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Revelation Chapter Nine


Revelation 9

The fifth angel sounds; and one who should have been by position the instrument of light and governmental order over the earth was seen as having lost his place; and the power to let loose the full darkening influence of Satan was given him. He opened the bottomless pit-the place where evil is shut up and chained; not where it is punished, that is, the lake of fire. Supreme authority, and all heavenly light over the earth, and healthful influence of order, were darkened and made to cease by the evil Satanic influence which was let loose. Nor was this all: direct instruments of Satanic power came out of this evil influence in numbers; crowds of moral locusts with the sting of false doctrine in their tail. But it was not to destroy temporal prosperity on the earth, but to torment the ungodly Jews; not to kill, but to harass and vex them. This was to continue five months; for it is not the final judgment. The torment was worse than death-pain and anguish of heart. But they had the semblance of military imperial power, crowned, and with masculine energy, to those that met them; but they were, if seen behind and the secret disclosed, subject and weak: their faces were as the faces of men, their hair as the hair of women. But they were armed in a steeled conscience. They were the direct instruments of the power of Satan, and under his orders. The angel of the bottomless pit-he who rules the depths of Satan's wiles, as the ruler of the power of darkness-led them. We are too unbelieving as to the direct influence of Satan in darkening men's minds when permitted, when men are given up to his darkening influence. Cruel harassing torments, worse than death, with darkening of their minds, become the portion of the once beloved people. One woe was past.

The sixth angel sounds. The woe which follows is much more human and providential. It is directed against the inhabitants of the Latin Empire. The instruments of it are let loose from beyond Euphrates--a countless crowd of horsemen. But they were not simply such. Their consciences and their words, both were in the power of Satan, but in judgment from God. But it now killed men. Their mouths belched forth the power of Satan, and their influence in doctrine was Satanic: with both they did hurt. I do not believe this death here is mere temporal death (there may be such), but, I suspect, making apostates. The rest, who did not thus fall, did not repent of their idolatry and misdeeds.

── John DarbySynopsis of Revelation


Revelation 9

Chapter Contents

The fifth trumpet is followed by a representation of another star as falling from heaven and opening the bottomless pit, out of which come swarms of locusts. (1-12) The sixth trumpet is followed by the loosing of four angels bound in the great river Euphrates. (13-21)

Commentary on Revelation 9:1-12

(Read Revelation 9:1-12)

Upon sounding the fifth trumpet, a star fell from heaven to the earth. Having ceased to be a minister of Christ, he who is represented by this star becomes the minister of the devil; and lets loose the powers of hell against the churches of Christ. On the opening of the bottomless pit, there arose a great smoke. The devil carries on his designs by blinding the eyes of men, by putting out light and knowledge, and promoting ignorance and error. Out of this smoke there came a swarm of locusts, emblems of the devil's agents, who promote superstition, idolatry, error, and cruelty. The trees and the grass, the true believers, whether young or more advanced, should be untouched. But a secret poison and infection in the soul, should rob many others of purity, and afterwards of peace. The locusts had no power to hurt those who had the seal of God. God's all-powerful, distinguishing grace will keep his people from total and final apostacy. The power is limited to a short season; but it would be very sharp. In such events the faithful share the common calamity, but from the pestilence of error they might and would be safe. We collect from Scripture, that such errors were to try and prove the Christians, 1 Corinthians 11:19. And early writers plainly refer this to the first great host of corrupters who overspread the Christian church.

Commentary on Revelation 9:13-21

(Read Revelation 9:13-21)

The sixth angel sounded, and here the power of the Turks seems the subject. Their time is limited. They not only slew in war, but brought a poisonous and ruinous religion. The antichristian generation repented not under these dreadful judgments. From this sixth trumpet learn that God can make one enemy of the church a scourge and a plague to another. The idolatry in the remains of the eastern church and elsewhere, and the sins of professed Christians, render this prophecy and its fulfilment more wonderful. And the attentive reader of Scripture and history, may find his faith and hope strengthened by events, which in other respects fill his heart with anguish and his eyes with tears, while he sees that men who escape these plagues, repent not of their evil works, but go on with idolatries, wickedness, and cruelty, till wrath comes upon them to the utmost.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 9

Verse 1

[1] And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star — Far different from that mentioned, Revelation 8:11. This star belongs to the invisible world. The third woe is occasioned by the dragon cast out of heaven; the second takes place at the loosing of the four angels who were bound in the Euphrates. The first is here brought by the angel of the abyss, which is opened by this star, or holy angel.

