VIALS AND THE
The trumpets shook the world kingdoms in a longer process; the vials
destroy with a swift and sudden overthrow the kingdom of "the beast" in
particular who had invested himself with the world kingdom. The Hebrews
thought the Egyptian plagues to have been inflicted with but an
interval of a month between them severally
[BENGEL, referring to SEDER
OLAM]. As Moses took ashes from an earthly common
furnace, so angels, as priestly ministers in the heavenly temple, take
holy fire in sacred vials or bowls, from the heavenly altar to pour
The same heavenly altar which would have kindled the sweet incense of
prayer bringing down blessing upon earth, by man's sin kindles the
fiery descending curse. Just as the river Nile, which ordinarily is the
source of Egypt's fertility, became blood and a curse through Egypt's
1. a great voice--namely, God's. These seven vials (the detailed
expansion of the vintage,
being called "the last," must belong to the period just when the term
of the beast's power has expired (whence reference is made in them all
to the worshippers of the beast as the objects of the judgments), close
to the end or coming of the Son of man. The first four are
distinguished from the last three, just as in the case of the seven
seals and the seven trumpets. The first four are more general,
affecting the earth, the sea, springs, and the sun, not merely a
portion of these natural bodies, as in the case of the trumpets, but
the whole of them; the last three are more particular, affecting the
throne of the beast, the Euphrates, and the grand consummation. Some of
these particular judgments are set forth in detail in the seventeenth
through twentieth chapters.
out of the temple--B and Syriac omit. But A, C,
Vulgate, and ANDREAS support the words.
the vials--so Syriac and Coptic. But A, B, C,
Vulgate, and ANDREAS read, "the
2. went--Greek, "went away."
poured out--So the angel cast fire into the earth previous to
the series of trumpets
upon--so Coptic. But A, B, C, Vulgate, and
Syriac read, "into."
noisome--literally, "evil" (compare
De 28:27, 35).
The very same Greek word is used in the Septuagint as
here, Greek, "helkos." The reason why the sixth Egyptian
plague is the first here is because it was directed against the
Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, so that they could not stand
before Moses; and so here the plague is sent upon those who in the
beast worship had practiced sorcery. As they submitted to the mark of
the beast, so they must bear the mark of the avenging God. Contrast
Eze 9:4, 6.
grievous--distressing to the sufferers.
sore upon the men--antitype to the sixth Egyptian plague.
which had the mark of the beast--Therefore this first vial is
subsequent to the period of the beast's rule.
3. angel--So B and ANDREAS. But A, C, and
Vulgate omit it.
became as . . . blood--answering to another Egyptian
of a dead man--putrefying.
living soul--So B and ANDREAS. But A, C,
and Syriac, "soul of life" (compare
Ge 1:30; 7:21, 22).
in the sea--So B and ANDREAS. But A, C, and
Syriac read, "(as respects) the things in the sea."
angel--so Syriac, Coptic, and
ANDREAS. But A, B, C, and Vulgate omit
5. angel of the waters--that is, presiding over the waters.
O Lord--omitted by A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and
and shalt be--A, B, C, Vulgate, and
ANDREAS for this clause read, "(which art and
wast) holy." The Lord is now no longer He that shall
come, for He is come in vengeance and therefore the third of the
three clauses found in
Re 1:4, 8; 4:8
is here and in
judged thus--literally, "these things." "Thou didst inflict this
end; Ge 9:6;
An anticipation of
Re 18:20, 24;
For--A, B, C, and ANDREAS omit.
7. another out of--omitted in A, C, Syriac, and
Coptic. Translate then, "I heard the altar [personified]
saying." On it the prayers of saints are presented before God: beneath
it are the souls of the martyrs crying for vengeance on the foes of
8. angel--so Coptic and ANDREAS. But
A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac omit it.
upon--not as in
Re 16:2, 3,
sun--Whereas by the fourth trumpet the sun is darkened
in a third part, here by the fourth vial the sun's bright scorching
power is intensified.
power was given unto him--rather, "unto it," the sun.
men--Greek, "the men," namely, those who had the mark of
9. men--Greek, "the men."
repented not to give him glory--
Affliction, if it does not melt, hardens the sinner. Compare the better
result on others,
Re 11:13; 14:7; 15:4.
10. angel--omitted by A, B, C, Vulgate, and
Syriac. But Coptic and ANDREAS
seat--Greek, "throne of the beast": set up in
arrogant mimicry of God's throne; the dragon gave his throne to the
darkness--parallel to the Egyptian plague of darkness, Pharaoh
being the type of Antichrist (compare Notes, see on
Re 15:2, 3;
compare the fifth trumpet,
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.
