrates[110] (ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην). The result being that the water dries up (καὶ ἐξηράνθη τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ). The drying up of a large body of water is ‘a mighty action of God’ such as the Red Sea (Ex 14:21) and the Jordan (Josh 3:16-17).[111] The difference with the Red Sea is that God used it to deliver the godly but here it is ‘the means by which he punishes the ungodly’.[112] Though the Egyptians fail to cross the Sea, the ungodly will cross but ‘their journey will culminate in a greater judgment than was experienced by Pharaoh’s army’.[113] Duvall sees the background of the Kings from the East (τῶν βασιλέων τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου) in Ezekiel 38-39, ‘where Gog and Magog depict enemies who war against God’s people’ (Rev 19:17; 20:7-8).[114] Though Revelation 7:2 refers to good angels from the rising of the sun (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου), it seems to fit more likely with the reference in 9:14 to ‘demonic hordes’ at ‘the great river Euphrates’.[115] Morris believes John does not mention these kings again yet the kings of the whole world (16:14) surely follow on from this reference.[116] In all of the tragedy that is coming it is God ‘who has implicitly prepare[d] the way’ (ἵνα ἑτοιμασθῇ), ‘just as was the case with the sixth trumpet’.[117]

Verse 13

Καὶ εἶδον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ δράκοντος καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ θηρίου καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ ψευδοπροφήτου πνεύματα τρία ἀκάθαρτα ὡς βάτραχοι

Verses thirteen to sixteen continues with the details of the sixth bowl after the ‘summary statement’ in verse twelve.[118] There seems to be some sort of ‘twisted parody’ of the Trinity with this ‘false trinity’ of the dragon (τοῦ δράκοντος), the beast (τοῦ θηρίου) and the false prophet (τοῦ ψευδοπροφήτου[119]).[120] From each member’s mouth (ἐκ τοῦ στόματος) of the ‘triumvirate’ comes three unclean spirits (πνεύματα τρία ἀκάθαρτα).[121] ‘Unclean spirits’ refers to demonic beings in ‘about twenty occurrences in the Gospels and Acts’ and verse fourteen also supports this understanding for verse thirteen.[122] They are likened to frogs (ὡς βάτραχοι) which reminds the reader ‘of frogs in Egypt’ (Ex 8:3)[123] They are an unclean animal according to Leviticus 11:10 and the metaphor is clear that though ‘deceptive speech’ will be uttered it ‘will be no match for the Son of Man whose true speech is like a sword’ (Rev 1:16; 19:15).[124]

Verse 14

εἰσὶν γὰρ πνεύματα δαιμονίων ποιοῦντα σημεῖα, ἃ ἐκπορεύεται ἐπὶ τοὺς βασιλεῖς τῆς οἰκουμένης ὅλης συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν πόλεμον τῆς ἡμέρας τῆς μεγάλης τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ παντοκράτορος.

The verse begins with an introductory clause εἰσὶν γὰρ (for they are) which ‘introduces an explicit interpretation of the ‘unclean spirits’ and ‘frogs’ of’ the previous verse.[125] They are described with the genitive phrase πνεύματα δαιμονίων which could be understood as ‘either descriptive (“demonic spirits”) or appositional (“spirits that are demons”)’.[126] The miracles that they perform (ποιοῦντα σημεῖα) are not without purpose. It is ultimately with the intent ‘of gathering all men together for the final battle’.[127] The indicative verb ἐκπορεύεται (go out) is singular as they are ‘regularly used for neuter plural subjects’.[128] The kings of the whole world[129] (τοὺς βασιλεῖς τῆς οἰκουμένης ὅλης) seems to be synonymous with ‘the kings of the east’ (16:13).[130] They may represent ‘political authorities of the impious world system’.[131] The demonic spirits gather them (συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς) for the battle (εἰς τὸν πόλεμον) which contains the definite article ‘of previous reference’ so that it not only applies to Old Testament prophecy (Zech 12-14) ‘but also back to the initial anarthrous description of the last battle in 11:7’.[132] They gather to the final battle which is also stated later in Revelation with the same expression (19:19; 20:8). On the great day of God the Almighty (τῆς ἡμέρας τῆς μεγάλης τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ παντοκράτορος) ‘God will decisively judge the unrighteous’ (Joel 2:11; Zeph 1:14; Rev 6:17; 19:11-21).[133] The inevitable results of rebellion against God is predicted in the very description of the day they gathered to challenge his almighty power and his followers.

Verse 15

 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ὡς κλέπτης. μακάριος ὁ γρηγορῶν καὶ τηρῶν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, ἵνα μὴ γυμνὸς περιπατῇ καὶ βλέπωσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτοῦ.

