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NASB, Revelation 9:11 - They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Who is "Apollyon", and how does an understanding of this character from the contemporary, wider cultural context explain the inclusion of this name in Rev 9:11?

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There is with little doubt a link between Apollyon and Apollo. Let me elaborate:

The name Apollyon is a Greek play on words for "Apollo" (Apollon in Greek) and "Destroyer." Revelation 9:11 reads, “They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).” Abaddon means “destruction or ruin” which is “apoleia” in Greek. Though Abaddon means “destruction or ruin” it is truly the place of destruction or ruin which in Greek is Hades or bussos or abussos (Abyss). Why does John call the angel of the Abyss the name for “destruction” or “the place of destruction” in Hebrew but then use the Greek word “Apollyon” meaning “destroyer” which is not an exact Greek translation of the Hebrew Abaddon? John appears to call the angel of the Abyss “Apollyon” rather than using more exact Greek translations of Abaddon like “apoleia,” Hades, “bussos” or “abussos” because of the similarity between the words “destroyer” (Apollyon) and Apollo (Apollon) in Greek. In other words, this word selection appears to be a word play for “Apollo” (Apollon) and “Destroyer” (Apollyon).

The fact that Apollyon is used to intentionally call to mind the god Apollo is hinted at throughout Revelation 9. The Anchor Bible Dictionary says the following concerning the link between Apollyon and Apollo:

In one manuscript, instead of Apollyon the text reads "Apollo," the Greek god of death and pestilence [or plague like the plague of locusts mentioned in Revelation 9] . . . . Apollyon is no doubt the correct reading. But the name Apollo (Gk Apollon) was often linked in ancient Greek writings with the verb apollymi or apollyo, "destroy." From this time of Grotius, "Apollyon" has often been taken here to be a play on the name Apollo. The LOCUST was an emblem of this god[.]” [Emphasis mine.]

Concerning this perceived link between Apollyon and Apollo, Isbon Beckworth writes, “Some (Boss, Holtzm.-Bauer, al.) find in the name Apollyon an indirect allusion also to the god Apollo, one of whose symbols was the locust and to whom plagues and destruction were in some cases attributed (see Rosher, Lex. d. Griech. N. Rom. Mythol. s.v.)[.] The use of the name Apollyon is meant to call attention to this agent’s identification with the Greek God Apollo (hence the plague and locust imagery as well as implicit references to “destroy” in Revelation 9) and his active role as the “destroyer” of Jerusalem. So who could this be, and why is this figure called the “Destroyer” in Greek so as to imply a link to Apollo?

The earthly reflection of Apollyon is Vespasian’s son Titus, the commander of the Legio XV Apollinaris (Fifteenth Apollonian Legion). Initially the commander of the Fifteenth Legion, Titus then went on to succeed his father as general over all the Roman legions during the Jewish War after his father had become Caesar, a title also bestowed on Titus at his father’s coronation. As Caesar, Titus was entitled to worship as a god in the imperial cult, and like Apollo, the son of Zeus, could also be labeled the Son of God--a perfect title for the beast.

At the start of the Jewish War, Titus was the general of the Fifteenth Legion. With Apollo as its patron, the Fifteenth Legion was suitably nicknamed Apollinaris, a name meaning “devoted to Apollo.” The Fifteenth Legion would always carry an emblem of Apollo or one of his holy animals wherever it went. Not surprisingly, the locust was one of Apollo’s holy animals. Now it is easy to see why the author of Revelation chose locusts to symbolize the soldiers of the Roman army following the precedence set in Joel. So “devoted to Titus” was his army that at the taking of the Jewish temple, they unanimously declared him emperor of Rome in fulfillment of v. 11 in which Apollyon is said to have been “king over them.”

This play on words for "Apollo"--the god of death and plague--and "Destroyer" in the name Apollyon perfectly describes the man directly responsible for the remaining plagues of Revelation who was the “destroyer” of Jerusalem. And who coincidentally besieged the city FOR EXACTLY 5 MONTHS just as stated in Rev 9:10!

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  • +1. I hadn't intended to get into the interpretation of this - but the tie in to Titus is very interesting (as the arguments that 666/636 corresponded to Nero). However, I have often found the speculation in commentaries to be lacking historical references for their claims, and quite a bit of research and references would be needed to support the many unsubstantiated claims here. It seems very plausible though - especially that John was not referring to heavenly/spiritual events and angels but to present threats and people. If true, the book would have to be interpreted politically. Thanks! – elika kohen Aug 30 '18 at 17:45
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Apollyon seems to be a descriptive name based on ἀπόλλυμι: ἀπο- (apo-, “away”) and ὄλλυμι (óllumi, “to destroy”) rather than any Greek god or hero. From apo, we get words like apogee. Apolumi is an intensified form of destroy.

Coincidentally, Apollinaris was the name of the XV Roman legion, one of the four that destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av in 70 CE.

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Apollyon cannot be Titus due to the qualifications mentioned as the One who is the leader of the army:

  1. his army is told not to kill - not so in the war of Titus against the Jews

  2. the strength of the army mentioned is too large to be that of Titus

  3. one-third of all men (not Jews) will be killed

  4. what is the fire and smoke and brimstone which issues from their mouths which kills all of one-third of all men

  5. how can Titus be alluded to as the angel of the bottomless pit

  6. what are the tails of the locust that are like serpents but yet have heads with mouths which is the main power - 9:19 for their power is in their mouths

But all of the above can be suited to fit a prophecy regarding the coming of a great destruction of mankind both physically and spiritually when applied to a certain false prophet and his followers who are to come in the future from Johns point of view and time-frame.

Then it all falls into place:

  • Apollyon is the false prophet who is also their king and also the star which falls from heaven to earth with the key to the abyss.

  • The abyss is the pit where the fallen angels of Genesis 6, led by Azazel are held in captivity till the time they are released again (Read the Book of Enoch).

  • The fire and smoke and brimstone are the false teachings which come to the earth when the pit is opened and they- the fallen angels are released once again. (Read book of Enoch for the various sorts of false teachings which the fallen angels taught unto mankind before).

  • The fire and smoke and brimstone are the false teachings which cause darkness and the air to become polluted meaning cause loss of the True Living Light to those who listen and hear and accept the false teachings and result in Loss of The Spirit of Eternal Life (the air is polluted).

  • The locusts with human heads are the armies of the followers which are as plentiful as the numbers mentioned in Revelation 9.

  • The tails of the locusts like serpents are the continuing line of followers through the ages or centuries who perpetuate the false teachings.

  • The tails(future followers) also have heads with mouths in which is the power to kill and destroy (cause loss of Eternal Life) by the fire and smoke and brimstone (false teachings from their mouths).

Now suit the above interpretations to your world around you and see the Light of Revelation.

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  • Welcome to BH.SE. You must press the Enter key twice to start a new paragraph. – enegue Aug 3 at 12:29
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I am sure of sure of the connections. There are some destructions, with little doubt. The increased intensity of storms with every rocket, launched into space, we saw, said it long ago. Additionally, we in The U.S.A. do try to launch, from a place and a launch pad. But the concern is the non government, launches, or questions in registrations, registering, reporting, etc. On launches, our human preparations, etc

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Apollon, Apollyon, they are the same. This is the angel that pagan Greece and pagan Rome worshipped as a god. Pagan gods are Biblical angels.

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