Falling to the earth — Coming swiftly and with great force.

And to him was given — when he was come.

The key of the bottomless pit — A deep and hideous prison; but different from "the lake of fire."

Verse 2

[2] And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

And there arose a smoke out of the pit — The locusts, who afterwards rise out of it, seem to be, as we shall afterwards see, the Persians; agreeable to which, this smoke is their detestable idolatrous doctrine, and false zeal for it, which now broke out in an uncommon paroxysm.

As the smoke of a great furnace — where the clouds of it rise thicker and thicker, spread far and wide, and press one upon another, so that the darkness increases continually.

And the sun and the air were darkened — A figurative expression, denoting heavy affliction. This smoke occasioned more and more such darkness over the Jews in Persia.

Verse 3

[3] And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

And out of the smoke — Not out of the bottomless pit, but from the smoke which issued thence.

There went forth locusts — A known emblem of a numerous, hostile, hurtful people. Such were the Persians, from whom the Jews, in the sixth century, suffered beyond expression. In the year 540 their academies were stopped, nor were they permitted to have a president for near fifty years. In 589 this affliction ended; but it began long before 540. The prelude of it was about the year 455 and 474: the main storm came on in the reign of Cabades, and lasted from 483 to 532. Toward the beginning of the sixth century, Mar Rab Isaac, president of the academy, was put to death. Hereon followed an insurrection of the Jews, which lasted seven years before they were conquered by the Persians. Some of them were then put to death, but not many; the rest were closely imprisoned. And from this time the nation of the Jews were hated and persecuted by the Persians, till they had well nigh rooted them out.

The scorpions of the earth — The most hurtful kind. The scorpions of the air have wings.

Verse 4

[4] And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

And it was commanded them — By the secret power of God.

Not to hurt the grass, neither any green thing, nor any tree — Neither those of low, middling, or high degree, but only such of them as were not sealed - Principally the unbelieving Israelites. But many who were called Christians suffered with them.

Verse 5

[5] And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

Not to kill them — Very few of them were killed: in general, they were imprisoned and variously tormented.

Verse 6

[6] And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

The men — That is, the men who are so tormented.

Verse 7

[7] And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

And the appearances — This description suits a people neither throughly civilized, nor entirely savage; and such were the Persians of that age.

Of the locusts are like horses — With their riders. The Persians excelled in horsemanship.

And on their heads are as it were crowns — Turbans.

And their faces are as the faces of men — Friendly and agreeable.

Verse 8

[8] And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

And they had hair as the hair of women — All the Persians of old gloried in long hair.

And their teeth were as the teeth of lions — Breaking and tearing all things in pieces.

Verse 9

[9] And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

And the noise of their wings was as the noise of chariots of many horses — With their war-chariots, drawn by many horses, they, as it were, flew to and fro.

Verse 10

[10] And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

And they have tails like scorpions — That is, each tail is like a scorpion, not like the tail of a scorpion. To hurt the unsealed men five months - Five prophetic months; that is, seventy-nine common years So long did these calamities last.

Verse 11

[11] And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

And they have over them a king — One by whom they are peculiarly directed and governed.

His name is Abaddon — Both this and Apollyon signify a destroyer. By this he is distinguished from the dragon, whose proper name is Satan.

Verse 12

[12] One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

One woe is past; behold, there come yet two woes after these things — The Persian power, under which was the first woe, was now broken by the Saracens: from this time the first pause made a wide way for the two succeeding woes. In 589, when the first woe ended, Mahomet was twenty years old, and the contentions of the Christians with each other were exceeding great. In 591 Chosroes II. reigned in Persia, who, after the death of the emperor, made dreadful disturbances in the east, Hence Mahomet found an open door for his new religion and empire. And when the usurper Phocas had, in the year 606, not only declared the Bishop of Rome, Boniface III., universal bishop, but also the church of Rome the head of all churches, this was a sure step to advance the Papacy to its utmost height. Thus, after the passing away of the first woe, the second, yea, and the third, quickly followed; as indeed they were both on the way together with it before the first effectually began.

