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Bible Commentaries

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 12

Verse 1

Section 3: The Earthly Apocalypse (chapters 12-20)

This vision begins with ch. 11:19

Chapter 12 - The Underlying Conflict (Woman on the Moon)

The Glorious Woman With Child, - Revelation 12:1-2

The Great Red Dragon, vv. - Revelation 12:3-4

The Man Child, vv. - Revelation 12:5-6

The Spiritual War, vv. - Revelation 12:7-9

Rejoicing In Heaven, vv. - Revelation 12:10-11

The Dragon Persecuted the Woman, vv. - Revelation 12:12-17

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A great sign appeared in heaven -- This may be the beginning of “the seven signs” of the Revelation.

This is a special theological term (sēmeion) used often in John’s Gospel (cf. John 2:11, John 2:23; John 3:2; John 4:54; John 6:2, John 6:14, John 6:30; John 7:31; John 9:16; John 10:41; John 11:47; John 12:18, John 12:37; John 20:30). It now appears seven times between Revelation 12:1 and Revelation 19:20 —three times of signs in heaven (cf. Revelation 12:1, Revelation 12:3; Revelation 15:1) and four times of signs on the earth (cf. Revelation 13:13, Revelation 13:14; Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:20). - Utley

in heaven . . In Revelation the word heaven was employed to denote governments and authorities. The Lord Himself so used the word in his own description of the destruction of Jerusalem in referring to "great signs in the heavens," and "stars falling from heaven"- a symbolic reference to the casting down of the Jewish and Roman rulers and authorities. - Walace

heaven . . The place where God dwells. The Greek word ouranos can mean sky or heaven. - FSB

a woman . . The woman represents the righteous remnant of Israel, who gave Christ to the world, v. - Revelation 12:5 Micah 5:3 , and who (as the church) will be persecuted by the Dragon (Satan), the Beast (Rome), the False-Prophet, and BABYLON, the harlot.

The woman is not Mary, not yet the church, but God’s faithful (which included Mary). The Tree in Roman 11 (see Romans 11:7 -36 ff . Psalms 107:2 The redeemed of the earth. They are called the "remnant" in Revelation 11:13

...this woman represents the true people of God (cf. Revelation 12:1-6), but in Revelation 12:13-17 she will be the NT people of God fleeing from the wrath of the dragon. - Utley

In New Bible Commentary George R. Beasley-Murray said, “Religious people of the ancient world would have seen in the travailing woman a goddess crowned with the twelve stars of the zodiac; a Jew would have understood her as Mother Zion (see Isaiah 26:16, Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 49:14-25; Isaiah 54:1-8; Isaiah 66:7-9), but for John she represented the ‘Mother’ of the Messianic community, the believing people of God of old and new covenants” (p. 1441).[ Utley]

woman . . The faithful people of God, from whom the Messianic son comes (v. 5). - NIVZSB

The sun . . = A picture of her glory.

moon under her feet . . A picture of her exaltation over authorities and civil powers.

Twelve stars - helps us to remember this is in ch. 12.

The sun, moon, stars = the light for the earth.

“twelve stars” Here again our presuppositions drive the interpretation: (1) if it is OT then it refers to the twelve Jewish tribes; (2) if it is intertestamental apocalyptic literature it refers to the signs of the zodiac; and (3) if it is NT then it refers to the twelve Apostles. Twelve is the regular biblical symbolic number of organization.

However, the meaning of chapter 12 is not conditioned on a proper identification of John’s symbolism, but the central truth of the context. This principle must be maintained. We must not (1) push the details; (2) choose some things literally and some things symbolically; or (3) force our interpretations into our historical setting. - Utley

sun … moon … twelve stars . . Recalls Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9.

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Colin Nicholl in his book The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem, shows the woman in Revelation 12 as the zodiac Virgin, who is clothed with the Sun only around Sept. 15, and only had the moon under her feet [in this time period ] in B.C. 6, thus he sees this as a reference to the birth of Jesus giving us a time table for the real "Christmas."

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BOOK REVIEW

As a Christian and an astronomer, it’s only natural I should have a keen interest in the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem. While I’ve never done any original research on the topic, I’ve followed new developments from a distance over the years. And each time it appears all plausible explanations have been exhausted, someone comes up with a fresh idea.

Now we have a lengthy treatise written by an academic. Will we be surprised again?

Skeptic Turned Believer

I have to admit I started Colin Nicholl’s The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem with considerable skepticism. Quickly perusing the book before I began reading in detail, I noticed Nicholl adopts 4 B.C. as the date of Herod’s death. While this has been the consensus view among historians, recent scholarship throws this dating into doubt (more on this below). Nicholl is obviously aware of this debate, but seems overly dismissive of challenges to the consensus. I feared if he lacked careful attention to this important point, his scholarship on other points would be similarly weak.

