Revelation 16

Listen to Revelation 16

The Seven Bowls of God's Wrath

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling 1the seven angels, "Go and 2pour out on the earth 3the seven bowls of the wrath of God."
2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful 4sores came upon the people who bore 5the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and 6it became like the blood of a corpse, and 7every living thing died that was in the sea.
4 The third angel poured out his bowl into 8the rivers and the springs of water, and 9they became blood.
5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters[a] say, 10"Just are you, 11O Holy One, 12who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.
6 For 13they have shed the blood of 14saints and prophets, and 15you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!"
7 And I heard 16the altar saying, "Yes, Lord God the Almighty, 17true and just are your judgments!"
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people 18with fire.
9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and 19they cursed[b] the name of God who had power over these plagues. 20They did not repent 21and give him glory.
10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on 22the throne of the beast, and 23its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish
11 and cursed 24the God of heaven for their pain and 25sores. 26They did not repent of their deeds.
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on 27the great river Euphrates, and 28its water was dried up, 29to prepare the way for the kings 30from the east.
13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of 31the dragon and out of the mouth of 32the beast and out of the mouth of 33the false prophet, three 34unclean spirits like 35frogs.
14 For they are 36demonic spirits, 37performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, 38to assemble them for battle on 39the great day of God the Almighty.
15 ("Behold, 40I am coming like a thief! 41Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, 42that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!")
16 And 43they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called 44Armageddon.

The Seventh Bowl

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into 45the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, 46"It is done!"
18 And there were 47flashes of lightning, rumblings,[c] peals of thunder, and 48a great earthquake 49such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.
19 50The great city 51was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God 52remembered 53Babylon the great, 54to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
20 And 55every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.
21 And 56great hailstones, about one hundred pounds[d] each, fell from heaven on people; and 57they cursed God for 58the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

Revelation 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

The first vial is poured out on the earth, the second on the sea, the third on the rivers and fountains. (1-7) The fourth on the sun, the fifth on the seat of the beast. (8-11) The sixth on the great river Euphrates. (12-16) And the seventh on the air, when shall follow the destruction of all antichristian enemies. (17-21)

Verses 1-7 We are to pray that the will of God may be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Here is a succession of terrible judgments of Providence; and there seems to be an allusion to several of the plagues of Egypt. The sins were alike, and so were the punishments. The vials refer to the seven trumpets, which represented the rise of antichrist; and the fall of the enemies of the church shall bear some resemblance to their rise. All things throughout their earth, their air, their sea, their rivers, their cities, all are condemned to ruin, all accursed for the wickedness of that people. No wonder that angels, who witness or execute the Divine vengeance on the obstinate haters of God, of Christ, and of holiness, praise his justice and truth; and adore his awful judgments, when he brings upon cruel persecutors the tortures they made his saints and prophets suffer.

Verses 8-11 The heart of man is so desperately wicked, that the most severe miseries never will bring any to repent, without the special grace of God. Hell itself is filled with blasphemies; and those are ignorant of the history of human nature, of the Bible, and of their own hearts, who do not know that the more men suffer, and the more plainly they see the hand of God in their sufferings, the more furiously they often rage against him. Let sinners now seek repentance from Christ, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, or they will have the anguish and horror of an unhumbled, impenitent, and desperate heart; thus adding to their guilt and misery through all eternity. Darkness is opposed to wisdom and knowledge, and forebodes the confusion and folly of the idolaters and followers of the beast. It is opposed to pleasure and joy, and signifies anguish and vexation of spirit.

Verses 12-16 This probably shows the destruction of the Turkish power, and of idolatry, and that a way will be made for the return of the Jews. Or, take it for Rome, as mystical Babylon, the name of Babylon being put for Rome, which was meant, but was not then to be directly named. When Rome is destroyed, her river and merchandise must suffer with her. And perhaps a way will be opened for the eastern nations to come into the church of Christ. The great dragon will collect all his forces, to make one desperate struggle before all be lost. God warns of this great trial, to engage his people to prepare for it. These will be times of great temptation; therefore Christ, by his apostle, calls on his professed servants to expect his sudden coming, and to watch that they might not be put to shame, as apostates or hypocrites. However Christians differ, as to their views of the times and seasons of events yet to be brought to pass, on this one point all are agreed, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will suddenly come again to judge the world. To those living near to Christ, it is an object of joyful hope and expectation, and delay is not desired by them.

Verses 17-21 The seventh and last angel poured forth his vial, and the downfal of Babylon was finished. The church triumphant in heaven saw it and rejoiced; the church in conflict on earth saw it and became triumphant. God remembered the great and wicked city; though for some time he seemed to have forgotten her idolatry and cruelty. All that was most secure was carried away by the ruin. Men blasphemed: the greatest judgments that can befal men, will not bring to repentance without the grace of God. To be hardened against God, by his righteous judgments, is a certain token of sure and utter destruction.