Verse 13

[13] And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

And the sixth angel sounded — Under this angel goes forth the second woe.

And I heard a voice from the four corners of the golden altar — This golden altar is the heavenly pattern of the Levitical altar of incense. This voice signified that the execution of the wrath of God, mentioned verses 20, 21, Revelation 9:20,21 should, at no intercession, be delayed any longer.

Verse 14

[14] Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

Loose the four angels — To go every way; to the four quarters. These were evil angels, or they would not have been bound. Why, or how long, they were bound we know not.

Verse 15

[15] And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

And the four angels were loosed, who were prepared — By loosing them, as well as by their strength and rage.

To kill the third part of men — That is, an immense number of them.

For the hour, and day, and month, and year — All this agrees with the slaughter which the Saracens made for a long time after Mahomet's death. And with the number of angels let loose agrees the number of their first and most eminent caliphs. These were Ali, Abubeker, Omar, and Osman. Mahomet named Ali, his cousin and son-in-law, for his successor; but he was soon worked out by the rest, till they severally died, and so made room for him. They succeeded each other, and each destroyed innumerable multitudes of men. There are in a prophetic Com. Years. Com. Days. Hour....... 8 Day............ 196 in all 212 years. Month........... 15.........318 / Year............ 196.........117 / Now, the second woe, as also the beginning of the third, has its place between the ceasing of the locusts and the rising of the beast out of the sea, even at the time that the Saracens, who were chiefly cavalry, were in the height of their carnage; from their, first caliph, Abubeker, till they were repulsed from Rome under Leo IV. These 212 years may therefore be reckoned from the year 634 to 847. The gradation in reckoning the time, beginning with the hour and ending with a year, corresponds with their small beginning and vast increase. Before and after Mahomet's death, they had enough to do to settle their affairs at home. Afterwards Abubeker went farther, and in the year 634 gained great advantage over the Persians and Romans in Syria. Under Omar was the conquest of Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt made. Under Osman, that of Afric, (with the total suppression of the Roman government in the year 647,) of Cyprus, and of all Persia in 651. After Ali was dead, his son Ali Hasen, a peaceable prince, was driven out by Muavia; under whom, and his successors, the power of the Saracens so increased, that within fourscore years after Mahomet's death they had extended their conquests farther than the warlike Romans did in four hundred years.

Verse 16

[16] And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

And the number of the horsemen was two hundred millions — Not that so many were ever brought into the field at once, but (if we understand the expression literally) in the course of "the hour, and day, and month, and year." So neither were "the third part of men killed" at once, but during that course of years.

Verse 17

[17] And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

And thus I saw the horses and them that sat on them in the vision — St. John seems to add these words, in the vision, to intimate that we are not to take this description just according to the letter.

Having breastplates of fire — Fiery red.

And hyacinth — Dun blue.

And brimstone — A faint yellow. Of the same colour with the fire and smoke and brimstone, which go out of the months of their horses. And the heads of their horses are as the heads of lions - That is, fierce and terrible.

And out of their mouth goeth fire and smoke and brimstone — This figurative expression may denote the consuming, blinding, all-piercing rage, fierceness, and force of these horsemen.

Verse 18

[18] By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

By these three — Which were inseparably joined.

Were the third part of men — In the countries they over-ran.

Killed — Omar alone, in eleven years and a half, took thirty-six thousand cities or forts. How many men must be killed therein!

Verse 19

[19] For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

For the power of these horses is in their mouths, and in their tails — Their riders fight retreating as well as advancing: so that their rear is as terrible as their front.

For their tails are like serpents, having heads — Not like the tails of serpents only. They may be fitly compared to the amphisbena, a kind of serpent, which has a short tail, not unlike a head from which it throws out its poison as if it had two heads.

Verse 20

[20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

And the rest of the men who were not killed — Whom the Saracens did not destroy. It is observable, the countries they over-ran were mostly those where the gospel had been planted.