I’m happy to report, however, that I was wrong in my initial assessment of The Great Christ Comet. Unquestionably, Nicholl is a deeply knowledgeable and meticulous biblical scholar. Nearly every page contains multiple footnotes, often to obscure books and scholarly journals. But he is also humble. He acknowledges early on that the study of the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem requires expertise in multiple disciplines including biblical studies, Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) history, and astronomy. I’m impressed he dialogued with multiple astronomers while working on this book. Gary W. Kronk, a leading expert on comets, wrote the foreword.

The input from astronomers is evident in the high quality and great depth of discussions relating to the technical aspects of astronomy. Nicholl carefully explains the basic motions of celestial bodies in the night sky, always with attention to details relevant to ANE observers. He also does a very good job explaining the anatomy, orbital mechanics, brightness changes, and visual appearances of comets. Nicholl often draws on detailed historical accounts of bright comets, including many beautiful illustrations; the visual impact of a celestial phenomenon is an important part of the story of the Star. I couldn’t find any obvious errors in the book’s astronomy content.

Biblically Focused, Persuasive Storyteller

The biblical text is Nicholl’s main source material. Early on, he makes a solid case that the nativity narrative should be taken as describing real historical events. Not only does he make use of the detailed description of the Star in Matthew 1:18Matthew 2:18, but he also brings in Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 9:2, and Revelation 12:1-5. Though Kronk says in the foreword that Nicholl is the first to tie the Revelation passage to the star, this isn’t the case. In chapter 4, Nicholl actually states Ernest L. Martin did so in The Star of Bethlehem: The Star that Astonished the World, as well as Frederick A. Larson, likely influenced by Martin, in his The Star of Bethlehem documentary.

I’m not spoiling the conclusion by telling you Nicholl strongly advocates the comet explanation for the Star; that much is evident on the book’s cover. Before presenting his own theory, he critiques other well-known proposals. These include various conjunctions between Jupiter and other planets or stars, a nova or supernova, meteors, and an ordinary star. He also notes that the 12 B.C. apparition of Halley’s comet, which some have identified as the Star, is much too early to be consistent with the biblical chronology. I find his critiques to be persuasive.

Nicholl is a good storyteller. As I read through each chapter I had the impression he was retelling the story of how he’d worked as a detective to solve the mystery of the Star, carefully sifting through subtle clues bit by bit to arrive at a final, inescapable conclusion. Although at times the material can be technical and the pace slow (with some very long footnotes!), I think he manages to maintain the average reader’s interest most of the time.

Theories and Chronologies

Without giving away the whole story, I’ll briefly summarize Nicholl’s theory. Only a comet, he argues, can do all the things the Star is reported to have done in the nativity texts—leading the Magi to Jerusalem, then to Bethlehem, then to the specific house in which the Christ child lay. I must admit I was astonished when I read Nicholl’s description of the celestial sign he says prompted the Magi to make their long journey to Jerusalem. I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing it here!

Nicholl even gives the orbital elements of the “Christ Comet.” This is quite an achievement. With these, anyone with modern planetarium software can follow its path across the ancient skies and confirm that it did everything Nicholl claims for it.

I need to say a few words about the timing of the Christ Comet. As noted above, Nicholl accepts the consensus dating of Herod’s death (4 B.C.). In 2009 Andrew Steinmann, professor of theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, published a paper in Novum Testamentum titled “When Did Herod the Great Reign?” in which he presents a case for Herod’s death occurring in 1 B.C. There are many subtleties in this debate, such as whether one should count partial years in calculating the length of a king’s reign and which lunar eclipse is relevant to Herod’s death. In my opinion, Steinmann presents a compelling case for the 1 B.C. date.

On this accounting, Jesus was born in 2 or 3 B.C. Nicholl’s birthdate of 6 B.C., then, is excluded in the new chronology. His estimate is based on the celestial event described in Revelation 12. So there are actually two possible dates: September 11, 3 B.C. or September 15, 6 B.C. Thus, there is a simple fix to Nicholl’s chronology—just advance his dates by three years!

Mystery Solved?

So, has Nicholl finally solved the mystery of the Star? I’m tempted to say he has. But until an independent reference to the Christ Comet is discovered in the historical record, I would have to call his theory a speculative historical reconstruction—albeit a sophisticated one that may be the most plausible offered to date.

Historians, take note: even a single brief note of a comet appearing at a certain date and in a particular constellation consistent with Nicholl’s theory would be enough to confirm it.

Colin Nicholl. The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 368 pp. $40.00.

Guillermo Gonzalez is an assistant professor of astronomy at Ball State University. He is the co-author of The Privileged Planet: How our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.