At first this ‘parenthetical exhortation’ seems abrupt, hence, some people consider it to be a ‘later interpolation’ but in comparison to other parts of Revelation this style is common for these exhortations which are ‘addressed to believers’ (e.g. 13:9; 14:12).[134] This verse is the third of seven beatitudes within Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14) pushing Christians to persevere in their life of faith.[135] Some scholars see this as an interlude which reflects what happens with the seals and trumpets, but this is not between the sixth and seventh sequences ‘but within the description of the sixth bowl’.[136] Jesus’ words[137] begin with an interjection (Ἰδοὺ) for attention and reminds the readers that despite what is going to happen he is coming, at any time[138], like a thief (ὡς κλέπτης)[139]. This is a call to ‘hold firm in faith and not compromise’ when the sixth bowl comes upon the people of God.[140] In these times those who are blessed (μακάριος) stay awake (ὁ γρηγορῶν) and keep their garments on (καὶ τηρῶν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ). This is in order that (ἵνα) they may not go about naked (μὴ γυμνὸς περιπατῇ) and people see his shame (καὶ βλέπωσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτοῦ).[141] This means that one is ‘to refuse to concede to the idolatrous demands of beast worship (see on 3:4-5) in the face of the pressure of the final attack’.[142] Egypt provides a fitting background as they ‘kept their travelling clothes on, waiting for their journey to the Promised Land’ (Ex 12:11).[143] The idea of one’s nakedness being uncovered is also a ‘metaphor used in God’s accusation of Israel and other nations for participation in idolatry’ (Ezek 16:36; 23:29; Nah 3:5).[144] Believers do not want to be caught unprepared.

Verse 16

καὶ συνήγαγεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν καλούμενον Ἑβραϊστὶ Ἁρμαγεδών.

This follows on from verse fourteen where the evil forces gather (συνήγαγεν) to the place (εἰς τὸν τόπον) that in Hebrew is called (τὸν καλούμενον Ἑβραϊστὶ) Armageddon (Ἁρμαγεδών). This battle is described later in Revelation (17:14; 19:14-21; 20:2-10).[145] This is the only place Armageddon is mentioned and it refers to ‘the mount of Megiddo’ (Harmagedōn).[146] There are quite a number of passages that speak of Megiddo (e.g. 2 Kgs 23:29; 2 Chron 35:20-22). One of the most relevant passages is where God wins a battle against a powerful force set up against Israel (Judg 5:19 cf. Judg 4:3).[147] With all of these references, Megiddo had become ‘proverbial for decisive battles that could destroy kingdoms’ (Zech 12:11).[148] This location declares hope for the reader that despite the powers of evil ‘God will win the victory’.[149]

The sixth bowl is the penultimate judgment where the forces of evil gather to Armageddon. The extended time John spends on describing this bowl shows its importance and transition to the final judgment. It is here where the great battle between God and the forces of evil is fought. This will be the greatest example of a ‘one-sided victory’ history will ever know.[150] It is vital for Christians to stay awake and keep their garments on. The battle is not recorded.[151] Instead, the final plague comes with the great pronouncement, ‘It is done’.

Verse 17: Seventh Bowl

Καὶ ὁ ἕβδομος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ἀέρα, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν φωνὴ μεγάλη ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου λέγουσα, Γέγονεν.

The seventh bowl is the final bowl in the final series of judgments. It ‘speaks of utter destruction’.[152] Once again, there is a ‘storm theophany’ as with the previous cycles of judgments (6:12-14; 8:3-5; 11:19), ‘yet with the utmost severity’.[153] This bowl is poured out on the air (ἐπὶ τὸν ἀέρα) which could be in reference to the plague of hail (cf. Ex 9:22-34; Rev 16:21).[154] More significantly though, it may be referring to the ‘abode of demons’ (cf. Eph 2:2; Rev 9:2).[155] The great voice out of the temple from the throne (φωνὴ μεγάλη ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου) most probably refers to the same voice in verse one and is most certainly providing ‘the fullest divine sanction’.[156] This voice declares with one word, ‘it is done’ (γέγονεν). This explains the ‘purpose of the seven bowls’ (Rev 15:1) and one is reminded of Christ’s own words on the cross, ‘it is finished’ (τετέλεσται) (Jn 19:30).[157] On the cross Christ takes the judgment for his people and accomplishes redemption, yet here is the final consummation of judgment on the wicked where the redeemed are vindicated and evil is vanquished. The same voice comes later in Revelation (21:6) and repeats the word which provides evidence that here is ‘an anticipation of the End that is more fully described in Revelation 21-22’.[158] Believers can rejoice and find comfort in the almighty power of the great God despite the seemingly powerful enemy.[159]

Verse 18

καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας, οἷος οὐκ ἐγένετο ἀφʼ οὗ ἄνθρωπος ἐγένετο ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς τηλικοῦτος σεισμὸς οὕτως μέγας.

The declaration of the consummation ‘caused great excitement’.[160] The lightnings, sounds, thunders and a great earthquake (ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς μέγας) reflect ‘the Sinai theophany’ in Exodus (19:16-18)[161]. There may also be connotations to Daniel 12:1 where it refers to a great tribulation where God’s people will be delivered.[162] There is significant stress on the greatness of the earthquake.[163] Such an analogy would have rung true to the citizens of Sardis, Laodicea, Ephesus and Philadelphia ‘who all experienced destruction by earthquakes’.[164] This is a powerful typology to express the finality of what is going to occur on the final day of judgment.

Verse 19

καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ πόλις ἡ μεγάλη εἰς τρία μέρη καὶ αἱ πόλεις τῶν ἐθνῶν ἔπεσαν. καὶ Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη ἐμνήσθη ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ δοῦναι αὐτῇ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ.

