13 And I saw and heard an1 eagle2 flying in midair saying with a great voice, “Woe woe woe3 to the ones who dwell on the earth because of4 the remaining sounds of the trumpets of the three angels who are about to sound their trumpets.”
1 And the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star5 from the sky6 having fallen7 unto the earth and the key to the pit8 of the abyss9 was given to him10 . 2 And he opened the pit of the abyss, and smoke went up from the pit like smoke from a great furnace. The sun and the air were darkened from the smoke of the pit11, 3 and locusts came out from the smoke onto the earth.12 Authority was given to them like the scorpions of the earth have authority.13 4 And it was told to them that they should not harm the grass of the earth, neither any14 plant15, nor any16 tree, except the people17 who don’t have the seal of God on their forehands. 5 And it was given to them that they would not kill them, but that they will be tormented for five months18. Their agony19 was like the agony20 of a scorpion when it would sting a man. 6 And in those days, people will seek death and they will never find it. They will desire21 to die, and death will flee22 from them.
7 And the likeness of the locus were similar to horses prepared for war.23 Something like crowns similar to gold was on their heads24, and their faces were like the faces of men.25 8 They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron26, and the sound of their wings were like the sound of many chariots of horses running into war.27 10 They had28 tails and stingers similar to scorpions, and the authority to harm people for five months was in their tails.29 11 They had a king over them; the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew30 is “Abaddon”, and his name in Greek31 is “Apollyon”.32
12 One woe has passed33. Behold, two woes are still coming34 after these things.
1 ἑνὸς (an)
Once again we see the structure of four and three within the number of seven. Four is the number of earth and three is the number of the divine.
2 ἀετοῦ (eagle)
The word can mean either eagle or vulture. An eagle is always used to deliver a message in Jewish apocalyptic writings. It is no different here. Osborne*** (Pg. 360). The TR and KJV replaces ἀετοῦ (eagle) with ἀγγέλου (angel). It was probably a scribal misunderstanding as the words look similar.
Another difference between an eagle and a vulture is that an eagle usually flies alone. Vultures tend to congregate.
3 οὐαὶ οὐαὶ οὐαὶ (woe, woe , woe)
The three woes refer to the coming trumpet blows. Osborne*** (Pg. 360).
4 ἐκ (because of)
5 We know from 1:20 that stars in Revelation are symbols of angels. Osborne*** sees this angel as an angel or God and not a fallen angel. He states that in 1 Enoch 20:2, the archangel Uriel was in charge of Tartarus which is the Hellenistic place of final punishment. (Pg. 362).
6 ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (from the sky)
or “from heaven”.
7 πεπτωκότα (having fallen)
The participle is in the perfect tense. This star/angel had already “fallen”. If this is an angel that was sent by God to open the abyss, then πεπτωκότα could be translated “having descended”. The word was used in 2:5 as moving from a high place to a lower place; “Therefore, remember from where you have fallen!” Beale* argues against this idea and states that no where in the OT or NT does a “fallen angel” depict a “good angel”. He states that it is either Satan or one of his minions. (Pg. 492).
Fallen is a word that more aptly applied to Satan and his ilk than those in heaven. He was once the archangel, but is now like a jewel loosened from the Crown of God and flung to the earth. Once a radiant star of stars, he is now more like a chunk of coal on his way to becoming ashes.
8 or “well” as in a well dug for water. Here, it is the shaft that leads to the abyss.
This coincides with the idea of locusts emerging from the ground and demons rising from the smoke of the abyss.
9 τῆς ἀβύσσου (of the abyss)
We find out later that Satan is imprisoned in this abyss for 1000 years. Mounce** (Pg. 193) mentions that the abyss was where the fallen angels of 1 Enoch 21:7-10 were imprisoned in his retelling of Genesis 6.
1 Enoch 21:7b-10
7...And from thence I went to another place, which was still more horrible than the former, and I saw a horrible thing: a great fire there which burnt and blazed, and the place was cleft as far as the abyss, being full of great descending columns of 8 fire: neither its extent or magnitude could I see, nor could I conjecture. Then I said: “How 9 fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!” Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: “Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?” And 10 I answered: “Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.” And he said unto me: “This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.”
10 God gives the key to him. God is always in control! Osborne*** points back to 3:7. “... the one who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens”. (Pg. 363).
11 The imagery is drawn from Joel 1 and 2.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary
The invasions of locusts are the heaviest calamities that can befall a country.