October 9th, 2015

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In response to this read the lengthy excellent review response by Jason Engwer (Nov. 9, 2015) in Amazon’s reviews of the book. The resonse took the view of a miraculous star.

Verse 2

With child . . - Micah 4:9 Micah 5:3 Revelation 12:5

Some see the child as the church, but the woman seems to become the church, and the child seems to be our Lord.

The woman is not Mary, but God’s faithful remnant (which included Mary) in OT times and the church in NT time.

crying out . . This, along with “birth pains” and “torment,” may suggest the persecution of the people of God. - FSB

cried out … in pain . . Israel, often pictured as a mother giving birth (cf. Isaiah 26:17-18; Isaiah 54:1; Isaiah 66:7-12; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:10; Micah 5:2-3; Matthew 24:8), had agonized and suffered for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come and destroy Satan, sin, and death, and usher in the kingdom. - MSB

and she … pained to be delivered . . There is probably a reminiscence of Genesis 3:16, and perhaps of St John 16:21, as well as of Micah 4:10, to which the main reference is. Cf. also St Matthew 24:8, St Mark 13:1. - CBSC

Verse 3

another sign . . The first sign is the woman, the second is the dragon.

great fiery red dragon . . We have no problem identify the Great Red Dragon. Revelation 12:9, as Satan, the woman’s mortal enemy. He appears as a dragon 13 time in this book. Red speaks of bloodshed (cf. John 8:44). - cf MSB

dragon . . The word in classical Greek means simply “serpent,” though perhaps it was always specially applied to the larger or more formidable kinds. But in St John’s time the conception seems to have been familiar of a half-mythical kind of serpent, to which the name was appropriated: it had not gone so far as the mediæval type of “dragon,” with legs and wings, but the dragon was supposed to “stand” (see the next verse), hardly perhaps “on his rear,” as Milton imagines the Serpent of Eden to have done, before the curse of Genesis 3:14, but erect from the middle upwards; see Verg. Æn. II. 206–8. Whether this dragon bore visibly on him the primæval curse or no, there is an undoubted reference to the story of the Fall in this picture of the woman, the man, and the serpent. In Psalms 74:13-14 (14, 15); Job 26:13; Isaiah 27:1, isa 51:9, we seem to find references to a “war in heaven,” either past or future, like that which follows here. - CBSC

crowns . . = diadems. Crowns of kings, not the garland crowns given to victors. These represent the powers he used for his purpose of destroying the woman’s child.

horns . . The horns recall the imagery of Dan 7:7 (where they referred to 10 kings). The dragon elevates himself and uses his power to influence the kings of the world for the oppression of God’s people.

The Dragon employs the Seven head, ten horns, seven crowns as his agents.

(Daniel will identify this beast doing the Dragon’s bidding later (Daniel 7:7 ff. Daniel 7:23; Daniel 8:9 ) as the fourth empire to arise, the Roman.

royal headbands . . Each of the seven heads had a diadem or crown. John sets up a deliberate contrast between the beast’s diadēmata (“crowns”) and the woman’s stephanos (“crown, wreath”). Royalty and kingly pretenders wore diadēmata, whereas victors wore a stephanos. -FSB

Verse 4

third part . . This may refer to the angels who joined Satan (suggesting it was about a third of heaven’s angels who sided with Satan in the revolt).

third of the stars of heaven . . Satan’s original rebellion (cf. Isaiah 14:12 ff.; Ezekiel 28:11 ff.) resulted in one-third of the angelic host joining his insurrection and becoming demons. - MSB

Jews thought the stars as angels, this may be a reference to the dragon defeating some of the angelic host (compare the Jewish literature 2 Enoch 4:1; 2 Baruch 51:10). cf - FSB

John is probably drawing a parallel between the activities of this dragon-like kingly pretender and Antiochus in Dan 8:10. Both usurpers harmed the stars. - FSB

stood before the woman . . Note the dangers to the "child" - Herod the Great acted as Satan’s agent trying to destroy the Christ-child. (cf. the temptations at the beginning of Christ’s ministry.) - Acts 4:26-27. Matthew 4:1-11***

to devour her Child . . Unable to prevent the virgin birth of Christ, Satan tried to kill the child in a general massacre of male children commanded by Herod (Matthew 2:13-18; cf. Luke 4:28-29).- MSB

(Can you see Satan using King Herod trying to end God’s plan of redemption before it can get a good start!)

for to devour her child . . Symbolizes the enmity of the serpent against the seed of the woman, beginning with the intended treachery of Herod, and massacre of the Innocents; but including also the malice that pursued Him through life, the temptation, and at last the Cross. - CBSC

