Revelation 9:1
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) And the fifth angel . . .—Translate, And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star out of the heaven fallen (not “fall,” as in English version; the seer saw not a falling, but a fallen, star) upon the earth. The emblem of a fallen star is used elsewhere in the Bible. Isaiah (Isaiah 14:12) speaks of Lucifer fallen from heaven. Christ described Satan as lightning falling from heaven. Some great power or ruler is represented, then, by this fallen star. He is, moreover, said to have fallen from heaven, and he is represented as having been given the key of the abyss. Does not this lead us to expect the working of some evil spirit and diabolical agency? The 11th verse confirms our expectation. We may compare Revelation 12:8-12, where Satan is described as defeated, cast down to the earth, and filled with wrath. To understand this fallen star as the representative of a good angel seems hardly possible.

And to him was given . . .—Literally, and there was given to him (i.e., to the being represented as a fallen star) the key of (not “the bottomless pit”) the pit of the abyss. The abyss is the same word rendered “the deep,” in Luke 8:31, where the demons besought our Lord not to send them into the abyss, or deep. It is the word which describes the abode of the evil spirits. The verse before us suggests the picture of a vast depth approached by a pit or shaft, whose top, or mouth, is covered. Dante’s Inferno, with its narrowing circles winding down to the central shaft, is somewhat similar. The abyss is the lowest spring of evil, whence the worst dangers arise. (Comp. Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:1-3.)

Revelation 9:1. The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth “Stars, in the language of prophecy,” says Lowman, “signify angels. The angels of the heavenly host, as well as the angels or bishops of the churches, (see Revelation 1:20; Revelation 8:10,) seem to be called stars in Scripture: as when, at the creation, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job 38:7. In like manner, when the abyss or bottomless pit is shut up, it is represented in this prophecy to be done by an angel coming down from heaven having the key of the bottomless pit. These expressions are so nearly the same, as well as upon the same subject, that they may be well taken in the same sense, and so used to explain each other. The expression then, a star fallen from heaven, or an angel come down from heaven, with a key to open the bottomless pit, seems naturally to mean the permission of the Divine Providence for those evil and calamitous events, which are described to follow from opening the bottomless pit, which could not have happened but by the permission of the Divine Providence, and according to the wise and holy orders of the divine government; for the providence of God could as surely have prevented the temptations of Satan, and the powers of darkness, as if Satan and his angels had been fast locked up, and secured in safe prison; so that he sends an angel, his messenger, with the key of the bottomless pit, to open the prison and permit them to go out, to teach that they can only act so far as they have permission, and can always be restrained and shut up again, at the good pleasure of the supreme Governor of the world. The abyss, or bottomless pit, is explained in the prophecy itself to be the place where the devil and Satan are shut up, that they should not deceive the nations, Revelation 20:1-3. The abyss seems also to be used in the same sense when the devils besought Christ that he would not command them to go out into the deep, Greek, εις την αβυσσον, into the abyss, or bottomless pit. Grotius observes on Luke 8:31, that this abyss is the same with what St. Peter calls hell, or tartarus,” 2 Peter 2:4; where see the note. “Now this prison of Satan and of his angels, by the righteous judgment of God, is permitted to be opened for the just punishment of apostate churches, who would not repent of their evil works. We may then say with the bishop of Meaux, ‘Behold something more terrible than what we have hitherto seen! Hell opens, and the devil appears, followed by an army, of a stranger figure than any St. John has anywhere described.’ And we may observe from others, that this great temptation of the faithful was to be with the united force of false doctrine and persecution. Hell does not open itself, (as the bishop observes,) it is always some false teacher that opens it.”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, 1Co 11:19. And early writers plainly refer this to the first great host of corrupters who overspread the Christian church.And the fifth angel sounded - See the notes on Revelation 8:6-7.

And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth - This denotes, as was shown in the notes on Revelation 8:10, a leader, a military chieftain, a warrior. In the fulfillment of this, as in the former case, we look for the appearance of some mighty prince and warrior, to whom is given power, as it were, to open the bottomless pit, and to summon forth its legions. That some such agent is denoted by the star is further apparent from the fact that it is immediately added, that "to him (the star) was given the key of the bottomless pit." It could not be meant that a key would be given to a literal star, and we naturally suppose, therefore, that some intelligent being of exalted rank, and of baleful influence, is here referred to Angels, good and bad, are often called stars; but the reference here, as in Revelation 8:10, seems to me not to be to angels, but to some mighty leader of armies, who was to collect his hosts, and to go through the world in the work of destruction.

