And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Verse 1. - And when. Καὶ ὅταν, instead of καὶ ὅτε (as in the other seals), is read in A, C, and gives a certain indefiniteness which does not belong to any of the rest (Altbrd). Οτε is, however, found in א, B, P, Andreas. He had opened the seventh seal; he opened. As in the case of the other seals, the silence accompanies the opening (see on Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, etc.). This completes the number, and sets the roll free (Revelation 5:1). The contents of the roll do not, however, become visible, nor are they portrayed otherwise than by the silence of half an hour (see on Revelation 5:1). There was silence in heaven; there followed a silence (Revised Version); a silence became; i.e. where there had not been silence previously, owing to the praises set forth at the close of Revelation 7. This image may have been suggested by the silence kept by the congregation without, while the priest offered incense within, the temple (cf. Luke 1:10). This thought, too, may have led to the following vision, in which the angel offers incense (ver. 3), and in this souse the vision of the trumpets may be said to have grown out of the seventh seal, though a similar act precedes the visions of the seals (see Revelation 5:8). But in no other way is there any connection between the two visions; the events narrated under the vision of the trumpets are not an exposition of the seventh seal, but a separate vision, supplementing what has been set forth by the seven seals. The silence is typical of the eternal peace of heaven, the ineffable bliss of which it is impossible for mortals to comprehend, and which is, therefore, symbolized by silence. In the same way the new name is left unexplained, as something beyond the knowledge of man in this life, and reserved for the life in heaven (see on Revelation 3:12). It is the sabbath of the Church's history, into the full comprehension of which man cannot now enter. The interpretation of this seal varies with different writers, according to the view taken of the vision as a whole. Bede, Primasius, Victorinus, Wordsworth, agree in considering that it denotes the beginning of eternal peace. Those who take the preterist view variously assign the silence to
(1) the destruction of Jerusalem (Manrice);
(2) A.D. 312-337 (King);
(3) the period following A.D. (Eiliott);
(4) the millennium (Lange);
(5) the decree of Julian imposing silence on the Christians (De Lyra), etc.;
Vitringa thinks it relates to the time when the Church will be triumphant on earth; Hengstenberg, the astonishment of Christ's enemies; Ebrard, the silence of creation in awe at the catastrophes about to happen; and Dusterdieck, similarly, the silence of those in heaven, waiting for the same events. About the space of half an hour. Most writers are agreed that the half hour represents a short time. But if (as we have indicated above) the silence is typical of the eternal rest of heaven, how can it be short? Possibly the answer is that the shortness refers to the time during which the seer was contemplating this aspect of the vision. He had now arrived at the end; the fate of the Church had been in some measure foreshadowed, and the final assurance is peace in heaven. That part of the fate in store for the Church cannot be expounded by the seer. He is permitted, as it were, to visit the threshold for an instant, and then he is called away. His message is not yet complete; he is summoned to receive yet further revelations. But may not the half hour signify "a long time"? The seer, in his vision, after beholding a succession of events, experiences a pause - complete silence for the space of half an hour. This time would appear almost interminable in such circumstances; and the phrase may therefore be intended to express "an exceedingly lengthened period," such as a stillness of such a length in the midst of numbers would appear to St. John. Here, then, closes the vision of the seals. The first four, prefaced by the assurance of final victory, deal with events more immediately connected with this life, and explain to the suffering Christian of all ages that it is part of God's eternal purpose that he should be exposed to persecution, trial, and temptation while in the world, and that such suffering is not the result of God's forgetfulness or heedlessness. The last three seats refer to three sets of events connected with the life hereafter. The fifth shows the security of those who have departed this life; the sixth portrays the safe gathering of God's own, and the fear and condemnation of the unjust at the judgment day; the seventh affords a prospect rather than a sight of the eternal sabbath of heaven, undescribed because indescribable. The whole is thus completed; the seer is called away to review the ages once more - to behold new visions, which shall impress more fully, and supplement, the truths which the visions of the seals have, in a measure, revealed.
