Poole on Revelation 9:1: The Origin of Islam

Verse 1:[1] And the fifth angel sounded, (Luke 10:18; Rev. 8:10) and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of (Luke 8:31; Rev. 17:8; 20:1; 9:2, 11) the bottomless pit.



[The fifth Angel, etc.] The things contained in this vision almost all understand of heretics (Gagnæus); but a significant number of interpreters understand them of heretical forerunners of Antichrist (Gagnæus, similarly Ribera). It here denotes the Arian heresy with its Macedonian, Nestorian, and Eutychean attendants, which were attacking the person, and consequently the office, of Christ (Cluverus). This Trumpet denotes the defection of the Church or Christian World under Antichrist, who arose under the Trumpets, and here seizes advancements; it denotes, not temporal, but spiritual judgments. This is proven, 1. from the description of the locusts, to which the discussion turns next; 2. from a comparision with Revelation 11 and 13, where the same War, as is found here, is discussed, that is, with the Beast, or Antichrist, as the event shows, which is the same. For, in both cases, only those not sealed are conquered, and the sealed are exempt from this evil, Revelation 9:4; 13:8; 14:1, even indeed in the same number, Revelation 7 and 14:2, and defended by the same seal. The witnesses are killed by the Beast, Revelation 11:7, namely, that one that ascended from the abyss, Revelation 13, whence come the locusts here. Then that is called the second woe, and the third comes, Revelation 11:14. 3. From a comparison with the Vials. The fifth Vial overturns the throne of the Beast,[2] which the fifth Trumpet erected. 4. From a comparison with Revelation 7, in which the elect are sealed against this Antichristian plague, as if it were the greatest calamity of the Church after the Pagan persecutions. 5. Inasmuch as the sixth Trumpet discovers Idolatry in the visible Church, which accordingly sprung up under the fifth Trumpet (Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of Revelation 434). 6. From the nature of that evil, which is, both, 1. spiritual, polluting the worship of God, and murdering souls, brought in by Ecclesiastical men: and, 2. universal, pervading the entire visible Church: and, 3. most pernicious, instilling the greatest horror, etc.: and, 4. the most powerful, passing into a Kingdom, and assuming the highest power and authority. Now, this plague invaded the Church around the year 600, both because it immediately follows the fourth Trumpet, and because it immediately precedes the rise of Mohammedism, which increased from the year 700 and following, as we shall see in its place (Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of Revelation 442).


[I saw that a star from heaven fell (or, which had fallen [Zegers]: It does not say πίπτοντα/falling,[3] but πεπτωκότα, having fallen[4] [Cotterius]) unto the earth] That is, upon a third part of the earth, that is, of the Ecclesiastical state, as it appears from all the circumstances of the fifth and sixth Trumpets, and from a comparison of this Trumpet with the third, the star of which even now is working (Cotterius). By this star he understands, either, 1. the Devil (Zegers, Ribera out of Bede, thus Mede’s Works 579), who formerly was shining in heaven like a star, but fell from thence (Ribera). But this is general and weak. Why would a most well-known history be exhibited under an obscure type, as if a new Prophecy (Pareus)? John did not need to be taught what he already knew. Therefore, he certainly saw something here, something that he had not previously seen. Or, 2. Christ (Ribera), or a good Angel (Ribera, Menochius, Tirinus), from a comparison with Revelation 20:1, where Bede, Ambrose,[5] and others thus explain the Angel to whom was given the key of the Abyss. And the key to house or prison is not wont to be entrusted except to friends (Ribera). He is said here to have fallen from heaven, that is, to have come down with great swiftness (Ribera, thus Menochius). Or, 3. the army of seditious men under Joseph son of Matthias, from which men the Zealots arose, etc. For this star is said πεπτωκὼς, to have fallen, which manifestly has regard unto Revelation 8:10, where this same star ἔπεσεν/fell, etc. (Hammond). Or, 4. a Teacher or Bishop of first note (Pareus, similarly Forbes, Cluverus, Durham, Piscator), as stars are taken in Revelation 1:20 (Pareus, Cluverus), and in Revelation 8:10; 12:4 (Cluverus), who fell from light unto darkness, from the heavenlies and the true state of the Saints unto the condition and love of the world, etc. (Forbes), from heavenly and Christian simplicity and purity of doctrine and morals unto superstitions and idolatries, and external pomp, and worldly and carnal institutes (Durham). Now, this false Teacher is, [either, 1.] Eleazar son of Ananias, who taught that sacrifices were not to be received from pagan Princes, contrary to what had been done by examples,[6] even by the Prophets, under Cyrus[7] and Alexander[8] and their successors, and under Tiberius Augustus[9] also: Josephus’ Jewish War 2:17. This here is referred to a later time, for the effects following thereupon are latter than the things before spoken. Thus Historians often follow the order of connected events, not the sequence of times (Grotius). Or, 2. Arius the heresiarch with his confederates (Gravius, similarly Cluverus). Or, 3. the Roman Bishop, Boniface III, declared the Universal Pope and Pontiff by Phocas the parricide, in the year of our Lord 606[10] (Pareus, thus Durham), which decree was soon confirmed by the Lateran Council of sixty-two, or seventy-two, Bishops,[11] with many at that time protesting, but in vain. From that time, the light of the word was obscured; traditions, superstitions, and idolatrous forms of worship, etc., crept into the Church (Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of Revelation 443). Yet this ought not to be taken of himself alone (Pareus), or of any one man (Forbes); but of the entire seat, and his successors, who ever made the matter worse (Pareus). For this fall is a general type of this evil, whereby those that had been stars of heaven and ministers of light, as having the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, degenerated into ministers of other keys, indeed of Gehenna, and proved to be unskilled and ministers of darkness (Forbes). Note here the Antithesis: When the World was about to emerge from the darkness of Paganism, Christ gives to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of the heavens, so that he might open the door to the Gentiles: for to them he was the first to preach, Acts 10; 15:7. When the World was about to relapse into its former Paganism, the key of the Abyss was given to Antichrist (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 158).




