Revelation 16:4
And the third angel poured out his vial on the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
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(4) And the third angel . . .—The third vial resembles the second in its effects. As it is poured out on the rivers and springs of waters, they become blood. It is not only the great sea which becomes blood, but all the merry streams and babbling brooks which carry their tribute of water seawards also turn corrupt. And this plague is acknowledged by heavenly voices as a just retribution (Revelation 16:5-7). The streams and rivers feed the sea; they are the powers and influences which go to the making up of the great popular sentiment; these are smitten by the same corruption. Men cannot worship worldliness or earthliness without degrading even those who contribute to their instruction, their recreations, and their joys, to the same level. When the public taste grows corrupt, the literature will, for example, become so in a more or less degree; the up-flowing tide will colour the down-coming stream. “The morality of a nation’s art,” writes a modern critic. “always rises to the level of morality in a nation’s manners. Morality takes care of itself, and always revenges any outrage which art may put upon its laws by either lowering the art that so offends, or extinguishing it” (Dallas, Gay Science, Vol. II., 16). It is true in even a wider sense. The loftier powers of imagination, the range of poetical elevation, are cramped and killed in a base, world-worshipping age. The streams of life grow putrid, the fresh and bright gifts of God are polluted, when the ocean of public thought is unwholesome.

Revelation 16:4-7. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers a fountains of waters, &c. — Or those territories of the Papacy which were as necessary to it as rivers and fountains are to a country: the kind of plague under this vial being the same as that of the former. For, as the former destroyed the living creatures, or living souls, that were in or upon the sea, namely, the Spaniards, the great mariners of the world at that time, as to their maritime power, who after the year 1588 lost their former sovereignty of the seas, it being transferred to the English and Dutch; so this latter plague makes it difficult for the Popish party to subsist and maintain their ground, even in the inland countries, particularly in the several dominions of Germany and the neighbouring countries. For in the year 1617, Ferdinand being forced upon the Bohemians by the Emperor Matthias, and crowned king, the foundation of new quarrels was thus laid. For, a little while after, another most bloody religious war ensued, which shook all the empire, and excited the terror of all Europe. And, though the Protestants lost Bohemia, the Palatinate in part, and were driven out of Moravia, Austria, and Silesia, at this time, and were not only persecuted in many places, but were in danger of being extirpated and rooted out universally; yet the tide turned all on a sudden. For after the emperor had ruled Germany with a veteran army for a considerable time, Gustavus Adolphus entered it in the year 1630, and conquered everywhere. And though he was killed about two years afterward, yet his army continued to be victorious; until at length all things were settled at the peace of Munster, A.D. 1648; with which therefore the period of this vial, consisting of thirty- one years, must be supposed to end. Now, as this began with persecutions against, and cruelties upon the Protestants; so at length the angel of the waters is heard to give thanks to God for causing the enemies of his people at last to drink of their own blood. To which song of praise another angel says, Amen: all which seems to denote the joy of the Protestant states and churches on the success of the Swedish arms against the emperor.16:1-7 We are to pray that the will of God may be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Here is a succession of terrible judgments of Providence; and there seems to be an allusion to several of the plagues of Egypt. The sins were alike, and so were the punishments. The vials refer to the seven trumpets, which represented the rise of antichrist; and the fall of the enemies of the church shall bear some resemblance to their rise. All things throughout their earth, their air, their sea, their rivers, their cities, all are condemned to ruin, all accursed for the wickedness of that people. No wonder that angels, who witness or execute the Divine vengeance on the obstinate haters of God, of Christ, and of holiness, praise his justice and truth; and adore his awful judgments, when he brings upon cruel persecutors the tortures they made his saints and prophets suffer.And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters - This coincides also with the account of the sounding of the third trumpet Revelation 8:10-11; "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters." As to the meaning of the phrase, "rivers and fountains of waters," see the notes on that passage. We found, it was supposed, in the application of that passage, that the invasion of the Roman empire by Attila, king of the Huns, was referred to, affecting mainly those parts of the empire where the rivers and streams had their origin. The analogy would lead us, in the fulfillment of the passage before us, to look for some similar desolations on those portions of Europe. See the notes at the close of Revelation 16:7.

And they became blood - This would properly mean that they became as blood; or became red with blood; and it would be fulfilled if bloody battles were fought near them, so that they seemed to run blood.

4. (Ex 7:20.)

angel—so Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas. But A, B, C, and Vulgate omit it.