And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit - Of the under-world, considered particularly of the abode of the wicked. This is represented often as a dark prison-house, enclosed with walls, and accessible by gates or doors. These gates or doors are fastened, so that none of the inmates can come out, and the key is in the hand of the keeper or guardian. In Revelation 1:18 it is said that the keys of that world are in the hand of the Saviour (compare the notes on that passage); here it is said that for a time, and for a temporary purpose, they are committed to another. The word "pit" - φρέαρ phrear - denotes properly a well, or a pit for water dug in the earth; and then any pit, cave, abyss. The reference here is doubtless to the nether world, considered as the abode of the wicked dead, the prison-house of the guilty. The word "bottomless," ἀβύσσος abussos - whence our word "abyss" means properly "without any bottom" (from Α a, the alpha privative (not), and βύθος buthos, depth, bottom). It would be applied properly to the ocean, or to any deep and dark dell, or to any obscure place whose depth was unknown. Here it refers to Hades - the region of the dead the abode of wicked spirits - as a deep, dark place, whose bottom was unknown. Having the key to this, is to have the power to confine those who are there, or to permit them to go at large. The meaning here is, that this master-spirit would have power to evoke the dead from these dark regions; and it would be fulfilled if some mighty genius, that could be compared with a fallen star, or a lurid meteor, should summon forth followers which would appear like the dwellers in the nether world called forth to spread desolation over the earth.

CHAPTER 9

Re 9:1-21. The Fifth Trumpet: The Fallen Star Opens the Abyss Whence Issue Locusts. The Sixth Trumpet. Four Angels at the Euphrates Loosed.

1. The last three trumpets of the seven are called, from Re 8:13, the woe-trumpets.

fall—rather as Greek, "fallen." When John saw it, it was not in the act of falling, but had fallen already. This is a connecting link of this fifth trumpet with Re 12:8, 9, 12, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, for the devil is come down," &c. Compare Isa 14:12, "How art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning!"

the bottomless pit—Greek, "the pit of the abyss"; the orifice of the hell where Satan and his demons dwell.Revelation 9:1 At the sounding of the fifth angel a star falleth from

heaven, to whom is given the key of the bottomless pit,

Revelation 9:2-11 he opens the pit, and there come forth locusts like

scorpions, who have power to hurt men for a time.

Revelation 9:12 The first woe past.

Revelation 9:13-21 At the sounding of the sixth angel four angels which

were bound are loosed, and bring great plagues on the

earth for a limited time.

And the fifth angel sounded; the fifth of the seven angels mentioned Revelation 8:2, to whom were given seven trumpets. It denoteth the beginning of a new period of calamities and miseries to the earth, or to the church.

And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: what this star falling from heaven means, is not easy to resolve. Those who think it the devil, once a star, but fallen, forget that John is not here told a story of what was in the beginning of the world, but what should be, and that five hundred years after Christ’s coming. And the same reason holds against those who think those seditious persons are meant, who did so much mischief in and about Jerusalem during the siege; this had been to have revealed to John those things which he knew were done many years before. Amongst those who think some particular eminent minister of the church, who apostatized, is meant, those seem to me to judge better, who think that Boniface the Third is meant, who, in the year 606, obtained the privilege of the pope’s supremacy, than those who understand it of Arius or Pelagius, who both of them fell two hundred years before this. It seems very harsh to interpret it of Christ, or any good angel’s descending from heaven, because the word peptwkota is rightly by us translated falling, and not to be interpreted so softly as descending. In all probability, therefore, the first apostacy of the bishop of Rome was here prophesied. But how

to him was given the key of the bottomless pit, ( by which hell is meant here, as often in Scripture), is hard to say; unless we understand it of his instrumentality, to send many thousands to hell by that corrupt doctrine and worship, which by him then began to obtain. But his key was borrowed, (if God had not permitted him he could not have done it), and it turned but one way; he had only a power to open it, not (as Christ) both to open and shut it.

