Revelation 9: The Fifth Trumpet Judgment
Jesuit/ Futurist Interpretation
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
“Most understand [the fallen star] to be Heretics. The fall of an Arch heretic, as Arius, Luther, Calvin, out of the Church of God. They have the key of Hell to open and bring forth all the old condemned heresies before buried in the depth……[The Locusts are] heretics being ever ready to contend, who pretend victory and counterfeit gold: in shape of men, as smooth and delicate as women, their tongues and pens full of gall and venom: their hearts obdurate: full of noise and shuffling: their doctrine as pestiferous and full of poison, as the tail and sting of a scorpion, but they endure for a little season. The Heretics never hurt or seduce the green tree, that is, such as have living faith, working by charity, but commonly they corrupt him in faith who should otherwise have perished for ill life, and him that is reprobate, that hath neither the sign of the Cross (which is God’s mark) in the forehead of his body, nor the note of election in his soul…..[The Angel of the bottomless depth, the Destroyer,] is the chief master of heretics.” [Editor’s note: The Rheims Bible does not take a literal view of the fifth trumpet judgment. Instead, it applies the symbols to the Protestant Reformers.]
1590 Jesuit Ribera Revelation Commentary:
[Pareus on Ribera, re: the fifth trumpet judgment]: “Ribera…interprets this fallen star to be a good Angel, to whom was given the key to the bottomless pit, that he might open it, as a minister of God’s righteous judgments’….. ‘Who the locusts are is hard to define,’ saith Ribera, but later understands them to be cruel and barbarous men afflicting the Church, as did the Goths and Vandals of old…..Ribera believes these Locusts to be a real, literal military army, which is also composed of Kings and Princes who wear crowns on their heads…Ribera views the Destroyer the same Beast from the Abyss [Rev. 11], the Antichrist.” [Editor’s note: Ribera differs from the Rheims annotations, not readily identifying the Locust armies. He views the symbolism in the fifth trumpet judgment as having an application other than literal.]
1867 J. N. Darby Synopsis of the New Testament - Revelation:
“The fifth angel sounds (chap. 9); and one who should have been by position the instrument of light and governmental order over the earth was seen as having lost his place; and the power to let loose the full darkening influence of Satan was given him. He opened the bottomless pit — the place where evil is shut up and chained; not where it is punished, that is, the lake of fire. Supreme authority, and all heavenly light over the earth, and healthful influence of order, were darkened and made to cease by the evil satanic influence which was let loose. Nor was this all: direct instruments of satanic power came out of this evil influence in numbers; crowds of moral locusts with the sting of false doctrine in their tail. But it was not to destroy temporal prosperity on the earth, but to torment the ungodly Jews; not to kill, but to harass and vex them. This was to continue five months; for it is not the final judgment. The torment was worse than death — pain and anguish of heart. But they had the semblance of military imperial power, crowned, and with masculine energy, to those that met them……They were the direct instruments of the power of Satan, and under his orders. The angel of the bottomless pit, who rules the depths of Satan’s wiles, as the ruler of the power of darkness — led them.” [Editor’s note: Darby does not take a literal view of all the symbols in the fifth trumpet judgment. Darby identifies the fallen star as an unknown world leader, the Locusts are unknown instruments of Satan who propagate false doctrine. The unsaved Jews are those who are tormented. The Angel of the Bottomless Pit he does not identify either, but he does view him as a literal angel, under the dominion of Satan.]
1909 Scofield Reference Bible Annotations:
[Editor’s note: Scofield is silent as to the identity of the fallen star, Locusts, and Destroyer.]
1973 Hal Lindsey Revelation Commentary:
“The ‘star’ of Rev. 9:1 has to be a person rather than a literal star, since ‘he’ is given a key with which he opens the bottomless pit. I believe this fallen star is none other than Satan himself……The ‘locusts’ of Rev. 9:3 are said to be possessed by hell’s worst demons – fallen angels so ferocious that God has kept them bound since the days of Noah (2 Peter 2:4,5). Their leader is apparently a demon of almost the power and authority of Satan himself….There are diverse opinions among Bible teachers as to whether these creatures are actually going to be a supernatural, mutant locust especially created for this judgment or whether they symbolize some modern device of warfare.” [Editor’s note: Lindsey views the fallen star as a literal angel – Satan. He is not dogmatic as to the literal or spiritual application of the Locusts. The Angel of the Bottomless Pit he views as a literal demon under the authority of Satan. In these two latter points he follows Darby.]
1982 Jack Van Impe Revelation Commentary:
“The star John sees – a male personage – is without doubt the devil of verse 11 [i.e., the Destroyer]…….These are not literal locusts. Their power is too great. They are most likely fallen angels, who have been restrained and imprisoned in the bottomless pit since their fall (described in Genesis 6)……The Greek form, Apollyon, means ‘destroyer’ – a word that certainly describes Satan.” [Editor’s note: Van Impe follows Lindsey in applying the fallen star to Satan. He spiritualizes the Locusts to symbolize fallen angels of great power. The Destroyer he also views as Satan, taking a unique Futurist interpretation.]