[See Utley’s extensive remarks about Satan’s casting out of heaven. Revelation 12:4] Be careful of pushing the details; apocalyptic literature is often true theology presented in an imaginative frame-work. It is true, but symbolically presented! - Utley

Verse 5

she bore a male child . . Jesus Christ in His incarnation was of Jewish descent (Matthew 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:8). Despite Satan’s efforts to destroy Israel and the messianic line, Jesus’ birth took place as predicted by the prophets (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2). - MSB

rule all nations with a rod of iron . . The “rod of iron” (also Revelation 2:27; Revelation 19:15) is not a royal scepter (as in some translations) but the shepherd’s club, here used to shatter the nations like pottery (cf. Psalms 2:9). - ESVSB

to shepherd . . [rule] . . The Greek verb poimainō, meaning “to shepherd,” is often translated as “to rule.” While the sense is certainly one of leadership, the shepherd imagery should be maintained (see Revelation 7:17). - FSB

rule . . - as a shepherd with an iron rod.

This is an allusion to Psalms 2:9 and is, therefore, Messianic. In Revelation 19:15 this phrase is used of the Messiah, while in Revelation 2:26-27 it is used of the saints. - Utley

rod of iron . . An iron rod in the hands of the Messiah connotes an unyieldingly just reign; He will not deviate from His righteous standards or tolerate wickedness or sedition. See Psalms 2:9; compare Revelation 2:27; Revelation 19:15. - FSB

Revelation 2:26-27 said of those who overcome. Revelation 3:21 - those overcoming will sit with Christ.

child was caught up to God . . This phrase, coupled with the birth described earlier in the verse, likely represents Christ’s ministry from His birth to His death, resurrection, and ascension in summary fashion. Such abbreviated overviews are common in the nt (e.g., John 16:28; 1 Timothy 3:16). - FSB

her Child was caught up to God . . Christ’s ascension is in view (Acts 1:9; Acts 2:33; Hebrews 1:1-3; Hebrews 12:2). - MSB

to God and his throne -- Cf. Revelation 3:21. In the vision, “He that sat on the throne” is still present, and no doubt St John saw the translation of the child to His side. - CBSC

The Child is not destroyed by the dragon but is exalted to God’s throne (cf. Acts 2:33-36; Revelation 3:21). - ESVSB

Verse 6

woman fled into the wilderness . .Throughout the Bible, the wilderness is viewed as a safe haven where the afflicted hide (e.g., 1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Kings 19:1-4). God often provides safety and sustenance in these circumstances (e.g., Deuteronomy 29:5; 1 Kings 17:1-6). - FSB

At the beginning of the Jewish-Roman was (c. AD 67) the Christians in Jerusalem fled to Pella, east of the Jordan river, where they were protected by Herod Agrippa from persecution. This is the same Herod Agrippa who had heard Paul preach in Acts 26 and came close to conversion himself (Acts 26:27-31). According to Eusebius the Jerusalem Christians heeded the warning that Christ had given in Luke 21:20-24.

place prepared by God . . The woman was protected by God.

of God . . = apo denotes source.

feed her there . .

1260 days . = 42 months = 3 1/2 years (the duration of the Jewish-Roman war. At its beginning the Christians in Jerusalem fled to Pella. cf. Luke 21:20-21;)

This same period of time is referred to in several different ways which equal about three and one half years: (1) “time, times and a half time” (cf. Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 12:14); (2) “2,300 evenings and mornings” (cf. Daniel 8:14); (3) “forty-two months” (cf. Revelation 11:2; Revelation 13:5); “1,260 days” (cf. Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:6); “1,290 days” (cf. Daniel 12:11); and “1,335 days” (cf. Daniel 12:12). - Utley

Comments by Foy E. Wallace

Verse 6.

The woman’s flight into the wilderness--Revelation 12:6.

1. And the woman fled into the wilderness. The context of these visions surrounded the events prior to and including the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and the scattering of the church in Judea by onslaught of persecution. Jesus foretold such a flight in his description of the destruction of Jerusalem in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. This cannot be considered an application too light or limited or unimportant for this vision. The portent was tremendous. It was of extremely ominous and terrible proportions. In the Lord’s warnings and in his own forebodings he exhorted them to pray that the flight might not come at a time when hindrances to the flight could not be overcome, and the difficulties of escape would be insurmountable i.e. to the woman with child, who could be greatly handicapped in flight; in the winter when the cold weather would add to suffering and misery; on the sabbath day, when due to the Jewish observance of the sabbath the exits of the city would be closed, its gates locked, barring an expeditious flight, and they would find themselves entrapped. (See GOD’S PROPHETIC WORD, p. 336-337) The period of escape from Jerusalem after the city was alerted would be so short that the Lord warned the one on the housetop not to come down to enter his house for even clothing or food; and the laborer in the field not to return to his house for such purpose, for the same reason.

