ABADDON

(A·bad′don) [from Heb., meaning “Destruction”].

At Revelation 9:11 this Hebrew word is transliterated into the English text. There we read concerning the symbolic plague of locusts that they have “a king, the angel of the abyss. In Hebrew his name is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.”

In Hebrew the word ʼavad·dohn′ means “destruction” and may also refer to “the place of destruction.” It appears in the original Hebrew text a total of five times, and in four of the occurrences it is used to parallel “the burial place,” “Sheol,” and “death.” (Ps 88:11; Job 26:6; 28:22; Pr 15:11) The word ʼavad·dohn′ in these texts evidently refers to the destructive processes that ensue with human death, and these scriptures indicate that decay or destruction takes place in Sheol, the common grave of mankind. At Job 31:12 ʼavad·dohn′ designates the damaging effect of an adulterous course. Job declared: “That [adulterous course] is a fire that would eat clear to destruction [ʽadh-ʼavad·dohn′], and among all my produce it would take root.”—Compare Pr 6:26-28, 32; 7:26, 27.

Abaddon, the angel of the abyss—who is he?

At Revelation 9:11, however, the word “Abaddon” is used as the name of “the angel of the abyss.” The corresponding Greek name Apollyon means “Destroyer.” In the 19th century there were efforts made to show that this text prophetically applied to individuals such as Emperor Vespasian, Muhammad, and even Napoleon, and the angel was generally regarded as “satanic.” It should be noted, however, that at Revelation 20:1-3 the angel having “the key of the abyss” is shown to be God’s representative from heaven, and rather than being “satanic,” he binds and hurls Satan into the abyss. Commenting on Revelation 9:11, The Interpreter’s Bible says: “Abaddon, however, is an angel not of Satan but of God, performing his work of destruction at God’s bidding.”

In the Hebrew scriptures just considered, it is evident that ʼavad·dohn′ is paralleled with Sheol and death. At Revelation 1:18 we find Christ Jesus stating: “I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” His power with regard to the abyss is shown at Luke 8:31. That he has destroying power, including the power of destruction over Satan, is evident from Hebrews 2:14, which says that Jesus partook of blood and flesh in order that “through his death he might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil.” At Revelation 19:11-16 he is clearly represented as God’s appointed Destroyer or Executioner.—See APOLLYON.