The severe earthquake affects the great city (ἡ πόλις ἡ μεγάλη[165]) and the cities of the nations (καὶ αἱ πόλεις τῶν ἐθνῶν). This depiction of an earthquake reflects Old Testament descriptions of it ‘accompanying God’s latter-day appearance at the final judgment’ (Hag 2:6; Zech 14:4).[166] It seems most plausible to refer to humanity who reject God, as other references in Revelation also seem to suggest (11:9; 18:10, 21) a correlation to the wickedness of humanity and the metaphorical city of Babylon. The godless who ‘put their trust in man’ is now divided into three parts (εἰς τρία μέρη) which implies a ‘complete break-up’.[167] Babylon the great was remembered before God (Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη ἐμνήσθη ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ). This phrase seems unusual at first but Smalley helpfully points out that ‘this passive construction occurs regularly in judicial contexts, where the forensic setting is that of a case tried before the throne of God (LXX Ps. 9.13; Isa. 65.17; Lam. 2.1; Ezek. 3.20; 18.22; 33.16; et al.)’.[168] The infinitive δοῦναι (to give) can be seen epexegetically which ‘more closely defines’ the previous verb.[169] The cup (τὸ ποτήριον) is followed by four genitives (τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ).[170] They drain this cup of his furious wrath which reflects Old Testament imagery of the nations being drunk from the cup of God’s wrath (cf. Ps 75:6-8 Isa 51:17, 20, 22; Jer 25:15-29; Lam 4:21; Ezek 23:31-34; Hab 2:16).[171] This great fall of Babylon is further ‘expanded in detail in 17:1-19:10’ and was introduced in 14:8.[172] With such a terrifying description of the doom of the wicked, surely one can only turn to the powerful God and ally with the one who will inevitably have the victory.

Verse 20

καὶ πᾶσα νῆσος ἔφυγεν καὶ ὄρη οὐχ εὑρέθησαν.

The final judgment of God is further pictured by the complete ‘disintegration of the cosmos’.[173] The mountains (ὄρη) and every island (πᾶσα νῆσος) is linked earlier in Revelation (6:14). Isaiah uses the concept of islands to ‘signify the farthest reaches of the earth which, despite their distance, will see the glory of the God of Israel and trust in him (Isa. 49:1; 51:5)’.[174] The passive verb (εὑρέθησαν) linked with the negative particle (οὐχ) meaning ‘disappear’ is used elsewhere (cf. Rev 18:14, 21, 22; 20:11[175]) where ‘each of these references is associated with the finality of Babylon’s destruction’.[176] The created world is unable to stand in the presence of ‘the awesome majesty of God’.[177] This judgment is final and this God is incomparable.

Verse 21

καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη ὡς ταλαντιαία καταβαίνει ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν θεὸν ἐκ τῆς πληγῆς τῆς χαλάζης, ὅτι μεγάλη ἐστὶν ἡ πληγὴ αὐτῆς σφόδρα.

A great hail (χάλαζα μεγάλη) replicating the plague of hail (Ex 9:19-35) and possibly inferring the Sinai theophany. They weighed about a talent (ὡς ταλαντιαία) which is estimated between nine and forty-five kilograms ‘or even more’, regardless, the point is ‘that the hail was of enormous size’.[178] It fell out of heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).[179] John uses a word to describe the severity of the hail which he does not use anywhere else (σφόδρα).[180] It falls on humanity (ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους) and for the third time in this chapter their staggering response, ‘even at this last minute facing the full onslaught of God’s judgment and judicial wrath’ is to curse God (ἐβλασφήμησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν θεὸν).[181] There is no mention of repentance, unlike the previous two verses where they cursed God (Rev 16:9, 11), possibly suggesting that repentance is not even an option at this point. The description John uses helps picture the devastation of God’s judgment and is terrifying. It is saddening that much of humanity today ignores the reality of what is to come and worse, actively rebels against this almighty God who will bring his sovereign justice in the end. There is only one being who deserves honour and glory.

Synopsis

God’s just wrath is poured out on the wicked who deserve the judgment they receive. This causes great rejoicing over God’s just character from those who are righteous but from the wicked who experience these judgments only cursing and a refusal to repent comes from their lips. This is both during the inter-Advent age of judgment and their closing reaction from the final judgment where the wicked are destroyed and creation is disintegrated. Christians must keep their garments on, persevere to the end.

Conclusion

The terrifying bowls of the wrath of God further remind every saint to persevere and know that justice will be served. There is only one cry that the saints of God can declare in response to these plagues, ‘Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!’ (Rev 16:7). The judgment of the wicked and their hardened hearts is difficult to fathom but the emphasis of lex talionis must be remembered, especially, in a Western culture. The disintegration of the created order reminds all those who follow the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb who was slain that there is no future ‘here in the old order’[182], it is not eternal, the kingdom to come, where the Lord will reign, is their future. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Footnotes

  1. ‘ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ’ is omitted in some texts which Metzger believes is because ‘they were regarded as somehow inappropriate in the context’. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Corrected ed.; Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1975), 754–755. Beale provides further reasoning why some scribes rejected this reading. G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (The New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich.: W. B. Eerdmans, 1999), 813. There is also an alternative reading ‘e.k tou/ ou,ranou/’ which ‘arose when ναοῦ was taken to be the contraction of ou,ranou’. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 755. The actual wording is more than sufficiently supported by the texts (א A C P 1 2020 2057 2329).