Cross References 58

  • 1. See Revelation 15:1
  • 2. Psalms 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25; Zephaniah 3:8
  • 3. Revelation 15:7
  • 4. ver. 11; Exodus 9:9-11
  • 5. Revelation 13:16
  • 6. Revelation 8:8
  • 7. Revelation 8:9
  • 8. Revelation 8:10
  • 9. Exodus 7:17-20
  • 10. Jeremiah 12:1; John 17:25
  • 11. Revelation 15:4
  • 12. Revelation 11:17; [Revelation 1:4, 8; Revelation 4:8]
  • 13. Revelation 18:24; [Revelation 13:15]
  • 14. Revelation 11:18
  • 15. [Isaiah 49:26; Luke 11:49, 50]
  • 16. Revelation 6:9
  • 17. Revelation 15:3; Revelation 19:2; [Psalms 119:137]
  • 18. Revelation 9:17; [Revelation 14:18]
  • 19. ver. 11, 21
  • 20. [Daniel 5:22]; See Revelation 2:21
  • 21. [Daniel 5:23]; See Revelation 11:13
  • 22. Revelation 13:2
  • 23. Revelation 9:2; Exodus 10:21
  • 24. Revelation 11:13
  • 25. ver. 2
  • 26. See Revelation 2:21
  • 27. Revelation 9:14
  • 28. Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 44:27; Jeremiah 50:38; Jeremiah 51:32, 36
  • 29. [Isaiah 41:2, 25; Isaiah 46:11]
  • 30. Revelation 7:2
  • 31. Revelation 12:3, 9
  • 32. Revelation 13:1
  • 33. Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; [Revelation 13:11, 14]
  • 34. Revelation 18:2
  • 35. [Exodus 8:6]
  • 36. [1 Timothy 4:1]
  • 37. See Revelation 13:13
  • 38. Revelation 20:8; [Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:19; 1 Kings 22:20]
  • 39. See Revelation 6:17
  • 40. See Revelation 3:3
  • 41. Revelation 3:2, 3; See Matthew 24:42
  • 42. Revelation 3:18
  • 43. Revelation 19:19
  • 44. Zechariah 12:11; See Judges 5:19
  • 45. [Ephesians 2:2]
  • 46. See Revelation 10:6
  • 47. Revelation 4:5; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19
  • 48. Revelation 6:12; Revelation 11:13
  • 49. Daniel 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matthew 24:21
  • 50. Revelation 11:8
  • 51. [Revelation 11:13]
  • 52. Revelation 18:5; [Psalms 74:18]
  • 53. See Revelation 14:8
  • 54. See Revelation 14:10
  • 55. See Revelation 6:14
  • 56. Revelation 11:19
  • 57. ver. 9, 11
  • 58. Exodus 9:23-25

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Greek angel of the waters
  • [b]. Greek blasphemed; also verses 11, 21
  • [c]. Or voices, or sounds
  • [d]. Greek a talent in weight

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of the pouring out of the seven vials by the angels; their orders for it are in Re 16:1. The first angel pours out his vial on the earth, the effect of which is a noisome and grievous sore upon the followers of antichrist, and the worshippers of his image, Re 16:2. The second pours out his upon the sea; the events of it are, the sea became blood, and every living creature in it died, Re 16:3. The third pours out his upon the rivers and fountains of water, which thereby became blood; upon which the angel of the waters applauds the justice of God, declaring the righteousness of his judgments, and giving a reason for it; and which is confirmed by another angel from the altar, Re 16:4-7. The fourth angel pours out his vial on the sun, the effects of which are, scorching men with heat, their blasphemy against God, and impenitence, Re 16:8,9. The fifth pours out his on the seat of the beast, the consequences of which are darkness in his kingdom, men gnawing their tongues because of their pains, their blasphemy of the name of God because of them, and their impenitence, Re 16:10,11. The sixth angel pours out his on the river Euphrates, and what followed upon it are, the drying up of that river to make way for the kings of the east; there unclean spirits are seen, described by their original, coming out of the mouths of the dragon, beast, and false prophet; by their form, like frogs; by their internal nature, spirits of devils; by their works, doing miracles; by the errand they are sent, and go upon, to gather the kings of the earth to the battle of God Almighty, which they succeed in; but before this is done, a declaration is made of the suddenness of Christ's coming, exciting the saints to watchfulness, and to keep their garments, that they might not be naked, and exposed to shame, Re 16:12-16 Then the seventh angel pours out his vial into the air, the consequences of which are, a voice from heaven declaring it is done: other voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake; a rupture of the great city into three parts; the fall of other cities; the remembrance of Babylon before God; the flight of every island and mountain, and a great hail storm, which causes men to blaspheme God, Re 16:17-21.

Revelation 16 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.