Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
A great sign (σημειον μεγα sēmeion mega). The first of the visions to be so described (Revelation 13:3; Revelation 15:1), and it is introduced by ωπτη ōphthē as in Revelation 11:19; Revelation 12:3, not by μετα ταυτο meta tauto or by ειδον eidon or by ειδον και ιδου eidon kai idou as heretofore. This “sign” is really a τερας teras (wonder), as it is so by association in Matthew 24:24; John 4:48; Acts 2:22; Acts 5:12. The element of wonder is not in the word σημειον sēmeion as in τερας teras but often in the thing itself as in Luke 21:11; John 9:16; Revelation 13:13.; Revelation 15:1; Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:20.A woman (γυνη gunē). Nominative case in apposition with σημειον sēmeion “The first ‹sign in heaven‘ is a Woman - the earliest appearance of a female figure in the Apocalyptic vision” (Swete). Arrayed with the sun (περιβεβλημενη τον ηλιον peribeblēmenē ton hēlion). Perfect passive participle of περιβαλλω periballō with the accusative retained as so often (9 times) in the Apocalypse. Both Charles and Moffatt see mythological ideas and sources behind the bold imagery here that leave us all at sea. Swete understands the Woman to be “the church of the Old Testament” as “the Mother of whom Christ came after the flesh. But here, as everywhere in the Book, no sharp dividing line is drawn between the Church of the Old Testament and the Christian Society.” Certainly she is not the Virgin Mary, as Revelation 12:17 makes clear. Beckwith takes her to be “the heavenly representative of the people of God, the ideal Zion, which, so far as it is embodied in concrete realities, is represented alike by the people of the Old and the New Covenants.” John may have in mind Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31) as well as Micah 4:10; Isaiah 26:17.; Isaiah 66:7 without a definite picture of Mary. The metaphor of childbirth is common enough (John 16:21; Galatians 4:19). The figure is a bold one with the moon “under her feet” (υποκατω των ποδων αυτης hupokatō tōn podōn autēs) and “a crown of twelve stars” (στεπανος αστερων δωδεκα stephanos asterōn dōdeka), a possible allusion to the twelve tribes (James 1:1; Revelation 21:12) or to the twelve apostles (Revelation 21:14).
And she was with child (και εν γαστρι εχουσα kai en gastri echousa). Perhaps εστιν estin to be supplied or the participle used as a finite verb as in Revelation 10:2. This is the technical idiom for pregnancy as in Matthew 1:18, Matthew 1:23, etc.Travailing in birth (ωδινουσα ōdinousa). Present active participle of ωδινω ōdinō old verb (from ωδιν ōdin birth-pangs 1 Thessalonians 5:3), in N.T. only here and Galatians 4:27. And in pain (και βασανιζομενη kai basanizomenē). “And tormented” (present passive participle of βασανιζω basanizō for which see note on Revelation 9:5 and note on Revelation 11:10), only here in N.T. in sense of childbirth. To be delivered (τεκειν tekein). Second aorist active infinitive of τικτω tiktō to give birth, epexegetical use. Also in Revelation 12:4.
Another sign (αλλο σημειον allo sēmeion). “A second tableau following close upon the first and inseparable from it” (Swete).And behold (και ιδου kai idou). As often (Revelation 4:1; Revelation 6:2, Revelation 6:5, Revelation 6:8, etc.). A great red dragon (δρακων μεγας πυρρος drakōn megas purros). Homer uses this old word (probably from δερκομαι derkomai to see clearly) for a great monster with three heads coiled like a serpent that ate poisonous herbs. The word occurs also in Hesiod, Pindar, Eschylus. The Babylonians feared a seven-headed hydra and Typhon was the Egyptian dragon who persecuted Osiris. One wonders if these and the Chinese dragons are not race memories of conflicts with the diplodocus and like monsters before their disappearance. Charles notes in the O.T. this monster as the chief enemy of God under such title as Rahab (Isaiah 51:9.; Job 26:12.), Behemoth (Job 40:15-24), Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1), the Serpent (Amos 9:2.). In Psalm 74:13 we read of “the heads of the dragons.” On πυρρος purros (red) see Revelation 6:4. Here (Revelation 12:9) and in Revelation 20:2 the great dragon is identified with Satan. See Dan 7 for many of the items here, like the ten horns (Daniel 7:7) and hurling the stars (Daniel 8:10). The word occurs in the Apocalypse alone in the N.T. Seven diadems (επτα διαδηματα hepta diadēmata). Old word from διαδεω diadeō (to bind around), the blue band marked with white with which Persian kings used to bind on the tiara, so a royal crown in contrast with στεπανος stephanos (chaplet or wreath like the Latin corona as in Revelation 2:10), in N.T. only here, Revelation 13:1; Revelation 19:12. If Christ as Conqueror has “many diadems,” it is not strange that Satan should wear seven (ten in Revelation 13:1).