1999 Tim LaHaye Revelation Commentary:
“Whenever possible we seek to interpret words in the book of Revelation literally. However, the use of the word ‘star’ in this verse is obviously intended figuratively rather than literally, for the ‘star’ is referred to as ‘him,’ thus clearly possessing personality……This must be a good angel to whom God can entrust such grave responsibility. His location in heaven further indicates he is a good angel, for fallen angels do not reside in heaven……..When the Abyss was opened, smoke rose from it until the air became saturated with a smoglike condition worse than anything Los Angeles or any city has ever experienced. Out of this smog will come locust-like scorpion creatures, which have no counterpart in all history. They have aptly been called ‘infernal cherubim’…….Years ago someone suggested that these are B-29s because they were well protected but had the capacity to sting from their tail. This is a fanciful suggestion, for in reality these are spirit beings that probably will not be seen by human beings but whose effects will be strongly felt….They are not to be interpreted literally, not symbolically, but spiritually, for they depict a spirit creature able to effect a physical response on humanity. These awful creatures that come on the earth for the purpose of persecuting people are beyond our comprehension. If human beings could see these creatures, their hearts would no doubt fail them for fear…….[The Destroyer] is a special angelic being of a fallen state who assists Satan in his evil spirit kingdom. It is probably not Satan himself, since he is not today confined in chains of darkness in the Abyss.” [Editor’s note: LaHaye follows Ribera interpreting the fallen angel as a ‘good’ angel. He takes a literal view of the smoke which rises from the Abyss. He also takes the fantastical view of locust-like spirit beings, following Lindsey and Van Impe. The Destroyer is an underling of Satan, agreeing with Darby and Lindsey.]
Protestant Reformed Historicist Interpretation
1618 Thomas Cartwright, A Confutation of the Rhemists….:
“This star is the great star spoken of before [Rev. 8:10] which identifies none other than the Pope of Rome, as appears both by his description and that of his seat, which is now a matter at large laid out for all to see by the learned of our times, and therefore we need not deal with this particular aspect of the prophecy more than is required to answer the Jesuits, who wrest this. Howbeit, even you Papists, if your writings were not of as many colors [i.e., different interpretations] as the Rainbow, you would have freed Luther and Calvin from this charge. For Master Calvin (in your judgment) was never any star or burning lamp in the heavens, giving light unto the sons of men; that is to say, was never (in your judgment) a Bishop of the Catholic Church. This ‘fallen star’ being, therefore, (as our Savior Christ expounded it himself), who at one time had a lawful Ministry in the Church, from which he was thrown down, cannot be Master Calvin, who died in the same Ministry which he first entered into after his departure from your Church. Neither can it be Luther, for although he were (in your judgment) once a Monk, thus a ‘star’ in the heavens, yet being then (in your own judgment) but a sorry, contemptible Monk, he could not at the same time be the great and blazing star here spoken of. So then it appears evident that your pen goes before your wisdom, and that you care not what arguments you hurl at us Protestants. But unto the Bishop of Rome, both by your judgment which brags of the shining light he gave in times past, and by ours as well, which also confesses that he was indeed at one time a burning lamp, it agreeth most aptly.
“[The Locusts] are a notable and lively description of the Popish clergy of Priests, Monks, Friars, and other such vermin, which will fight with themselves rather than lack an enemy: who pretend that they are Kings and a Kingly Priesthood, and in token thereof wear their shaven crowns, which make a show of humanity and mildness, when notwithstanding they are as ravening lions, feminine, giving to filthy lusts, as there is no Goat as stinking as they, and yet notwithstanding so surrounded with privileges and exemptions from the Law, that it is as if they wore ‘Iron breastplates’ which cannot be pierced by the sword of the Magistrate; no, not for their ravenous greed, nor for their Sodomy.” [Editor’s note: Cartwright holds the Reformation position: the Pope is the fallen star, the Antichrist; his locust-troops the clergy, monks, friars, Jesuits and others who have sworn obedience to him. He omits commenting on the identity of the Destroyer.]
