The 5th and 6th plagues are “poured out” on the kingdom of the dragon and the antichrist.
10 And the fifth one1 poured out his bowl upon the throne of the wild beast and his kingdom became darkened2, and they were gnawing their tongues for the pain3. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven for their pain and for their sores4, but5 they did not repent from their deeds.
12 And the sixth one6 poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates7 and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings of the east8 may be prepared.9 13 And I saw from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the wild beast and from the mouth of the false prophet three unclean spirits like frogs10. 14 For they are spirits of Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I come like a thief12 . Blessed is the one who watches13 and keeps his garments14 so that he may not walk naked and they may see his shame.”) 16 And he gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew “Har-Magedon”15 .
1 The TR/KJV adds ἄγγελος (angel).
2 The total darkness here is an intensification of the 4th trumpet. It is also an allusion to the 9th Egyptian plague. Darkness here depicts judgement and death. Osborne*** (Pg. 588).
The light of the world has been removed. God gives the rebellious over to the darkness of their desire.
3 It is difficult to discern why this darkness causes pain. Mounce** points to the Wisdom of Solomon 17 which portray the torments of darkness. Beale* (Pg. 824) states that Wisdom 17 interprets the darkness of the Egyptian plague as separation from God which caused spiritual anguish as they realized their own wretchedness in the darkness.
Their anguish may not stem so much from a realization of their spiritual state, but more of the outrage of receiving judgment from the God they have not and will not receive. No longer is the hand of justice held at bay by the hand of mercy. In choosing the kingdom of the beast, they chose separation from God as the desirable thing, exchanging truth for a lie.
The tongues which gave way to the lies of the dragon are now so painful for those that followed behind his tail gnaw seek relief in gnawing their own tongues. It is by their words they face judgment and are condemned.
It is also possible that the pain is from the prior bowl judgements.
4 Note that the previous plagues continue.
5 καὶ (but)
6 The TR/KJV adds ἄγγελος (angel).
7 The Euphrates River was the eastern border of Israel when God gave them the land and it was also the border of the Roman Empire during John’s time. Osborne*** reminds us that just across the river were the Parthians who the Romans feared. (Pg. 590). See Chapter 6.
8 τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου (of the east) Greek: “the ones from the rising sun”. An idiom meaning “the east”.
9 We see that the calvary of 9:13-19 is now replaced by “the kings, the ones from the rising sun”. Osborne*** offers four possible interpretations: 1. The image is literally a drying up of the Euphrates River so that a coalition of oriental rulers can join the “kings of the whole earth” in persecuting the saints; 2. These are the Parthians who are invading Rome; 3. Parthians represent the background, but the kings of the east go to war with the kings of the whole world, preparing for the destruction of the Roman Empire (Mounce** Pg. 298); 4. Beale* (Pgs. 827-831) universalizes the imagery, seeing Cyrus and his allies as the kings from the east escalated into the kings of the earth and then escalated further to Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39). Osborne*** sees this as the kings from the east coalescing into the kings of the whole earth and preparing for Armageddon which is a war against the people of God (believers). (Pgs. 590-591).
We have often seen verses that could make sense and be argued for interpretation in several ways. There are things that took place in the past which give insight and shadowing of things to come.
We can be certain that God has allowed for this invasion to take place.
10 The frogs are an allusion to the 2nd Egyptian plague in Exodus 8:1-15. With this in mind, Osborne*** says that the frogs may be seen here “as a pestilence upon the earth, deceiving the nations and thus leading them into the judgement of God”. (Pg. 591). Mounce** sees them as issuing deceptive propaganda and adds this somewhat comical comment: “The reference to the three spirits as frogs emphasizes their uncleanness and perhaps their endless croaking.” (Pg. 299). Mounce’s comment may be funny, but I can certainly understand what he’s talking about. Beale* adds to this that frogs were chosen to represent the evil spirits “because of their characteristic croaking, which is loud and meaningless”. He says that the “croaking” represents confusion brought about by deception. This is based on Jewish belief that the frogs of the Egyptian plague caused confusion among the Egyptians and the “words” of the frogs harmed them. (Pgs. 832-833).
11 ἐπὶ (to)
12 Parallels the themes found in Matthew 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2-4; and 2 Peter 3:10.
13 ὁ γρηγορῶν (the one who watches)
or “the one who is awake”. γρηγορέω can mean both. The idea is to be alert to what is happening or what is going to happen.
14 τηρῶν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ (keeps his garments)
or “keeps/guards his clothes”. Osborne*** translates this as “keeps his clothes on”. So, one must keep his clothes on in readiness. (Pg. 593) and Beale* (Pg. 837). Regardless of how this is translated, the idea of the passage is for believers to not be taken by surprise when Jesus comes.
We are reminded to be steadfast and remain in Christ, thereby ready when He comes. The Israelites were made ready and watched long ago for their passage out of Egypt. With sandals on, packed and ready, they were prepared for the journey. Today we have been given the oil of the Holy Spirit, which seals us and supplies the light that will bring us to the banquet made ready. In Christ, we will be dressed for the occasion.
15 Ἁρμαγεδών (Har-Magedon)
“The mountain of Megiddo”, but alas, there is no mountain of Megiddo! Some scholars have suggested that Megiddo has a root meaning of “to cut” or “to attack”. In that case, it could parallel Jeremiah’s destroying mountain in Jeremiah 51:25. See Mounce** (Pg. 302).
Osborne*** (Pgs. 595-596) sees Har-Magedon as a “general reference” that builds on the OT connection of Megiddo with warfare.
The English word “Armageddon” apparently rose up due to certain manuscripts not having the rough breathing (“H” sound). The TR has Ἀρμαγεδδών with smooth breathing and alternate spelling.
Many ancient battles took place on the Megiddo plain. Since Revelation is mostly figurative, it is possible to not see Har-Magedon as a place where the armies gather, but a figurative parallel with the other ancient battles that had taken place at Megiddo. It probably represents the coming great battle that pits Satan and unbelievers against believers and God. Since believers are now considered “the Jerusalem above” and “the Israel of God”, the figurative image comes forth as a great battle against believers.
The Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Bible (CWS) references Har- Megedon as derived from two Hebrew words defined as: mountain and rendezvous. This may add to our understanding of this big event. It’s been a rendezvous that has seems long in coming, but without doubt is heading our way, and the mountains of the world will be shaken.
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)