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Revelation 9:14 YLT:

...

saying to the sixth messenger who had the trumpet, 'Loose the four messengers who are bound at the great river Euphrates;'

...

Is it:

...'Loose the four messengers who are bound at the great river Euphrates;'

or:

...'Loose the four messengers (who are bound) at the great river Euphrates;'

I have read that the grammar here implies the great river Euphrates is where the 'angels' were loosed and this phrase says nothing about where they were bound.

Greek is not my forte. Does it say the Euphrates is where they are being held or just where they will happen to be let go?

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The operative word in Rev 9:14 is "dedemenous" (cognate root = deo: to bind) which is a verb participle perfect passive accusative masculine plural. Thus it would read:

"Release the four angels, the ones having been bound on the great river Euphrates." (my translation) That is, the four angels were both bound on, and released from, the Euphrates.

There is a similar construction involving a perfect tense (as if to reinforce this point) in the next verse which would read: "and were released the four angels, the ones having been prepared for the hour and day and month and year..."

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  • Good answer. I see what you are saying about the next verse, but in another way the next verse seems to reinforce that this is all about the releasing. Is it possible to read it both ways? Is verse 14 ambiguous about if the Euphrates is connected to the just the releasing or both the releasing and the binding, or does it definitely have to be read the way you are saying? (I am not trying to force this one way or the other - I am asking sincerely.) – Jack Oct 27 '18 at 19:20
  • As stated above, the tense is a past perfect tense so its, "having been bound on the river Euphrates". Thus, the angels/messengers are bound upon the river. – user25930 Oct 27 '18 at 20:24
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Another answer has explained the Greek:

λῦσον (luson) / loose

τοὺς τέσσαρας ἀγγέλους / the four angels

τοὺς δεδεμένους / the having-been-bound (perfect passive participle)

ἐπὶ τῷ ποταμῷ τῷ μεγάλῳ Εὐφράτῃ / in the great the river Euphrates

Andrew of Caesarea (563-637) wrote the earliest complete commentary on Revelation (in Greek). He expounds here:

Some say that the four angels are Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael who had been bound by the gladness of the divine vision, to be untied on the day of judgment with innumerable angels for the condemnation of the impious, of whom one third are destroyed.1 I myself think that these four angels are the most cunning demons who were bound upon the [first] coming of Christ who, by the divine command coming out of the heavenly altar, which was an image of the ancient tabernacle, were loosened by the divine angel so as to rouse the nations, not only against Christians, but also against one another, so that those tested might become manifest and faithful and shown to be worthy of greater rewards and of the heavenly mansions,2 or rather (worthy of) barns, like ripe wheat.3

And if they are bound on the Euphrates, it is nothing strange. For they have been sentenced by God until the time, some (of them) in the abyss,4 some among the swine then,5 some in other places according to the position, bound to be eternally tormented after the completion of their war against human beings.6


1. Oikoumenios, a 6th century monophysite philosopher

2. John 14:2

3. Matthew 13:30

4. Luke 8:31

5. Matthew 8:31, Mark 5:13, Luke 8:32-33

6. tr. from the Greek by Dr. E. Constantinou in Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse in the Ancient Church of the East: Studies and Translation, p.111-12

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