Verse 12: (Is. 13:10; Amos 8:9) And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
[Was smitten a third part of the sun, etc.] Just as by sailors lands are said to depart, so to those pressed by calamity the Sun, Moon, and Stars are said to fall. See on Matthew 24:29, and the Chaldean Paraphrase on Isaiah 13:10, and on Jeremiah 15:9. Darkness of Sun, Moon, and Stars signifies ruin in Achmet’s Oneirocriticon 166. In this place are signified the towns of Galilee and other parts, seized by Vespasian with the destruction of a great many Jews. Because nearly a third…part of Judea at that time met with this calamity, therefore the stars are said to have failed in their third part (Grotius). Others: The Temple is often described in Scripture as an army. This army is aptly portrayed by Sun, Moon, and Stars, which are wont to be called the armies of heaven: the Temple also is signified by the name of Heaven. The sense, therefore, is that now a Grievous Calamity was lying upon the Temple and its worship, which was performed both in the day and at night, with vigils also held at night. Or rather, the Sun here is the Temple; the Moon, the City; the Stars, the people; and all together denote the entire nation, against which this woe is denounced (Hammond). Others: This Trumpet advances a thorough deprivation of the Light of Roman Majesty in the city of Rome, with Royal power and Consular dignity, and the authority of the Senate and of the rest of the Magistrates removed, the City burned by Totila, and the third part of it destroyed, devoid of all inhabitants, and finally recovered indeed, but prostrated by whirlwind and lightnings a little afterwards; at one time the Queen of Cities now decayed unto an ignoble Dukedom, and under the Exarchate of Ravenna, over which it had formerly ruled, forced to serve and pay tribute. Oh the darkness, and the notable mockery of fortune! With this understanding Sun, Moon, and Stars are often taken, as in Isaiah 13:10; 60:20; Jeremiah 15:9; Ezekiel 32:7 (Mede’s Works 578). [But to this most sorrowful state of affairs the striking of the entire Sun appears to agree to a greater extent, and the withdrawing of all its light, etc., than that only a third part, etc., is obscured.] Others: This Trumpet denotes a great eclipse of glory, both in the Church through superstition, and in the Empire by enemies internal and external, and that before the appearance of the Papacy, which is revealed under the following Trumpet. The eclipse of the prosperity of a people is wont to be expressed by these phrases, as in Isaiah 13:9, 10; Joel 2:10 (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 158). This Trumpet denotes a higher degree of Apostasy (Forbes, similarly Durham), and a further spreading of it, and defection made gradually and insensibly from purity of doctrine, simplicity of worship, and the practice of piety, with traditions brought in little by little, and human ceremonies and superstitions. I refer these things to the sixth Century, in which few were the men renowned with respect to learning; and the ancient heresies were restored, as that of Eutyches, which Anastasius the Emperor approved and favored; and the eclipse of zeal and piety was great; but pride arose, namely, in John Bishop of Constantinople, who by the consent of Emperor Mauritius and the Bishops of the East took to himself the title of universal Bishop, which name Gregory himself, the Roman Bishop, at that time wrote, in Epistles 7:33, to be an indication and precursor of Antichrist (Durham). It here denotes the thick and blind ignorance lying upon the world at that time, etc. (Forbes). Others: A heresy is denoted here, [either] the Eutychian heresy (Lyra), or, that of the Cathars, Donatists, and Pelagians (Gravius). But in the sixth century there was no new heresy, etc. (Durham). Others: I refer this Trumpet to the darkness brought into the Church after the times of Sylvester unto the appearance of Antichrist through three hundred years, yet only in a third part, that is, in Europe alone (Pareus). The sense: In a third part of the World, namely, in the Western and European Churches, this failure of Pastors and the light of divine truth happened (Cotterius). By Sun, Moon, and Stars, I understand every sort of light, the purity of doctrine, which is compared to light, Psalm 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19; and the light of order and holy conversation, Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15. The beauty of the Church is also signified by these words, Song of Songs 6:10; Isaiah 30:26 (Durham). The Sun here is Christ (Forbes, Cluverus), the sun of righteousness, Malachi 4:2; the light of the world, John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46, who, after the likeness of the Sun, suffers an eclipse, not properly and in Himself, but inasmuch as His light and brightness and glory are intercepted, lest men should see Him (Cluverus). The Moon and stars are those that prevail to diffuse into the hearts of others the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ, etc. (Forbes). Others: Pastors are the Sun, who are the brightest luminaries of the world; who before this are called stars, here sun, by Progression (Cotterius). The Moon here is the Church (Cotterius, Cluverus), Revelation 12:1, 4, which has light from Christ, Matthew 4:16; it is inferior to the stars, that is, Teachers; the Church shines, Philippians 2:15, increases and decreases, and suffers a true Eclipse (Cluverus). The Stars here are, either Christians, or the sons of the Church (Cotterius): or, Teachers (Cluverus).