What does Revelation 9:14 mean?
ESV: saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
NIV: It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
NASB: saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.'
CSB: say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates."
NLT: And the voice said to the sixth angel who held the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great Euphrates River.'
KJV: Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
NKJV: saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
Verse Commentary:
These are the words of a voice John hears coming from the four horns of the golden altar (Revelation 9:13), the temple object described in Exodus 27:2. This voice commands the sixth angel with the trumpet to free the four angels who are held captive at the Euphrates river, the ancient boundary between Assyria and Israel. Once again, Revelation reminds us that God is ultimately in control of these events, allowing or announcing each one. At no point in the end times is evil allowed to run entirely out of control.

We know that these are demonic beings because they are described as "bound." Demons are fallen angels, many of whom are bound in "chains of gloomy darkness" (2 Peter 2:4). God's good angels are not bound but are free, as are some of Satan's angels / demons. Ephesians 6:12 tells us "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

The region of the Euphrates, where these four angels are bound, has a notorious relationship to human sin. The first murder was committed, presumably, not far from the garden of Eden, in the Euphrates region (Genesis 4:8). The first war confederacy took place in that region (Genesis 14). Nimrod began his kingdom there (Genesis 10:8–12). Babylonian idolatry sprang up in the region and will be judged there (Zechariah 5; Revelation 18).
Verse Context:
Revelation 9:13–21 provides further insight into the assault by the northern invader. Earlier in chapter 9 we read about a horde of demonic locusts ascending from the bottomless pit. Now we read about two hundred million heavily armed cavalrymen, whose horses have heads like those of lions and tails like those of snakes. Four angels residing at the Euphrates allow the demonic army to advance across the river. The swarm of locusts described earlier may control or even possess these two hundred million cavalrymen. What follows is the annihilation of one third of humanity. However, the rest of humanity refuse to repent of their evil deeds, idolatry, murders, sorceries, or sexual immorality. Joel 2 and Ezekiel 38 also prophesy this northern army's invasion of Israel. Revelation 10 will provide another interlude between the judgments.
Chapter Summary:
Revelation 9 tells us that under the fifth trumpet judgment John sees a star fall from heaven to earth. This ''star'' is Satan, and he is given the key to the bottomless pit. Using this key, Satan unleashes a plague of supernatural demons resembling locusts. They torment unbelievers for five months with such pain that people seek death unsuccessfully. They appear like horses prepared for battle, and they have a king, whose name is Apollyon, meaning ''Destroyer.'' Under the sixth trumpet judgment John sees four angels released from the Euphrates river. Their release coincides with a horde of two hundred million demonic mounted troops that kill a third of mankind. However, the survivors refuse to abandon their idolatry and to repent of their evil deeds.
Chapter Context:
The ninth chapter of Revelation continues the report of what happens when the seven angels blow their trumpets. Chapter 8 described the first four trumpet judgments; chapter 9 reports the fifth and sixth. The events in chapter 9 are much more severe than those which came before. The severity of judgments increases dramatically with each trumpet blast. These judgments precede the final series of events, called the bowl judgments. Revelation chapters 15 and 16 will reveal what happens under these judgments.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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