9:1 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.
9:2 4 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the 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 ( Revelation 9:2-11 ) and after the sixth execution to ( Revelation 9:12-19 ) and lastly is shown the common event that followed the former execution in the world, in the two last verses ( Revelation 9:20 Revelation 9:21 ). (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, ( Revelation 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 ( Revelation 20:10 ) so the word "falling" is taken; ( Genesis 14:10 ; 24:46 ; Hebrews 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; ( 2 Peter 2:4 ; Jude 1:6 ; Revelation 20:7 ) the history of these agrees with this chapter.
(a) By the bottomless pit, he means the deepest darkness of hell.
(4) To this is added, the smoke of the hellish and infernal dark spirits, darkening all things in heaven and in earth. The spiritual darkness is the cause of all disorder and confusion: For the devil at a certain time sent these spirits into his kingdom, that he might at once and with one action overthrow all things and pervert if it were possible the elect themselves. By this darkness, all spiritual light, both active as of the sun and passive as of the air which is lightened by the sun, is taken away: and this is that which goes before the spirits: it follows of the spirits themselves. 9:3 5 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
9:4 6 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
(5) A description of the malignant spirits invading the world, taken from their nature, power, form and order. From their nature, for that they are like certain locust, in quickness, subtilty, hurtfulness, number, and such like, in this verse. From their power, for that they are as the scorpions of the earth, of a secret force to hurt: for our battle is not here with flesh and blood, but with powers ( Ephesians 6:12 ) This place of the power of the devils, generally noted in this verse, is particularly declared afterwards in ( Revelation 9:4-6 ).
9:7 7 And the shapes of the locusts [were] like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads [were] as it were crowns like gold, and their faces [were] as the faces of men.
(6) Here the power of the devils is described according to their actions and the effects of the same. Their actions are said to be limited by the counsel of God: both because they do not hurt all men, but only the reprobate (for the godly and elect, in whom there is any part of a better life, God guards by his decree) whom Christ shall not have sealed, in this verse: and also because they did not have all power nor at all time, no not over those that are their own, but limited in manner and time, by the prescript of God in ( Revelation 9:5 ). So their power to afflict the godly is none, and for the wicked is limited in act and in effect, by the will of God: for the manner was prescribed to them that they should not slay, but torment this wretched world. The time is for five months, or for a hundred and fifty days, that is, for so many years, in which the devils have indeed mightily perverted all things in the world: and yet without that public and unpunished license of killing, which afterwards they usurped when the sixth angel had blown his trumpet, as shall be said in ( Revelation 9:13 ). Now this space is to be accounted from the end of that thousand years mentioned in ( Revelation 20:3 ) and that is from the reign of pope Gregory the seventh, a most monstrous Necromancer, who before was called Hidebrandus Senensis: for this man being made altogether of impiety and wickedness, as a slave of the devil, whom he served, was the most wicked firebrand of the world: he excommunicated the emperor Henry the fourth: went about by all manner of treachery to set up and put down Empires and kingdoms as he liked: and did not hesitate to set Rodolph the Swedon over the Empire instead of Henry, sending to him a crown, with this verse annexed to it: "Petra dedid Petro, Petrus diadema Rodolpho" that is, "The Rock to Peter gave the Crown, and Peter Rodolph doth renown". Finally, he so finely bestirred himself in his affairs, as he miserably set all Christendom on fire, and conveyed over to his successors the burning brand of the same who enraged with like ambition, never ceased to nourish that flame, and to kindle it more and more: by which cities, commonwealths and whole kingdoms set together by the ears amongst themselves by most expert cut-throats, came to ruin, while they miserably wounded one another. This term of a hundred and fifty years, ends in the time of Gregory the ninth or Hugolinus Anagniensis (as he was called before) who caused Raimond his chaplain and confessor to compile the writings of Decretals, and by permission of the kings and princes, published them in the Christian world, and established them as Law: For by this trick at length the popes gave themselves licence to kill whom they would, while others were unaware: and without fear established a butchery out of many of the wicked Canons of the Decretals, which the trumpet of the fifth angel had expressly forbidden and had hindered until this time. The effects of these bloody actions are declared in ( Revelation 9:6 ) that the miserable world languishing in so great calamities, should willingly seek death and prefer the it over life, by reason of the severity of the miseries that oppressed them.
9:11 8 And they had a king over them, [which is] the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath [his] name Apollyon.
