The bowls usher in the last of God’s wrath on on unbelieving mankind. Like the trumpets, the first four are images of the ten plagues of Egypt.out in “rapid succession” as the first plague is still active at the time of the 5th plague (Pg. 292). The bowl judgements naturally separate into a 4/3 division. We will divide them into 4/2/1.
1 And I heard a loud1 voice from the temple2 saying to the seven angles, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.3
2 And the first one4 departed and poured out his bowl on the earth,
and there became bad and evil sores5 on the people who had the mark6 of the wild beast and who worshipped his image.7
3 And the second one8 poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like the blood of a dead man9, and every living creature10 in the sea died11.12
4 And the third one13 poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.14 5 I heard the angel of the waters15 saying,
“You are righteous16, the One who is, and the One who was, the Holy One17,
because you judged all things,
6 because they poured out the blood of the saints and prophets18,
and blood has been given to them to drink,
they are worthy19 .”
7 And I heard a voice from the alter20 saying21,
“Yes, Lord God, the Almighty,
true and righteous are your judgements.”
8 And the fourth one22 poured out his bowl on the sun23 , and it was
to it to scorch the people with fire. 9 And the people were scorched by great heat and they blasphemed24 the name of God who has the authority over these plagues, but25 they did not repent to give him glory.
1 μεγάλης (loud)
2 In the previous chapter we see the temple opened. This time the opening of heaven does not bode well for the inhabitants below, for out come seven angels with seven plagues. This calls to mind again the seven spirits we saw earlier before God’s throne. No longer are they restrained by a forbearing God waiting for those to answer His call to repentance.
They had the plagues before one of the living creatures gave to them the bowls of God’s wrath. The judgment of God comes to fruition as foretold.
3 An allusion to Isaiah 66:6.
Isaiah 66:6 NIV
Hear that uproar from the city,
hear that noise from the temple!
It is the sound of the LORD
repaying his enemies all they deserve.
We are reminded here that these bowls are poured out on earth. Sin has been removed from heaven. Satan has been cast down. The plagues follow him as they have always done.
4 Note the shift from how the trumpets passages would place ἄγγελος (angel) in the passages to here where the angels are referred to as “the first one; the second one; and so on.
5 ἕλκος (sores)
It is actually in the singular. An ἕλκος is a painful ulcer resulting from infection. Osborne*** adds that this sort of plague would have been fearsome. He goes on to say that medical supplies would be exhausted in a few days for such a world-wide disaster. The afflicted would not be able to walk, sit, or lie down without pain. (Pg. 580).
6 The mark of the beast draws its color from that dark stain of disobedience, of the rejection of God. Another mark of the beast was inflicted on the back and body of Christ, but He rose from death, giving us the way that leads to life. Those who have the seal of the Holy Spirit will live, for this is the mark of Jesus Christ.
7 An allusion to the 6th Egyptian plague in Exodus 9:9-11. Note that the plague only affects “the people who had the mark of the wild beast and who worshipped his image”. Believers, like the children of Israel in Egypt while the ten plagues were being “poured out” on the Egyptians, will be protected.
8 The TR/KJV adds ἄγγελος (angel).
9 Mounce** adds vividness to the passage by stating that the dead blood was “coagulated and rotting”. An awful state for the sea to be in! (Pg. 294).
In the Old Testament it was emphasized that blood was the life of a creature, which pointed to the life giving blood shed by Jesus. Not drinking from the cup of His salvation means that death remains with us and will run its course to the end. The spilled blood of Able cried out to God, even as those under the temple alter cry out, “How long?”
10 ψυχὴ ζωῆς (living creature)
Greek: “life of the living” or “soul of the living”. ψυχὴ can mean both “life” or “soul”. Here, “the life of the living” refers to the living creatures of the oceans.
11 τὰ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ (in the sea)
Greek: “the ones in the sea”. It is interesting to note that John turns the Greek language on it head again with this statement. This phrase modifies πᾶσα ψυχὴ ζωῆς (every living creature) which is in the feminine because ψυχὴ (life/creature/soul) is a feminine word. The problem is that τὰ (the ones) is a neuter word! It should also be feminine. As a result of this problem, many manuscripts omit τὰ. Nevertheless, we get the point in spite of the bad Greek.
12 A double allusion occurs here. 1. It is an allusion to the 1st Egyptian plague found in Exodus 7:14-21. 2. It also is an allusion to the 2nd trumpet of 8:9-8, but is more intensive here as the plague is world-wide. Osborne*** adds that the sea was the lifeblood of the Roman Empire. Food supplies and commerce would have come to a halt. (Pg. 580). Beale* believes that the every living soul that died also included humans. His argument is that ψυχὴ (soul/life) is always used for humans in the Apocalypse. This is certainly plausible as fleets of ships would have been affected. (Pg. 815).