Mr. Mede and Dr. More both agree in interpreting this of the Jesuits and other popish emissaries, and the laws made for the execution of them in England in the time of Queen Elizabeth, not excluding those civil powers which are the upholders and maintainers of antichrist, as the Spaniard, who also within these last hundred years hath had blood enough given him to drink, both in 1588, and in the Low Countries. It seemeth a little hard to interpret a prophecy relating to the whole church, by what is done in so small a part of it. We know in what credit these emissaries are at this day, both in the empire, and in Spain, and in France, and Venice, from whence they sometime were expelled. We have, indeed, laws against them in England, but principally relating to those of them who, being native subjects of England, have apostatized. So as I had rather think this vial is not yet poured out, or that interpreters mistake the meaning of these

rivers and fountains, than agree with them in that interpretation of this prophecy. I am much disposed to believe that we are not further than the pouring out of the second vial. God, indeed, hath made the Romish clergy contemptible enough, and hath vexed and enraged them sufficiently. He hath also made their scenical religion as contemptible to, and justly abhorred by, a great part of the Christian world; but how far he hath proceeded further to the ruin of antichrist, I do not understand. And the third angel poured his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters,.... Which also is not to be literally understood of a stagnation of them, before the burning of the world; nor of the destruction of Popish fleets and navies, such as the Spanish armada in 1588, and others since; but rather of Popish writings, of the most learned and subtle men among them, who like rivers and fountains, which supply and fill the sea, support and keep up the Romish jurisdiction and hierarchy; and of the confutation of them by Protestant writers; and of the utter destruction of their principal orders, and chief men among them, as cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, Jesuits, &c. though it seems chiefly to design the places near to Rome, such as Italy and Savoy; for as the third trumpet affects the rivers and fountains, Revelation 8:10 and brings in the Huns into Italy, and issued in the destruction of the empire; so the third vial affects the same, and brings terrible wars, and great effusion of blood, where so much of the blood of the saints have been shed: hence it follows, and they became blood; these countries will be covered with blood, and a reformation will ensue upon it; the allusion is to Exodus 7:19. {5} And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

(5) The story of the third angel striking the rivers, in this verse, who proclaiming the justice of God, commends the same by a grave comparison of the sins of men, with the punishment of God: which is common to this place, and that which went before. Wherefore also this praising is attributed to the angel of the waters, a name common to the second and third angels, according as both of them are said to be sent against the waters, though the one of the sea, the other of the rivers, in Re 16:5,6.

Revelation 16:4-7. The third vial changes all other streams into blood. The angel of the waters and the heavenly altar praises the righteousness of God’s judgments.

καὶ ἐγένετο αίμα. “And it became blood,” i.e., blood came forth. It is true, indeed, that, as to the form of the expression, it is not said that the streams became blood; the reading is not ἐγένοντο. But the analogy with Revelation 8:11[3682] suggests that the blood entered into the streams into which the vials were poured.[3683]

Since the streams are thus affected by the plague, the angel who presides over the waters is the first to recognize adoringly the righteousness of this Divine manifestation of wrath.

ΤΟῪ ἈΓΓΈΛΟΥ ΤῶΝ ὙΔΆΤΩΝ. Incorrectly, Grotius: “Because he emptied the vial into the waters.” A definite angel is meant, who is placed over the streams as a special sphere.[3684] There is an analogy not so much in what is presented in Revelation 7:1 and Revelation 14:18,—for what is said there of the angels of wind and fire[3685] is not meant in the same sense,—as rather in the idea of the four beings who appear in Revelation 4:6 sqq. as representatives of earthly creatures.[3686] Precisely similar[3687] is Daniel’s representation of angelic princes who belong to particular nations.[3688] Cf. also Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr., on this passage; and Eisenmenger, Entd. Judenth., ii. 377 sq., where a large number of rabbinical expressions concerning earth-, sea-, fire-, and other angels, and their special names, are collected. In Bava Bathra, p. 72, 2,[3689] the prince of the sea is called רתב, after Job 26:12; in another book,[3690] he is called Michael, and seven less important angels stand beneath him.

