Revelation 9:21
Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
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9:13-21 The sixth angel sounded, and here the power of the Turks seems the subject. Their time is limited. They not only slew in war, but brought a poisonous and ruinous religion. The antichristian generation repented not under these dreadful judgments. From this sixth trumpet learn that God can make one enemy of the church a scourge and a plague to another. The idolatry in the remains of the eastern church and elsewhere, and the sins of professed Christians, render this prophecy and its fulfilment more wonderful. And the attentive reader of Scripture and history, may find his faith and hope strengthened by events, which in other respects fill his heart with anguish and his eyes with tears, while he sees that men who escape these plagues, repent not of their evil works, but go on with idolatries, wickedness, and cruelty, till wrath comes upon them to the utmost.And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues ... - One third part is represented as swept off, and it might have been expected that a salutary effect would have been produced on the remainder, in reforming them, and restraining them from error and sin. The writer proceeds to state, however, that these judgments did not have the effect which might reasonably have been anticipated. No reformation followed; there was no abandonment of the prevailing forms of iniquity; there was no change in their idolatry and superstition. In regard to the exact meaning of what is here stated Revelation 9:20-21, it will be a more convenient arrangement to consider it after we have ascertained the proper application of the passage relating to the sixth trumpet. What is here stated Revelation 9:20-21 pertains to the state of the world after the desolations which would occur under this woe-trumpet; and the explanation of the words may be reserved, therefore, with propriety, until the inquiry shall have been instituted as to the general design of the whole.

With respect to the fulfillment of this symbol - the sixth trumpet - it will be necessary to inquire whether there has been any event, or class of events occurring at such a time, and in such a manner, as would be properly denoted by such a symbol. The examination of this question will make it necessary to go over the leading points in the symbol, and to endeavor to apply them. In doing this I shall simply state, with such illustrations as may occur, what seems to me to have been the design of the symbol. It would be an endless task to examine all the explanations which have been proposed, and it would be useless to do so.

The reference, then, seems to me to be to the Turkish power, extending from the time of the first appearance of the Turks in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, to the final conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The general reasons for this opinion are such as the following:

(a) If the previous trumpet referred to the Saracens, or to the rise of the Muhammedan power among the Arabs, then the Turkish dominion, being the next in succession, would be what would most naturally be symbolized.

(b) The Turkish power rose on the decline of the Arabic, and was the next important power in affecting the destinies of the world.

(c) This power, like the former, had its seat in the East, and would be properly classified under the events occurring there as affecting the destiny of the world.

(d) The introduction of this power was necessary, in order to complete the survey of the downfall of the Roman empire - the great object kept in view all along in these symbols.

In the first four of these trumpets, under the seventh seal, we found the decline and fall of the Western empire; in the first of the remaining three - the fifth in order - we found the rise of the Saracens, materially affecting the condition of the Eastern portion of the Roman world; and the notice of the Turks, under whom the empire at last fell to rise no more, seemed to be demanded in order to the completion of the picture. As a leading design of the whole vision was to describe the ultimate destiny of that formidable power - the Roman - which, in the time when the Revelation was given to John ruled over the whole world; under which the church was then oppressed; and which, either as a civil or ecclesiastical power, was to exert so important an influence on the destiny of the church, it was proper that its history should be sketched until it ceased - that is, until the conquest of the capital of the Eastern empire by the Turks. Here the termination of the empire, as traced by Mr. Gibbon, closes; and these events it was important to incorporate in this series of visions.

The rise and character of the Turkish people may be seen stated in full in Gibbon, Decline and Fall, iii.-101-103, 105, 486; iv. 41, 42, 87, 90, 91, 93, 100, 127, 143, 151, 258, 260, 289, 350. The leading facts in regard to the history of the Turks, so far as they are necessary to be known before we proceed to apply the symbols, are the following:

(1) The Turks, or Turkmans, had their origin in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea, and were divided into two branches, one on the east, and the other on the west. The latter colony, in the 10th century, could muster 40,000 soldiers; the other numbered 100,000 families (Gibbon, iv. 90). By the latter of these, Persia was invaded and subdued, and soon Bagdad also came into their possession, and the seat of the caliph was occupied by a Turkish prince. The various details respecting this, and respecting their conversion to the faith of the Koran, may be seen in Gibbon, iv. 90-93. A mighty Turkish and Moslem power was thus concentrated under Togrul, who had subdued the caliph, in the vicinity of the Tigris and the Euphrates, extending east over Persia and the countries adjacent to the Caspian Sea, but it had not yet crossed the Euphrates to carry its conquests to the west. The conquest of Bagdad by Togrul, the first prince of the Seljuk race, was an important event, not only in itself, but as it was by this event that the Turk was constituted temporal lieutenant of the prophet's vicar, and so the head of the temporal power of the religion of Islam. "The conqueror of the East kissed the ground, stood some time in a modest posture, and was led toward the throne by the vizier and an interpreter. After Togrul had seated himself on another throne his commission was publicly read, which declared him the temporal lieutenant of the prophet. He was successively invested with seven robes of honor, and presented with seven slaves, the natives of the seven climates of the Arabian empire, etc. Their alliance (of the sultan and the caliph) was cemented by the marriage of Togrul's sister with the successor of the prophet," etc. (Gibbon, iv. 93).