1573 William Fulke Revelation Commentary:
“There is described in this ninth chapter the horrible confusion of the kingdom of Antichrist which was established partly by fraud and deceit, and partly by violence, rising to prominence, when it was discovered by the restoring of the Gospel, to be utterly abolished by the Coming of Christ…. [By ‘falling star’] I understand the same star [from Rev. 8:3] which had the name ‘Wormwood’ given it, which we said before signifies the head of this Church, the Bishop of Rome. And if any man contend that there is a discrepancy in number [for there have been many Bishops of Rome, yet the prophecy speaks of only one ‘star’] I hold that they are all the same in office, and they all make but one head of Antichrist which hath rule over the monstrous body of the Roman Church. Therefore, albeit this Roman Prelate shone in the heaven in times past, even as a star in the hand of the Lord, now that he is cast down to the earth, he has lost all his shining beauty. It is ridiculous, therefore, that the Pope brags of the dignity of his seat, honored by past Church fathers, while extolling the virtues of his predecessors who were martyrs of the primitive Church, because these honors and virtues are non-existent in the Papacy today, since it has been cast out of its heavenly seat unto the earth. A similar false boasting could be heard of the devil, who once had principality among the Angels, but who has since been expelled out of office.
“The Pope, who is Antichrist, boasts of having the keys of the kingdom of heaven which were committed to the Apostle Peter, and with great sacrilege he snatches them, not willing to share them with others, when they pertain and are common to all ministers of God’s Word. But in very deed, St. John plainly declares what kind of key is given him – the key to the bottomless pit of hell. Just as power to open heaven is given to the godly teachers of the Church, so to Antichrist and his ministers there is granted powers to open the pit of hell. We note here that the power of the adversary obtains rule in the world, not by chance or against the will of Christ, but by His will and pleasure, to take horrible and dreadful vengeance upon the profane contemnors of His Word……
“The pit of hell being opened, two most cursed and abominable evils ascend out of it, ignorance and error. For by the smoke which darkens the air and the sun I understand ignorance; and by the army of locusts, the teachers and defenders of errors. For that ignorance which before was spread over the third part of heaven only [Rev. 8:12] now darkens the entire sun and all the air. Truly, how gross and shameful the ignorance of the former ages anyone who has read their barbarous writings must agree.
“Scripture says that the locusts are bred of corrupt smoke, which if we receive as truth, it is found out that ignorance is the mother of errors. Howsoever it happens that the locusts go forth out of the smoke, it is manifest that the masters and teachers of errors took occasion by the ignorance of the people to spread abroad their devilish doctrine and wicked opinions. And just as the swarms of literal locusts very often infest and punish whole regions, so too, do these spiritual locusts infect, corrupt and devour all things. It is by the symbolism of locusts that the rabblement of Romish Mass Priests, Monks and especially Begging Friars, is signified.
“Heretics and maintainers of perverted opinions cannot sow and spread abroad their poison, but only so far as power is granted them, which power is upon those who perish. And this power to hurt of theirs, which is compared to the venomous poison of Scorpions, who are tiny vermin, is powerful enough to kill a man, many times its size. These spiritual locusts prick and sting secretly, like their earthly counterparts, by drawing the unsuspecting close to themselves by means of privy deceits so that they may then give them a deadly stroke. To these the Popish clergy is similar in all things, but especially the Begging Friars, which through a colored show and mask of humility, do seem little and harmless, yet secretly they thrust in the poisoned stings of their abominable errors, and so slay men.
“……….Neither the illusions of Satan, nor the subtle sleights of Antichrist have any force to seduce the elect, who are signed with the seal of God in their foreheads. The elect are like green plants, Psalm 1, watered by the dew of the heavenly doctrine, preserved from the locusts which burn up all things. Just as there are divers kinds of plants, grass, herbs and trees, so too, there are divers kinds of elect, [members of Christ’s Body,] all of whom are planted in the same common foundation: Christ; and all of whom cannot be eternally destroyed by this locust plague…..
“[Their hair is as the hair of women] notes the delicate wantonness and unbridled lust of Monks and other Popish clergy which is shameless and cannot be contained within bounds of the laws of nature. Also, their womanly attire is reproved and their other whorish tricks by which they would draw men to their dishonest love. For the world was never so blind that it would greatly esteem them, unless they bewitched the minds of men with their whorish enticements, as it were with charmed love potions…….
“That we may understand under what king this huge army of locusts doth war, he saith that the angel of the bottomless pit is their king, which is Satan himself, and the Pope is his vicar, whose name is given him in both Hebrew and Greek of the great desire and strength he has to ‘destroy,’ for in English it is translated Destroyer.” [Editor’s note: Fulke’s exegesis puts all the Futurists to shame, his heavenly gift of wisdom clearly evident, positing the Pope and his clergy as the ‘fallen star’ and locust army, who carry out the orders of their King, Satan.]
1644 David Pareus Revelation Commentary:
Editor’s note: Pareus was no literalist. See:
1847 E. B. Elliott Revelation Commentary:
[Editor’s note: Though no literalist, Elliott’s historical interpretation differs radically from the general Protestant view: The fallen star is the arch-heretic Mohammed, the Locust army the Saracens, the Destroyer is the evil Spirit of Islam which animated Mohammed and his disciples.]