on Revelation 9 :15
For an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year - We have in this place a year resolved into its component parts. Twenty-four hours constitute a day, seven days make a week, four weeks make a month, and twelve months make a year. Probably no more is meant than that these four angels were at all times prepared and permitted to inflict evil on the people against whom they had received their commission. There are some who understand these divisions of time as prophetical periods, and to these I must refer, not professing to discuss such uncertainties.
on Revelation 9 :15
And the four angels were loosed - Who had this mighty host under restraint. The loosening of the angels was, in fact, also a letting loose of all these hosts, that they might accomplish the work which they were commissioned to do.
Which were prepared - See Revelation 9:7. The word used here properly refers to what is made ready, suited up, arranged for anything: as persons prepared for a journey, horses for battle, a road for travelers, food for the hungry, a house to live in, etc. See Robinson's Lexicon, sub. voce Ἑτοιμάζω Hetoimazō. As used here, the word means "that whatever was necessary to prepare these angels" - the leaders of this host - for the work which they were commissioned to perform, was now done, and that they stood in a state of readiness to execute the design. In the fulfillment of this it will be necessary to look for some arrangements existing in the vicinity of the Euphrates, by which these restrained hosts were in a state of readiness to be summoned forth to the execution of this work, or in such a condition that they would go forth spontaneously if the restraints existing were removed.
For an hour, ... - Margin, "at." The Greek - εἰς eis - means properly "unto, with reference to"; and the sense is, that, with reference to that hour, they had all the requisite preparation. Prof. Stuart explains it as meaning that they were "prepared for the particular year, month, day, and hour, destined by God for the great catastrophe which is to follow." The meaning, however, rather seems to be that they were prepared, not for the commencement of such a period, but they were prepared for the whole period indicated by the hour, the day, the month, and the year; that is, that the continuance of this "woe" would extend along through the whole period. For:
(a) this is the natural interpretation of the word "for" - εἰς eis;
(b) it makes the whole sentence intelligible - for though it might be proper to say of anything that it was "prepared for an hour," indicating the commencement of what was to be done, it is not usual to say of anything that it is "prepared for an hour, a month, a day, a year," when the design is merely to indicate the beginning of it; and,
(c) it is in accordance with the prediction respecting the first "woe" Revelation 9:5, where the time is specified in language similar to this, to wit, "five months." It seems to me, therefore, that we are to regard the time here mentioned as a prophetic indication of the period during which this woe would continue.
An hour, and a day, and a month, and a year - If this were to be taken literally, it would, of course, be but little more than a year. If it be taken, however, in the common prophetic style, where a day is put for a year (see the notes on Daniel 9:24 ff; also Editor's Preface, p. xxv. etc.), then the amount of time (360 + 30 + 1 + an hour) would be 391 years, and the portion of a year indicated by an hour - a twelfth part or twenty-fourth part, according as the day was supposed to be divided into twelve or twenty-four hours. That this is the true view seems to be clear, because this accords with the usual style in this book; because it can hardly be supposed that the "preparation" here referred to would have been for so brief a period as the time would be if literally interpreted; and because the mention of so small a portion of time as an "hour," if literally taken, would be improbable in so great transactions. The fair interpretation, therefore, will require us to find some events that will fill up the period of about 391 years.
For to slay the third part of men - Compare Revelation 8:7, Revelation 8:9,Revelation 8:12. The meaning here is, that the immense host which was restrained on the Euphrates would, when loosed, spread desolation over about a third part of the world. We are not to suppose that this is to be understood in exactly a literal sense; but the meaning is, that the desolation would be so widespread that it would seem to embrace a third of the world. No such event as the cutting off of a few thousands of Jews in the siege of Jerusalem would correspond with the language here employed, and we must look for events more general and more disastrous to mankind at large.
on Revelation 9 :15