The Way It Happened

Revelation 9:11, The Angel of the Abyss

They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.

//In this verse, John of Patmos finds a corny play on Greek words to make a point. He describes a fearsome army of locusts the size of horses arising from the smoke of the Abyss. (The Abyss was thought to be a cavern within the underworld.) The job of these locusts is to torment people for five months. John calls the king of this fearsome army the “the angel of the Abyss,” and names him Apollyon, or Abaddon.

Apollyon, like Abaddon, means “destroyer,” and John’s clever play on words seems to be saying that the Greek god Apollo reigns over Sheol. Abaddon is another name for Sheol, the realm of the dead.

In an earlier post about Revelation, I described how the pose of twenty four elders around the throne of God mocked the Greek god Apollo. Now, here is Apollo again, as the angel of Sheol. It’s no coincidence that the locust symbolizes Apollo, the god of pestilence and plague.

Why does John seem to have it in for this particular god? Because Nero Caesar, the Roman emperor who tortured so many Christians and ordered the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, claimed to be Apollo. Coins were minted with Nero’s portrait appearing as Apollo, Nero’s statue was erected in an ancient temple of Apollo, and a building in Athens was dedicated to All powerful Nero Caesar Sebastos, a new Apollo. Meet the original angel of the Abyss: Nero Caesar.

More about Nero Caesar and his dastardly role in the book of Revelation can be found in my book, Revelation: The Way it Happened.

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