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And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying ‘It is done’ (Revelation 16:17).

I am aware that another Biblical Hermeneutics question has been asked about this verse, but my question has nothing to do with grammar: Why did H.S direct John to use the word for "to happen" in Revelation 16:17 instead off the normal word for "to complete"?

To put things into context, here is a brief summary of the events in Revelation chapters 15 and 16:

Revelation 15: Those who gained the victory over the beast and over his image stand on the sea of glass. Seven angels come out of the temple in heaven having the seven plagues and given seven golden vials full of the wrath of God. No man could enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

Revelation 16 – The seven vials of the wrath of God poured upon the Earth:

• Sores on men

• The Sea as blood

• Rivers and waters as blood because they shed the blood of the saints/prophets (verse 6)

• The Sun scorches men

• The Kingdom of the Beast is full of darkness – men blaspheme God and do not repent (v 10 & 11)

• The River Euphrates dries up for the kings of the east to advance (verse 12). The spirits of devils, working miracles, to gather them to the battle of Armageddon (verses 14-16). Then verse 17 says: “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying ‘It is done’.

• A great Earthquake divides the great city into three parts and the cities of the nations fall. Great hail causes men to blaspheme God because of the exceedingly great hail (verse 21).

Are there any Bible Commentaries that shed light on what is done in Revelation 16:17?

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5 Answers 5

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You ask what was done with the seventh angel pouring out his vial into the air. A key point is that six other vials had already been emptied, by six other angels. Not until the seventh angel emptied his vial did a tremendous voice come from out of God's temple in heaven declaring, "It is done". Here is a Protestant commentary on what this section of the Revelation means:

"What was done? The last judgment upon earth; seas; waters; sun; spiritual thrones; living mankind, whilst as yet these were in existence as the last day began to dawn. That day, the final judgment was to fall upon the earth. And tell me, How then do men propose to 'save the earth'?

What was done? The beginning of the voices; thunders; lightnings; the global earthquake; the bringing in of the dissolution of the heavens and the earth. All this, preceding the resurrection of the dead; before the throne of everlasting judgment should be manifested in dimensions unknown; or ever the Judge should pass the eternal sentence for good or evil upon the resurrection of the just and of the unjust.

What was done? The breaking in pieces of that great city, Jerusalem below; the collapsing in rubble of all the cities of the earth; the giving to great Babylon the cup of the wine of the fierceness of the wrath of God; the fleeing away of every island; the melting of every mountain; the final seconds of the last nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples, alive at that time upon the present earth: 'And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great', Revelation 16:21." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p.446, John Metcalfe http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm

In other words, everything foretold by Christ to happen before his sudden, unannounced return to usher in the Last Day had happened. The battle of Armageddon had happened, and then the seventh angel poured out that seventh vial. Everything detailed in the last book in the Bible prior to Christ's return had happened. Then would come the Last Trump and the instant Day of Judgment and Resurrection. Once that seventh angel had emptied that seventh vial over the unrepentant, blaspheming world of mankind, there was nothing else left to be done.

All that had to be done prior to the Day of Judgment and Resurrection had been done. Every warning had been given, every poured-out judgment that should have caused sinners to heed the gospel proclaimed in mid-heaven (Rev. 14:6-7), to "Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come, and worship him..." had been given. So, because all that had been done, nothing else could hold back final, eternal judgment.

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  • The Bible Commentary you refer to is fairly recent, but sheds light on the events that leadup to the Day of Judgment and the Resurrection.
    – Lesley
    Apr 23, 2023 at 6:59
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The actual sequel to this announcement is the return of Christ in ch19 vv11-16. Matthew ch24 v30 (RSV) describes him as the Son of man"coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory". Revelation has the same intent when it calls him the Word of God accompanied by the armies of heaven. "It is done" means everything has happened that needs to happen in preparation for that event.

That includes the gathering of the kings of the world for the great battle in which God defeats them all in one go (echoing Old Testament pictures like Joel ch3 vv11-16). We do not see the battle itself in ch16. They gather for battle, but they don't fight. Rather, the return of Christ in ch19 IS the battle of Armageddon, from God's side. It is the final defeat of the forces of evil.

I can only call ch19 v11 the sequel to ch16 v17 if I account for what we see in the interval. Firstly, then, vv18-21 is the world's immediate reaction to the announcement. The central point is that Babylon is about to be destroyed; God is going to make her "drain the cup of the fury of his wrath".

Then, as happens more than once in Revelation, there is a pause for reflection between the announcement of an event and the event itself. Since Babylon is about to be destroyed, the time has come to explain what is meant by "Babylon", which occupies ch17. There follows ch18, which is occcupied by a mock lamentation for the fall of Babylon. Finally, ch19 vv1-10 is an outburst of anticipatory rejoicing. This covers the fact that Babylon has vanished; "The smoke from her goes up for ever" (v3). It then moves on to the forthcoming "marriage supper of the Lamb" (v9) when Christ is united with his people.

The short answer to the question is that the world existing before the return of Christ is now "done", for practical purposes. Everything has happened.