11. sores--This shows that each fresh plague was accompanied
with the continuance of the preceding plagues: there was an
accumulation, not a mere succession, of plagues.
12. angel--so Coptic and ANDREAS.
A, B, C, Vulgate, and Syriac omit.
kings of the east--Greek, "the kings who are from the
rising of the sun." Reference to the Euphrates similarly occurs
in the sixth trumpet. The drying up of the Euphrates, I think,
is to be taken figuratively, as Babylon itself, which is
situated on it, is undoubtedly so,
The waters of the Euphrates (compare
Isa 8:7, 8)
are spiritual Babylon's, that is, the apostate Church's (of which Rome
is the chief, though not exclusive representative) spiritual and
temporal powers. The drying up of the waters of Babylon expresses the
same thing as the ten kings stripping, eating, and burning the whore.
The phrase, "way may be prepared for," is that applied to the Lord's
He shall come from the East
"the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East"):
not alone, for His elect transfigured saints of Israel and the Gentiles
shall accompany Him, who are "kings and priests unto God"
As the Antichristian ten kings accompany the beast, so the
saints accompany as kings the King of kings to the last
decisive conflict. DE BURGH
and others take it of the Jews, who also were designed to be
a kingdom of priests to God on earth. They shall, doubtless,
become priest-kings in the flesh to the nations in the flesh at His
coming. Abraham from the East (if
Isa 41:2, 8, 9,
refers to him, and not Cyrus) conquering the Chaldean kings is a type
of Israel's victorious restoration to the priest-kingdom. Israel's
exodus after the last Egyptian plagues typifies Israel's restoration
after the spiritual Babylon, the apostate Church, has been smitten.
Israel's promotion to the priest-kingdom after Pharaoh's downfall, and
at the Lord's descent at Sinai to establish the theocracy, typifies the
restored kingdom of Israel at the Lord's more glorious descent, when
Antichrist shall be destroyed utterly. Thus, besides the transfigured
saints, Israel secondarily may be meant by "the kings from the East"
who shall accompany the "King of kings" returning "from the way of the
East" to reign over His ancient people. As to the drying up
again of the waters opposing His people's assuming the kingdom,
Isa 10:26; 11:11, 15;
The name Israel
implies a prince with God. Compare
as to the return of the kingdom to Jerusalem.
DURHAM, several centuries ago, interpreted the
drying up of the Euphrates to mean the wasting away of the Turkish
power, which has heretofore held Palestine, and so the way being
prepared for Israel's restoration. But as Babylon refers to the
apostate Church, not to Mohammedanism, the drying up of the Euphrates
(answering to Cyrus' overthrow of literal Babylon by marching into it
through the dry channel of the Euphrates) must answer to the draining
off of the apostate Church's resources, the Roman and Greek corrupt
Church having been heretofore one of the greatest barriers by its
idolatries and persecutions in the way of Israel's restoration and
conversion. The kings of the earth who are earthly
stand in contrast to the kings from the East who are
13. unclean spirits like frogs--the antitype to the plague of
frogs sent on Egypt. The presence of the "unclean spirit" in the land
(Palestine) is foretold,
in connection with idolatrous prophets. Beginning with
infidelity as to Jesus Christ's coming in the flesh, men shall end in
the grossest idolatry of the beast, the incarnation of all that is
self-deifying and God-opposed in the world powers of all ages; having
rejected Him that came in the Father's name, they shall worship one
that comes in his own, though really the devil's representative; as
frogs croak by night in marshes and quagmires, so these unclean spirits
in the darkness of error teach lies amidst the mire of filthy lusts.
They talk of liberty, but it is not Gospel liberty, but license
for lust. There being three, as also seven, in the
description of the last and worst state of the Jewish nation, implies a
parody of the two divine numbers, three of the Trinity, and
seven of the Holy Spirit
Some observe that three frogs were the original arms of France,
a country which has been the center of infidelity, socialism, and false
spiritualism. A and B read, "as it were frogs," instead of
"like frogs," which is not supported by manuscripts. The unclean
spirit out of the mouth of the dragon symbolizes the proud
infidelity which opposes God and Christ. That out of the beast's
mouth is the spirit of the world, which in the politics of men, whether
lawless democracy or despotism, sets man above God. That out of the
mouth of the false prophet is lying spiritualism and religious