Revelation 9:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 9:6, NIV: During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

Revelation 9:6, ESV: And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.

Revelation 9:6, KJV: And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

Revelation 9:6, NASB: And in those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death will flee from them!

Revelation 9:6, NLT: In those days people will seek death but will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them!

Revelation 9:6, CSB: In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.

What does Revelation 9:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Prior verses described Satan releasing a horde of locust-like demons, limited to torment—not kill—unbelievers only. Their ability was comparted to that of a scorpion (Revelation 9:1–5). This verse reveals that the locust-like creatures' "scorpion" stings will be so painful that victims will want to die. The Greek wording of this verse implies that the people stung will seek death vehemently or earnestly. The pain of this experience will not be something one "gets used to."

That someone in horrible agony would want to die is not hard to understand. What's less clear, in this verse, is the implication that these afflicted non-believers will be unable to die. Somehow, in some way, they will be prevented from ending their own lives to cut short their suffering. What exactly this means, Scripture is not clear. Perhaps the sting so immobilizes victims that they give no outward sign of pain—preventing others from mercy killings or other interventions. Perhaps their condition renders them temporarily immune to other drugs and chemicals. Or, it might be simple supernatural intervention keeping them alive.

The reference to "five months" in the prior verse may, also, suggest that the effect of the demons' sting lasts five months for those who are stung. Scripture isn't explicit about this, but that possibility might explain why people would seek death for something so painful and chronic.

This period of inescapable torment parallels the concept of hell. Physical death is the separation of the spirit/soul from the body, which leads to eternal suffering for unbelievers. They will experience eternal death: a forever separation from God. Jesus told a story in Luke 16:19–31 about a rich unbeliever who died and went to Hades. His story also focused on Lazarus, a beggar who died and went to Paradise, where he enjoyed the company of Abraham. The rich man called upon Abraham to show him mercy by sending Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue with the water. The rich man confessed he was "in anguish in this flame" (Luke 16:24). At the end of human history, the occupants who suffer in Hades will be consigned to the lake of fire, where their agony will continue eternally (Revelation 20:7–15).