And the fifth angel sounded,.... His trumpet:

and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: some take this star to be Jesus Christ, the bright and morning star; and understand by falling, no other than his descending from heaven to earth, in which sense the word is used in Genesis 14:10; and that because he is not only said to have the keys of hell and death, Revelation 1:18; but particularly the key of the bottomless pit, Revelation 20:1; but then there is a wide difference in the use of the key by the star here, and the angel there, or between the opening of the pit, and letting out smoke and locusts, and the shutting it up, and Satan in it; the one well suits with Christ, the other not: nor is Satan here designed, as others think, who once was a bright star, and shone among the morning stars, but by sin fell from heaven, his first estate; and the fall of this Lucifer, son of the morning, was as lightning from heaven, Luke 10:18. But then this was a matter over and past, and what was well known to John; nor did he need a vision to represent this unto him: nor is Arius intended, who lived before any of the trumpets were blown; nor the Emperor Valens, who fell from the heavenly doctrine of Christ's divinity into the Arian heresy, which he encouraged and defended; whereby Christ, the sun of righteousness, was obscured, and the air, the church, enlightened by Christ, was darkened; in whose time the locusts, the Goths and Vandals, infected with Arianism, greatly distressed the eastern Christians; but his reign was long before the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, which was after the year 600: wherefore by this star is meant antichrist; but whether the western or eastern antichrist, the pope of Rome, or Mahomet, is a question: some interpreters go one way, and some another: Brightman thinks both are intended, seeing they both are antichrist, and rose to the height of their power much about the same time; and the characters and circumstances in this vision very. Well agree with them both: what is objected to Mahomet is, that he never was a doctor or teacher in the church, or had any dignity in it, which a star in this book most commonly signifies, and therefore could not be said to fall from it; but this may be observed, that the Arabians, among whom he lived, had received the Christian religion before his time; that he himself was conversant with the Scriptures, as appears by his wretched perversion of them in his Alcoran; and certain it is, that his accomplices were such as had professed Christianity, as Sergius, a Nestorian of Constantinople, and John of Antioch, an Arian, and he himself set up for a prophet: others think the pope of Rome is meant by the star, seeing the bishops of that city had shone out in great light and purity of doctrine and practice formerly, but now about this time most sadly apostatized; they had been indeed gradually declining for some time, but now they may be said openly to fall from heaven, when Phocas, who murdered his master, the Emperor Mauritius, and took the imperial crown to himself, gave to Pope Boniface the Third the title and power of universal bishop, about the year 859, which he and his successors exercised in a most haughty and tyrannical manner:

and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit; which shows that this could not be a star in a literal sense, but must design some man, or body of men, and agrees well with the popes of Rome: by "the bottomless pit" is meant hell, out of which the beast arose, and into which Satan will be cast, Revelation 11:7; and by "the key" is designed the power of it, of opening and shutting it, of saving persons from it, or of casting them into it; and which the popes of Rome take to themselves, even all power in heaven, earth, and hell, signified by their triple crown; and which they arrogate to such a degree as to say, that if the pope should send many thousands into hell, no one ought to say, what dost thou? This is a different key from what were given to Peter; he had the keys of the kingdom of heaven, his pretended successors have the key of the bottomless pit; his were keys of knowledge, theirs of ignorance, and of the depths of Satan, let out of this bottomless pit, of which the antichristian religion, both Popish and Mahometan, consist; his were given by Christ, theirs by Phocas a murderer; or they had their power from the dragon, Revelation 13:2; from Satan himself, according to whose working and influence they come forth, though by divine permission.

{1} And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a {2} star fall from heaven unto the earth: {3} and to him was given the key of the {a} bottomless pit.

(1) The first execution on the wicked men inhabiting the earth

(as the angel said before) wrought by the infernal powers is declared from here to Re 9:2-11 and after the sixth execution to Re 9:12-19 and lastly is shown the common event that followed the former execution in the world, in the two last verses Re 9:20,21.

