In the Book of Revelation ( 9:1-11 ), when John sees his vision of the fifth trumpet blowing, a vast horde of demonic horsemen is seen arising from the newly opened abyss. They are sent forth to torment the unfortunate inhabitants of earth, but not to kill them. They have a ruler over them, called a king (basileia [basileiva]), the angel of the abyss, whose name is given in both Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew it is Abaddon and in Greek Apollyon, both words meaning Destroyer or Destruction.
The word only occurs once in the New Testament ( Rev 9:11 ) and five times in the Old Testament ( Job 26:6 ; 28:22 ; 31:12 ; Psalm 88:11 ; Prov 15:11 ). In Psalm 88:11 Destruction is parallel to the grave; in Job 26:6 and Proverbs 26:6 it is parallel to Sheol; in Job 28:22 it is parallel to Death. job 31:12 says sin is a fire that burns to destruction. So in the Old Testament Abaddon means the place of utter ruin, death, desolation, or destruction.
The angel of the abyss is called Destruction or Destroyer because his task is to oversee the devastation of the inhabitants of the earth, although it is curious that his minions are allowed only to torture and not to kill. His identity is a matter of dispute. Some make him Satan himself, while others take him to be only one of Satan's many evil subordinates.
Walter A. Elwell
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