  2. Multiple manuscripts (051 2344 𝔐A) place ἀγγέλος (angel) after ὁ δεύτερος (the second) as well as in vv. 4, 8, 10, 12, and 17 after the beginning ordinals. Beale considers this to be ‘an attempt to identify those who pour out the bowls as the angels introduced in 16:1’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 816.

  3. Some witnesses change this to των (1006 1841 pc) or leave it out (𝔓47 א 𝔐 latt syph co) ‘because of the syntactically awkward presence of the article’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 816.

  4. This verb has been ‘mechanically’ conformed to the preceding plurals to read ἐγένοντο and has the support of ‘important witnesses’ (𝔓47 A 1006 1611 1841 1854 2053). Barbara Aland and American Bible Society (eds.), The Greek New Testament: Apparatus United Bible Societies. Ed. by Barbara Aland (5., rev. ed.; Stuttgart: Dt. Bibelges, 2014), 837. The singular form ‘ἐγένετο’ is ‘adequately supported’ (א C 051 205 209) and is ‘the more difficult reading’. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 755. As Beale explains, ‘It is understandable that a scribe would change the singular to plural to harmonize it with the multiple bodies of water that became blood, but no discernible motive could underlie a change from an original plural to the more difficult singular’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 817.

  5. Due to strong manuscript support (𝔓47 א P 046 051 1006 1841 2053 2062 𝔐) Matthewson suggests the aorist (έδωκας) is to be preferred rather than the perfect (δέδωκας). David Mathewson, Revelation: A Handbook on the Greek Text (Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament; Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016), 213.

  6. ‘Some mss. add either an introductory οπερ (= υπερ), αρα or γαρ to express explicitly that the last clause has the first ὅτι clause as its ground (so א 2053 2062 2329 vgmss).’ Beale, The Book of Revelation, 820.

  7. This article is omitted in a number of witnesses (א P 051 1854 2053 2062 2344 𝔐K) Beale considers this to be either an accident ‘due to a scribe glancing back at the preceding τόν before μέγαν’ or ‘an attempt to conform the phrase to the anarthrous construction in 9:14’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 830.

  8. This first phrase ‘ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ δράκοντος’ (out of the mouth of the dragon) and the second phrase ‘ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ θηρίου’ (out of the mouth of the beast) have both been omitted in various manuscripts. Beale makes sense when he appeals to the possible scribal error of skipping from one ἐκ to the following ἐκ in either situation. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 833.

  9. This article is omitted in 𝔓47 051 1854 𝔐A. This may have been due to a ‘desire to harmonize the phrase with Zech. 14:2, where the article is also missing’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 836. Reliable remaining manuscripts (א A C 2053 2062 2344) suggests that the omission ‘occurred at an early stage of textual transmission’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 836.

  10. There is some evidence (א* pc syph Prim Bea) of a change from the first person singular ‘ἔρχομαι’ to the third person ‘ἔρχεται’. Beale suggests that this is an attempt ‘to harmonize with the prior NT tradition’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 838.

  11. There are a plethora of alternative spellings in the mss. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 755.

  12. This reading ‘seems to explain best the origin of the others’. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 755.

  13. Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (Eds.). (2014). The Greek New Testament (Fifth Revised Edition, Re 16:1-21). Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

  14. J. Scott Duvall, Revelation (Teach the Text; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2014), 214.

  15. James M. Hamilton Jr., Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (n.p.: Crossway, 2012), 313.

  16. Many scholars claim the bowls are different from the seals and the trumpets. Beale points out this is often based on the differences. Namely, the judgment on the wicked in the bowls instead of on nature and the total effect of the bowls unlike the partial effect of the previous judgments. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 808. One striking similarity between the trumpets and the bowls is the order of the plagues. They strike the earth, the sea, the rivers, the sun, the wicked, the Euphrates and the world with the final judgment. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 808. Through the many similarities, the conclusion can be drawn ‘that here again we are re-visiting the judgment of God that goes on throughout history and ends with the final judgment’. Paul Gardner, Revelation: The Compassion and Protection of Christ (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2008), 209. The concept of recapitulation seems appropriate but should not be understood in a pedantic way but rather ‘artistically, prophetically, from different perspectives and with greater intensity’. G. A. Krodel, Revelation (The Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament; Minneapolis: Augsburg, n.d.), 280–281.

  17. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 811-812.

  18. This outline has been taken from Hamilton. Hamilton Jr., Revelation. Beale divides the chapter up in such a way that emphasises the time of the judgments as he considers both the sixth and the seventh bowls to be the final judgment (12-21) and the other five bowls to be during the Inter-Advent age (2-11) which Paul also makes the same assertion. Beale, The Book of Revelation; Ian Paul, Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2018). Barnett emphasises the potential for an interlude and divides the chapter between verses 13-16. Paul Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then: Reading Revelation Today (Reading the Bible Today; Sydney: Aquila Press, 1997). Morris and Gardner divide the chapter logically into each bowl. This is a commendable division but may not provide enough of a summary division as many sections hold just one verse. Gardner, Revelation; Leon Morris, The Book of Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary (2nd ed.; Tyndale New Testament Commentaries 20; Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987). Considering these and several other scholars Hamilton provides the most logical sequence of events as the two divisions that hold some reflection on the response of those who witness God’s judgments.