" Their numbers exceed computation: the hebrews called them 'the countless,' and the Arabs knew them as 'the darkeners of the sun.' Unable to guide their own flight, though capable of crossing large spaces, they are at the mercy of the wind, which bears them as blind instruments of Providence to the doomed region given over to them for the time. Innumerable as the drops of water or the sands of the seashore, their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the earth (Exo_10:15; Jdg_6:5; Jdg_7:12; Jer_46:23; Joe_2:10). It seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in breadth, were advancing with a slow, unresting progress. Woe to the countries beneath them if the wind fall and let them alight! They descend unnumbered as flakes of snow and hide the ground. It may be 'like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them is a desolate wilderness. At their approach the people are in anguish; all faces lose their colour' (Joe_2:6). No walls can stop them; no ditches arrest them; fires kindled in their path are forthwith extinguished by the myriads of their dead, and the countless armies march on (Joe_2:8, Joe_2:9). If a door or a window be open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house.
"The locusts have no king,
Yet go they forth all of them by bands" (Proverbs 30:27).
12 The eighth Egyptian plague was locusts.
13 Like the scorpions of earth, these locusts are given a painful sting in
addition to their multitude. This can remind us of the sting of death.
14 πᾶν (any)
15 χλωρὸν (plant)
Greek: “green” or “green thing”.
Exodus 10:15 ESV
15 They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.
16 πᾶν (any)
17 The TR adds μόνους (only), thus the rendering: “only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” KJV.
18 Why five months? Osborne*** sees this as a very short time for unbelievers on earth to repent. (Pg. 367).
It could a long time to one who seeks the relief of death.
19 ὁ βασανισμὸς (agony) or “torment” or “severe pain”.
The sting of a scorpion was extremely painful, but seldom fatal.
20 βασανισμὸς (agony)
or “torment” or “severe pain”.
21 ἐπιθυμήσουσιν (they will desire)
or “they will lust”. The verb drives home just how much people will
want to die.
Just as the rich man looked up to view Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham from a place of torment and longed for a sip of water, they will long for relief, but will not find it.
22 φεύγει (will flee)
This verb is actually in the present tense, but is futuristic by the context. It can be translated: “death is fleeing from them”. Perhaps the continual aspect of the present tense verb is in play here. In that case, death keeps on fleeing from them.
23 Roman warhorses in the ancient world were large and powerful. The were bred for war, taught to bite, and had sharp hooves. Osborne*** (Pg. 369).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The horses of the Bible are almost exclusively war-horses, or at least the property of kings and not of the common people.
24 Here we have the “conqueror’s crown” again. In this case, the authority have been given to the locusts by God. The “conqueror’s crown” is probably a symbol to show that the locusts will indeed conquer unbelievers for five months.
25 Most commentators just state that “John has combined human and animal characteristics in a supernatural being” Osborne*** (Pg. 370), I, on the other hand, see some irony in the passage. The very humans who have relied on themselves and not on God now are tormented by creatures who have their faces. Possibly a “mirror image” of who is really responsible for the torment...people themselves!
26 Warhorses typically had protection in the form of iron breastplates.
27 Some of the locusts imagery is drawn from Joel 1:6-7 and 2:4-5.
Joel 1:6 A nation has invaded my land,
powerful and without number;
it has the teeth of a lion,
the fangs of a lioness.
Joel 1:7 It has laid waste my vines
and ruined my fig trees.
It has stripped off their bark
and thrown it away,
leaving their branches white.
Joel 2:4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
Joel 2:5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
The imagery is what it is; these demon locusts were going to war against the unbelievers.
Deuteronomy 28:38 ESV
38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it.
This is one of the curses foretold to Israel should they disobey.
28 ἔχουσιν (they had)
or “they have”. The verb is actually in the present tense. Mounce** (Pg. 197) suggests that the shift adds “vividness” to the explanation of the vision.
29 Revelation 12:4-9
4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Their power is their tails and mouth, for it is the dragon that leads them and gives them power. They are the tail of the one cast down from heaven. I notice that a third of the stars are cast down with him and that a third of those living on earth are slain. I can a tongue of deception and the twitching tale of a snake in this imagery.
30 ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἑβραϊστὶ (his name in Hebrew)
Greek: “the name to him in Hebrew”.
31 ἐν τῇ Ἑλληνικῇ ὄνομα ἔχει (his name in Greek)
Greek: “in Greek he has the name”.