As for your final question, I might add that this answer has been summarised from my own book, "Silence in heaven", subtitled as "a survey of the book of Revelation". I believe the book sheds light, but of course I'm biased.

P.S. I may as well quote from it (p110); "The effect of the seventh trumpet was the proclamation that the end had come, reaching the last minute of the world. The effect of the seventh bowl is the proclamation that the end has come, reaching the last second."

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In Rev 16:17, "It is done" might be more helpfully translated either as, "It has been accomplished", or, "It has come to pass", or similar. This idea occurs twice in Revelation:

  • Rev 16:17 which denotes the last of "the seven bowls of God’s wrath" (Rev 16:1). This is significant because during this time of the seven last bowl-plagues we are told that, "the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed." (Rev 15:8)
  • Rev 21:6 which denotes the completion of Jesus' (cf Rev 1:17, 18) re-creation when He says, "Behold, I make all things new.”

[For completeness only, the occurrence of Luke 14:22 should be listed, where the servant tells the master of the banquet, "It is done" when instructed to gather people for the banquet. This also has eschatological overtones.]

In Both these cases in Revelation, "It is done" denotes the declaration that the previously announced task has been accomplished:

  • In Rev 16:17 it is the judgements of God's wrath on the wicked
  • In Rev 21:6 it is God's recreation of all things new
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To the question Are there any Bible Commentaries that shed light on what is done in Revelation 16:17? I would add an additional answer.

Andrew of Caesarea (563-637) was a bishop and theologian in the Byzantine Empire and wrote what is considered the most comprehensive and authoritative commentary in antiquity. Oikomenios wrote the very first complete commentary, but we do not have any complete manuscripts and unlike Andrew, Oikomenios is not considered a "Father of the Church". Andrew's quotes of Revelation in his commentary serve as indirect witnesses for the Nestle-Aland Critical Text (basis for ESV, NIV, etc.).

Dr. Eugenia Constantinou, a Greek Orthodox Bible scholar, wrote her doctoral thesis on Andrew's commentary on Revelation in 2008. Her translation of Andrew's commentary has since been published as a book and is available online for purchase also. * Included in her thesis is the first complete translation of Andrew's commentary into English. Her thesis is 530 pages long with over 200 references, and includes very rich information about Andrew and other commentators in antiquity, the history of the Book of Revelation and the New Testament canon in general, the manuscript witnesses of the text itself, and a running exposition on Andrew's commentary verse by verse.

Andrew does not write much on this verse specifically:

The angelic voice from heaven says, "It is done," that is, the divine command is accomplished.

He does not explicitly say what this "divine command" was, but I think we can presume that it was the last command given by the Lord, back in Revelation 16:1 - Go, pour out the bowls of wrath on the earth.


Another Orthodox commentary on Revelation can be found in Volume III of Averky Tauchev's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament. He draws almost exclusively from Patristic sources in commenting on each book of the New Testament verse by verse.


* Dr. Constantinou also has a Bible study podcast, but I don't think that she has done much in the podcast on Revelation yet, given that she has already published a book on it.

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One explanation is that it is an answer to the question God was asked earlier in Revelation 6:10 (my emphasis):

In the book of Revelation God is frequently portrayed as seated in a heavenly temple on His throne (anciently represented by the mercy seat above the Ark of the Covenant in the holiest part of the earthly temple). As he watches angels dispense some of the final punishments mentioned in this book, the apostle John notes that "a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, 'It is done!'" (Revelation 16:17).

An angel had told John earlier, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there" (Revelation 11:1). Inside the temple God is pictured receiving the prayers of His servants. "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne" (Revelation 8:3).

What prayer does God hear from His true servants over and over again? "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'" (Revelation 6:10). Revelation reveals the circumstances under which those who are the true worshippers of God will finally have that prayer for justice answered in full.

John quotes Jesus promising His servants: "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God … I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem …" (Revelation 3:12). The tables finally will turn. God's faithful servants will be the real winners. God will greatly reward them for their patience and endurance while they waited for Him to fulfill His promises and answer their prayers.

Keys to Understanding Revelation | United Church of God

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  • I found the section you quote from, but I fail to make the connection with the declaration "It is done" and the prayers of the saints rising up to heaven. I have not down-voted your answer but I'm struggling to see how Revelation 8:3 and 11:1 have a bearing with Revelation 16:17.
    – Lesley
    Feb 9, 2023 at 17:41
  • @Lesley, The sequence is definitely not as clear as it could be: — 6:9 martyred saints are under the altar — 6:10 the martyred saints ask "how long until?" — 8:3 angels offer the prayers of the saints on the altar. — 11:1 the temple contains an altar where people worship. — 11:19 the temple is opened in heaven . — 16:17 God answers, "It is done!". Feb 9, 2023 at 19:07
  • What is done, Ray?
    – Lesley
    Feb 11, 2023 at 15:50
  • @Lesley, "How long will it be? … It's done!" Feb 11, 2023 at 17:26

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