The conquest of Persia, the subjugation of Bagdad, the union of the Turkish power with that of the caliph, the successor of Muhammed, and the foundation of this powerful kingdom in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, is all that is necessary to explain the sense of the phrase "which were prepared for an hour," etc., Revelation 9:15. The arrangements were then made for the important series of events which were to occur when that formidable power should be summoned from the East, to spread the predicted desolation over so large a part of the world. A mighty dominion had been forming in the East that had subdued Persia, and that, by union with the caliphs, by the subjugation of Bagdad, and by embracing the Muhammedan faith, had become "prepared" to play its subsequent important part in the affairs of the world.

(2) the next important event in their history was the crossing of the Euphrates, and the invasion of Asia Minor. The account of this invasion can be best given in the words of Mr. Gibbon: "Twenty-five years after the death of Basil (the Greek emperor), his successors were suddenly assaulted by an unknown race of barbarians, who united the Scythian valor with the fanaticism of new proselytes, and the art and riches of a powerful monarchy. The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Arzeroum, and the blood of one hundred and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet. Yet the arms of Togrul did not make any deep or lasting impression on the Greek empire. The torrent rolled away from the open country; the sultan retired without glory or success from the siege of an Armenian city; the obscure hostilities were continued or suspended with a vicissitude of events; and the bravery of the Macedonian legions renewed the fame of the conqueror of Asia. The name of Alp Arslan, the valiant lion, is expressive of the popular idea of the perfection of man; and the successor of Togrul displayed the fierceness and generosity of the royal animal. ('The heads of the horses were as the heads of lions.') He passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish cavalry, and entered Caesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, to which he had been attracted by the fame and the wealth of the temple of Basil" (vol. iv. 93, 94; compare also p. 95).

(3) the next important event was the establishing of the kingdom of Roum in Asia Minor. After a succession of victories and defeats; after being driven once and again from Asia Minor, and compelled to retire beyond its limits; and after subjecting the East to their arms (Gibbon, iv. 95-100) in the various contests for the crown of the Eastern empire, the aid of the Turks was invoked by one party or the other until they secured for themselves a firm foothold in Asia Minor, and established themselves there in a permanent kingdom - evidently with the purpose of seizing upon Constantinople itself when an opportunity should be presented (Gibbon, iv. 100, 101). Of this kingdom of Roum Mr. Gibbon (iv. 101) gives, the following description, and speaks thus of the effect of its establishment on the destiny of the Eastern empire: "Since the first conquests of the caliphs, the establishment of the Turks in Anatolia, or Asia Minor, was the most deplorable loss which the church and empire had sustained. By the propagation of the Moslem faith Soliman deserved the name of Gazi, a holy champion; and his new kingdom of the Romans, or of Roum, was added to the table of Oriental geography. It is described as extending from the Euphrates to Constantinople, from the Black Sea to the confines of Syria; pregnant with mines of silver and iron, of alum and copper, fruitful in grain and wine, and productive of cattle and excellent horses. The wealth of Lydia, the arts of the Greeks, the splendor of the Augustan age, existed only in books and ruins, which were equally obscure in the eyes of the Scythian conquerors. By the choice of the Sultan, Nice, the metropolis of Bithynia, was preferred for his palace and fortress - the seat of the Seljukian dynasty of Roum was planted one hundred miles from Constantinople; and the divinity of Christ was denied and derided in the same temple in which it had been pronounced by the first general synod of the Catholics. The unity of God and the mission of Muhammed were preached in the mosques; the Arabian learning was taught in the schools; the cadis judged according to the law of the Koran; the Turkish manners and language prevailed in the cities; and Turkman camps were scattered over the plains and mountains of Anatolia," etc.

(4) the next material event in the history of the Turkish power was the conquest of Jerusalem. See this described in Gibbon, iv. 102-106. By this the attention of the Turks was turned for a time from the conquest of Constantinople - an event at which the Turkish power all along aimed, and in which they doubtless expected to be ultimately successful. Had they not been diverted from it by the wars connected with the Crusades, Constantinople would have fallen long before it did fall, for it was too feeble to defend itself if it had been attacked.


21. sorceries—witchcrafts by means of drugs (so the Greek). One of the fruits of the unrenewed flesh: the sin of the heathen: about to be repeated by apostate Christians in the last days, Re 22:15, "sorcerers." The heathen who shall have rejected the proffered Gospel and clung to their fleshly lusts, and apostate Christians who shall have relapsed into the same shall share the same terrible judgments. The worship of images was established in the East in A.D. 842.

fornication—singular: whereas the other sins are in the plural. Other sins are perpetrated at intervals: those lacking purity of heart indulge in one perpetual fornication [Bengel].