  19. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 317.

  20. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 312–313.

  21. This is exceptionally difficult in a culture that has not experienced martyrdom and persecution like the audience of Revelation (2:13; 6:9-11). In much of the western culture people claim their disdain for an angry God but deep down, when the injustices of the world are considered, people would be terrified if it were true that ‘he was an unrighteous judge who never condemned, never punished, never dealt with the crimes of the world – which is no judge at all’. May all Christians rejoice in the just judge that we worship and join in singing his praises for the judgments he provides. Derek Rishmawy, ‘You Want a God of Judgment’, The Gospel Coalition, July 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/you-want-god-judgment/, (accessed October 18, 2018). Keener says it well, ‘A God who never inflicts corporate judgments on the world is not the God of Scripture, but an idol of our own making’. Craig S. Keener, Revelation (The NIV Application Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2000), 400. Phillips does well in one of his chapters on this section of Revelation focusing on what one can understand concerning God’s wrath. Richard D. Phillips, Revelation (Reformed Expository Commentaries; Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2017), 442–452.

  22. The adjective comes before the noun which is unusual for John and places the emphasis on loud. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 185. Duvall notes that the verbal thread of ‘great’ (μέγας) occurs eleven times in this chapter ‘to emphasise the cosmic magnitude of the battle between God and the forces of evil’. Duvall, Revelation, 215.

  23. An angel, a cherub, Christ or God.

  24. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 812.

  25. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 185.

  26. i.e. ‘the command involves the beginning of an activity since there are seven bowls to be poured out’. David E. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16 (eds. David Allen Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and Bruce Manning Metzger; Word Biblical Commentary 52B; Grand Rapids (Michigan): Zondervan, 1998), 855.

  27. This would then be translated ‘that you may pour out’ or ‘to pour out’. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 855.

  28. There is also the practice in Leviticus of pouring out the sacrificial blood seven times in front of the sanctuary to cleanse ‘the tabernacle from defilement of sin, so the pouring out of the bowls cleanses the earth from the defilement of sin through judgment’. This Levitical background (Lev 4:6-7, 17-18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15) is only ‘enhanced by the temple imagery in Rev. 15:5-16:1, 7’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 812–813.

  29. Paul, Revelation, 266.

  30. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 813.

  31. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 855.

  32. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 185.

  33. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 855.

  34. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 814.

  35. Paul, Revelation, 267.

  36. It is ‘in the midst of their sin they find consequences that indicate an appropriate judgment from God’. Gardner, Revelation, 211.

  37. Robert W. Wall, Revelation (New International Biblical Commentary 18; Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 196–197.

  38. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 814.

  39. Paul, Revelation, 267.

  40. Gardner, Revelation, 211. This becomes clearer in the fourth and fifth bowls.

  41. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 814.

  42. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 815. Gardner agrees with Beale and offers examples of what this could refer to by mentioning how ‘we may see wars between nations and we may see world wars. We may see economic depression as in the 1930s.’ Gardner, Revelation, 211. Hamilton disagrees when he says concerning this bowl that ‘there has never yet been an act of God like this in the world’s history’. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 315. It may be that Hamilton misses the metaphorical nature and application of these inter-advent judgments.

  43. This can be understood when Revelation 18 refers to Babylon being a ‘prosperous maritime commerce’ (18:17-19). Beale, The Book of Revelation, 815.

  44. Josephus described one ancient sea battle with ‘one might then see the lake all bloody, and full of dead bodies, for not one of them escaped’. Flavius Josephus, ‘Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews 3.529’, in Lexundria, c. 77, https://lexundria.com/j_bj/3.529/wst, (accessed October 21, 2018). Beale considers such a case ‘could certainly be part of this general suffering’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 816.

  45. Gardner, Revelation, 211.

  46. Paul, Revelation, 267. It represents ‘the suffering of the ungodly’, as ‘elsewhere in Revelation’ it refers ‘to the suffering of the wicked or of Christ and the saints (the former in 11:6; 14:20; 19:13; cf. 6:12; 8:7-8; the latter in 1:5; 5:9; 6:10; 12:11; 17:6; 18:24; 19:2)’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 816.

  47. The use of ζωῆς (living) is taken as a qualitative genitive and in combination with ψυχὴ (soul) rather than ψυχάς (life) in 8:9 may insinuate more the death of humans rather than the death of sea creatures. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 815. Aune also interestingly sees this phrase (ψυχὴ ζωῆς) as a literal ‘rendering of the Heb. Phrase…(LXX Gen 1:20, 30)’. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 855.

  48. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 815–816.

  49. Duvall, Revelation, 214. This intensification is not only from ⅓ to a complete judgment but also from the waters becoming bitter (ἄψινθος) to turning to blood (αἷμα). Morris, The Book of Revelation, 186.

  50. Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2002), 581. This view is supported ‘by the verbatim parallel between 16:6 and 18:24, according to which the ungodly world is to be judged’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 817.

  51. Apollo is defeated particularly in the fourth and fifth bowls of God’s wrath (Rev 16:8-11).

  52. God makes clear that ‘he alone deserves worship, and he does not appreciate people giving the worship he deserves to demons’. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 317.

  53. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 855.

  54. Gardner, Revelation, 212.

  55. G. B. Caird, A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine (Great Britain: R. & R. Clark, 1966), 201.

  56. Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened (England; Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989), 145.