32 Both “Abaddon” and “Apollyon” mean “destroyer”. So who is this angel? Some say it is the same angel/star from verse 1. Others say that it is Satan, but Satan is not yet condemned to the Abyss. Some say that it is one of Satan’s high ranking officers. Osborne*** goes on to describe some interesting background of how the 1st century churches in Asia Minor would have pictured him. The name of the Greek god Apollo was derived from Ἀπολλύων (Apollyon) and one of Apollo’s symbols was a locust. The Roman Emperor Domitian, the possible Emperor at the time the letter was written, thought of himself to be the incarnate of Apollo. Thus, this could be another reference to the Emperor cult that was prevalent in the late 1st century. If this is the case, then the Roman Empire is in view as being the “evil” empire. (Pg. 374). Mounce** mentions this as well. (Pg. 198). Beale* (Pg. 504) that the “death angel” in the tenth Egyptian plague was known as τὸν ὀλεθρεύοντα (the one who destroys). This imagery may tie the Egyptian plagues even closer to the trumpet judgements.
33 ἀπῆλθεν (has past)
Greek: “departed”. In other words, one woe/vision is over and now it is
time for the next two.
34 ἔρχεται (is coming)
This verb is singular! John is turning the Greek language on its head again.
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
Ἀποκάλυψις 8·13 Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἤκουσα ἑνὸς ἀετοῦ πετομένου ἐν μεσουρανήματι λέγοντος φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· οὐαὶ οὐαὶ οὐαὶ τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐκ τῶν λοιπῶν φωνῶν τῆς σάλπιγγος τῶν τριῶν ἀγγέλων τῶν μελλόντων σαλπίζειν.
Ἀποκάλυψις 9·1 Καὶ ὁ πέμπτος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισεν· καὶ εἶδον ἀστέρα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεπτωκότα εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἡ κλεὶς τοῦ φρέατος τῆς ἀβύσσου 2 καὶ ἤνοιξεν τὸ φρέαρ τῆς ἀβύσσου, καὶ ἀνέβη καπνὸς ἐκ τοῦ φρέατος ὡς καπνὸς καμίνου μεγάλης, καὶ ἐσκοτώθη ὁ ἥλιος καὶ ὁ ἀὴρ ἐκ τοῦ καπνοῦ τοῦ φρέατος. 3 καὶ ἐκ τοῦ καπνοῦ ἐξῆλθον ἀκρίδες εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐταῖς ἐξουσία ὡς ἔχουσιν ἐξουσίαν οἱ σκορπίοι τῆς γῆς. 4 καὶ ἐρρέθη αὐταῖς ἵνα μὴ ἀδικήσουσιν τὸν χόρτον τῆς γῆς οὐδὲ πᾶν χλωρὸν οὐδὲ πᾶν δένδρον, εἰ μὴ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους οἵτινες οὐκ ἔχουσι τὴν σφραγῖδα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τῶν μετώπων. 5 καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἵνα μὴ ἀποκτείνωσιν αὐτούς, ἀλλ ̓ ἵνα βασανισθήσονται μῆνας πέντε, καὶ ὁ βασανισμὸς αὐτῶν ὡς βασανισμὸς σκορπίου ὅταν παίσῃ ἄνθρωπον. 6 καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ζητήσουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν θάνατον καὶ οὐ μὴ εὑρήσουσιν αὐτόν, καὶ ἐπιθυμήσουσιν ἀποθανεῖν καὶ φεύγει ὁ θάνατος ἀπ ̓ αὐτῶν.
Ἀποκάλυψις 9·7 Καὶ τὰ ὁμοιώματα τῶν ἀκρίδων ὅμοια ἵπποις ἡτοιμασμένοις εἰς πόλεμον, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν ὡς στέφανοι ὅμοιοι χρυσῷ, καὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὡς πρόσωπα ἀνθρώπων, 8 καὶ εἶχον τρίχας ὡς τρίχας γυναικῶν, καὶ οἱ ὀδόντες αὐτῶν ὡς λεόντων ἦσαν, 9 καὶ εἶχον θώρακας ὡς θώρακας σιδηροῦς, καὶ ἡ φωνὴ τῶν πτερύγων αὐτῶν ὡς φωνὴ ἁρμάτων ἵππων πολλῶν τρεχόντων εἰς πόλεμον, 10 καὶ ἔχουσιν οὐρὰς ὁμοίας σκορπίοις καὶ κέντρα, καὶ ἐν ταῖς οὐραῖς αὐτῶν ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἀδικῆσαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους μῆνας πέντε, 11 ἔχουσιν ἐπ ̓ αὐτῶν βασιλέα τὸν ἄγγελον τῆς ἀβύσσου, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἑβραϊστὶ Ἀβαδδών, καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἑλληνικῇ ὄνομα ἔχει Ἀπολλύων. Ἀποκάλυψις 9·12 Ἡ οὐαὶ ἡ μία ἀπῆλθεν· ἰδοὺ ἔρχεται ἔτι δύο οὐαὶ μετὰ ταῦτα.