Revelation 16:10
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
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(10) And the fifth . . .—Better, The fifth angel poured out his vial upon the throne (not “the seat:” see Notes on Revelation 4:10; Revelation 13:2) of the wild beast. The vials of judgment gradually dissolve the integrity and organisation of the kingdom of the wild beast. The result of the principles on which it has been based begin to show themselves: first, moral disease in individuals; then a corrupt tone of national morals spreading into the higher orders of society; then the fierce pride of vaunted light which scorches. Where these are, disorganisation is not far off; evil goes out a murderer and comes home a suicide. The retribution comes home; the throne of the world-power, the very head and centre of its authority, is smitten.

And his kingdom was full of darkness.And his kingdom was darkened. We have the counterpart of the Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:21-23); there was a typical force in that ancient plague: the kingdom which boasted itself so full of light becomes darkened. When men shut out the higher light, the smoke of their own candles will soon obscure the whole heaven. When moral evil is linked with intellectual light, the moral evil will be found the stronger; for we cannot have a sunbeam without the sun. “Take heed,” said Christ, “that the light that is in thee be not darkness.” There is a light that is darkness; the progress of evil bringing about its own retribution proves this conclusively.

(10, 11) But even the failure of their own light does not work repentance: they gnawed their tongues from their pain. Here is remorse and suffering. They are “unto themselves” (as the Book of Wisdom describes the Egyptians) “more grievous than the darkness” (Wisdom Of Solomon 17:21); but there is no softening or humbling of themselves, no turning to God. They still love what God hates, and hate what He loves, for they blasphemed God, &c., and repented not of their works. Such is the wretched state of the world-power in the day when retributive evil overtakes it—darkness, pain, and inability to repent. Is it not a picture of the ultimate state of all sin? It is not a vast world-power alone which exhibits pain and confusion like this. It is to be seen over and over again in men and nations. The power of evil comes home and robs men of their accustomed guides. They are brought into darkness and trouble; the throne where the master-power of worldliness sat is cast down; the evil passion which was the unifying power of their life is deprived of the field of its power; then follows exasperation, anger at defeat, readiness to accuse others, but no blame of self, no repentance.

Revelation 16:10-11. And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat, or throne, of the beast — The reader will recollect that mention has been made of two beasts, (see Revelation 13:1; Revelation 13:11,) the secular and the ecclesiastical; and, as Mr. Faber observes, “it might be doubted which of the two was here intended, were we not assisted in our inquiries by the general context of the whole prophecy. Whenever the beast is simply mentioned, by way of eminence, as it were, it will invariably be found that the ten-horned or secular beast is meant, not the two-horned or ecclesiastical beast. In addition to this general proof, the particular context of the present passage may be adduced. The angel pours his vial on the throne of the beast. Now the first beast is expressly said to have had a throne given him by the dragon; because, although nominally Christian, he exercised his secular authority like his predecessor, the pagan empire, in persecuting the church of God: (see Revelation 12:2 :) whereas no mention is made of the throne of the second beast, and for this plain reason; the secular authority of the pope [and his clergy] was confined within the narrow limits of an Italian principality, and all the persecutions which he ever excited against the faithful were carried into effect by the first beast, through the instrumentality of his last head, or his ten horns. Hence it is manifest that the beast, upon whose throne the present vial is poured, is the first or secular beast. What is precisely meant by this judgment, it is impossible at present to determine with any certainty, inasmuch as it is yet future. If, however, we may argue from analogy, since the great city means the Roman empire, and since the throne means the authority exercised within that empire by its head, the pouring out of a vial upon the throne of the beast, so as to fill his whole kingdom with darkness, seems most naturally to mean some severe blow aimed directly at his authority, which should fill his whole kingdom with confusion.” This judgment, which Mr. Fleming supposed would begin about A.D. 1794,

(but which probably did not begin till after the termination of the horrors of the French Revolution by the battle of Waterloo, in the year 1815,) that pious divine thought would not expire till A.D. 1848. For, says he, “since the pope received the title of supreme bishop no sooner than the year 606, he cannot be supposed to have any vial poured upon his throne, so as to ruin his authority as signally as this judgment must do, until the year 1848, when the twelve hundred and sixty years in the prophetical account may be considered as ending. But yet we are not to imagine that this vial will totally destroy the Papacy, (though it will exceedingly weaken it,) for we find it still in being and active when the next vial is poured out.” Bishop Newton thinks the judgment here intended will fall upon Rome itself, and will darken and confound the whole antichristian empire. But still the consequences of this plague are much the same as those of the foregoing one; for the sufferers, instead of repenting of their deeds, are hardened like Pharaoh, and still persist in their blasphemy and idolatry, and obstinately withstand all attempts of reformation.”