(2) That is, that the angel of God glittering with glory, as a star fallen from heaven. He may be Christ, who has the keys of hell by himself and by princely authority, Re 1:18 or some inferior angel who has the same key entrusted to him and holds it ministerially, or by office of his ministry, here and Re 20:10 so the word falling is taken; Ge 14:10, 24:46, Heb 6:6.

(3) The key was given to this star. For those powers of wickedness are sent to hell, bound with chains of darkness and kept there until damnation, unless God lets them loose for a time; 2Pe 2:4, Jude 1:6, Re 20:7 the history of these agrees with this chapter.

(a) By the bottomless pit, he means the deepest darkness of hell.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 9:1. ἀστέρα ἐκ τ. οὐρ. πεπτωκότα εἰς τ. γ. Eichh. is incorrect in explaining the part. pf. as in form and meaning equivalent to καταβαίνειν. The star had already fallen from heaven to earth, and had become just as John saw it; the falling, also, is in no way a spontaneous descent,—possibly at God’s command for a definite purpose,[2519]—but the expression presupposes that the star was thrown down.[2520] But the “star” is neither to be regarded as changed into a human form,[2521] nor to be understood as a purely figurative designation of an angel,[2522] but the idea of a star mingles with that of an angel, as in the O. T. view of the[2523] צְבָא הַשָׁמַיִם. The star fallen from heaven appears, consequently, not as a good,[2524] but as a bad, angel,[2525] who must serve only to bring a plague of an infernal character upon the godless: καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ, κ.τ.λ. This ἐδόθη would, of course, have its justification if the star were a heavenly servant; but in connection with the πεπτωκότα, the idea is significant that this infernal angel was expressly appointed a place in order to bring in the plagues inflicted by God otherwise than in Revelation 20:1, where the angel “coming down” from heaven has in his hand the key of the abyss.[2526]

ἡ κλεῖς τοῦ φρέατος τἥς ἀβύσσου. The ἄβυσσος (viz., χῶρα), i.e., bottomless, the abyss, designates—like the Heb. תְּחום, which the LXX. often render by ἄβυσσος[2527]—the depths of the earth in the natural sense,[2528] then Sheol, Hades, i.e., the place of abode of the departed in those depths,[2529] but in the Apoc.,[2530] and Luke 8:31, the present[2531] abode of the Devil and his angels. From this ἄβυσσος, a φρέαρ (LXX. for בְאַר, “well,” Genesis 21:30; Genesis 26:15; cf. John 4:11), regarded as proceeding and discharging over the surface of the earth, appears like a shaft[2532] of some kind, possibly after the manner of wells or cisterns, to be closed; and hence the angel receives a key, in order, by descending into the deep, to open the shaft of the well, and thus to let out the smoke proceeding from the ἅβυσσος (Revelation 9:2). [See Note LVI., p. 292.]

[2519] Cf. Revelation 20:1.

[2520] Revelation 6:13. Cf. Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12.

[2521] Vitr. Cf. Hengstenb.

[2522] “An angel imitating a star in bright light and splendor.”

[2523] Cf. Psalm 103:21; Jeremiah 33:22; Job 38:7. Ewald, who compares Revelation 18:16, Revelation 21:1-6, in addition to Enoch, 84 sqq., 139:32.

[2524] Beng., De Wette.

[2525] Beda, who, however, like many of the old interpreters, understands it directly of the Devil; Volkm.

[2526] Against Ew., etc.

[2527] Also in the plural; Psalm 71:21; Psalm 107:26.

[2528] Genesis 1:2; Genesis 7:11; Deuteronomy 8:7.

[2529] Psalm 71:21; Psalm 107:26; Romans 10:7.

[2530] Revelation 9:11; Revelation 20:1; Revelation 20:3. Cf. Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8.

[2531] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 20:10.