[And was given (which phrase does not signify his legitimate vocation, but, 1. a great change following, with him having obtained now a new key or power: 2. his usurpation of authority: 3. a delegation of office to him conferred by the Devil, Revelation 13:2, 4: 4. the wise and just, although hidden, providence of God rightly governing all these things, etc. [Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of Revelation 437]) to him (namely, to that falling star [Grotius, thus Camerarius, Piscator, Ribera]: whence it is proven that star is here taken, not properly, but metaphorically, for a key cannot be given to a star [Ribera]) the key (that is, authority [Piscator, Zegers]) to the well of the abyss] That is, to the well of that which is called the Abyss (Piscator), namely, that of opening (Piscator). Φρέαρ τῆς ἀβύσσου, pit of the abyss, in the place of φρέαρ ἄβυσσον, bottomless pit. A Hebraic expression.[12] Thus abyss and well are posited with the same signification, Psalm 69:15.[13] Now, prisons were wont to be in deep places, Jeremiah 38:6.[14] And those places were sometimes wont to be shut and locked, Daniel 6:17. Thus in Revelation 20:7, what is at first called ἄβυσσος/abyss,[15] is soon called φυλακή/prison. The Hebrews place בְּאֵר שַׁחַת, the pit of destruction, of Psalm 55:23 among the infernal regions. See the book which is called The Cedar of Lebanon. The doctrine of this star was not of God, but of Satan, who is said to be enclosed in a deep prison, inasmuch as he is not able to do what he would like, Luke 8:31; Revelation 20:3. However, he who spreads those doctrines, τὰ βάθη τοῦ Σατανᾶ, the depths of Satan,[16] is said to have the key to well of the deep, as in Revelation 20 (Grotius). In another place, the first chaos is called the deep, Genesis 1:2;[17] in another place, the depth of the sea or waters, as in Genesis 7:11[18] and Psalm 42:7[19] (Pareus); but here hell or gehenna (Pareus, thus Piscator, Zeger, Cotterius, Forbes, Cluverus, Durham, Beza), as it is taken in Job 28:14;[20] Luke 8:31; Romans 10:7 (Cluverus), and everywhere in this book (Pareus), as in Revelation 9:11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3 (Cluverus).


