The Messianic Judgments, 6:1-16:21
4. The judgment of the seven bowls, 15:5-16:21
iv] The outpouring of the seventh bowlSynopsis
John now describes the seventh angel pouring out his bowl, this time the bowl is poured out epi, "into / onto / above", the air. As the angel pours out his bowl, a voice from the throne - presumably the voice of God - proclaims "It is done!" This is followed by a theophany, a coming of the Lord, represented in thunder and lightning, with the earth ravaged by earthquakes, splitting "the great city" / Babylon into three parts. Mountains disappear and humanity is devastated by a plague of hail.
The kingdom of God is at hand; the day of judgment is upon us; "It is done."
i] Context: See 15:5-8.
ii] Background: See 1:1-8.
iii] Structure: The outpouring of the seventh bowl:
The judgment of the seven bowls:
The seventh bowl - the final judgment:
A word from the throne of God, v17;
A cosmic theophany, v18;
Judgment on the secular city, v19-20.
Judgment on the associates of the beast, v21.
"The battle of Armageddon (v16) leads to the ultimate destruction of the corrupt world system", Smalley, so also Beale. As with the judgments of the seals and trumpets, this seventh judgment presents as a theophany, a coming of the Lord, although with the bowls it is anything but the "still small voice" version, cf., 1Kg.19:11-12. Osborne argues that it is not a plague, but the preparation for one, but it is best to view the seventh plague of the seals, trumpets and bowls as the final plague - the final judgment, the end of all things.
The final plague begins with a word from God on the matter; "the end has come", Phillips. Then, the cosmic rumblings in heaven, referred to in 11:19, pour out upon the earth. This leads to the shaking of the earth, a final shaking unto death of Babylon, the secular city - the end of corrupt political power (the beast from the sea) and its false ideologies (the beast from the land) , Hag.2:6-7. John then alludes to the hail that fell on the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus, although this final plague is far worse. In response to all this, the children of the beast curse God rather than seek his mercy. The divine judgment on humanity, although a horror, rests on the impenitence of a humanity in rebellion against God.
Of course, judgment is not the end of everything. It is interesting how this final judgment is imaged in the pouring out of destructive hail; hail is not the last of the plagues that fell on Egypt. Bauckham suggests that the seventh plague in the Revelation links the hail that fell on Egypt (Ex.9) with the thunder and lightning theophany at Sinai (Ex.19), as well as with the destructive hail that fell on the Amorites (Josh.10:11). Together these events prepare for the deliverance of God's people and thus their participation in the kingdom of God, both in the time of the Exodus, and for us today.
Text - 16:17
The outpouring of the seventh bowl, v17-21: i] This time, the judgmental plague is poured out into the air, the fourth element of Greek science - earth, water, fire and air. Of course, John may not be thinking scientifically, but rather speaking of that element of creation which exists between earth and heaven. The judgment falls not on creation as such, but "the rebellious kingdom presided over by the satanic dragon and his beast(s)", Smalley.
epi + acc. "into [the air]" - [and the seventh angel poured out the bowl of him] into, over [the air]. John's favorite spacial preposition, here with the accusative rather than the genitive, usually with the sense "on, upon."
ek + gen. "[a loud voice] from [the throne" - [and a great voice came] out of, from [the temple]. Expressing source / origin. Note, in typical Greek form John is repeating the prepositional prefix of the verb execeen, "to come out."
legousa (legw) pres. part. "saying" - Technically the participle may be classified as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the voice that came from the throne, as NIV, or even adjectival, limiting "voice", "there sounded fourth out of the sanctuary a powerful voice, coming from the throne, which exclaimed ....", Cassirer, even attendant circumstance, redundant, "there came a shout out of the sanctuary from the throne: 'It is done!'", Barclay. John's idiomatic use of this participle to introduce speech often defies a set classification; see legwn 1:17
gegonen (ginomai) perf. "it is done" - it has become. The perfect is used to express the final and complete consummation of judgment, but not the consummation of all things in the realization of the new creation - at that point the plural is used, "All is done", Rev.21:6. "It is done" surely aligns with Jesus' words "it is finished", both semantically and theologically. In the terms of realized eschatology, the cross of Christ draws the day of judgment into the now with the defeat of Satan, a judgment which John sees being played out in the judgments of the seals, trumpets and bowls, and yet a judgment which for us is still not yet. Koester does not see a connection between "it is done" and "it is finished", but Smalley, Osborne, Beale, .... argue for the link.
ii] A cosmic theophany, v18. "The singularity and intensity of this occurrence is underlined by claiming that it is unique in the history of the world", Aune.
oi|oV pro. "[no earthquake] like it [has ever occurred]" - [and lightnings and sounds and thunder came about / occurred and a great earthquake came about / occurred] such as [did not occur]. Correlative pronoun; "such as."
