In the book of Revelation, chapter 11 v 14 it is written, "The second woe has past,the third woe is coming soon. I cannot find the third woe or any reference to what the third woe means.

My understanding so far is that trumpet 5,6, and 7 activate the woe's,but the trumpet is not the actual woe.For example when trumpet 5 is blown, it is the locusts that are the woe read here, then when the sixth trumpet is blown this releases the four angels who are bound at the "great river Euphrates" and this is the start of the second woe read here,but there is no more said about the second woe until Revelation 11-14.What the second woe consists of is also difficult to "tie down".Could the Two Witnesses be the second woe or is the earthquake that kills seven thousand people the second woe,or is the death of the two witnesses the second woe?

Taking into account that the first woe is most certainly the locusts, the reader is left to come to his own understanding with regards to "Woe 2 and 3".

What is the "third woe."?


6 Answers 6


The Whole Set of Events

The woes are the whole set of events brought about (or contained within) the last three trumpet blasts (Rev 8:13). The first two woes clarify this:

  • 1st Woe (5th Trumpet)
    • The trumpet sounds (Rev 9:1a)
    • The woeful events occur: star fall, bottomless pit opened, locusts from pit torment men 5-months (Rev 9:1b-9:11)
    • The woe is past (Rev 9:12)
  • 2nd Woe (6th Trumpet)
    • The trumpet sounds (Rev 9:13a)
    • The woeful events occur:
      1. release of angels and army whose power kills 1/3 of all people (9:13b-19),
      2. the other 2/3 of people do not repent of sin (9:20-21)
      3. seven thunders effect sealed (10:1-4)
      4. announcement the end is near (10:5-7)
      5. the bitter book (10:8-11)
      6. the treading of the holy city 42 months and two witnesses testimony (11:1-6)
      7. the death of the witnesses (11:7-10)
      8. the resurrection of the witnesses, accompanied by judgment—1/10th of city, 7,000 die in earthquake (11:11-13)
    • The woe is past (11:14)

Notice how there is an enlarging series of events from the 1st to the 2nd Woe. The things done in the 2nd are far more than the 1st. The woe is not "past" until all the events are done that were heralded by that trumpet blast.

Now there is no direct mention of the 3rd Woe being "past," hence your question. But every Woe is over when the events from its blast are completed. And there is a clue given regarding when the 7th Trumpet would be completed. The time would be over "in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound even the mystery of God be finished" (Rev 7:7a). NOTE: (a) the verse indicates the blast lasts multiple days and (b) the end is when the mystery is finished.

"The mystery of God" is a broad statement. But in context, it relates to completing the secret God is unveiling in The Book of Revelation—His bodily return. It also involves the other mysteries related to all this. Which means "the mystery of the woman" (Rev 17:7) is part of it, which relates to Babylon (17:5, 18) and the beast (17:8). So we have:

  • 3rd Woe (7th Trumpet)
    • The trumpet sounds (11:15)
    • The woeful events occur: which includes many things, but primarily all 7 bowl judgments (11:15a-16:17)
    • The woe is past when Babylon has fallen (recapped in Rev ch. 17-18), and the revealing of God on earth is over (Rev 19:1-16), and the beast and his armies are taken care of (Rev 19:17-20).


Others have noted similarly.

Dwight Pentecost in Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958) states:

"The seventh trumpet and the third woe judgment (11:15) brings about the return of Christ to the earth and the subsequent destruction of all hostile powers at the conclusion of the Armageddon program" (362).

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum in The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003) states (emphasis added):

The seventh trumpet that contains the seven Bowl Judgments is the third woe (239).

John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985) states:

The seventh trumpet chronologically reaches to Christ’s return. Therefore the seventh trumpet introduces and includes the seven bowl judgments of the wrath of God revealed in chapter 16 (2:956-957)

A related view has the third woe span clear to the end of the world and judgment. I do not find this supported, as I do not see the Millennial Reign of Christ as being part of the woe, the mystery being over once He has returned.

Kendell H. Easley in Revelation, Vol. 12 of Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998) states (bold emphasis his):

The third woe is coming soon after the second woe is unleashed. The seventh trumpet introduces it—the end of the world and the time of its judgment (196).