And the fifth angel sounded; the fifth of the seven angels mentioned Revelation 8:2, to whom were given seven trumpets. It denoteth the beginning of a new period of calamities and miseries to the earth, or to the church. And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: what this star falling from heaven means, is not easy to resolve. Those who think it the devil, once a star, but fallen, forget that John is not here told a story of what was in the beginning of the world, but what should be, and that five hundred years after Christ’s coming. And the same reason holds against those who think those seditious persons are meant, who did so much mischief in and about Jerusalem during the siege; this had been to have revealed to John those things which he knew were done many years before. Amongst those who think some particular eminent minister of the church, who apostatized, is meant, those seem to me to judge better, who think that Boniface the Third is meant, who, in the year 606, obtained the privilege of the pope’s supremacy, than those who understand it of Arius or Pelagius, who both of them fell two hundred years before this. It seems very harsh to interpret it of Christ, or any good angel’s descending from heaven, because the word πεπτωκότα is rightly by us translated falling, and not to be interpreted so softly as descending. In all probability, therefore, the first apostacy of the bishop of Rome was here prophesied. But how to him was given the key of the bottomless pit, (by which hell is meant here, as often in Scripture,) is hard to say; unless we understand it of his instrumentality, to send many thousands to hell by that corrupt doctrine and worship, which by him then began to obtain. But his key was borrowed, (if God had not permitted him he could not have done it,) and it turned but one way; he had only a power to open it, not (as Christ) both to open and shut it.

[1] Greek: Καὶ ὁ πέμπτος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισε, καὶ εἶδον ἀστέρα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεπτωκότα εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἡ κλεὶς τοῦ φρέατος τῆς ἀβύσσου. [2] Revelation 16:10. [3] Present participle. [4] Perfect participle. [5] Ambrose (340-397), Bishop of Milan, was a man of great influence, ecclesiastically and politically, and was instrumental in the conversion of Augustine. [6] Eleazer, son of the High Priest Ananias (Acts 23; 24), was a captain of the Temple. Apparently at the instigation of Eleazer, the temple priests ceased to offer sacrifices in honor of the emperor, which became a catalyst for the First Jewish Revolt. In the intestine struggle which ensued, Eleazer led a party of militant Zealots against the moderates willing to come to terms with the Romans. After the victory of the Zealots, who took the TempleMount and set fire to certain public buildings and records, Eleazer took command of Jewish forces in Idumea. [7] That is, Cyrus the Great of Persia. See Ezra 1; 6. [8] That is, Alexander the Great. Josephus records that Alexander, having been met by the High Priest Jaddus upon entry into Palestine, went to the Temple at Jerusalem and offered sacrifices. He is also said to have granted the Jews an exemption with respect to tribute on sabbatical years. [9] Emperor Augustus, having a measure of regard for the Jews, decreed that sacrifices to the “Jewish God” were to be offered daily in the Temple at his expense. At some point, these became sacrifices to God for the Emperor’s health. [10] Emperor Phocas (Flavius Phocas Augustus), reigning from 602-610, was a usurper to the throne; he executed Emperor Maurice, his predecessor, before he himself was overthrown by Emperor Heraclius. Because of the continuing claims of Patriarch Cyriacus II of Constantinople to the title of “Universal Bishop”, Boniface III sought from Phocas, and obtained, a decree that “the See of the Blessed Peter the Apostle should be the head of all the Churches,” thus reasserting the primacy of the Roman See. [11] Boniface III, almost immediately after receiving the title of “Universal Bishop”, convened a council at the Basilica of St. Peter to ratify the Edict of Phocas. It was attended by seventy-two bishops. [12] Nouns in the absolute state of a construct chain can often carry an adjectival sense, like an adjectival Genitive. [13] Psalm 69:15: “Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep (מְצוּלָה; βυθός, in the Septuagint) swallow me up, and let not the pit (בְּאֵר; φρέαρ/well, in the Septuagint) shut her mouth upon me.” [14] Jeremiah 38:6: “Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon (הַבּוֹר, the pit) of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.” [15] Revelation 20:1, 3: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit (τὴν κλεῖδα τῆς ἀβύσσου) and a great chain in his hand…. And he cast him into the bottomless pit (εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον), and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” [16] Revelation 2:24. [17] Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep (תְהוֹם; τῆς ἀβύσσου, in the Septuagint). And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” [18] Genesis 7:11b: “…the same day were all the fountains of the great deep (תְּה֣וֹם רַבָּ֔ה; τῆς ἀβύσσου, of the abyss, in the Septuagint) broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” [19] Psalm 42:7: “Deep unto deep (תְּהוֹם־אֶל־תְּהוֹם; ἄβυσσος ἄβυσσον, in the Septuagint) calleth at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” [20] Job 28:14: “The depth (תְּהוֹם; ἄβυσσος, in the Septuagint) saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.”

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