An Analysis of the Seventh Bowl of the Apocalypse -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 05:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: An Analysis of the Seventh Bowl of the Apocalypse
Author: Robert L. Thomas

An Analysis of the Seventh Bowl of the Apocalypse

Robert L. Thomas

Professor of New Testament

The extent and structure of the seventh bowl of Revelation have not been completely clear. The angelic agent who shows the new Jerusalem and the structural pattern of the two major intercalations regarding Babylon and the new Jerusalem indicate that the bowl extends from 16:17 all the way through 22:5. A number of miscellaneous indications—including two dramatic announcements of the end, the battle of Armageddon, the final judgment of Satan, and the finality of the last of the last plagues—confirm this extended nature of the bowl. Potential objections to that conclusion have satisfactory answers. The core happenings of the bowl have their descriptions in eight scenes in 19:11–21:8, with the two major intercalations before and after them. This definition of the seventh bowl allows for it to have a nature similar to the seventh seal and seventh trumpet, provides for a proper literary structure of the book as a whole, and confirms the premillennial return of Christ.

* * * * *

Throughout most of the visional portion of Revelation (4:1–22:5), the prevailing anticipation looks toward the establishment of a kingdom on earth over which God Himself will rule.1 John reaches the climax of his expectation in a series of bowl judgments that issue from the last of seven trumpet Judgments which, in turn, result from the seventh of seven seal judgments.2 The spotlight of the present study is on the last of the

seven bowl judgments with the goal of discovering the extent of the account describing that bowl, examining the structure of that special part, and deriving implications based on what is discovered.

The Extent of the Seventh Bowl

The earliest word about the seventh bowl is in Rev 16:17–21. The pouring of that bowl in the air leads to a loud voice out of the temple from the throne, proclaiming, “It is done,” or better, “It has been and remains done” (Γεγονεν [gegonen]). The action with its announcement indicates that the climax has come to be and remains so now and forever.3 The storm theophany, including the greatest earthquake yet, follows the utterance of that voice (cf.

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