Who are the kings of the east (Rev. 16:12)?


By BibleAsk Team

To explore the identity of the “kings of the east” mentioned in Revelation 16:12, we delve into the context of the book of Revelation and the symbolism used. The phrase “kings of the east” appears in the context of the sixth bowl judgment, where it is said to have a specific eschatological significance. This essay will explore these aspects, relying on the Bible for references.


The book of Revelation, attributed to the apostle John, is rich with symbolic language and imagery that describes apocalyptic events leading up to the ultimate triumph of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom. Revelation 16:12 specifically mentions the “kings of the east” in the context of the sixth bowl judgment, which is part of a series of judgments poured out upon the earth in the final days.

Understanding Revelation 16:12

Let’s first examine the verse in question:

  • Revelation 16:12 (NKJV): “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.”

This verse is part of the description of the sixth bowl judgment, where an angel pours out his bowl on the Euphrates River, causing it to dry up. The drying up of the Euphrates River is depicted as preparing the way for the “kings from the east” to come.

Context and Symbolism in Revelation

  1. Apocalyptic Symbolism. Revelation employs highly symbolic language to convey spiritual truths and future events. The book uses symbols drawn from Old Testament prophetic literature, historical events, and Jewish apocalyptic traditions.
  2. The Euphrates River. In ancient Near Eastern contexts, the Euphrates River often symbolized boundaries and barriers. Its drying up can signify the removal of obstacles or the onset of divine judgment (Isaiah 11:15; Jeremiah 50:38).
  3. Kings from the East. The identity of the “kings from the east” has been subject to various interpretations. They are portrayed as coming from the east, which traditionally symbolizes a direction of divine intervention and judgment in ancient Jewish literature (Ezekiel 43:2).

The Kings of the East (Revelation 16)

The kings of the east, in Rev. 16:12, are the Kings of heaven (Father and Son). They are called kings of the east because that is the direction from which heavenly beings approach the earth. Note the following:

  • Jesussecond coming will be from the east. “ For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27, NKJV).
  • God’s glory comes from the east. “and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east…” (Ezekiel 43:2, NKJV).
  • Revelation’s sealing angel comes from the east. “ Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God..” (Revelation 7:2, NKJV).
  • The sun, symbolizing Jesus, rises in the east. “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays…” (Malachi 4:2, NKJV).

Eschatological Significance

  1. End-Time Events. Revelation 16:12 is situated within the broader narrative of end-time events leading to the culmination of God’s judgment and the establishment of His kingdom on earth. The drying up of the Euphrates River and the coming of the kings from the east signify pivotal moments in this eschatological drama.
  2. Divine Intervention. The imagery of the kings from the east underscores the theme of divine intervention and the manifestation of God’s sovereignty over the nations. It points to the ultimate triumph of Christ and His reign over all creation (Revelation 19:11-16).

The Euphrates

The Euphrates in Revelation 16:12, represents the people over whom mystical Babylon holds sway; the drying up of its waters, the withdrawal of their support from Babylon; the kings of the east, Christ and the Father; and Armageddon, the last battle of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, fought out on the battlefield of this earth. Thus, the withdrawal of human support from mystical Babylon is seen as the removal of the last barrier to her ultimate defeat and punishment.

Jesus declared, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.

Mark 14:62


The phrase “kings of the east” in Revelation 16:12 carries profound eschatological significance, symbolizing divine intervention and judgment in the final days. They reflect the Father and the Son coming to judge the fallen world. The imagery of the kings from the east underscores the apocalyptic drama unfolding in the book of Revelation, pointing towards the fulfillment of God’s redemptive purposes and the establishment of His eternal kingdom. As Christians await the consummation of history, Revelation encourages steadfast faith and readiness for the glorious return of Christ as the ultimate King from the east.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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