Describing the horrors of the siege Jesus called it "the tribulation of those days" and quoted the prophecy of Daniel 12:11 on "the abomination of desolation" (Matthew 24:15) as being fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. During the siege one million one hundred thousand people perished.

All the houses and underground chambers were filled with perishing bodies; famishing people ate the putrified flesh of human corpses; mothers ate the flesh of their own babies. Outside the besieged city the expatriated race of Jews throughout the empire were slaughtered. In his chronicles on the destruction of Jerusalem Josephus, the eye-witness historian, verifies the declaration of our Lord in Matthew 24:21 : "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Since the Lord Himself declares that no event of the future could exceed the tribulation, there can be no reason to search for events in later history, or to engage in speculation on events of future history to fulfill the identical symbolic descriptions of Revelation. The signs and symbols of Revelation were but the extensions of the twenty- fourth chapter of Matthew, spoken by the Lord Himself in Matthew’s record and extended by his servant John in the visions of Revelation.

In this verse, Revelation 12:6, John stated that "the woman (the church) fled into the wilderness." This was precisely what Jesus commanded his disciples to do. When the signs which he had set forth should appear Christians in Jerusalem and Judea were to make hasty their flight. In Matthew 24:33 Jesus said to them: "When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." In the parallel record of Luke 21:20, He said, "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh"--and they did know it. In Matthew 24:16 the Lord said, "Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." In Luke 21:21, the parallel adds, "And let them which are in the midst of it (Jerusalem) depart out"--and they did, they departed and fled.

As generally known, Josephus was an eyewitness to the siege of Jerusalem and the events preceding it. In Wars, Book III, Section 3, page 3, he relates that after the armies of Cestius Gallius, Roman general, had besieged Jerusalem, they withdrew--and in this interval the disciples fled, according to the Lord’s admonition. The historian Josephus was an unbeliever and admitted his inability to account for the cessation, but declared it was nevertheless a fact. All who believe the statements of the Lord in Matthew twentyfour, Mark thirteen and Luke twenty-one, know and understand the why-it was the Lord’s doing.

Another later historian, Eusebius, whose history bears date of 324 A. D., states in Book III, Section 3, page 3, that the church in Jerusalem, by divine revelation, fled to the mountain country of Pella, beyond the Jordan, which according to Josephus was largely a desert, mountain region. The Lord of the descriptions and signs of Matthew’s record of the destruction of Jerusalem is the Lord of the portrayals and symbols of Revelation. There is no difference in the command for all the Christians in Jerusalem and Judea to flee to the desert region of Pella, in the record of Matthew and Luke, and the statement in Revelation 12:6, that she fled into the wilderness.

2. To a place prepared of God. The disciples’ flight was to a place where Jesus had directed them: "Let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." But Revelation states that the woman fled to "a place prepared of God." The place where Jesus commanded is the place that God prepared. The descriptions are parallel.

Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew 24:34 : "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." All of the signs of Matthew 24:1-51 are above verse 34. Jesus said they were all fulfilled in the generation of people who heard his words. (For further discussion on the destruction of Jerusalem, see GOD’S PROPHETIC WORD, pp. 246-260.) It is so with the symbols of Revelation. Jesus said to the disciples in Luke 21:31-32 : when "ye see" and "know ye"; and "I say unto you." His emphasis was on the fulfillment of the signs in events of their own lives. The parallel in Revelation is verse 3 of chapter 1: "Blessed is he that readeth (the one who read it to the churches); and they that hear (heed) the words; and they that keep (remember and observe); for the time is at hand." If the time of these things was so remote as to be yet future, there was no point in this exhortation for them, and no application to them. As the signs of Matthew 24:1-51 were fulfilled in that generation of living people, so the symbols of Revelation were fulfilled in the experiences of the existing churches.

3. That they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. Here is an instance of a literal period of time, a specific date, introduced into a figurative and symbolic context. ...

The context yields the same exact computation of a thousand two hundred and threescore days of the woman’s flight into the wilderness. It was the same period of "the forty and two months" of the preceding chapter eleven-- the same mathematical time period in which Jerusalem, "the holy city" was trodden "under foot forty and two months." In the record of Luke 21:24, this period of the treading under foot of Jerusalem was limited by the phrase "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." It was the same period as the "forty and two months" of Revelation 11:3, and the thousand two hundred and threescore days of chapter 12:6. The specific mathematical period designated, historically verified, follows this order:

Emperor Nero delivered the mandate for the siege of Jerusalem to Vespasian, his imperial officer, in the month of February A. D. 67 when the war against Judea was declared. This was the beginning of the period which ended in August A. D. 70, when the city of Jerusalem was razed, ravished and destroyed; the temple was desecrated and demolished, bringing an end to Judaism and the Jewish state.