  57. Osborne, Revelation, 576.

  58. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 818.

  59. Though this word can legitimately be translated as ‘righteous’ as Beale seems to interpret it. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 817. It seems more likely to be pressing the concept of lex talionis to make it clear that God’s actions are just as Paul takes it. Paul, Revelation, 267.

  60. Paul, Revelation, 268. Some suggest there is the background of Isaiah as the frequent title of ‘Holy One’ is often used (Is 1:4; 5:19), ‘but the word ‘holy’ is ὅσιος in Revelation not ἅγιος as in Isaiah. It may be better to refer to the allusion back in the song of Moses which uses the same word. Paul, Revelation, 268.

  61. The genitive here expresses ‘the angel’s sovereignty over the water’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 817. There are other places in Revelation where angels have authority over regions or domains (e.g. Rev 7:1; 14:18). This phrase is not found anywhere else in the Bible yet such a view was ‘in line with Jewish belief’. Paul, Revelation, 267. Seeing as this angel possibly refers to the one who just turned the waters to blood, perhaps they do have a certain authority that God has given them.

  62. Or it may be better translated as ‘O Holy One’ as the article could be seen as ‘equivalent to a vocative’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 186.

  63. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 817.

  64. Gardner, Revelation, 212.

  65. Duvall, Revelation, 216.

  66. This phrase of ‘holy ones/saints and prophets’ describes all the people of God and some within who proclaim God’s message. Paul, Revelation, 268.

  67. This phrase is ‘an Old Testament image of repaying in kind for bloodshed (Isa. 49:26). As with the sores, the sense here is of giving them what they ask for: if you want to spill blood, blood will be spilled’. Paul, Revelation, 268.

  68. There may also be the insinuation of fighting each other and shedding their own blood for ‘the forces of evil do not present a united front (17:16)’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 187.

  69. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 818–819.

  70. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 819.

  71. Paul, Revelation, 268.

  72. The horns of the altar spoke in 9:13. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 187.

  73. Duvall, Revelation, 216. This concept could be thwarted with the participle λέγοντος (saying) is in the singular but ‘it is possible that the voice represents the corporate declaration of the souls of the martyrs’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 820.

  74. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 820.

  75. Paul, Revelation, 268.

  76. A. W. Tozer wisely states that ‘when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation’. A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), 93.

  77. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 317.

  78. Beale sees this reversal as also pointing to ‘a lack of concern for chronological sequence in the Apocalypse’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 812.

  79. Gardner, Revelation, 220.

  80. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then, 123.

  81. Gardner, Revelation, 220.

  82. Duvall, Revelation, 214. These judgments are not identical but bear enough similarity to see the potential for recapitulation even though there is some intensification. Some consider these plagues and their intensification to be indication of a sequential viewpoint. Judith L. Kovacs and Christopher Rowland, Revelation: The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ (Blackwell Bible Commentaries; Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2004), 171. This view may fail to comprehend what the similarities signify and instead focus on the intensifying aspect of the bowls.

  83. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 821.

  84. ‘God is the one doing the allowing’. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 317. This is evident in their being no independent power in the sun.

  85. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 187–188. ἐν πυρί is an instrumental dative where the action of the verb is performed through this instrument. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 857. It is clear from the following description that this is affecting only those who worship the beast and provides a stark contrast to the ‘fate of the followers of the lamb’ (7:16). Paul, Revelation, 269.

  86. The καῦμα can be ‘understood as a cognate accusative of content’ thereby rendering the phrase ‘they were severely burned’. Beale, The Book of Revelation. The aorist passive ἐκαυματίσθησαν could again be referring to the enabling of God in the previous verse.

  87. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 821.

  88. G. B Caird, The Revelation of Saint John (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1996), 203.

  89. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 822. These judgments provide evidence of God’s wrath and that the only appropriate response is to surrender and repent of sin. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 317–318.

  90. The very cursing demonstrates who they are following as this word for blasphemy is only attributed to the beast elsewhere (13:1, 5, 6; 17:3). Wilfrid J. Harrington, Revelation (n.p.: Liturgical Press, 2008), 164. This reaction corresponds to the reaction of those in 2 Thessalonians 2 who are deceived and perishing and ‘refused to love the truth and so be saved’ (2:10). Calvin notes of these individuals that ‘in case the wicked complain that they perish for no reason and claim to be innocent, saying they have been appointed to die because God is cruel rather than because of any fault on their side, Paul shows on what good grounds such severe vengeance from God will fall on them’. Jean Calvin, 1, 2 Thessalonians (The Crossway Classic Commentaries; Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1999), 94.

  91. Gardner, Revelation, 213.

  92. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 823.

  93. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 857. This provides a contrast between what happened and the converse result followed by the aorist verb (δοῦναι) being an epexegetical infinitive of result. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 823.

  94. Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2001), 445.

  95. Duvall, Revelation, 134. The mere mention of their refusal to repent makes it a possibility. The theme of glory is prominent throughout the doxologies (e.g. 1:6; 4:11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 19:1) and the actions of God does at times bring him glory (e.g. 11:13; 14:7) but here they refuse. R. B. Gaffin Jr., New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (eds. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner; Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 511.

  96. Gaffin Jr., 511.

  97. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 188.