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
Verses 2-6 form a preface to the vision of the trumpets, and serve both to connect this vision with what has gone before, and to indicate the cause of this further revelation. The series of mysteries embraced under the seals is completed, and has so far accomplished its purpose, which is to fortify the patience of the saints by the assurance of God's providence and their ultimate victory and reward. But this is only one part of the seer's mission; there is not only a message of encouragement to the faithful, but a warning for the worldly and apostate. No doubt the same ground is covered to some extent by both announcements; since what is encouragement and hope for the righteous is judgment for the wicked. But whereas, in the vision of the seals, the punishment of the wicked holds a subsidiary place, being only introduced for the purpose of demonstrating God's protection of the just, in the vision of the trumpets the destruction of the ungodly is the main theme, being intended, like the denunciations of the prophets of old, for a warning to those in sin, if haply any may yet be saved. It may, indeed, be said to be an answer to the cry in Revelation 6:10, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" The same lout suffering delay of vengeance tempts the "foolish body" to say in his heart, "There is no God." While by the vision of the seals God is careful not to break the bruised reed, in the vision of the trumpets he vouchsafes a call to those who are less deserving of his consideration and mercy.
(1) The trumpets then form a series of visions denouncing God's judgments against the wicked.
(2) They form an independent vision, and do not grow out of the seventh seal, in the sense of portraying what is intended to be disclosed under that seal. The number seven, alike in the case of the seals and in that of the trumpets, indicates the complete nature of each series, which is moreover demonstrated by their general character.
(3) The incidents depicted are synchronous with those of the seals; that is to say, they relate to the history of mankind front the beginning to the end of time and the commencement of eternity.
(4) As in the case of the seals, they are general indications of God's judgments; and though particular events may be partial fulfilments, the complete fulfilment is in all time.
(5) In their general features there are some points of resemblance and some of difference on a comparison with the seals.
(a) They may be divided into groups of four and three. In both visions the first group of four deals more immediately with the natural world, the last group of three has more connection with the spiritual life.
(b) They terminate in a similar way, in the victory of the redeemed, who sing the praises of God.
(c) In both, greater elaboration or episode occurs after the sixth revelation.
(d) The nature of the seventh seal is undisclosed, and this is to a certain extent paralleled in the trumpets by the silence concerning the third and last woe.
(e) In consonance with the general purpose of the trumpets, there is no preliminary assurance of victory as with the first seal; this is reserved to the end.
(6) Several reasons may be suggested for the employment of the figure of trumpets, by which to announce each vision.
(a) It was the instrument in use among the Israelites for assembling people, either for warlike or peaceful purposes (cf. Numbers 10:1, 9, 10).
(b) It was thus intimately connected with solemn proclamations or the delivery of God's messages of judgment or warning, and is thus used in the New Testament in describing the judgment day (cf. Leviticus 25:9; Amos 3:6; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
(c) The use of trumpets on seven days at the destruction of Jericho, the type of all that is worldly, may have suggested the form of the vision here, in the announcement of the judgment and destruction of the world. Verse 2. - And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets; which stand (Revised Version). "And I saw" introduces the new vision, as in Revelation 5:1; Revelation 6:1, etc. Probably not during the silence (as Alford), but subsequent to it. "The seven angels" probably refers to a particular order of angels, or rather to those with a special mission; though, with our limited knowledge, it is impossible to determine exactly who they are or what their mission is. The passage in Tobit 12:15 is so similar as to be at once suggested: "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints." But here the seven do not present the prayers of the saints, but another angel does so (ver. 3). De Wette and others think the seven are archangels (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "With the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God"). Arethas, Ewald, etc., identify them with "the seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6). Others incline to the opinion that the seven are only distinguished from the other angels by being the seven who sound the trumpets, just as four others are alluded to in Revelation 7:1. (On the use of the number seven, see above; also on Revelation 1:4; 5:1, etc.)
