Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Revelations Ch.16 / 22 Ch.s


* 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.

#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

#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.

#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.

#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.