William S. Bishop, “An Interpretation of the Apocalypse,” Bibliotheca Sacra 83, no. 330 (1926) states:

To sum up: The Sixth and Seventh Trumpets, which include, respectively, the second and the third “Woes,” extend to and through the Millennial kingdom and the end of the world; down to, but not including, the final judgment of the Great White Throne. That is to say,—they extend from verse 13 of chapter 9 through verse 10 of chapter 20; thus including very nearly one-half of the entire Book of the Apocalypse (162).


Other views exist on what the 3rd Woe is, as there are also many views on how to read Revelation, so each view will have a distinct take on what is meant and when it ends.

But from the points noted above, it seems clear that when the set of events that begin with the 7th trumpet sounding and lead to Christ's return are over, then the 3rd Woe is past as well.


As the first woe was the 5th trumpet and the second woe the 6th trumpet, the third woe begins with the following verses, 11:15-19, or the 7th trumpet. Dispensationalists interpret this passage as the time period in which the seven vials or bowls will be "emptied out" starting in 16:1 and continuing through 20:3.

If, in following the triplet pattern of woes being the enactment of God's wrath (9:1-8 = 1st woe/5th trumpet and 9:9-15 = 2nd woe/6th trumpet the 3rd woe/7th trumpet is almost certainly the culmination of His wrath especially in light of the seven bowls following. Since we are discussing the woe and not the celebratory phrases in the passage, I would say the judging of the dead is part of the 3rd woe, but the "woe"-ful part of the passage also includes more of v18 and 19. Namely: "Your wrath has come, and the time has come for the dead to be judged...and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth....And there were flashes of lightning, roaring, crashes of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm."

  • 2
    I view the bowls (Rev 16:1-17) as being poured in very rapid succession sequentially for a few reasons. First, all other judgments (in Rev and Exodus) are separate acts. Second, the bowls, or, rather, the angels, are numbered in a sequential order (first, second...). Third, to determine if the Greek word kai at the beginning of each description should be translated "and" or "then", I look at context. If all seven are poured together, what is the point of the first six since the 7th trumps them all? Why boils and darkness and drought for only an instant? That seems superfluous to me. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 21:55
  • The 1260 day period another popular theory as far as the duration of the bowls and so you and I are not far off that in our beliefs in that regard. I do believe in a sequential pouring out of the bowls over a period of time that is swift, but not necessarily immediately one after the other. However, am I correct in understanding you believe the bowls will not be sequential and the fifth bowl will be first? Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 23:56
  • That's interesting. I had not heard that particular take on it before. I interpret 9:4 as pertaining to the locust creatures in restricting whatever they represent to only harming people and nothing else, not that no grass would ever be harmed. But, hey, I don't believe we are going to know exactly what the Tribulation will entail until it gets here, so any one theory is as good as any other. Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 11:22

I refer to Raymonds remarks concerning trumpets heralding war and I am inclined to agree with him on this. A war begins with each sounding of each of the seven angels trumpets. Revelation 10.7 says 'But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.'

We should take note that the Mystery of God and the sounding of the trumpet are linked.

What is not clear is - Does the outbreak of war cause the mystery of God to finish OR Does the knowledge that the mystery of God has been solved cause war to breakout. Consider the case - if it became known that a person accepted to be a prophet of God had been impersonating God by referring to themselves in the third person and creating a false impression that God/Allah is a separate identity. Thessalonians 2 Ch.2:3-4 '.....that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.' NB In the second theory it is by deduction that we see who God is and who he isn't, and so the mystery of God is finished. And I believe that this would be cause for war if religious zealots and fanatics were to take issue.

So to answer your question - you will find the beginning of the third woe in Revelation 11.15 'And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.'

It becomes more explicit about what the details of this woe actually are if you study Revelation 16.1 through to the end of Revelation 16.21. These are the angels with the bowls of the wrath of God's indignation.


Regarding the judging of the dead.

Revelation 11.18 'And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints......'