His tail (η ουρα αυτου hē oura autou). See Revelation 9:10, Revelation 9:19.Draweth (συρει surei). Present active indicative of συρω surō old verb, to drag, here alone in the Apocalypse, but see John 21:8. The third part of the stars (το τριτον των αστερων to triton tōn asterōn). Like a great comet is this monster. See Daniel 8:10. Perhaps only the third is meant to soften the picture as in Revelation 8:7. Did cast them (εβαλεν αυτους ebalen autous). Second aorist active indicative. Charles takes this to refer to a war in heaven between the good angels and Satan, with the fall of some angels (Judges 1:6). But John may have in mind the martyrs before Christ (Hebrews 11:32.) and after Christ‘s ascension (Matthew 23:35). Stood (εστηκεν estēken). Imperfect active of a late verb, στηκω stēkō from the perfect εστηκα hestēka of ιστημι histēmi graphic picture of the dragon‘s challenge of the woman who is about to give birth. When she was delivered (οταν τεκηι hotan tekēi). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν hotan and the second aorist active subjunctive of τικτω tiktō “whenever she gives birth.” That he might devour (ινα καταπαγηι hina kataphagēi). Purpose clause with ινα hina and the second aorist active subjunctive of κατεστιω katesthiō to eat up (down). This is what Pharaoh did to Israel (Exodus 1:15-22; Psalm 85:13; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9; Ezekiel 29:3). Precisely so the devil tried to destroy the child Jesus on his birth.
She was delivered of a son (ετεκεν υιον eteken huion). Literally, “she bore a son” (second aorist active indicative of τικτω tiktō).A man child (αρσεν arsen). So A C with the neuter τεκνον teknon or παιδιον paidion in mind, as often in O.T. (ετεκεν αρσεν eteken arsen Exodus 1:16.; Exodus 2:2; Leviticus 12:2, Leviticus 12:7; Isaiah 66:7; Jeremiah 20:15, etc.), but P and some cursives read αρσενα arsena (masculine accusative), as in Revelation 12:13 (τον αρσενα ton arsena), while Aleph Q have αρρενα arrena The word is old (either αρσην arsēn or αρρην arrēn), as in Matthew 19:4, only in this chapter in the Apocalypse. It is really redundant after υιον huion (son), as in Tob. 6:12 (Aleph). Who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron (ος μελλει ποιμαινειν παντα τα ετνη εν ραβδωι σιδηραι hos mellei poimainein panta ta ethnē en rabdōi sidērāi). See Revelation 2:27 for these words (from Psalm 2:9) applied there to victorious Christians also, and in Revelation 19:15 to the triumphant Christian. His rule will go beyond the Jews (Matthew 2:6). There is here, of course, direct reference to the birth of Jesus from Mary, who thus represented in her person this “ideal woman” (God‘s people). Was caught unto God (ηρπαστη hērpasthē). First aorist passive indicative of αρπαζω harpazō old verb for seizing or snatching away, as in John 10:12, here alone in the Apocalypse. Reference to the ascension of Christ, with omission of the ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ because he is here simply showing that “the Dragon‘s vigilance was futile” (Swete). “The Messiah, so far from being destroyed, is caught up to a share in God‘s throne” (Beckwith).
