on Revelation 16 :2
A noisome and grievous sore - This is a reference to the sixth Egyptian plague, boils and blains, Exodus 9:8, Exodus 9:9, etc.
on Revelation 16 :2
And the first went - Went forth from heaven, where the seat of the vision was laid.
And poured out his vial upon the earth - That is, upon the land, in contradistinction from the sea, the rivers, the air, the seat of the beast, the sun, as represented in the other vials. In Revelation 16:1, the word earth is used in the general sense to denote this world as distinguished from heaven; in this verse it is used in the specific sense, to denote land as distinguished from other things. Compare Mark 4:1; Mark 6:47; John 6:21; Acts 27:29, Acts 27:43-44. In many respects there is a strong resemblance between the pouring out of those seven vials, and the sounding of the seven trumpets, in Revelation 8-9, though they refer to different events. In the sounding of the first trumpet Revelation 8:7, it was the earth that was particularly affected in contradistinction from the sea, the fountains, and the sun: "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth." Compare Revelation 8:8, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 8:12. In regard to the symbolical meaning of the term earth, considered with reference to divine judgments, see the notes on Revelation 8:7.
And there fell a noisome and grievous sore - The judgment here is specifically different from that inflicted under the first trumpet, Revelation 8:7. There it is said to have been that "the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." Here it is that there fell upon people a "noisome and grievous sore." The two, therefore, are designed to refer to different events, and to different forms of punishment. The word rendered "sore" properly denotes a wound (Homer, Iliad xi. 812), and then, in later writers, an ulcer or sore. It is used in the New Testament only in the following places: Luke 16:21, "The dogs came and licked his sores"; and in Revelation 16:2, Revelation 16:11, where it is rendered "sore," and "sores." It is used in the Septuagint, in reference to the boils that were brought upon the Egyptians, in Exodus 9:9-12, and probably Deuteronomy 28:27; in reference to the leprosy, Leviticus 13:18-20, Leviticus 13:23; in reference to the boil, ulcer, or elephantiasis brought upon Job JObadiah 2:7; and in reference to any sore or ulcer, in Deuteronomy 28:35.
In all these places it is the translation of the word שׁחין shechiyn - rendered in our English version as "boil," Exodus 9:9-11; Leviticus 13:18-20, Leviticus 13:23; 2 Kings 20:7; Job 2:7; Isaiah 38:21; and "botch," Deuteronomy 28:27, Deuteronomy 28:35. The proper meaning, therefore, is that of a sore, ulcer, or boil of a severe and painful character; and the most obvious reference in the passage, to one who was accustomed to the language of Scripture, would be to some fearful plague like what was sent upon the Egyptians. In the case of Hezekiah 2 Kings 20:7; Isaiah 38:21, it was probably used to denote a "plague-boil," or the black leprosy. See the notes on Isaiah 38:21. The word "noisome" - κακὸν kakon, "evil, bad" - is used here to characterize the plague referred to as being especially painful and dangerous. The word "grievous" - πονηρον ponēron - "bad, malignant, hurtful" - is further used to increase the intensity of the expression, and to characterize the plague as particularly severe. There is no reason to suppose that it is meant that this would be literally inflicted, anymore than it is in the next plague, where it is said that the "rivers and fountains became blood." What is obviously meant is, that there would be some calamity which would be well represented or symbolized by such a fearful plague.
Upon the men - Though the plague was poured upon "the earth," yet its effects were seen upon "men." Some grievous calamity would befall them, as if they were suddenly visited with the plague.
Which had the mark of the beast - notes on Revelation 13:16-17. This determines the portion of the earth that was to be afflicted. It was not the whole world; it was only that part of it where the "beast" was honored. According to the interpretation proposed in Revelation 13, this refers to those who are under the dominion of the papacy.
And upon them which worshipped his image - See the notes on Revelation 13:14-15. According to the interpretation in Revelation 13, those are meant who sustained the civil or secular power to which the papacy gave life and strength, and from which it, in turn, received countenance and protection.
In regard to the application or fulfillment of this symbol, it is unnecessary to say that there have been very different opinions in the world, and that very different opinions still prevail. The great mass of Protestant commentators suppose that it refers to the papacy; and of those who entertain this opinion, the greater portion suppose that the calamity referred to by the pouring out of this vial is already past, though it is supposed by many that the things foreshadowed by a part of these "vials" are yet to be accomplished. As to the true meaning of the symbol before us, I would make the following remarks:
(1) It refers to the papal power. This application is demanded by the results which were reached in the examination of Revelation 13. See the remarks on the "beast" in the notes on Revelation 13:1-2, Revelation 13:11, and on "the image of the beast" in the notes on Revelation 13:14-15. This one mighty power existed in two forms closely united, and mutually sustaining each other - the civil or secular, and the ecclesiastical or spiritual. It is this combined and consolidated power - the papacy as such - that is referred to here, for this has been the grand anti-Christian power in the world.
(2) it refers to some grievous and fearful calamity which would come upon that power, and which would be like a plague-spot on the human body - something which would be of the nature of a divine judgment, resembling what came upon the Egyptians for their treatment of the people of God.
(3) the course of this exposition leads us to suppose, that this would be the beginning in the series of judgments, which would terminate in the complete overthrow of that formidable power. It is the first of the vials of wrath, and the whole description evidently contemplates a series of disasters, which would be properly represented by these successive vials. In the application of this, therefore, we should naturally look for the first of a series of such judgments, and should expect to find some facts in history which would he properly represented by the vial "poured upon the earth."
(4) in accordance with this representation, we should expect to find such a series of calamities gradually weakening, and finally terminating the papal power in the world, as would be properly represented by the number seven.
(5) in regard now to the application of this series of symbolical representations, it may be remarked, that most recent expositors - as Elliott, Cunninghame, Keith, Faber, Lord, and others - refer them to the events of the French revolution, as important events in the overthrow of the papal power; and this, I confess, although the application is attended with some considerable difficulties, has more plausibility than any other explanation proposed. In support of this application, the following considerations may be suggested:
(a) France, in the time of Charlemagne, was the kingdom to which the papacy owed its civil organization and its strength - a kingdom to which could be traced all the civil or secular power of the papacy, and which was, in fact, a restoration or reconstruction of the old Roman power - the fourth kingdom of Daniel. See the notes on Daniel 7:24-28; and compare the notes on Revelation 13:3, Revelation 13:12-14. The restoration of the old Roman dominion under Charlemagne, and the aid which he rendered to the papacy in its establishment as to a temporal power, would make it probable that this kingdom would be referred to in the series of judgments that were to accomplish the overthrow of the papal dominion.
on Revelation 16 :2
16:2 And the first went - So the second, third, and c., without adding angel, to denote the utmost swiftness; of which this also is a token, that there is no period of time mentioned in the pouring out of each phial. They have a great resemblance to the plagues of Egypt, which the Hebrews generally suppose to have been a month distant from each other. Perhaps so may the phials; but they are all yet to come. And poured out his phial upon the earth - Literally taken. And there came a grievous ulcer - As in Egypt, Exod 9:10,11. On the men who had the mark of the wild beast - All of them, and them only. All those plagues seem to be described in proper, not figurative, words.