Neither repented they of their murders; of their murdering the saints of God, but go on in that practice;

nor of their fornication, which is publicly allowed amongst them;

nor of their theft and sacrilege, and other wickedness, but are as infamous for their debaucheries as for their superstition and idolatry. How long this great judgment of the Turk shall continue upon Christians we cannot tell; it is Mr. Brightman’s opinion that it shall determine in the year 1696; but of that the Scripture hath not informed us, and guessing is a vanity, where we have no sure foundation; and so many have appeared to have been mistaken in such particular determinations, that he lightly exposeth his reputation that will adventure further upon such rocks.

Neither repented they of their murders,.... Of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, with whose blood the western antichrist is made drunk, and which will be found in her, and for which she is answerable. Now, though the western parts of the empire escaped the scourge of the Turks, yet this did not bring them to repent of their murderous practices, but they went on to take away the lives of godly men; witness the persecutions of the Waldenses and Albigenses, the murders of John Huss and Jerom of Prague, the burning of the martyrs here in Queen Mary's days, and the massacres in Paris and in Ireland, and their butcheries elsewhere; and which they have continued unto this day, where the Inquisition obtains:

nor of their sorceries; Jezebel the whore of Rome has been famous for, by which she has deceived all nations; many of the popes of Rome have been necromancers, given to the magic art, and have entered into covenant, and have had familiarity with the devil; and one part of the Romish service lies in exorcisms, conjurations, and enchantments, and which they still continue:

nor of their fornication; all sorts of uncleanness; not only simple fornication, but adultery, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; brothel houses have been set up and licensed by authority, which have yielded to the popes a yearly revenue of forty thousand ducats; the Romish clergy, popes, cardinals, priests, monks, and friars, have been dreadfully guilty of all manner of uncleanness, and still are; whence Rome is called Sodom, Revelation 11:8;

nor of their thefts; who under pretence of granting indulgences and pardons, and praying souls out of purgatory, with other tricks, cheat men of their money, pillage and plunder their estates, and devour widows' houses; rob men of their substance, and make merchandise of their souls: now all these iniquities the Papists in the eastern empire were guilty of, for which the Turks as a scourge were let in upon it, and destroyed it; and yet the western papacy, who did not suffer in these calamities, took no warning by them, did not repent of their sins, and reform their practices; but went on, and still go on in the same wicked way, and by their hardness and impenitence treasure up wrath against the day of wrath.

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

LXII. Revelation 9:21. ἐκ τῶν φόνων, κ.τ.λ.

Luthardt: “These are the chief sins of heathenism. Such moral corruption will occur at the end, in spite of advanced culture; for culture of itself does not promote morality, but, as history teaches, may be employed as well in the service of ungodliness and immorality.” Calov., in harmony with his scheme of interpretation, refers all these crimes to the Papal antichrist.

21. sorceries] Fitly mentioned between “murders” and “fornication,” and in connexion with “idolatry;” cf. Galatians 5:20, and note on Revelation 21:8.

Verse 21. - Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. Sorceries; magic, witchcraft, and enchantments; e.g. the magic of the Egyptian magicians (Exodus 7:22). Sorcery is mentioned in Galatians 5:20 (where it is described as "witchcraft") in connection with idolatry. Fornication (cf. Bengel, "Other crimes are perpetrated by men at intervals; there is one continual fornication within those who are wanting in purity of heart ").

Revelation 9:21Sorceries (φαρμακειῶν)

Only here, Revelation 18:23; and Galatians 5:20, where φαρμακεία sorceries, A.V., witchcraft is enumerated among the "works of the flesh." Used in the Septuagint of the Egyptian sorceries (Exodus 7:22. Of Babylon, Isaiah 47:9, Isaiah 47:12). From φάρμακον a drug, and thence a poison, an enchantment. Plato says: "There are two kinds of poisons used among men which cannot clearly be distinguished. There is one kind of poison which injures bodies by the use of other bodies according to a natural law... but there is another kind which injures by sorceries and incantations and magic bonds, as they are termed, and induces one class of men to injure another as far as they can, and persuades others that they, above all persons, are liable to be injured by the powers of the magicians. Now it is not easy to know the nature of all these things; nor if a man do know can he readily persuade others of his belief. And when men are disturbed at the sight of waxen images, fixed either at the doors, or in a place where three ways meet, or in the sepulchers of parents, there is no use of trying to persuade them that they should despise all such things, because they have no certain knowledge about them. But we must have a law in two parts concerning poisoning, in whichever of the two ways the attempt is made; and we must entreat and exhort and advise men not to have recourse to such practices, by which they scare the multitude out of their wits, as if they were children, compelling the legislator and the judge to heal the fears which the sorcerer arouses, and to tell them, in the first place, that he who attempts to poison or enchant others knows not what he is doing, either as regards the body (unless he have a knowledge of medicine) or as regards his enchantments, unless he happens to be a prophet or diviner" ("Laws," xi., 933).

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