Fled into the wilderness (επυγεν εις την ερημον ephugen eis tēn erēmon). Second aorist active indicative of πευγω pheugō Here, of course, not Mary, but “the ideal woman” (God‘s people) of the preceding verses, who fled under persecution of the dragon. God‘s people do not at once share the rapture of Christ, but the dragon is unable to destroy them completely. The phrases used here seem to be reminiscent of Deuteronomy 8:2. (wanderings of Israel in the wilderness), 1 Kings 17:2. and 1 Kings 19:3. (Elijah‘s flight), 1 Macc. 2:29 (flight of the Jews from Antiochus Epiphanes), Matthew 2:13 (flight of Joseph and Mary to Egypt), Mark 13:14 (the flight of Christians at the destruction of Jerusalem).Where (οπουεκει hopou- ητοιμασμενον ekei). Hebrew redundancy (where - there) as in Revelation 3:8; Revelation 8:9, Revelation 8:9; Revelation 13:8, Revelation 13:12; Revelation 17:9; Revelation 20:8. Prepared (ετοιμαζω hētoimasmenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of τοπος hetoimazō for which verb see Matthew 20:23; Revelation 8:6; Revelation 9:7, Revelation 9:15; Revelation 16:12; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:2, and for its use with απο του τεου topos John 14:2. and for the kind of fellowship meant by it (Psalm 31:21; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 3:3; 1 John 1:3). Of God (ινα εκει τρεπωσιν αυτην apo tou theou). “From (by) God,” marking the source as God (Revelation 9:18; James 1:13). This anticipatory symbolism is repeated in Revelation 12:13. That there they may nourish her (ινα hina ekei trephōsin autēn). Purpose clause with τρεπουσιν hina and the present for continued action: active subjunctive according to A P though C reads τρεπεται trephousin present active indicative, as is possible also in Revelation 13:17 and certainly so in 1 John 5:20 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 984), a solecism in late vernacular Greek. The plural is indefinite “they” as in Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:9. One MSS. has trephetai (is nourished). The stereotyped phrase occurs here, as in Revelation 11:2., for the length of the dragon‘s power, repeated in Revelation 12:14 in more general terms and again in Revelation 13:5.
There was war in heaven (εγενετο πολεμος εν τωι ουρανωι egeneto polemos en tōi ouranōi). “There came to be war in heaven” (εγενετο egeneto not ην ēn). “Another ταβλεαυ tableau not a σημειον sēmeion (Revelation 12:1, Revelation 12:3), but consequent upon the two σημεια sēmeia which precede it. The birth and rapture of the Woman‘s Son issue in a war which invades the επουρανια epourania ” (Swete). The reference is not to the original rebellion of Satan, as Andreas held. As the coming of Christ brought on fresh manifestations of diabolic power (Mark 1:13; Luke 22:3, Luke 22:31; John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11), just so Christ‘s return to heaven is pictured as being the occasion of renewed attacks there. We are not to visualize it too literally, but certainly modern airplanes help us to grasp the notion of battles in the sky even more than the phalanxes of storm-clouds (Swete). John even describes this last conflict as in heaven itself. Cf. Luke 10:18; 1 Kings 22:1.; Job 1; Job 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1.Michael and his angels (ο Μιχαηλ και οι αγγελοι αυτου ho Michaēl kai hoi aggeloi autou). The nominative here may be in apposition with πολεμος polemos but it is an abnormal construction with no verb, though εγενετο egeneto (arose) can be understood as repeated. Michael is the champion of the Jewish people (Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1) and is called the archangel in Judges 1:9. Going forth to war (του πολεμησαι tou polemēsai). This genitive articular infinitive is another grammatical problem in this sentence. If εγενετο egeneto (arose) is repeated as above, then we have the infinitive for purpose, a common enough idiom. Otherwise it is anomalous, not even like Acts 10:25. With the dragon (μετα του δρακοντος meta tou drakontos). On the use of μετα meta with πολεμεω polemeō see Revelation 2:16; Revelation 13:4; Revelation 17:14 (nowhere else in N.T.). The devil has angels under his command (Matthew 25:41) and preachers also (2 Corinthians 11:14.). Warred (επολεμησεν epolemēsen). Constative aorist active indicative of πολεμεω polemeō picturing the whole battle in one glimpse.