af ou| "since" - since [man was on the earth]. This construction, apo + gen. relative pronoun, is temporal, "from which time" = "since (the time) when", Zerwick; "so violent that nothing like it had ever happened in human history", REB. John is alluding to Daniel 12:1.
thlikoutoV adj. "so tremendous" - so great [an earthquake, so great]. Comparative adjective used as a demonstrative pronoun expressing "a degree which is comparable to some other expression of degree"*, the degree here being oi|oV, "a great earthquake such as there had never been." The degree is further emphasized by the redundant adverbial phrase ouJtw megaV, "so great."
iii] Judgment on the secular city, v19-20. Judgment finally falls on Babylon itself - the beast from the bog/sea and its philosophical friend, the beast from the land. John stays with his apocalyptic images, but Rome would not be far from his mind, nor the many associate provincial cities that promulgate Rome's corrupt ideology and persecute those who don't fit the mould of a loyal citizen. The judgement that falls on the secular city is so brutal that even nature retreats from it, or as John describes it, the islands and mountains run away and hide.
eiV + acc. "[the great city split] into [three parts]" - [and the great city became] into [three parts]. The verb ginomai, "to become", and also the verb to-be eimi, will usually take a subject nominative and a predicate nominative, but due to Semitic linguistic influence the predicate object is sometimes replaced by a prepositional phrase introduced by eiV + acc., as here; "the great city became three parts."
twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "[the cities] of the nations [collapsed]" - [and the cities] of the nations [fell]. The genitive is adjectival, probably possessive, "the cities belonging to other nations", but Cassirer opts for a more attributive idiomatic approach, "the cities inhabited by the nations of the world collapsed in ruin."
enwpion + gen. "-" - [and babylon the great was remembered] before [god]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical. "God had in mind the great Babylon", Berkeley = "God remembered Babylon."
dunai (didwmi) aor. inf. "and gave" - to give. The infinitive is adverbial, probably consecutive; "God remembered Babylon, and as a result made her drink the cup of his raging anger."
auth/ dat. pro. "her" - to her. Dative of indirect object.
tou oinou (oV) gen. "[the cup] filled with the wine" - [the cup] of wine. The NIV takes the genitive as adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / content, limiting "cup".
tou qumou (oV) gen "of the fury" - of the anger [of the wrath]. Osborne suggests that the genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, specifying "the wine"; "God gave her the cup of wine, namely, his furious wrath." He takes the genitive thV orghV, "the wrath" = "furious", as adjectival, attributive, limiting tou qumou, "the anger" = "wrath".
autou gen. pro. "[of] his [wrath]" - of him. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective; "the wrath expressed by him", but it can be viewed as adjectival, possessive, expressing a derivative characteristic possessed by God.
"Every island vanished and not a mountain was to be seen", REB.
ouc euJreqhsan (euJriskw) aor. pas. "[the mountains] could not be found" - [and every island fled and mountains] were not found. In Aramaic idiom the sense is "were no more", Zerwick. On the day of judgment "islands and nations" will be brought low (cf., Zeph.2:11), and "high places" (the scene for pagan rites) leveled.
iv] Judgment on the associates of the beast, v21: At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, following a theophany of thunder and lightning, there was hail. So, along with the pouring out of the seventh bowl, we again have hail, but this time megalh .... sfodra, "extremely severe." "Just as the Egyptian Pharaoh refused to repent in the face of God's cosmic onslaught of hail unlike anything the Egyptians had ever before witnessed (Ex.9:13-26), so those who have accommodated themselves to the lordship of the beast from the sea refuse to repent. Indeed, they curse God instead", Blount.
ek + gen. "from [the sky]" - from [heaven]. Source / origin.
wJV "[each weighing about a hundred pounds]" - [and a great hailstone = hail (singular; as a collective noun)], as [weighing a talent, comes down from heaven]. The comparative particle may be used hear to express approximation, "hail = hailstones of about a hundredweight", or possibly serving for the Hebrew predicate accusative, expressing a characteristic quality of the hail, namely its weight, "hail weighing a hundredweight ("of enormous weight", Zerwick) fell down from heaven upon the people."
epi + gen. "[fell] on [people]" - on, upon [men]. Local, expressing space.
ek + gen. "on account of" - [and the men cursed god] from [the plague]. Here expressing cause, "because of the plague", as NIV.
thV plhghV (h) gen. "of hail" - The genitive is adjectival, possibly attributive, limiting "plague", "hail plague", or better epexegetic, "because of the plague, namely the hail."
oJti "because [the plague was so terrible]" - that [the plague of it is very much great]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the people cursed God, as NIV. "They cursed God for the hail, the epic disaster of hail", Peterson.
authV gen. pro. "-" - of it. The adjectival genitive is best viewed as verbal, subjective, "the plague caused by the hail", although usually not translated.