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Verse 3. - And another angel came. No particular angel is specified. Some writers, unable to accept the passage as meaning that the Church's prayers are offered by means of an angel, prefer to believe that Christ himself is indicated. (Thus Bede, Elliott, Primasius, Vitringa.) But, besides that the difficulty has no real existence, the same expression occurs in Revelation 7:2, where there is no doubt of its meaning. Moreover, in no passage of the book is our Lord represented under the form of an angel. With regard to the office of the angels, Alford remarks (while supporting the view that the word here bears the ordinary signification), "They are simply λειτουργικὰ ππνεύματα, and the action here described is a portion of that their ministry. Through whom the prayers are offered, we all know. He is our only Mediator and channel of grace." So also Wordsworth, "The angel is not here represented as giving efficacy to the prayers of all saints, but as taking part in them. There is a communication of prayer between all saints (namely, the saints departed, and the saints on earth), and the holy angels in heaven." And stood at the altar. The Revisers, accepting the reading of א, B, C, Andreas, adopt over the altar. The Authorized reading follows A, P, 1, 17, 36. Alford remarks, "Απί with genitive, not simply juxta, not ante, but super; so that his form appeared above it." The altar has been already mentioned (Revelation 6:9). If the view there taken be correct, and the brazen altar of sacrifice intended, the two altars mentioned in this verse are not identical; the second represents the golden altar of incense which stood before the veil (Exodus 30:6), but which now stands before the throne of God, the veil having disappeared. This view seems to be the correct one. The second altar is distinguished from the first by the addition of the qualification, "which was before the throne," as well as by the epithet "golden" - facts which are not mentioned in connection with the throne alluded to in Revelation 6:9. The order of events followed here, though not given in minute detail, resembles the ceremony of the Jewish worship. In the temple, the priest took burning coals from off the brazen altar, and proceeded to the altar of incense, on which to burn incense (Leviticus 16:12, 13). There appears to be a kind of progression in the insight which the seer affords us of the heavenly worship. In Revelation 4:1 a door is opened, and St. John sees into heaven; he is, as it were, without the sanctuary. In this place he is permitted to advance in his vision within the sanctuary, and to observe the golden altar. In Revelation 11:19 and Revelation 15:5 the most holy place is disclosed, and the ark of the covenant is seen. Alford and Dusterdieck believe only one altar is here mentioned, and identify it with that of Revelation 6:9. De Wette, Hengstenberg, Wordsworth, think one altar only is intended, and that it is the altar of incense. Bengel, Ebrard, Vitringa, support the view given above. Bossuct says the altar is Christ, to whom the angel brings incense, that is, the prayers of the saints. Having a golden censer. The word λιβανωτός is found only here and in 1 Chronicles 9:29 (LXX.). In the latter place it is rightly rendered "frankincense;" but the meaning here evidently requires "censer." It is described as of gold, in the same way that all the furniture of the heavenly realms is described in the Apocalypse. And there was given unto him much incense. Apparently following the analogy of the temple service, the first angel brings in his golden censer fire from the brazen altar of sacrifice, and now there is "given unto him," by another angel, incense to burn at the golden altar of incense. (For incense, see on Revelation 5:8.) That he should offer it with the prayers of all saints; add it unto the prayers of all the saints (Revised Version). The prayers are to be incensed, so as to (typically) render them pure and acceptable to God. Upon the golden altar which was before the throne. That is, probably, the altar of incense, distinct from the altar mentioned earlier in this verse (see above).
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
Verse 4. - And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand; and the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up, etc. (Revised Version). The prayers, accompanied by the incense, and typically purified by it, are received by God. He hears the prayers; and the judgments against the wicked, which follow in the trumpet visions, constitute the answer to them. This makes more probable the view that the following visions are judgments against the world, and not (like the seals) trials to the Church.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
Verse 5. - And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth; taketh the censer, and he filled it with the fire of the altar, and cast it upon the earth (Revised Version). The angel now returns to the altar of burnt offering, whence he takes fire, which he casts upon the earth. This action denotes that God's judgments are about to descend on the earth, and it therefore forms the visible token of God's acceptance of the prayers of the saints, and his answer to them. And there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake; and there followed thunders, and voices, etc. (Revised Version). The manifestation of God's presence or of his judgments is continually accompanied by awe-striking phenomena, such as are here described (see on Revelation 6:12).