And they prevailed not (και ουκ ισχυσαν kai ouk ischusan). Here και kai equals “and yet” or “but.” A few MSS. read the singular ισχυσεν ischusen like επολεμησεν epolemēsen but wrongly so.Neither was their place found any more (ουδε τοπος ευρετη αυτων ετι oude topos heurethē autōn eti). First aorist passive indicative of ευρισκω heuriskō to find. Probably αυτων autōn is the objective genitive (place for them), just as in Revelation 20:11 αυτοις autois (dative, for them) is used with τοπος ουχ ευρετη topos ouch heurethē The phrase occurs in Daniel 2:35 Theod. and Zechariah 10:10. The dragon is finally expelled from heaven (cf. Job 1:6), though to us it seems a difficult conception to think of Satan having had access to heaven.
Was cast down (εβλητη eblēthē). Effective first aorist passive indicative of βαλλω ballō cast down for good and all, a glorious consummation. This vision of final victory over Satan is given by Jesus in Luke 10:18; John 12:31. It has not come yet, but it is coming, and the hope of it should be a spur to missionary activity and zeal. The word megas (great) occurs here with δρακων drakōn as in Revelation 12:3, and the whole picture is repeated in Revelation 20:2. The dragon in both places is identified with the old serpent (Genesis 3:1.) and called αρχαιος archaios (from αρχη archē beginning), as Jesus said that the devil was a murderer “from the beginning” (John 8:44). Both διαβολος diabolos (slanderer) and Satan (Σατανας Satanās) are common in N.T. for this great dragon and old serpent, the chief enemy of mankind. See Matthew 4:1; Revelation 2:10 for διαβολος diabolos and Luke 10:18 for Σατανας Satanās deceiver of the whole world (ο πλανων την οικουμενην ολην ho planōn tēn oikoumenēn holēn). This is his aim and his occupation, pictured here by the nominative articular present active participle of πλαναω planaō to lead astray. For “the inhabited world” see Luke 2:1; Revelation 3:10; Revelation 16:14. Satan can almost “lead astray” the very elect of God (Matthew 24:24), so artful is he in his beguilings as he teaches us how to deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8).He was cast down to the earth (εβλητη εις την γην eblēthē eis tēn gēn). Effective aorist repeated from the beginning of the verse. “The earth was no new sphere of Satan‘s working” (Swete). Were cast down (εβλητησαν eblēthēsan). Triple use of the same verb applied to Satan‘s minions. The expulsion is complete.
A great voice saying (πωνην μεγαλην λεγουσαν phōnēn megalēn legousan). Accusative after ηκουσα ēkousa in this phrase as in Revelation 5:11; Revelation 10:4; Revelation 14:2; Revelation 18:4, but the genitive πωνης λεγουσης phōnēs legousēs in Revelation 11:12; Revelation 14:13. We are not told whence this voice or song comes, possibly from one of the twenty-four elders (Swete) or some other heavenly beings (Revelation 11:15) who can sympathize with human beings (Revelation 19:10), the martyrs in heaven (Charles).Now is come (αρτι εγενετο arti egeneto). Αρτι Arti (John 13:33) shows how recent the downfall of Satan here proleptically pictured as behind us in time (aorist tense εγενετο egeneto). The salvation (η σωτηρια hē sōtēria). Here “the victory” as in Revelation 7:10; Revelation 19:1. The power (η δυναμις hē dunamis). Gods power over the dragon (cf. Revelation 7:12; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 19:1). The kingdom (η βασιλεια hē basileia). “The empire of God” as in Revelation 11:15. The authority of his Christ (η εχουσια του Χριστου αυτου hē exousia tou Christou autou). Which Christ received from the Father (Matthew 28:18; John 17:2). See Revelation 11:15 (Psalm 2:2) for “his Anointed.” The accuser (ο κατηγωρ ho katēgōr). The regular form, κατηγορος katēgoros occurs in John 8:10; Acts 23:30, Acts 23:35; Acts 25:16, Acts 25:18 and in many MSS. here in Revelation 12:10, but A reads κατηγωρ katēgōr which Westcott and Hort accept. It was once considered a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew word, but Deissmann (Light, etc., p. 93f.) quotes it from a vernacular magical papyrus of the fourth century a.d. with no sign of Jewish or Christian influence, just as διακων diakōn appears as a vernacular form of διακονος diakonos Only here is the word applied to Satan in the N.T. In late Judaism Satan is the accuser, and Michael the defender, of the faithful. Of our brethren (των αδελπων ημων tōn adelphōn hēmōn). The saints still on earth battling with Satan and his devices. Which accuseth them (ο κατηγορων αυτους ho katēgorōn autous). Articular present active participle of κατηγορεω katēgoreō old verb, to accuse, usually with the genitive of the person (John 5:45), but here with the accusative. This is the devil‘s constant occupation (Job 1:6.). Day and night (ημερας και νυκτος hēmeras kai nuktos). Genitive of time. “By day and by night.”