This exact computation is attested, as mentioned previously, in the authoritative works of Jewish Testimonies, Volume VIII, by Lardner, and Wars of Jews, Volume VII, by Josephus. No further evidence is necessary.

- Wallace

Verse 7

war broke out in heaven . . This must refer to an event subsequent to the Incarnation—not, therefore, to the “Fall of the Angels,” as readers of Paradise Lost are apt to assume. - CBSC

This war in heaven occurs upon the ascension of Christ back into heaven and saw Satan losing his power over death and his direct access into the presence of God and also losing his miraculous powers. See: Psalms 24:7; Daniel 7:13; 1 John 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:54-55;

Hebrews 2:14; John 12:31 Colossians 2:15 (symbolic Luke 10:18 )

Jesus went into the hadean world and conquered and came out with the keys - Revelation 1:18.

WAR at the ascension of Christ into heaven!

Michael . . = the only angel designated an archangel in the Bible (Judges 1:9) the protector of God’s people (see Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1; The two passages seem to tell us that he is the special patron or guardian angel of the people of Israel: and it may be in that character that he is introduced here. cf also Judges 1:9).

Another of the other seven names given in Hebrew tradition is also Gaberiel.

fought . . Apparently the right reading is to fight—the sense is “there was war in Heaven, so that Michael and his angels made war with the Dragon.” R. V. “going forth to war.” - CBSC

dragon and his angels . . Exactly who Satan’s angels are is hard to describe biblically. Many see them as demonic (cf. Matthew 25:41; Ephesians 6:10 ff). But there is always the nagging question of the angels in Tartarus (cf. 2 Peter 2:4), and the angels mentioned in Revelation 9:14, who are obviously controlled by God but are still evil angels. Much of the conflict in the angelic world is simply unexplained (cf. Daniel 10:1 ff). - Utley

To note all the verses about Christ destroying Satan and Satan having his powers curtailed, also Rev. 20 (Revelation 20:1-2) , the chaining of Satan.

Note from Foy Wallace:

There are several words in the general vocabulary of Revelation, the connotations of which must be understood. These are the words: air, earth, sea, quake, heaven, stars and war. The symbols are employed in the following meaning : air, the sphere of life and influence; earth, the place of the nations; sea, society described as either troubled and tossed or placid and peaceful; quake, the political shaking of the nations; heaven, the governments, authorities and dominions; stars, the rulers and officials of governments; war, the upheavals in the governments and among inhabitants of the earth (various provinces of the empire); and the conflicts between the heathen authorities and the church in the waging of the persecutions of the saints. With this nomenclature defined, the various facets of the phraseology employed in the next few verses can be explained.

1. There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. The war in heaven meant the hostilities which developed with the tributary governments of Rome. Two classes were here placed in opposition--Michael and his angels are put in opposition to the dragon and his angels.

The dragon and his angels represented all of the powers of paganism and darkness. Conversely, Michael and his angels were representative of the truth and the light of Christianity. Michael was represented in Daniel 12:1-13 as defender and guardian of Israel. So Michael and his angels were the representatives and protectors of the woman-the persecuted church. They fought against the dragon and his evil angels by the means of the war between the satellites of Rome, because these conflicts within the Roman empire diverted the emperor’s attention from the persecutions of the woman and gave respite to the church. History verifies this outbreak of wars within the Roman empire during this period of persecution; and in Matthew 24:1-51 Jesus foretold that such wars would exist to "shorten these days." - Foy Wallace

Verse 8

they . . The dragon and his angels. The Dragon lost his place in heaven - Job 2:1

(Literal? or symbolic? what is the impact? )

no place in heaven . . The victory of Michael and the holy angels over the dragon and its coconspirators may symbolize the triumphant power of Jesus’ cross (cf. Colossians 2:15), or a subsequent defeat of demonic forces flowing from Christ’s victory at the cross, or the original casting of Satan and his demons out of heaven. - ESVSB

In John’s vision Satan’s forces proved weaker, and God threw them out of heaven. Consequently Satan no longer had access to heaven (cf. Revelation 20:11; Daniel 2:35; Zechariah 10:10). God will no longer hear Satan’s accusations against believers. - Constable

there was no longer a place found for them in heaven . . This implies that Satan has been in heaven for some time (cf. Job 1–2; Zech. 3; and 1 Kings 22:21). Notice the PLURAL PRONOUN, which implies other angels in league with Satan. - Utley

Satan was defeated and neither was their place found any more in heaven. This means that the enemy not only was vanquished but driven from the field. - Zerr