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Verse 6. - And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. This verse takes up and continues the narrative of ver. 2; the intervening passage serves to indicate the immediate cause of the judgments now about to descend, viz. the "prayers of the saints" (ver. 4). (On the number seven, as signifying a complete number, see Revelation 1:4; Revelation 5:1, etc.) Cf. the sounding of the trumpets at Jericho, and the other passages quoted in the comment on ver. 2.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Verse 7. - The first angel sounded; and the first sounded (Revised Version). The word "angel" should be omitted here, though found in the other trumpets. The first four are marked off from the last three (as in the case of the seals) by distinctive features. The first four refer to the natural life, while the last three are connected more closely with the spiritual life of man. The first four are connected and interdependent; the last three are distinct and more detached. The last three are specially marked off by the announcement of the angel in ver. 13. And there followed hail and fire mingled with blood; mingled in blood. The English Version is ambiguous, but the Greek makes it clear that it is the bail and the fire that are mingled, and that both together are sent in blood. There is an evident likeness between the judgments of the trumpets and the plagues of Egypt. The resemblance is only general, but it serves to corroborate the belief that the trumpets declare God's judgments on the world, not the trials of the Church. The Church is the true Israel which exists uninjured by these manifestations of God's wrath in the midst of the world of Egyptian wickedness. The question next naturally arises - What are the judgments referred to, which are thus to afflict the ungodly while leaving the righteous unhurt; and when and how they are to take place? The answer evidently is - All troubles of the wicked, which are the consequence of misdoing, whether these troubles overtake them in this life or in the life to come. In the words of Alford, "These punishments are not merely direct inflictions of plagues, but consist in great part of that judicial retribution on them that know not God, which arises from their own depravity, and in which their own sins are made to punish themselves." This seems to follow from the view which we haw taken of the trumpet visions. They depict God's judgments on the wicked in all ages. Just as the seal visions were found to relate to the trials of God's people in all time, and the fulfilment is not completed by any one event or series of events, so now the seer is called upon to return, as it were, to his former starting point, and follow out a new path, where he would find displayed the troubles which have afflicted or shall afflict the ungodly. It is very doubtful how much of the imagery used in this series of visions is to be interpreted as applying to some definite event, and how much is to be considered merely as the accessories of the picture, necessitated by the employment of the symbol, and not needing particular interpretation. It is possible that the seer intended first to set forth the judgments which were to descend on those powers which, at the time of the vision, were pressing so heavily upon Christians, and among which the Roman empire held the prominent place. But it also seems probable that the woes symbolized are general types of the judgments in store for the wicked of all ages, perhaps in this life, certainly at the last day. The blood is not found in Exodus. It is mentioned in close connection with hailstones and fire in Ezekiel 38:22, and a similar thought occurs in Joel 2:30. The passage may describe the ruin wrought by war; the consequences of fire and sword. Wordsworth sees the fulfilment in the Gothic invasion of Rome, which descended from the north, here typified by the hailstorm (but see on Revelation 16:21). The vision would thus answer to that of the second seal, though with this difference, that under the seal war was permitted as a trial to the Church; here it is sent as God's vengeance against the persecutors. And they were cast upon the earth. "That is," says Wordsworth, "on the earthly power, opposed to Christ and his Church, which is the kingdom of heaven." But the words seem rather to describe the destruction of inanimate creation, as in the seventh plague of Egypt. The punishment would undoubtedly fall upon mankind eventually, though immediately upon the earth and its productions. Vitringa says the earth denotes the Roman empire; the sea, the barbarous races. And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. Insert and the third part of the earth was burnt up, as in the Revised Version. "A third of all the trees, etc., on the earth," rather than "all the trees, etc., on a specified third part of the earth." The third part is almost unanimously considered to represent "a large part, but such that the greater part was still uninjured." We are reminded again of the seventh plague, where "the flax and the barley were smitten: but the wheat and the rie were not smitten" (Exodus 9:31, 32). Wordsworth interprets the trees to mean the "princes" of the Roman empire; the grass, the common people. So also Hengstenberg. Elliott thinks "the third part of the earth" denotes the western part of the Roman empire, the eastern and central parts at first escaping the visitation. Bengel sees here a type of the wars of Trajan and Hadrian. Vitringa considers that the famine under Gallus is signified. Renan points to the storms of A.D. -68 as the fulfilment.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
