Who or What Is Abaddon, and Why Does it Play a Role in Revelation?

Contributing Writer
Who or What Is Abaddon, and Why Does it Play a Role in Revelation?

Of all the ominous characters described in the book of Revelation, Abaddon—also known as Apollyon—is one of the most menacing. This demonic being lives up to his name, which means destruction. He arrives on the scene in the Final Days and is introduced as one of Satan’s high-ranking officials, a fallen angel who rules over the Abyss. Abaddon’s subjects, a horde of demonic creatures who are equipped to torment humans, usher in the fifth wave of trumpet judgments described in the apostle John’s apocalyptic vision.

“This is the beginning of the end in which Satan and his demonic forces will be unleashed. He will be permitted to take those who reject Christ as King during the cleansing of the whole earth to make way for a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1),” says Candace Lucey in What Is the Apollyon?

What Is the Meaning of Abaddon in the Old Testament?

In the Old Testament, we catch a glimpse of the word Abaddon in five places—three times in the book of Job (Job 26:6; 28: 22; 12), once in the Psalms (Psalms 88:11), and once in Proverbs (Proverbs 15:11). Each of these brief occurrences describes Abaddon as a unique place of destruction associated with the realm of the dead.

Some biblical researchers believe there are indirect New Testament passages that refer to the locale of Abaddon, without specifically naming that place. Unlike Sheol, which Scripture characterizes as an intermediate site for unregenerate humanity after death, these researchers believe that Abaddon is a separate realm where fallen angels are incarcerated until God’s appointed time of judgment.

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (Jude 1:6).

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4).

Whether or not these researchers have correctly interpreted the fallen angel’s prison as Abaddon, one thing is certain according to the Old Testament; Abaddon is a supernatural realm set apart for destruction and those who cause destruction.

Who is Abaddon (Apollyon) in the New Testament? 

The New Testament helps us identify the ruler over the realm of Abaddon in Revelation 9. This fallen angel, with the same name as his realm, is introduced after the fifth trumpet of judgment is blown. Those on earth during the Tribulation period witness the horrific events that follow. A star falls from heaven and releases a horde of demonic locust-like creatures from the smoke-filled Abyss. These creatures are then commissioned to torture everyone on earth who has received the mark of the Beast (Revelation 9:1-10).

Abaddon, whose Greek name is Apollyon, is revealed as the angel of the Abyss and the king of the tormenting locusts (Revelation 9:11). It’s debated as to whether Abaddon’s identity is that of Satan himself, but we know the fallen angel cannot be Satan because our enemy has not yet been sentenced to Hell or any such confined space. Instead, the Bible tells us that Satan currently roams the earth, seeking whom he may devour (John 14:30, 1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 2:2).

However, according to Revelation 20:1-7, it seems that Satan will eventually be locked and sealed in the realm of Abaddon for a thousand years prior to His final sentence, where he will be cast into the lake of fire once and for all.

“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.” 

What Is the Role of Abaddon (Apollyon) during End Time Events?

At God’s appointed time and at His command, Abaddon is the one who fulfills the fifth wave of trumpet judgment that will overtake the earth during the Tribulation. He uses his locust subjects as a tool of mass destruction to accomplish this purpose.

These “locusts” under Abaddon’s rule are not the same crop-destroying insects that live in infamy on Earth. “In fact, they are instructed not to bother with the grass or trees [when they are released] but to, instead, swarm against humans. They are given five months in which to torment people with pain like that of a scorpion bite. The Bible says it will be such agony that people will long for death but not be able to find it,” explains Lori Stanley Roeleveld in What Do Locusts Symbolize in the Bible?

Scripture gives detailed information about the demon-locusts’ horrific appearance and their destructive powers. The apostle John—who received the End Times revelation from God, then recorded it for Believers throughout the ages to read—described the supernatural creatures using vivid language and his own limited comparisons when translating the vision. But these demons were likely beyond anything humans can comprehend this side of Heaven.

John describes the tormenting creatures as “locusts” with human faces, long flowing hair, and sharp teeth. They were dressed in breastplates of iron and looked like horses prepped for battle. They wore crowns of gold on their heads, and the sound of their wings in flight was a thunderous noise that resembled a team of horses rushing into battle. The locusts had the power to torment people for five months, using their scorpion-like tails to sting anyone who bore the mark of the Antichrist. Once stung, a victim would suffer to the point of longing for death but would be unable to receive the comfort of the grave (Revelation 9:7-10).

Although Abaddon and his minions inflict unspeakable pain upon unsaved humanity during this period, God is still in control. Abaddon will not be permitted to completely destroy humanity. The role of this fallen angel is defined and ordained by God along with all the other powers of Hell subject to God’s sovereign will.

Why Should Christians Know about This?

If those who have not received the mark of the Beast are exempt from the torture involved in the fifth trumpet judgment, why should Believers be concerned with knowing the gory details outlined in Revelation nine?

“First, we should keep in mind that even if we know Jesus as our personal Savior, many of our friends and family do not … We want to help as many souls as possible to come and know our Savior prior to these events,” explains Hope Bolinger in Who Is Abaddon in the Bible?

Now more than ever it is important that Believers waste no time in presenting the Good News to those around us—especially those we love. As time draws to an end, the clock is an ever-present reminder of our duty and honor to lead others to Christ. Their eternal security depends upon it, and Christians have been given this great commission as a way to honor Jesus and reveal His glory to the world at large.

The tragic events revealed in John’s end-times visions prove to be a sobering reminder to believers that destruction lies ahead for anyone who has not placed their hope in Jesus. This should motivate us to shout from the rooftops the Way of salvation.

Another important thing to consider when wondering whether the End Times study is important is the fact that the Bible tells us that all Scripture is given by God for a purpose. God wants to teach, rebuke, correct, and train believers in righteousness through His Word, so that we can be complete and fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

God included the details of the fifth trumpet judgment, and every other prophecy, in Scripture to give His children insight into the future events and to shine the light of truth on who He is. In fact, Scripture tells us that those who read the prophesies contained in the book of Revelation are blessed. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).

As long as we don’t become fixated in and hyper-concerned with setting dates, and over-conceptualizing the End Times according to our own limited understanding, a healthy study of the book of Revelation will enrich every believer’s faith.

When we take the time to weed through, study and consider all the complexities of the strange and terrifying last book of the Bible, we see that it points back to the redemptive thread woven through the entire fabric of Scripture. God’s redemptive work comes into full view in the book of Revelation and completes the circle of mercy and grace that began in Genesis at the fall of man.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Luke Dray/Stringer

Annette GriffinAnnette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.