As I said earlier the mystery of God and the sound of the seventh trumpet are linked, but I note that immediately after the seventh trumpet in Rev.11.18 it is followed by the wrath of the nations and the judgement of the dead.

Could it be possible that all three are linked and that in essence the mystery of God finishing causes the wrath of the nations which in turn causes the judgement of the dead.

I return to my premise that when the false god is revealed, then the true god is made known. In which case some nations would be angry, i.e. those whose beliefs and existence are tied up with the false god.

Now to answer the question of the dead being judged. The person who perpetrated the scam of a false god must be amongst the dead who are to be judged.

NB Those who are to be judged are the prophets. Presumably giving reward means recognition for those who have done good deeds, alternatively condemnation to those who have done evil. I don't believe it means everyone who has ever lived on earth is judged at this particular judgement.

Bagpipes I hope that this makes sense to you.


I agree that the third woe is tied up with the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls, as other responses assert. One more point may be made. Revelation 12 uses the word woe in a way that should focus us on an important facet of this woe: God’s judgment upon the world will partly be accomplished by giving Satan Carte Blanche for a time. Thus much of the woe is the suffering caused by an unrestrained Satan.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:7-12, ESV)


It is very evident to me that Revelation is describing the lead up to, the execution of the war, and the arrival of the Kingdom of God:

[Dan 9:24-27 NASB20] [24] "Seventy weeks [IE: heptads] have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the wrongdoing, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. [25] "So you are to know and understand [that] from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince, [there will be] seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, [with] streets and moat, even in times of distress. [26] "Then after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end [will come] with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. [27] "And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations [will come] the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate."

So since we know that Daniel's 63rd week was when Christ died, c. 31 AD/CE, and that the end of the 70th week is the destruction and depopulation of Jerusalem ("the Holy City"), then we know that all the events of Revelation had to occur between c.31 and c.74 AD/CE.

So all three woes are apparently directed as judgments upon Jerusalem. These are symbolic depictions of violence and judgment upon the Judeans, for persecuting those of the New Covenant:

[Gal 4:24-26, 28-31 NASB20] [24] This is speaking allegorically, for these [women] are two covenants: one [coming] from Mount Sinai giving birth to children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. [25] Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children. [26] But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. ... [28] And you, brothers [and sisters,] like Isaac, are children of promise. [29] But as at that time the [son] who was born according to the flesh persecuted the one [who was born] according to the Spirit, so it is even now. [30] But what does the Scripture say? "DRIVE OUT THE SLAVE WOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE SLAVE WOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN." [31] So then, brothers [and sisters,] we are not children of a slave woman, but of the free woman.

Consider also:

[Dan 12:6-7 NASB20] [6] And [someone] said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, "How long [will it be] until the end of [these] wonders?" [7] And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that [it would be] for a time, times, and half [a] [time;] and as soon as they finish smashing the power of the holy people, all these [events] will be completed.

Amos pronounced a woe upon those who were desiring the arrival of the Day of the LORD. He tells them that they it will be a dark day, not a bright day:

[Amo 5:18-27 KJV] [18] Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end [is] it for you? the day of the LORD [is] darkness, and not light. [19] As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. [20] [Shall] not the day of the LORD [be] darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? [21] I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. [22] Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept [them]: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. [23] Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. [24] But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. [25] Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? [26] But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. [27] Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name [is] The God of hosts.

Having established the context, I'll only say that since we know the earliest and latest dates for the second and third woes, we know where to look. But since the second and third woes are not explicitly delineated, I don't feel comfortable speculating at the moment.


The third woe is strike three, you're out, the last day of the week begins. If the 70th week is seven years then it makes sense that the day of the Lord is the last year. Not good. Since these folks were wholly deceived and ruthless, they must be judged. As Jesus once replied to one who was considering following him:

Let the dead bury the dead.

Isaiah referred to the day of the Lord as year of HIS vengeance. Since woe one is 6 months or so, including the buffer, and woe two is 3 and 1/2 years, then perhaps there is a year of delay to let all the hooks be lodged into these warring nations to gather all these spoiling fish onto the banks of the river. Happy eating birdies.

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