By these plagues — Here the description of the second woe ends.

Yet repented not — Though they were called Christians.

Of the works of their hands — Presently specified.

That they should not worship devils — The invocation of departed saints, whether true, or false, or doubtful, or forged, crept early into the Christian church, and was carried farther and farther; and who knows how many who are invoked as saints are among evil, not good, angels; or how far devils have mingled with such blind worship, and with the wonders wrought on those occasions? And idols - About the year 590, men began to venerate images; and though upright men zealously opposed it, yet, by little and little, images grew into manifest idols. For after much contention, both in the east and west, in the year 787, the worship of images was established by the second Council of Nice. Yet was image worship sharply opposed some time after, by the emperor Theophilus. But when he died, in 842, his widow, Theodora, established it again; as did the Council at Constantinople in the year 863, and again in 871.

Verse 21

[21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

Neither repented of their murders, nor of their sorceries — Whoever reads the histories of the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, will find numberless instances of all these in every part of the Christian world. But though God cut off so many of these scandals to the Christian name, yet the rest went on in the same course. Some of them, however, might repent under the plagues which follow.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Revelation


Chapter 9. Locusts and the Mounted Troops

Still Not Repentant
Still Worshiping Demons

I. The First Woe of the Fifth Trumpet

  1. A Star Fallen to the Earth
  2. Open the Abyss
  3. Smoke Rises

II. Harm Those Who Do Not Have Seals

  1. The Power of Locusts
  2. Limit the Harm
  3. The Shape of Locusts

III. The Second Woe of the Sixth Trumpet

  1. Released by Angels
  2. The Number of the Mounted Troops
  3. Kill a Third

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Nine General Review
1) To review the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpets
2) To offer an explanation concerning the significance of these visions
Following the ominous warning of the angel (eagle) in the previous
chapter, the fifth angel sounds his trumpet.  John sees a star fallen
from heaven, to whom is given the key to the bottomless pit.  As the
pit is opened, smoke arises that darkens the sun and air.  Then locusts
with power like scorpions came out of the smoke, to whom was given
power to harm only those who did not have the seal of God on their
forehead.  Their power was limited only to torment, not kill, and only
for five months.  Even so, men wished they could die.  John describes
the appearance of the locusts, and identifies their king as the angel
of the bottomless pit whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is
Apollyon, both meaning "destruction".  Thus ends the first "woe", with
two more to come (1-12).
When the sixth angel sounds his trumpet, John hears a voice from the
four horns of the golden altar before God.  It tells the sixth angel to
release four angels who have been bound at the river Euphrates.  These
angels had been prepared for the hour, day, month and year, to kill a
third of mankind.  At this point John hears the number of an army of
two hundred million horsemen. Describing the colorful breastplates of
those on the horses, he also relates how the lion-like heads of the
horses blew fire, smoke and brimstone which killed a third of mankind.
They also did much harm with serpent-like tails.  Despite these two 
"woes", the rest of mankind did not repent of their idolatry, murders,
sorceries, sexual immoralities and thefts (13-21).
As one can imagine, attempts to interpret these visions have been many
and some quite fanciful.  Together with the first four trumpets, I
suggest the fifth and sixth trumpets signify tools at God's disposal to
bring wrath upon the persecutors of His people.  Though allowed to go
only so far, Satan's influence can have the effect of weakening a
nation from within.  There is also the threat of external invasion by
enemy forces.  Therefore I concur with Summers and others that the
vision of locusts from the bottomless pit symbolizes the hellish
rottenness and internal decadence that would weaken the Roman empire
from within.  The two hundred million horsemen symbolizes external
invasion as another instrument God would use.  Together with natural
calamities, (depicted in the first four trumpets), these three
instruments combined to bring down the Roman empire.
As Christians in John's day were oppressed by what seemed to be
invincible opponents, visions like these would remind them that those
"who do not have the seal of God on their forehead" would be
susceptible to God's wrath.
      1. With the sounding of the fifth trumpet...
         a. John saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth
         b. To whom was given the key to the bottomless pit
      2. When the bottomless pit was opened...