Verses 8, 9. - And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea. Jeremiah 2:25 contains a somewhat similar description, with, however, a different meaning. There the mountain is the heathen power; here it is the instrument of the punishment of the ungodly world. Alford objects to calling the mountain a volcano, though that, or something of the same nature, seems obviously to be meant. The contiguity of such appearances to St. John in the Isle of Patmos may have suggested the idea. The judgments appear to increase in severity as we go on. The first affects vegetation, thus causing trouble, but not destruction to men; the second begins to affect animal life; the third causes many men to die; and the following ones affect men as direct punishments. The vision may be said generally to typify great trouble and commotion. The figure is used in other places to denote something remarkable and awe inspiring (cf. Matthew 21:21; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Job 9:5; Job 28:9; Judges 5:5; 1 Kings 19:11; Psalm 46:2; Isaiah 34:3; Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 38:20; Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5). It is also the symbol of a great power. In Isaiah 2:2 it signifies the Church; in Amos 4:1 an earthly power; in Isaiah 41:15 the enemies of Israel. We may therefore conclude that a judgment of great magnitude and force is foretold; and though it is possible to point to particular events (such as the overthrow of Rome by the Gothic power) as a fulfilment of the prophecy, yet we must remember that the complete fulfilment will not he accomplished until "all enemies are put under his feet." And the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed; even they that had life (Revised Version). (On the "third part," see on ver. 7.) Whether one third part of the sea, separated in some way from the rest, and all the creatures in that third part, or whether a third part diffused over the whole extent, is meant, it is impossible to say. The whole is a vision, and not subject to natural laws. The meaning is evident. As before, a large part, but not the largest, is signified and this time the judgment is directed against another portion of creation. The sea, as well as the productions of the earth, can be used by God as his agent by which to punish and warn mankind. The attempt to press the vision into a particular application has led to a variety of interpretations. Wordsworth and Elliott both think that the destruction of Roman ships is foretold; the former pointing to the ships as the instruments of commerce and luxury, the latter referring to the destruction of the Roman navy. Bengel, Grotius, Vitringa, see here a vision of war'. Hengstenberg believes the sea to typify this world; the living creatures, mankind; and the ships, villages and towns. Those who place the fulfilment of the vision in time subsequent to the sealing of Revelation 7. fail to see that the trumpets do not follow the seals in chronological order, but that both are being fulfilled side by side in the same epoch; viz. that of the existence of man.
And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
Verse 10. - And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp. In the Old Testament trouble is foretold under the symbol of darkened stars (cf. Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10). In Matthew 24:29 the falling of stars is part of the general picture of the coming of the judgment day. The description here may therefore symbolize an act of judgment - one more of the troubles inflicted by God upon the guilty world. The frequent use of the symbol, star, as a type of one in an exalted position, has led most commentators to interpret the star of individual rulers, especially of those who poisoned the waters of Divine truth by heresy. But it seems more likely that the event here portrayed carries one step further the description of God's vengeance on the wicked, which has been already partially set forth. At first vegetation, then the sea, now the land waters, are smitten. The star, as the means employed by God, is typical of the awe striking nature of the punishment, and is indicative of the fact that the judgment is the act of God, and proceeds directly from heaven, and is not to be attributed to merely natural circumstances. And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters. Not upon a third part of the fountains, but upon all fountains, just as in ver. 7 "all green grass" is visited with the plague. As stated above, another part of creation (and therefore another portion, of mankind) is afflicted. It is, of course, Impossible to point out the complete fulfilment of this judgment, Which is yet being fulfilled, but we may mention as illustrations the trouble caused to man by means of land waters, by floods, by drought, by pestilence. As before, only part suffers from this visitation; the greater part is spared.
And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
Verse 11. - And the name of the star is called Wormwood. The plant known to us under the name of wormwood is doubtless identical with the Αψινθος of this passage. The present English word is a corruption of wer-mod (equivalent to ware-mood), which may be rendered "mind-preserver," a name given to the plant by the Saxons, on account of its fancied virtues; for it was believed to be a protection against madness. Such properties were formerly frequently ascribed to plants possessing bitter and nauseous tastes, such as that of the wormwood. Varieties of the plant are common in Palestine, and are widely distributed in the world. Among the ancients it was typical of bitter sorrow. Thus Lamentations 3:19, "Remembering my misery, the wormwood and the gall;" Jeremiah 9:15, "I will feed them with wormwood." Here, therefore, the name indicates the effect of the star, viz. to cause intense trouble and sorrow. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; that is, became bitter as wormwood, that is, charged with sorrow and disaster. The general effect of the incident is described in the name given to the chief actor, as in the case of the fourth seal (see Revelation 6:8). And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter; many of the men. Possibly (though not necessarily) of the men dwelling near the waters. For the first time mention is made of the death of men, though, doubtless, it is implied in the preceding judgments. We may notice the contrast in the miracles of Moses, who sweetened the waters of Marah (Exodus 15.), and of Elisha (2 Kings 2:22).