16:8-11 The heart of man is so desperately wicked, that the most severe miseries never will bring any to repent, without the special grace of God. Hell itself is filled with blasphemies; and those are ignorant of the history of human nature, of the Bible, and of their own hearts, who do not know that the more men suffer, and the more plainly they see the hand of God in their sufferings, the more furiously they often rage against him. Let sinners now seek repentance from Christ, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, or they will have the anguish and horror of an unhumbled, impenitent, and desperate heart; thus adding to their guilt and misery through all eternity. Darkness is opposed to wisdom and knowledge, and forebodes the confusion and folly of the idolaters and followers of the beast. It is opposed to pleasure and joy, and signifies anguish and vexation of spirit.And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast - The previous judgments had been preparatory to this. They all had a bearing on this, and were all preliminary to it; but the "seat" - the home, the center of the power of the beast - had not yet been reached. Here, however, there was a direct blow aimed at that power, still not such yet as to secure its final overthrow, for that is reserved for the pouring out of the last vial, Revelation 16:17-21. All that is represented here is a heavy judgment which was merely preliminary to to that final overthrow, but which affected the very seat of the beast. The phrase "the seat of the beast" - τὸν θρόνον τοῦ θηρίου ton thronon tou thēriou - means the "seat" or "throne" which the representative of that power occupied, the central point of the Anti-christian dominion. Compare the notes on Revelation 13:2. See also Revelation 2:13. I understand this as referring to the very seat of the papal power - Rome - the Vatican.

And his kingdom was full of darkness - Confusion - disorder - distress, for darkness is often the emblem of calamity, Isaiah 59:9-10; Jeremiah 13:16; Ezekiel 30:18; Ezekiel 32:7-8; Ezekiel 34:12; Joel 2:2.

And they gnawed their tongues for pain - This is a "most significant expression of the writhings of anguish." The word rendered here "gnawed" does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, nor is the expression elsewhere used in the Bible; but its meaning is plain - it indicates deep anguish.

10. angel—omitted by A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac. But Coptic and Andreas support it.

seat—Greek, "throne of the beast": set up in arrogant mimicry of God's throne; the dragon gave his throne to the beast (Re 13:2).

darkness—parallel to the Egyptian plague of darkness, Pharaoh being the type of Antichrist (compare Notes, see on [2727]Re 15:2, 3; compare the fifth trumpet, Re 9:2).

gnawed their tongues for pain—Greek, "owing to the pain" occasioned by the previous plagues, rendered more appalling by the darkness. Or, as "gnashing of teeth" is one of the accompaniments of hell, so this "gnawing of their tongues" is through rage at the baffling of their hopes and the overthrow of their kingdom. They meditate revenge and are unable to effect it; hence their frenzy [Grotius]. Those in anguish, mental and bodily, bite their lips and tongues.

And the fifth angel; the fifth of the seven angels mentioned Revelation 16:1: by which, as was said, is to be understood the instruments which God will use gradually to destroy the papacy; the fifth rank of persons, whom God will employ in the execution of this his purpose, by his acts of providence.

Poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; shall execute God’s wrath upon the city of Rome itself, wholly destroying the papacy in their power.

And his kingdom was full of darkness; upon which his whole kingdom shall be full of the darkness of misery, trouble, and affliction. (Darkness was one of the plagues of Egypt).

And they gnawed their tongues for pain; and they shall be full of calamities, like men in so much pain that they bite their own tongues for pain. When this shall be God alone knows. I think, and experience hath proved, that they were much too hasty in their speculations, that prophesied it should be in the year 1656, or 1660, or 1666. For my own part, I do not believe it will be before 1866, or between that and the year 1900. The determination of it depends upon the right fixing of the epocha, or beginning of the forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty prophetical days, which I think most probably fixed upon the year 606, or (according to Mr. Stephens’s notion) 666, which, according to the Julian account, is the same: See Poole on "Revelation 13:18".