         a. Smoke like that of a great furnace arose out of the pit
         b. The sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke
      1. Out of the smoke locusts with great power came upon the earth
         a. Power like scorpions
         b. Commanded not to harm the grass, any green thing, or any
      2. The extent and nature of their power
         a. Could harm only those who do not have the seal of God on
            their foreheads
         b. Could not kill, but only torment them for five months
         c. Men will seek death, but death will flee from them
      3. The locusts described
         a. Their shape like horses prepared for battle
         b. On their heads were crowns of something like gold
         c. Their faces were like those of men
         d. Their hair was like women's hair
         e. Their teeth was like lions' teeth
         f. With breastplates like those of iron
         g. The sound of their wings like chariots with many running
         h. With tails like scorpions, and stings in their tails 
            (though limited in power)
   C. THE "KING" OVER THEM (11-12)
      1. The angel of the bottomless pit
      2. Whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon
      -- The first of three woes is past; two more to come
      1. With the sounding of the sixth trumpet...
         a. John heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar
            before God
         b. Speaking to the sixth angel who had the trumpet
         c. Telling him to release the four angels bound at the river
      2. The four angels released...
         a. Who had been prepared for the hour, day, month, and year
         b. Who were to kill a third of mankind
      1. John heard the number of them
      2. What he saw in the vision...
         a. Those on the horses had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth
            blue, sulfur yellow
         b. The horses had heads like those of lions
         c. Out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone
      3. The power of this great army...
         a. A third of mankind killed by the fire, smoke, and brimstone
         b. The power to harm is in their mouth and tails like
            serpents' heads
      1. Those not killed did not repent of their idolatry
      2. Nor did they repent of their murders, sorceries, sexual 
         immoralities, or thefts
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The fifth trumpet:  locusts from the bottomless pit (1-12)
   - The sixth trumpet:  the two hundred million army (13-21)
2) When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, what did John see? (1)
   - A star fallen to heaven to whom was given the key to the 
     bottomless pit
3) What came out of the pit when it was opened? (2-3)
   - Smoke which darkened the sun and air; locusts with power like
4) What were the locusts allowed to harm? (4)
   - Only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads
5) What other limitations was placed upon their power (5-6)
   - Could not kill, but only torment for five months
6) How are the locusts described? (7-10)
   - Their shape like horses prepared for battle
   - On their heads were crowns of something like gold
   - Their faces were like those of men
   - Their hair was like women's hair
   - Their teeth was like lions' teeth
   - With breastplates like those of iron
   - The sound of their wings like chariots with many running horses
   - With tails like scorpions, and stings in their tails (though
     limited in power)
7) Who was their king?  What was his name in Hebrew and Greek? (11)
   - The angel of the bottomless pit
   - In Hebrew, Abaddon; in Greek, Apollyon
8) What did John hear when the sixth trumpet sounded (13-14)
   - A voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God
   - Telling the sixth angel to release the four angels bound at the
     river Euphrates
9) What were the four angels released to do? (15)
   - To kill a third of mankind
10) What did John hear next? (16)
   - The number of the army of horsemen:  two hundred million
11) What were the colors of the breastplates of those on the horses?
   - Fiery red, hyacinth blue, sulfur yellow
12) What were the heads of the horses like?  What came out of their
    mouths? (17)
   - Like the heads of lions
   - Fire, smoke, and brimstone
13) Who was killed by the smoke, fire, and brimstone? (18)
   - A third of mankind
14) Where was the power to do harm in the horses? (19)
   - In their mouths and in their tails
15) Of what did those who were not killed not repent? (20-21)
   - Idolatry, murders, sorceries, sexual immorality, theft


--《Executable Outlines


Locusts and the mounted troops

Still not repentant

Still worshiping demons


I.  The first woe of the fifth trumpet

1.    A star fallen to the earth

2.    Open the abyss

3.    Smoke rises

II.Harm those who do not have seals

1.    The power of locusts

2.    Limit the harm

3.    The shape of locusts

III.       The second woe of the sixth trumpet

1.    Released by angels

2.    The number of the mounted troops

3.    Kill a third

── Chih-Hsin Changan Outline of The New Testament