ὍΣΙΟς. Cf. Revelation 15:4. As the solemn formula Ὁ ὪΝ ΚΑῚ Ὁ ἩΝ[3691] does not allow an immediate combination with ὅσιος,[3692] and as before ὅσιος, neither , nor καὶ, nor καὶ ὁ, dare be read,[3693] and consequently the translation of Hengstenb. (“the godly”) is false, we can only, in the sense adopted by Luther, who, however, interpolates an “and,” regard the ὅσιος as placed with δίκαιος by asyndeton, as a predicate belonging to εἰ: “Righteous art thou, which art, and which wast, holy” [art thou], “because thou hast ordained such judgments:” ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρ. The ταῦτα refers to Revelation 16:4, not to Revelation 16:3; for that which is the subject of treatment (Revelation 16:6) is drinking-water that is changed into blood, so that the inhabitants of the earth who have shed the blood of saints and prophets[3694] must drink blood.[3695] The closing words of the angelic discourse, ἌΞΙΟΙ ΕἸΣΙΝ, whose force is not destroyed by the absence of a connective, expressly designate that the enemies have merited this judgment.

Upon the angel’s ascription of praise, there follows yet, in Revelation 16:7, another from the side of the altar, which, responding to the former and confirming it (ΝΑΊ, Κ.Τ.Λ.), makes a further reference in general to the judgments of God, and thus brings the entire ascription of praise from Revelation 16:5 to a conclusion.[3696]

ΤΟῦ-G0- ΘΥΣΙΑΣΤΗΡΊΟΥ-G0- ΛΈΓΟΝΤΟς-G0-. An attempt has been made to evade the idea of the text that the words of praise proceed from the altar itself, by the interpolation of ἌΛΛΟΥ (sc. ΑΓΓΈΛΟΥ), ἘΚ before ΘΥΣ.,[3697] or by allegorizing,[3698] or by the supply of a personality.[3699] But De Wette correctly acknowledges[3700] the significant personification of the altar itself. This is in some measure prepared for already by Revelation 9:13; but the idea embodied therein is to be recognized from Revelation 6:10 sqq., Revelation 8:3, Revelation 9:13, Revelation 14:18. From the same place whence the prayers for vengeance had arisen, and already special manifestations of God’s wrath had proceeded, the righteousness of all the judgments of God, whereby the longing of the saints is fully satisfied, is proclaimed.

[3682] Cf. also Revelation 16:3.

[3683] Against De Wette.

[3684] Andr., C. a Lap., Ewald, Züll., De Wette, Hengstenb.

[3685] De Wette.

[3686] Cf. also Revelation 8:2, where seven angels of special rank are mentioned.

[3687] Hengstenb. compares John 5:4. Although he considers the water in this passage, as also Revelation 8:10, as an allegorical designation of prosperity; although, further, the passage John 5:4 is spurious, and nothing whatever is said of an angel placed over the water in general, but only of one sent for a particular service to a single pool,—yet he would have us find here “a delicate and inner bond” between the Apoc. and the Gospel.

[3688] Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1.

[3689] Schöttg.

[3690] Eisenmenger, p. 379.

[3691] The καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος is absent here, as in Revelation 11:17, because the coming to judgment is already in process of execution.

[3692] Against De Wette: “Thou who art and wast holy.”

[3693] See Critical Notes, p. 414.

[3694] Cf. Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:10, Revelation 6:10, Revelation 11:7, Revelation 17:6, Revelation 19:2.

[3695] πεῖν. On this form, see Winer, p. 84.

[3696] Cf. Revelation 5:8, Revelation 11:13-14.

[3697] Luther, Züll., etc.

[3698] Beda: “The inner affection of saints, angels, or men, who by teaching rule the people.” Andr.: “The angelic powers as bearers of our prayers.”

[3699] Grot.: “viz., the angel who guards the spirits of the martyrs.” Cf. Revelation 6:10Revelation 16:4-7. No more drinking water. The justice of this particular plague is acknowledged by (Revelation 16:5-6) the angel of the element in question and by (7) the altar (personified here, in line of Revelation 6:9-10, and Revelation 8:3, or of Revelation 14:18), which echoes the angel’s cry.The Third Vial, Revelation 16:4-74. the rivers … waters] Revelation 8:10; see on Revelation 14:7.Verse 4. - And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. Omit "angel" (see on ver. 3). "Into the rivers," etc., as in the previous cases. The singular ἐγένετο, probably on account of the neuter ψ῞δατα being understood. The idea of the second vial is carried on here (cf. on ver. 3). Note the corresponding judgment of the third trumpet. In addition to the interpretation of the second vial given above, it is probable that the blood signifies the slaughter and death which is part of God's vengeance on the wicked (cf. ver. 6). The divisions adopted in the first four vials correspond to those in Revelation 14, which designate the whole of God's created world, "heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." The third angel

Omit angel.

They became (ἐγένετο)

There is no necessity for rendering the singular verb in the plural. We may say either it became or there came.

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