And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast,.... The beast is the same with that in Revelation 13:1 and which again shows that to be one and the same: the seat or throne of the beast is Rome, which, when the empire was Pagan, was the seat of Satan, or the dragon, Revelation 2:13 and when the beast or antichrist was risen, the dragon gave this seat, as well as his authority to him, Revelation 13:2 and is that city which is so often called, in this book, the great city, and is manifestly pointed out by its seven mountains, on which the city of Rome stood, Revelation 17:9 and the pouring out of this vial upon it denotes the destruction of it, when it will be burnt down, and become desolate, an habitation of devils, of every foul spirit, and hateful bird, Revelation 18:2 and this corresponds with the fifth trumpet; for as that brings in the rise of antichrist, both eastern and western, who rose much about the same time, so this vial affects him particularly; the western antichrist, his seat and kingdom. Mr. Daubuz refers this plague to the expulsion of the western and eastern emperors from their capital cities, Rome and Constantinople, and to the mischiefs caused by the antipopes in the west, and to the quarrels and schism in the Greek churches in the fourteenth century.

And his kingdom was full of darkness; not only of the darkness of false doctrine and superstition, for so it was always, being filled with the smoke of the bottomless pit; nor only of judicial blindness and darkness, which the subjects of the antichristian state are given up unto; but rather of a discovery of all this, with all their hidden works of darkness, which will now be brought to light; though it seems chiefly to design the great affliction and distress the antichristian state will be in at this time, which darkness sometimes signifies; see Isaiah 9:1 it having lost its sun, the pope, under the preceding vial, and its seat, the city of Rome, under this: the sense is, that it will be greatly obscured in its glory and magnificence, in its traffic and riches, Revelation 18:11 its power and authority will be greatly diminished, and it will be had in contempt by the princes of the earth; though it will not as yet be utterly destroyed, for its utter destruction is reserved for the seventh and last vial. The allusion is to the plague of darkness in Egypt, Exodus 10:21. And they gnawed their tongues for pain; these are the men of the antichristian party, the subjects of the antichristian kingdom, now become full of darkness, the worshippers of the beast, and his image; these will gnaw their tongues, which expresses their inward anguish and distress, their anger, wrath, and fury, their being filled with revenge, and yet in an incapacity to execute it, and will even be afraid to express it; and therefore will bite their tongues in madness; and this for pain, for the pain of their mind, at the sad and low estate of the antichristian kingdom.

{8} And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

(8) The story of the first angel, who strikes the kingdom of the beast with two plagues abroad the darkness, with biles and distresses most grievous, throughout his whole kingdom that by this he might wound the conscience of the wicked, and punish the perverse obstinacy of the idolaters: of which arose perturbation, and thence a furious indignation and desperate madness, raging against God and hurtful to itself.

Revelation 16:10-11. The fifth vial, poured upon the throne of the beast, brings an eclipse over his entire realm. This increase of sorrows also works upon the impenitent inhabitants of the earth in such a way that they blaspheme God.

ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον τοῦ θηρίου. The throne of the beast beheld in definite reality (Revelation 13:2), the actual centre of his entire kingdom, is here meant; incorrect are all interpretations[3706] which explain away the concrete clearness of the presentation.[3707]

καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ ἐσκοτωμένη, cf. Exodus 10:21 sqq.; Psalm 105:28. Even in this special circumstance is the plague like the Egyptian, in that this darkness is produced not by an injury to the sun,[3708] but by an immediate miraculous act.[3709] By the expression ἐσκοτωμ. an external eclipse must be considered, so that the plague is homogeneous with those of the preceding vials. The false interpretation of the ἐσκοτωμ. in Grot.,[3710] Calov., Vitr., Hengstenb., etc., coincides with the allegorical view of the whole.[3711] For the correct understanding of the ἐσκοτωμ., it follows of itself that ἡ βασιλεία αὐτ. can designate not the rulership,[3712] but only the kingdom of the beast considered according to its geographical extent.