  98. Paul, Revelation, 269.

  99. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 823–824.

  100. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 824; Caird, Revelation, 204–205; Martin Kiddle and M. K Ross, The Revelation of St. John. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1963), 321–322. Whatever this darkness is, it is judgment where people are ‘blinded by God as he condemns it to the darkness it deserves and which it has, in fact, sought’. Gardner, Revelation, 214.

  101. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 824.

  102. Paul, Revelation, 269.

  103. This phrase could also reflect Daniel 2:44, ‘where it is used of the One who in his sovereignty destroys the kingdoms of this world and establishes his universal reign’. Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1998), 297.

  104. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 188.

  105. The vast majority of Egyptians ‘refused to trust in Israel’s God’ though some did go out of Egypt with Israel. Beale sees the similarity in the ‘Apocalypse’s woes of trumpets and bowls. The remnant from the world who repent do so only because they have been sealed by God (7:1-4; 14:1-2). The rest do not believe because they have not been sealed but can only give allegiance to the beast, whose mark they gladly receive’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 825–826.

  106. This seems to be a reference to the first bowl judgment which could infer ‘that the sufferers of the fifth bowl also sustain injury from the previous bowls, and vice versa’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 826.

  107. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 825.

  108. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 825.

  109. The judgments are real and not merely used ‘to increase the rhetorical effect’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 826.

  110. Beale is adamant that this is not ‘a literal geographical reference to the Euphrates in modern Iraq, Syria, and Turkey’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 828. At the same time, there is still a connection that the initial readers would have made to it being ‘the border between the Roman Empire and the Parthians’ so that enemies beyond would have been considered invaders. Paul, Revelation, 269–270. The reference would also have been likened to the great river Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied about saying it would be dried up (Is 11:15-16; Jer 50:35-40). Gardner, Revelation, 215–216. This comes true when Cyrus diverted the river to conquer Babylon. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 827. There is also prophecy in the OT of judgment from the North beyond the Euphrates which made up the border for Israel (Isa. 5:26–29; 7:20; 8:7–8; 14:29–31; Jer. 1:14–15; 4:6–13; 6:1, 22; 10:22; 13:20; Ezek. 38:6, 15; 39:2; Joel 2:1–11, 20–25). Beale, The Book of Revelation, 506.

  111. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 189.

  112. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 827.

  113. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 827.

  114. Duvall, Revelation, 216.

  115. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 831.

  116. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 190; Duvall, Revelation, 216.

  117. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then, 270.

  118. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 831.

  119. This is the first use of ‘false prophet’ (ψευδοπροφήτου) in Revelation. It seems to refer to the second beast (Rev 13:11-17) with the purpose of deceiving ‘people so that they will worship the first beast’. This seems to happen within the church itself as verse fifteen exhorts the saints ‘not to compromise’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 831.

  120. Hamilton Jr., Revelation, 319. Beale considers each one to represent, ‘respectively Satan, the Satanic political system, and the religious support of the political system’ who are the ‘secondary earthly agents who execute the woe’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 831.

  121. The adjective used to describe them as unclean ‘suggests their deceptive nature’ as other places it is used links it with ‘Babylon’s deceptive immorality’ (Rev 17:4; 18:2-3). Beale, The Book of Revelation, 831.

  122. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 832.

  123. This is all the clearer when the ‘only places in biblical literature where the word batrachos (“frog”) appears are in the LXX of Exod. 8:2-13; Ps. 77:45 (78:45 ET); 104:30 (105:30 ET); Wis. 19:10, all of which describe the exodus plague’. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2007), 1135. They have ‘evil associations’ and ‘produce an incessant and meaningless croaking, but no solid achievement’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 190.

  124. Paul, Revelation, 270.

  125. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 833.

  126. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 833. Either option does not provide a great deal of difference.

  127. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 190. This deception ties back to chapter thirteen where the second beast, seen here as the false prophet, performs signs which deceive ‘all those who dwell on the earth’ (13:13-14). Paul, Revelation, 270.

  128. This also applies to verse sixteen where the third person singular is used again. Paul, Revelation, 270.

  129. These kings are referred to often in Revelation (e.g. 1:5; 6:15; 17:2, 18; 18:3, 9; 19:19; 21:24). They ‘set themselves against God and his anointed Son, but the Lord treats them with scorn and derision’. Kistemaker, Revelation, 450. Psalm 2:1-6 provides a foundation for the language and purpose of this expression in Revleation.

  130. This shows that the bowl again affects everything (cf. 3:10; 12:9). Morris, The Book of Revelation, 190.

  131. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 834. This phrase ‘kings of the earth’ often has a political sense within Revelation (1:5; 6:15; 17:2, 18).

  132. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 835.

  133. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 835. G. R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1974), 244–245. This day to come is ‘not the day of the dirty spirits, nor the day of the rulers of the world, but the great day of God Almighty’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 190.

  134. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 836.

  135. Kistemaker, Revelation, 451.

  136. Paul, Revelation, 271. Barnett considers there to be an interlude and Beale considers this to be a possibility but in the context of the judgments and in comparison to the other judgment sequences it seems unlikely. It would be a much shorter interlude and its connection with the sixth bowls does seem to be evidence against this suggestion. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then; Beale, The Book of Revelation. Mounce describes it well by noting that ‘the bowls move relentlessly to a close’. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 291.