Verse 9

the great dragon . . = is identified as the old serpent, the Devil, Satan, etc. cf. 2 Peter 2:4 ; Revelation 20:2

cast out . . “Out” is not expressed— the sense is rather “cast down.” - CBSC

hurled down . . Likely refers to Satan’s defeat through Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 12:31; Colossians 2:15). - NIVZSB

Satan is banished from the divine council in heaven to earth, then to the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3), then finally to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).- FSB

the devil and Satan . . The Greek terminology used here— diablos (meaning “slanderer”) and satan (meaning “accuser”)—appropriately coincide with the description of the dragon’s activities in Revelation 12:10 - FSB

He is a malignant liar (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). His accusations against believers (v. 10) are unsuccessful because of Christ our Advocate (1 John 2:1). - MSB

Here God identified the dragon as Satan. He called him the “great dragon” because he is fierce and cruel in nature. The title “serpent of old” stresses his crafty and subtile character (cf. Revelation 20:2; Genesis 3:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:3). The name “Devil” means accuser or slanderer. - Constable

“This name for the evil one would have made a specially strong impact in the first century, for there was a well-known and well-hated figure called the delator, the paid informer. He made his living by accusing people before the 0authorities.” (Morris, p. 161. Cf. Barclay, 2:102.)

who deceives the whole world . . This describes the mission of the evil one. The best book that I have read on the development of Satan in the Bible, from servant to enemy, is A. B. Davidson’s A Theology of the Old Testament, pp. 300–306. Satan’s mission is described in 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:3, Revelation 20:8; Revelation 20:10; 2 John 1:7. It is hard to conceive of Satan as a servant of God but compare 2 Sam. 24:1 with 1 Chr. 21:1.- Utley

[Only the Apostle John supplied information bilingually in the New Testament (cf. John 1:38, John 1:42; John 4:25; John 6:1; John 9:7; John 11:16; John 19:13, John 19:17, John 19:20; John 20:16; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 3:14; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 12:9).]

Verse 10

A key verse as to the time of this WAR Revelation 12:7, ... -- Salvation is now come! Salvation through Christ, and the establishment of His kingdom, the church. Mark 9:1; Acts 2:1-3; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 1:9; Colossians 1:13.

a loud voice . . See on Revelation 6:6: and cf. Revelation 11:12: the word “loud” here is literally “great” as there. Here, “our brethren” seems to imply, that it is a number of angels that speak. - CBSC

for the accuser of our brethren . . This shows that the voice of v. 10 was not an angel, but apparently believers, possibly the martyrs of Revelation 6:9-11 - Utley

now . . (the time) -- i.e. Pentecost. The full message of salvation through the gospel was preached by the apostle Peter, Acts 2, after Jesus’ ascention back into heaven.

salvation, and strength . . Rather, the salvation and the might and the kingdom of.…” - CBSC

power . . Differs from the preceding word “strength” or “might” as implying that it is derivative— cf. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28. - CBSC

This is a literary equivalent to Revelation 11:15-18 - Utley

An outburst of praise. - Constable

accuser . . - Job 2:1 What did Satan do in the presence of God? He finds fault with the brethren!

accuses them before our God day and night . . Satan’s role in the divine council was to accuse continually (see v. 8 ), but he rebelled from this proper role and became evil. Here, he carries on his original work, but outside of God’s jurisdiction. -FSB [Not sure of this view.]

accuser . . See note on v. 9. Satan will no longer accuse believers before the throne of God because he will no longer have access to heaven. - MSB

is cast down . . (κατεβλήθη) The aorist tense. Once and for all. Compare John 12:31; John 16:8, John 16:11.

Verse 11

*** Devotional though:

Three Ways to Overcome Satan - ( 1 John 1:5-9 )

1) by the blood of the Lamb

this answers the sin problem

2) by the testimony of the apostles

power of God’s word in our lives - Mtt 4

Jesus knew the word, we need to memorize words that helps us.

3) they loved not their lives

Realized more to life than this life

They had a proper love

They had proper priorities

they overcame . . This verse contains the second stanza of the song of praise begun in verse 10. “They” refers to believers whom Satan formerly accused before God. Jesus Christ’s death is the basis for believers’ ultimate victory over Satan even though he has accused us. - Constable

overcame . . (conquered) . . The knowledge that Satan could be defeated by faith, witness, and perseverance would have been a tremendous encouragement to the members of the seven churches and others being pressured to compromise spiritually. - FSB

by the blood . . More literally because of the blood … and because of the word. - CBSC

blood of the Lamb . . No accusation can stand against those whose sins have been forgiven because of Christ’s sacrificial death (see Romans 8:33-39). - MSB

they did not love their lives until death . . They were willing to be martyred for the sake of remaining faithful to Christ. - FSB

they loved not their lives . . St John 12:25, St Luke 14:26 are the closest parallels among the similar sayings of our Lord. Here, as in all of them, the word for “life” is that elsewhere rendered “soul”—not the same as that used for “life eternal” in St John. - CBSC