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Verse 12. - And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. Still the created universe is the direct object of these visitations. The planets were smitten, but we are not told with what instrument. As Alford points out, this may teach us not to lay too great stress upon that part of the visions which describes the means. Our attention is to be fixed upon the effect, the stroke, not upon the mountain or the star by whose means the result is attained. (For the signification of the third part, vide supra.) In the Bible, frequent use is made of this figure to express trouble and commotion (see Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 24:23; Jeremiah 15:9; Ezekiel 32:7; Amos 8:9; Matthew 24:29). The sun, etc., are also looked upon as examples of stability. Thus Psalm 72:5, "As long as the sun and moon endure" (see also Psalm 72:17; Psalm 89:36). The vision may therefore be suggestive of God's power over things the most permanent and stable, and thus demonstrate to Christians his ability to punish "the ungodly who prosper in the world." Thus Job 9:7 attributes omnipotence to God, "which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and scaleth up the stars" (see also Psalm 136:8; Jeremiah 31:35). Thus, then, God can turn even the benign influences of the sun and planets into means for the destruction of man. In the countless evils which have their origin in the excess or defect of the power of the sun, we may see an illustration of the fulfilment of this judgment. We may point out that the very existence of such visitations as are here portrayed preclude the possibility of the fulfilment of the trumpet visions being subsequent in time to those of the seals. So as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise; that the third part of them should be darkened, and the day should not shine for the third part of it, and the night in like manner. Probably, total darkness for a third part of the day and night is meant; not a third of the usual amount of light during the whole day and night (as Bengel and others). Renan, as a preterist, sees the fulfilment in the eclipses of A.D. . De Lyra, Wordsworth, and others see in this judgment a symbol of the infidelity, heresies, apostasies, and confusions in the world in the seventh century and at other times. Vitringa, adopting the historical view, refers the fulfilment to particular periods of the Roman empire.
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Verse 13. - And I beheld, and heard an angel. "An eagle" (Revised Version) is read in א, A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, etc., while "angel" is found in P, 1, 16, 34, 47, etc. One manuscript (13) has ἀγγέλου ὡς ἀετοῦ. St. John sees one eagle, the symbol of what is swift and unerring in swooping upon its prey. Thus Job 9:26, "The eagle that hasteth to the prey" (see also Habakkuk 1:8; 2 Samuel 1:23). This is the meaning of the appearance of the eagle, which announces the swiftness and certainty of the coming woes. De Wette and others unnecessarily understand "an angel in the form of an eagle." De Lyra interprets it as St. John himself. Wordsworth, relying chiefly on the force of εϊς, believes that Christ is signified; but it is extremely doubtful whether the force of the numeral can be pressed so far. Others see a reference to the Roman legions, etc. The figure may have been suggested by Matthew 24:28. Flying through the midst of heaven; flying in mid heaven (Revised Version). Not "midway between earth and heaven," but "in the direct line of the sun." The word is found only here and in Revelation 14:6 and Revelation 19:17. In the former it is rendered as in this place, in the latter it is translated "in the sun." The eagle is thus plainly visible to all. Saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth! "Woe" is followed by "inhabiters" in the accusative case, according to א, B; though the dative is read in A, P, and some cursives. "The inhabiters of the earth" are the ungodly, the worldly, those on whom God's wrath had been invoked by the saints at rest (Revelation 6:10), whose prayer is now answered The triple denunciation renders the threatened judgments more emphatic and terrible. By reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound; Greek, out of the other voices (denoting front whence the woe proceeds) who are yet to sound. "Trumpet," in the singular, because taken distributively - "of each trumpet." The three woes are described in
(1) Revelation 9:1-11;
(2) Revelation 9:12-21;
(3) Revelation 11:15-19.
They perhaps refer to spiritual troubles. instead of being concerned (as in the case of the first four trumpets) with temporal judgments.