καὶ ἐμασῶντο τὰς γλώσσας, κ.τ.λ. “And they gnawed their tongues.” Andr., very properly: “The gnawing of the tongues shows the excess of the pain.” The text itself gives the explanation: ἐκ τοῦ πονόυ.[3713] The darkness causes a peculiar pain, because of its character as a plague. This particular ΠΌΝΟς, however, is, according to Revelation 16:11, to be thought of in connection with the plagues produced by the preceding vials (ΤῶΝ ΠΌΝΩΝ ΑὐΤ.), among which the first is still expressly emphasized: ΚΑῚ ἘΚ ΤῶΝ ἙΛΚῶΝ ΑὐΤ. The horrible darkness makes the other sufferings—identified by Hengstenb. with the darkness which he understands figuratively—still more oppressive and comfortless; for the last plagues also[3714] are, in comparison with the seal- and trumpet-plagues, so dreadfully increased, because, while the former plagues came successively, these vial-plagues occur in such a way that the one is combined with the other. During the fifth vial-plague, at all events the first, and without doubt the second and third, are still continuing. The fourth (Revelation 16:8) is naturally not to be regarded in connection with the fifth; but under the fourth, we are expressly referred to all the preceding plagues (Revelation 16:9 : ΤᾺς ΠΛΗΓ. ΤΑΎΤ.).

ΤῸΝ ΘΕῸΝ ΤΟῦ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ. Cf. Revelation 11:13. The designation has here a reference as in Revelation 16:9 the ΤΟῦ ἜΧ. ἘΞΟΥΣ., Κ.Τ.Λ.

Cf. Revelation 9:20 sq.

[3706] In violation also of the analogy of Revelation 16:2-4; Revelation 16:8.

[3707] Against C. a Lap.: “Upon the kingdom and subjects of antichrist,” etc.

[3708] Cf. Revelation 16:8 sqq.

[3709] De Wette.

[3710] The Roman dominion lost much of its pristine splendor.

[3711] Cf. on Revelation 16:21.

[3712] Hengstenb. Cf. Grot.

[3713] Cf., on the ἐκ, Revelation 16:11; Revelation 16:21. Winer, p. 347.

[3714] Revelation 15:1.

Revelation 16:10-11. The ninth Egyptian plague of darkness (due to the eclipse, cf. Revelation 8:12?) falls on Rome, aggravating the previous pains of the Romans (Revelation 16:2) and driving them into exasperation and fresh blasphemy instead of repentance. The repetition of Revelation 16:11 b, after Revelation 16:9, is characteristic of Oriental impressiveness (cf. Jeremiah 30:2; Jeremiah 31:1, etc.), but it sums up the effect of the first four plagues.

The Fifth Vial, Revelation 16:10-1110. the seat] Better throne: see Revelation 13:2. The word is best taken quite literally, not in the vague sense of the “seat” of his empire.

darkness] Exodus 10:21; ch. Revelation 9:2.

Revelation 16:10. Ἐγένετο ἐσκοτωμένη) This has much greater emphasis, than if it were said ἐσκοτώθη or ἐσκοτίσθη, ch. Revelation 9:2, or, ἐπλήγη τὸ τρίτον, ch. Revelation 8:12. There is a similar expression, ch. Revelation 17:16, ἠρημωμένην ποιήσουσιν: ch. Revelation 1:18, ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς: Psalm 30:8, ἐγενήθην τεταραγμένος. The Arabic translates, ceased: but that is too strong.—τοῦ πόνου) כאב, LXX. πόνος, pain.

Verse 10. - And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast. Omit "angel" as before (see on ver. 8). The throne of the beast. That throne which had been given to him by the dragon (Revelation 13:2), and which here typifies the centre and source of his power. While this throne may aptly refer to the Roman empire in St. John's time, its position varies at different times; wherever the world power is worshipped, there the beast has his throne. And his kingdom was full of darkness; was darkened. Another allusion to the plagues of Egypt. The darkness is a type of the spiritual darkness which prevails among the subjects of the beast, and which they themselves frequently realize in the course of their career. The fear of the future sometimes arouses their misgivings, and then there is no light or hope in their hearts. And they gnawed their tongues for rain. The pain arising from the darkness of their minds; the misgivings as to their future (vide supra); or perhaps also on account of their sufferings under the former plagues, to which this is an addition. Revelation 16:10
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