They overcame him (αυτοι ενικησαν autoi enikēsan). First aorist active indicative of νικαω nikaō the verb used by Jesus of his own victory (John 16:33) and about him (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:5). “The victory of the martyrs marks the failure of Satan‘s endeavours” (Swete).Because of the blood of the Lamb (δια το αιμα του αρνιου dia to haima tou arniou). As in Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:14. The blood of Christ is here presented by δια dia as the ground for the victory and not the means, as by εν en in Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9. Both ideas are true, but δια dia with the accusative gives only the reason. The blood of Christ does cleanse us from sin (John 1:29; 1 John 1:7). Christ conquered Satan, and so makes our victory possible (Luke 11:21.; Hebrews 2:18). “Thus the Lamb is the true συνηγορος sunēgoros (like Michael) of the New Israel, its παρακλητος προς τον πατερα paraklētos pros ton patera (1 John 2:1)” (Swete). Because of the Word of their testimony (δια τον λογον της μαρτυριας αυτων dia ton logon tēs marturias autōn). The same use of δια dia “because of their testimony to Jesus” as in John‘s own case in Revelation 1:9. These martyrs have been true to their part. They loved not their life even unto death (ουκ ηγαπησαν τεν πσυχην αυτων αχρι τανατου ouk ēgapēsan ten psuchēn autōn achri thanatou). First aorist active indicative of αγαπαω agapaō They did resist “unto blood” (μεχρις αιματος mechris haimatos Hebrews 12:4) and did not put their own lives before loyalty to Christ. There is a direct reference to the words of Jesus in John 12:25 as illustrated also in Mark 8:35; Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33. Paul‘s own example is pertinent (Acts 21:13; Philemon 1:20.). Jesus himself had been “obedient unto death” (Philemon 2:8). These martyrs seem to be still alive on earth, but their heroism is proleptically pictured.
Therefore (δια τουτο dia touto). “For this reason” as in Revelation 7:15; Revelation 18:8 (15 times in John‘s Gospel, Charles notes). It points back to Revelation 12:10.Rejoice (ευπραινεστε euphrainesthe). Present middle imperative of ευπραινω euphrainō as in Revelation 11:10; Revelation 18:20. O heavens (οι ουρανοι hoi ouranoi). Plural here alone in the Apocalypse, though common elsewhere in the N.T. Satan is no longer in the heavens. They that dwell therein (οι εν αυτοις σκηνουντες hoi en autois skēnountes). Present active articular participle of σκηνοω skēnoō (see Revelation 7:15; Revelation 13:6) to dwell (tabernacle) as of Christ in John 1:14 and of God in Revelation 21:3. The inhabitants of heaven (angels and saints) have cause to rejoice, and earth reason to mourn. Woe for the earth and for the sea (ουαι την γην και την ταλασσαν ouai tēn gēn kai tēn thalassan). The accusative after ουαι ouai as in Revelation 8:13, but nominative in Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:16, Revelation 18:19 in place of the usual dative (Matthew 11:21; Matthew 18:7, etc.). Is gone down (κατεβη katebē). Second aorist (effective) active indicative of καταβαινω katabainō “did go down.” But a short time (ολιγον καιρον oligon kairon). Accusative of extent of time, “a little time.” The devil‘s departure from his warfare in the heavens reveals (ειδως eidōs knowing, perfect active participle) to him that his time for doing harm to men is limited, and hence his great wrath (τυμον thumon boiling rage).