The sea might also be an image of creation and man, its crowning glory. I am reminded of the disciples on the sea in the midst of a storm long ago. The wind rose and waves threatened the boat, but there was one that rose and commanded the storm to cease.
13 The TR/KJV adds ἄγγελος (angel).
14 This is also an allusion to the 1st Egyptian plague and is an intensification of the 3rd trumpet.
15 Jewish thought at the time placed angels in charge of the four elements; earth, wind, fire, and water. See 7:1 and 14:18. In 1 Enoch 66, we see this:
1 And after that he showed me the angels of punishment who are prepared to come and let loose all the powers of the waters which are beneath in the earth in order to bring judgement and destruction 2 on all who [abide and] dwell on the earth. And the Lord of Spirits gave commandment to the angels who were going forth, that they should not cause the waters to rise but should hold them 3 in check; for those angels were over the powers of the waters. And I went away from the presence of Enoch.
With that said, we can’t be sure that this view is seen here. It also could point out that this particular angel was the same one who poured his bowl into the rivers. Mounce** (Pgs. 294-295) and Beale* (Pg. 817).
Genesis speaks of God separating the waters with the expanse of the sky. Heaven and earth are divided. The restoration of creation draws closer as we witness His word fulfilled.
Now we see an angel of the waters give praise God and extol just judgment that comes from His righteousness.
16 The TR adds Κύριε (Lord).
17 The phrase καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος (and the one who is coming) is removed here just like it was removed in 11:17 at the Seventh trumpet! The future in now here. The TR/KJV removes ὁ ὅσιος (the Holy one) and adds ὁ ἐσόμενος (the one who will be).
18 We see the reason why these judgements are being poured out on the unbelievers of the earth. It is because the unbelievers have “poured out” or killed God’s people; the believers! This would have been as a wonderful turn-around for the suffering believers of the seven churches! This passage also links back to the prayers of the the believers who cried “How long?” in their prayers to God for recompense in 6:10.
Jesus said He did not come to judge but to save the world. It is His word that judges. Those that do not place their faith in Him are already judged by their works. Those who do not accept the pouring out of His grace and Spirit will receive the pouring out of the bowls filled with the drink of the dead.
19 In other words, the unbelievers deserve what they are getting in these judgements. This also is in contrast to 3:4 where the members of the church in Sardis who are worthy to walk with God in white clothes.
20 Καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου (And I heard a voice from the alter)
Greek: “And I heard from the alter”, “And I heard of the alter”, or just simply “And I heard the alter”. Since it is unlikely that the alter itself spoke, then we must conclude that there was a voice from the alter. Interesting enough, copyist(s) also had trouble with the phrase as the TR/KJV has καὶ ἤκουσα ἄλλου ἐκ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου (and I heard another from the alter). In this case, the TR indicates that the voice belongs to an angel. Another (ἄλλου = another someone/something of the same kind) would have to refer back to the angel of verse 5.
21 There is debate as to who the voice from the alter belongs. If one follows the TR/KJV, then it is an angel. One must keep in mind that we are dealing with figurative language throughout the Apocalypse. This passage may point back to 6:9 where the saints cry out for vengeance from under the alter. Osborne*** (Pg. 585) sees the angel that presented the prays of the saints to God on the alter in 8:3-5. Mounce** sees the voice as representing the corporate testimony of the martyred saints and their prayers. (Pg. 296).
Whoever speaks from the alter follows after the angel of the waters has spoken, and agrees that the judgment of God is righteous and true. This may indicative of the unity and agreement of all that reside in the kingdom of God.
22 The TR/KJV adds ἄγγελος (angel).
23 This plagues doesn’t follow the Egyptian plagues.
23 This plagues doesn’t follow the Egyptian plagues.
24 or “to speak against”. This could mean a couple of things: 1. The unbelievers “spoke against” God because they knew he was judging them, or 2. they continued to “speak against” God in worshipping the dragon and the wild beast. Beale* thinks that the blasphemies here are denials that the punishments are from God. (Pg. 823).
The name of God represents God, our understanding of Who He is as He revealed. All that is encapsulated in the Incarnation of His Son. The Word is spoken and that Word is life. Speaking something else is rejecting the name by which salvation is given. Forgiveness and life lies in no other way, but the way God has provided.
25 καὶ (but)
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)