[2532] The idea is otherwise in Psalm 55:23, according to the Heb., as well as the LXX.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LVI. Revelation 9:1. τῆς ἀβύσσου

Cf. Gebhardt: “These expressions are based upon rabbinical representations, originating from such O. T. statements as Psalm 81:10; Psalm 107:26; Isaiah 14:15 (cf. Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 30:33), according to which there is under the earth an abyss or bottomless pit, with a lake or sea in which brimstone and fire seethe together. From this abyss goes a channel with a mouth, after the manner of a cistern, a narrow passage, as from a scarcely visible spring, to the surface of the earth. This pit, like an ordinary cistern, can be opened and closed, or sealed.… The abyss in its signification is a perfect antithesis to heaven. The latter is an invisible, but real, ideal world, which one day with the new heavens and the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, will become a visible reality. So also the former is the invisible, but real, world of the anti-ideal and the ungodly, which will also become a visible (cf. ch. Revelation 14:10Revelation 9:1-12 : The fifth trumpet.The Fifth Trumpet. First Woe. Chap. 9 Revelation 9:1-121. fall from heaven] Rather, fallen. St John does not say that he witnessed the actual fall.

to him was given] Clearly therefore the star is identified with a person: no doubt a “fallen angel,” in the common sense of the term. For the identification of angels with stars, cf. Revelation 1:20, and Job 38:7 : and of fallen angels in particular, Enoch xviii. 16, xxi. 3, &c. The fall of this star may legitimately be illustrated, as to the image by Isaiah 14:12, and as to the meaning by Luke 10:18; Luke 12:9 in this book: but it is not to be assumed that this passage refers to the same event as either of the two last, still less that the first does.

of the bottomless pit] Lit. of the pit (or well) of the abyss: the depth of Hell, the home or penal prison of the demons (see Luke 8:31, where the word translated “the deep” is the same), is conceived as a pit in the earth’s surface, no doubt literally bottomless, but of finite area, so that it can be fitted with a cover which can be fastened down with a padlock or seal. Cf. Revelation 11:7, Revelation 17:8, for the notion of evil beings issuing from the pit; Revelation 20:1; Revelation 20:3, for their being confined there. But notice (i) that this pit is nowhere identified with the “lake of fire,” the final destination of the Devil and his angels: (ii) that we are not told that the Devil himself is cast into it yet; rather the contrary is implied.Revelation 9:1. Τοῦ φρέατος) Φρέαρ, as it were the orifice of the abyss.Verse 1. - And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth; a star from heaven fallen unto the earth (Revised Version); not saw a star fall. (For the distinctive character of the last three judgments, see on Revelation 8:2.) "A star" sometimes signifies one high in position. Thus Numbers 24:17, "There shall come a star out of Jacob;" Daniel 8:10, "And it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground." In Revelation 1:20 "the stars" are "the angels of the seven Churches;" in Job 38:7 the angels are called "stars;" in Isaiah 14:12 we have Satan referred to thus: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" It seems, therefore, that Satan himself is here referred to under this symbol. The trumpet visions hitherto have portrayed troubles affecting the outer man; now begin to be set forth these yet more terrible visitations which, affecting his spiritual nature, are seen more directly to emanate from the devil. He has fallen "from heaven unto the earth;" that is, whereas formerly heaven was his abode, the sphere of his work while yet obedient to God, he now has no office or power, or entrance there, but is permitted to exercise what influence he possesses on the earth (cf. Luke 10:18, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven"). This is the view of Tertullian, Aretbas, Bede, Vitriuga, Alford, believe an evil angel is meant; Wordsworth thinks an apostate Christian teacher is signified; Andreas, Bengel, and De Wette believe a good angel is intended; others see particular emperors, etc.; while Hengstenberg thinks the figure represents not one, but a number of persons, including Napoleon. And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit; of the pit of the abyss (Revised Version). That is, as Wordsworth explains, of the aperture by which there is no egress from or ingress into the abyss. Christ holds the key (Revelation 1:18), but for a season Satan is permitted to exercise power. The abyss is the abode of the devil and his angels; the present abode, not the lake of fire, into which they are subsequently cast (Revelation 20:10). Fall (πεπτωκότα)

Lit., fallen. The star had fallen before and is seen as fallen. Rev., properly construes star with from heaven instead of with fallen. Compare Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18.

Of the bottomless pit (τοῦ φρέατος τῆς ἀβύσσου)

Rev., of the pit of the abyss. See on John 4:6, and compare Luke 14:5. It is not however a pit that is locked, but the long shaft leading to the abyss, like a well-shaft, which, in the East, is oftener covered and locked.

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