(7) The form of these hellish spirits and administers, is outlined by signs and visible figures in this manner: that they are very expert and swift: that wherever they are in the world, the kingdom is theirs: that they manage all their affairs with cunning and skill, in this verse: that making show of mildness and tender affection to draw on men with, they most impudently rage in all mischief: that they are most mighty to do hurt ( Revelation 9:8 ) that they are freed from being hurt by any man, as armed with the colour of religion and sacred authority of privilege: that they fill all things with horror, ( Revelation 9:9 ) that they are fraudulent: that they are poisonous and extremely offensive though their power is limited. ( Revelation 9:10 ). All these things are found in the infernal powers and communicated by them to their ministers and vassals.
(8) The order of powers of maliciousness: that they are subject to one infernal king, whom you may call, The Destroyer: who drives the whole world both Jews and Gentiles into the destruction that belongs to himself. I cannot tell whether this name has respect to the etymological interpretation of Hildebrand, by a figure often used in the Holy Scripture: which albeit it may otherwise be turned of the Germans (as the sense of compound words is commonly ambiguous) yet in very deed it signifies as much as if you should call him, the firebrand, that is, he that sets on fire those that are faithful to him. 9:12 9 One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
(9) A passage to the next point and the history of the time following. 9:13 10 And the sixth angel sounded, 11 and I heard a voice from the b four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, 12 Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
(10) The sixth execution done on the world by the tyrannical powers of it, working in the four parts of the earth, that is, in most cruel manner execution their tyrannous dominion through out the whole world: and killing the miserable people without punishment, which before was not lawful for them to do in that sort, as I showed in ( Revelation 9:4 ). This narration has two parts: a commandment from God, in ( Revelation 9:14 ) and an execution of the commandment, in ( Revelation 9:15 ).
(11) The commandment given by Christ himself, who is governor over all.
(b) He alludes to the altar of incense, which stood in the court which the priests were in, opposite the Ark of the Covenant, having a veil between them.
9:15 13 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
(12) As if he should have said, these till now have been bound by the power of God, that they could not freely run over all men as they lusted, but were held and restrained at that great river of Euphrates, that is, in their spiritual Babylon (or this is a paraphrase of the spiritual Babylon, by the limits of the visible Babylon long since overthrown) that they might not commit those horrible slaughters, which they long breathed after. Now go to it, let loose those four angels, that is, administers of the wrath of God, in that number that is convenient to the slaughtering of the four quarters of the world: stir them up and give them the bridle, that rushing out of that Babylon of theirs, which is the seat of the wicked ones, they may fly over all the world, therein to rage, and most licentiously to practise their tyranny, as God has ordained. This was done when Gregory the ninth by public authority established as Law, his own Decretals, by which he might freely lay traps for the life of simple men. For who is it that sees not that the laws of Decretal, most of them are snares to catch souls with? Since that time (O good God) how many great slaughters have there been? How many great massacres? All history is full of them: and this our age abounds with most horrible and monstrous examples of the these.
9:19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: 14 for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
(13) The execution of the commandment is in two parts: one, that those butchers are let loose, that out of their tower of the spiritual Babylon they might with fury run abroad through all the world, as well the chief of that crew who are most prompt to all the work, in this verse: as their multitudes, both most copious, of which a number certain is named for a number infinite ( Revelation 9:16 ) and in themselves by all means fully furnished to hide and to hurt ( Revelation 9:17 ) as being armed with fire, smoke and brimstone, as appears in the colour of this armour, which dazzles the eyes to all men, and have the strength of lions to cause pain, from which (as out of their mouth) the fiery, smoky, and stinking darts of the pope are shot out ( Revelation 9:18 ) The other part, that these butchers have effected the commandment of God by fraud and violence, in the two verses following ( Revelation 9:16 Revelation 9:17 ).
9:20 15 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
(14) That is, they are harmful on all sides: on whatever part you put your hand to them, or they touch you, they do hurt. So the former are called Scorpions, ( Revelation 9:3 ).
(15) Now remains the event (as I said on the first verse), See which followed so many grievous judgments in the most wicked world, namely an impenitent affirmation of the ungodly in their impiety and unrighteousness, though they feel themselves most vehemently pressed with the hand of God: for their obstinate ungodliness is showed in this verse: and their unrighteousness in the verse following ( Revelation 9:21 ). So far has been the general history of things to be done universally in the whole world: which because it does not so much belong to the Church of Christ, is therefore not so expressly distinguished by certainty of time and other circumstances, but is woven, as they say, with a slight hand. Also there is no other reason why the history of the seventh angel is passed over in this place, then for that the same more properly appertains to the history of the Church. But this is more diligently set out according to its time, ( Revelation 11:16 ) as shall appear on those places.