The 200 million of Revelation 9:16 is a subject of much speculation. Many people are unsure what to make of a force consisting of 200 million troops. In this article, I will provide biblical insight about the 200 million referenced in Revelation 9:16.
Revelation 9:13-15 tells us that four angels bound at the Euphrates River will be released to instigate the slaying of a 1/3 of mankind after the sounding of the sixth trumpet. Revelation 9:16 references an army totaling 200 million horsemen:
“(13) And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, (14) Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. (15) And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. (16) And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.” (Revelation 9:13-16)
The King James Bible uses the word “army” to describe the 200 million horsemen, which initially suggests that every horseman is fighting for the same side. However, the Greek word for “army” (strateuma-meaning “a body of troops”) is used seven times in the New Testament of the King James Bible to mean “army” or “armies” (it’s used to mean “armies” in Matthew 22:7, Revelation 19:14, Revelation 19:19). Therefore, it’s possible that the 200 million horsemen represent the total number of horsemen from different armies rather than the total number of horsemen from a singular army. This is perhaps why other Bible versions like the New American Standard Bible (NASB) use the word “armies” to describe the horsemen instead of “army” in Revelation 9:16.
I surmise that the translators of the King James Bible elected to use “army” instead of “armies” in Revelation 9:16 because Revelation 9:17-19 describes the actions of the horsemen collectively. However, I believe it’s more likely that the 200 million total horsemen come from different armies than from a single army.
I believe the connection between the four angels and the 200 million horsemen is that the four angels are responsible for stirring up these horsemen for combat. It’s not unheard-of for spirits to gather forces for battle. Revelation 16 records that three frog-like spirits travel throughout the world to gather leaders and their forces for the “battle of that great day of God Almighty”:
“(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13-14)
I do not believe these horsemen are associated with the fifth trumpet locusts because these horsemen will be capable of killing men (while the locusts specialize in torture). Moreover, I believe the participants in the 200 million participants are human beings instead of spiritual beings because there are many passages (i.e. Daniel 11:40-45, Ezekiel 30) in the Bible that describe conflict between nations in the latter part of the end times.
I believe the abstract description of the horsemen is a reflection of John’s difficulty in describing them in terms that people living in his time could understand. John lived in the first century A.D. when motorized vehicles, guns, computers, etc. did not exist. Consequently, John probably faced the difficult task of describing things that people in his era had no conception of. Imagine if you were in John’s position and had to describe technological advances that won’t be around for another 1,900 years.
In any event, the horsemen will eventually kill 1/3 of the world’s population:
“(17) And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. (18) By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. (19) For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” (Revelation 9:17-19)
The extreme death toll could account for the troops and civilians who will die during this time of conflict on Earth. Despite the massive loss of life, the followers of Antichrist will not repent any of the crimes or sins they’ve committed:
“(20) And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: (21) Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21)
In sum, I believe the sixth trumpet will be a time of large-scale conflict on the earth. The 200 million likely represent the total number of human troops involved in the different conflicts that will transpire at that time.
If you want to learn more about the four angels that will be released from the Euphrates River, click this link for my article on the topic.