He persecuted (εδιωχεν ediōxen). First aorist active participle of διωκω diōkō to pursue, to chase, hostile pursuit here as in Matthew 5:10.; Matthew 10:23, etc. John now, after the “voice” in Revelation 12:10-13, returns to the narrative in Revelation 12:9. The child was caught away in Revelation 12:5, and now the woman (the true Israel on earth) is given deadly persecution. Perhaps events since a.d. 64 (burning of Rome by Nero) amply illustrated this vision, and they still do so.Which (ητις hētis). “Which very one.”
There were given (εδοτησαν edothēsan). As in Revelation 8:2; Revelation 9:1, Revelation 9:3.The two wings of the great eagle (αι δυο πτερυγες του αετου του μεγαλου hai duo pteruges tou aetou tou megalou). Not the eagle of Revelation 8:13, but the generic use of the article. Every eagle had two wings. Probably here, as in Matthew 24:28, the griffon or vulture rather than the true eagle is pictured. For the eagle in the O.T. see Exodus 19:4; Isaiah 40:31; Job 9:26. That she might fly (ινα πετηται hina petētai). Purpose clause with ινα hina and present middle subjunctive of πετομαι petomai old verb, to fly, in N.T. only in the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:7; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 12:14; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 19:17). Resumption of the details in Revelation 12:6 (which see) about the “wilderness,” her “place,” the redundant εκει ekei with οπου hopou the “time and times, and half a time” (καιρον και καιρους και ημισυ kairon kai kairous kai hēmisu), 1260 days, but with τρεπεται trephetai (present passive indicative) instead of τρεπωσιν trephōsin (general plural of the present active subjunctive), and with the addition of “from the face of the serpent” (απο προσωπου του οπεως apo prosōpou tou opheōs), because the serpent rules the earth for that period. “To the end of the present order the Church dwells in the wilderness” (Swete), and yet we must carry on for Christ.
Water as a flood (υδωρ ως ποταμον hudōr hōs potamon). “Water as a river,” accusative case after εβαλεν ebalen (cast). The serpent could not follow the woman or stop her flight and so sought to drown her.That he might cause her to be carried away by the stream (ινα αυτην ποταμοπορητον ποιησηι hina autēn potamophorēton poiēsēi). Purpose clause with ινα hina and the first aorist active subjunctive of ποιεω poieō For this use of ποιεω poieō see Revelation 17:16. This compound verbal ποταμοπορητον potamophorēton in the predicate accusative (ποταμος potamos river, πορητον phorēton from πορεω phoreō to bear) was not coined by John, but occurs in a papyrus of b.c. 110 and in several others after N.T. times. It means simply “carried away by the river.”
Helped the woman (εβοητησεν τηι γυναικι eboēthēsen tēi gunaiki). First aorist active indicative of βοητεω boētheō old verb with the dative as in Hebrews 2:18, which see. Herodotus tells of the Lycus disappearing underground near Colossae. But this vivid symbol is not dependent on historical examples.Swallowed up (κατεπιεν katepien). Second aorist active indicative of καταπινω katapinō literally “drank down.”
Waxed wroth (ωργιστη ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative of οργιζομαι orgizomai “became angry.”With the woman (επι τηι γυναικι epi tēi gunaiki). “At the woman,” “because of the woman.” Went away (απηλτεν apēlthen). “Went off” in his rage to make war with the scattered followers of the Lamb not in the wilderness, perhaps an allusion to Genesis 3:15. The devil carries on relentless war with all those “which keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus” (των τηρουντων τας εντολας του τεου και εχοντων την μαρτυριαν Ιησου tōn tērountōn tas entolas tou theou kai echontōn tēn marturian Iēsou). These two marks excite the wrath of the devil then and always. Cf. Revelation 1:9; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 14:12; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 20:4.
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