  137. That these are the words of Jesus is obvious from the first person singular ἔρχομαι (I am coming). The words in this section can also be seen as Jesus’ words that resemble his words elsewhere (Mat 24:43).

  138. Even though there is an explicit outline of the events of the inter-advent age John may be reminding ‘his readers that the sequence of bowl judgments is not being given to provide such a timetable’. Paul, Revelation, 271.

  139. The analogy of a thief is not to steal and break in but more the concept of being ‘unheralded’. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then, 121.

  140. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 837. The language of this verse reminds the reader of the letter to Sardis (cf. 3:3) and helps the audience to realise this evil being planned against God ‘brings us back to the realities of the situation’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 190.

  141. Farrer sees this analogy as a man who lies down and undresses but stays awake to guard his clothes unless they are stolen to his ‘great disgrace’. Austin Farrer, The Revelation of Saint John the Divine (Oxford: Clarendon, 1964), 177–178. This imagery contains too much of the idea of robbery. Bauckham describes it better when he says, ‘the picture must be of the man who stays awake, fully clothed, contrasted with the man who sleeps and will therefore be caught naked when surprised in the night’. R. Bauckham, ‘Synoptic Parousia Parables and the Apocalypse’, NTS 23/ (1977): 171.

  142. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 837.

  143. Gardner, Revelation, 218. Gardner also helpfully points out the similarity to Sardis as above but also to Laodicea where the challenge is to come and ‘buy white clothes to wear’, so they can cover their ‘shameful nakedness’ (3:18).

  144. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 837.

  145. The location of this battle causes much discussion. Some consider it to be an actual location and attempt to work out what troops will be there from which countries. Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson, The Late Great Planet Earth (n.p.: Zondervan, 1970), 163–165. Rather, this seems more likely to be a typological symbol. This is also seen with names such as ‘Babylon’ and ‘Euphrates’ which often represent larger realities than the geographical location.

  146. Duvall, Revelation, 217.

  147. William Hendriksen, More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1990).

  148. Paul, Revelation, 272.

  149. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192. This also implies that ‘our ultimate accountability is not to a political leader, a landlord, or a local magistrate. We are accountable to God’. Ronald W. Crawford, ‘Armageddon: Revelation 16’, Review & Expositor 106/1 (2009): 105.

  150. Duvall, Revelation, 217.

  151. J. Ramsey Michaels, Revelation (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 20; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 189.

  152. ‘The complete fragmentation of earthly life’ before all of humanity ‘face Almighty God for judgment’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192.

  153. Duvall, Revelation, 217.

  154. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 841.

  155. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192; Paul, Revelation, 273.

  156. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192.

  157. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 842.

  158. Paul, Revelation, 273.

  159. In the end, God is the victor worthy of worship.

  160. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192.

  161. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 842. This ‘appearance of God at Sinai’ has been referred to three other times in Revelation (4:5; 8:5; 11:19) but the greatness of this earthquake emphasises its finality. Paul, Revelation, 273.

  162. This ‘connection to Daniel 12 makes it all the more clear that Rev. 16:18 is a description of the last judgment and the end of the present cosmos’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 842.

  163. First there is a negative statement to emphasise its power ‘such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth’ (οἷος οὐκ ἐγένετο ἀφʼ οὗ ἄνθρωπος ἐγένετο ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) followed by two positive statements of it being mighty (τηλικοῦτος) and great (μέγας). Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192.

  164. Paul, Revelation, 273.

  165. The use of this adjective is interesting as it is regularly incorporated in this chapter and here refers to human power against God. It is clear that ‘the most magnificent of human power remains at best pretentious, nothing before God’. Keener, Revelation, 402.

  166. Some scholars have identified the great city as ‘Jerusalem, Rome, or the ungodly world system’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 843.

  167. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192. This calamity is a universal judgment (αἱ πόλεις τῶν ἐθνῶν ἔπεσαν) where ‘all the world’s cultural, political, economic, and sociological centers’ are decimated. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 843.

  168. Stephen S. Smalley, The Revelation to John A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse, 2015, 415.

  169. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 860.

  170. A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (n.p.: Logos Bible Software, 2006), 503. the ‘last two genitives of the phrase are best viewed appositionally: “the cup of the wine which is his fierce anger”’. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 843. Morris believes there is nowhere else in the book with ‘an expression as emphatic’. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 192.

  171. Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation (Phillipsburg, N. J.: P&R, 2000), 153. This is also referenced elsewhere in Revelation (e.g. 14:10).

  172. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 843.

  173. Smalley, The Revelation to John, 415.

  174. Paul, Revelation, 273–274.

  175. It is in this reference that the ‘theme of the disappearance of the natural bodies is completed’. This motif of the disappearance of ‘islands, mountains, and heavens’ occurs frequently in association with the day of the Lord (e.g. Ps 97:5; Isa 2:12-18; 40:4; 45:2). Osborne, Revelation, 599.

  176. Smalley, The Revelation to John, 415.

  177. Paul, Revelation, 274.

  178. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 193.

  179. This ‘obviously refers to the sky rather than to the dwelling place of God’. Aune, Revelation 6 – 16, 860.

  180. Morris, The Book of Revelation, 193.

  181. Gardner, Revelation, 219.

  182. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then, 123.

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