First century believers and their families faced horrible deaths. Their faith in Christ was stronger than their fear of death (cf. Revelation 2:10; Mark 8:35; Luke 14:26; John 12:25). - Utley

Verse 12

rejoice, you heavens . . The heavens should rejoice because Satan has been expelled from their midst. - FSB

Woe to the inhabiters of . . We should read, Woe to the earth and the sea!—the sense is clear, though the construction is peculiar, which led to the alteration. When and in what sense the Devil’s power was, or will be, at once lessened and brought into more terrible neighbourhood to earth, we can hardly venture to say. - CBSC

inhabitants of the earth and the sea . . It appears that Jewish writers (the eastern mind) thought in terms of Palestine-Israel as "the earth" and "the sea" as all the rest of the world, that is, those who lived "across the seas" as we westerners would say.

he has a short time . . The devil had but a short time till he was to be chained, and lose his miraculous powers till he is loosed near the end, (Revelation 20:3).

a short time ... cf. Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20. In the wilderness 3 1/2 years.

[Most likely it was from time Satan was cast out (Jesus’ ascension) till the fall of Judaism, one generation, or 40 years (AD 30 to AD 70, Matthew 24:34). After this time Satan’s power, such as "demon possession" is limited, and he has no miraculous power, only man’s nature and Satan’s influence and persuasion.]

but a short time . . viz. the time, apparently, between Christ’s first coming, which broke his strength, and His second, which will destroy his kingdom for ever. It seems unlikely that the “little season” of Revelation 20:3 is here referred to. - CBSB

knowing that he has only a short time . . This seems to refer to the time from the Ascension of Christ (cf. Acts 1:9-11) to the Second Coming which John and the first century Christians thought would be in a short period of time. It has been almost 2,000 years now; every generation has the hope of the any-moment return of the Lord. Believers were warned of this delay in II Thessalonians and Matthew 24:45-51. Be careful that the delay does not reduce faith (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-4). - Utley

This is the usual view of those taking a late date for Revelation. However the internal evidence and context of the book shows that the reference for the coming of Christ "quickly" (Revelation 22:20) was to render His justment upon Jerusalem and the Jewish leadership for rejecting Him and His mission. This suggests that the "short time" is that time until the fall of the Harlot, the Babylon (Jerusalem), which is the judgment of the book (and it prefigures the final judgment of Satan in Revelation 20:11-15) See Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:10. - WG

Verse 13

when the dragon saw . . ("realized" NET, NLT) The scene picks up from Revelation 12:9.

he persecuted -- (pursued) . . The Greek word for “pursue” can also mean “persecute.” Since the woman is given two wings (Revelation 12:14), “pursue” fits the context better. However, Revelation 12:17 indicates that he will soon persecute her offspring. - FSB

he persecuted . . Satan persecuted God’s faithful, the woman introduced in Revelation 12:1.

the woman . . Possibly originally the woman referred to the OT believing community; now it refers to the NT people of God (cf. Revelation 12:17; Revelation 13:7). In Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 6, A. T. Robertson calls her “the true Israel on earth” (p. 395). - Utley

the woman . . See note on Rev 12.1 for more about "the woman."

Verse 14

two wings . . Exodus 19:4, deliverance by God.

wings of a great eagle . . Not actual birds’ wings, but a graphic depiction of God’s providential protection of Israel (cf. Exodus 19:4). Wings often speak of protection (cf. Deuteronomy 32:9-12; Psalms 91:4; Isaiah 40:31). - MSB

eagles — probably vulture-like griffins—were the largest birds known in Palestine. - MSB

two wings … eagle . . Should be “the two wings of the great eagle.” The word is, however, no doubt used generically. - CBSC

the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman . . These eagle wings are symbolic of God’s protection and provision (cf. Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11; Deuteronomy 33:12 and Isaiah 40:31). This may be another allusion to the new exodus. - Utley

so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place . . The wilderness is seen as a place of divine protection, - Utley

God bore the Israelites “on eagles wings” when He enabled them to escape from Pharaoh (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11; cf. Isaiah 40:31). Therefore we should probably understand the eagle to be metaphorical describing the way God will save them, namely, with strength and safety. - Constable

a time (1) and times (2) and half a time ( 1/2) = 3 1/2 years, or 42 months, 1260 days. cf. Revelation 11:2-3.

It is noted that the Christians in Jerusalem fled into the wilderness east of the Jordan river, to Pella, where they were protected from Jewish persecution during the 3 1/2 year Roman war which began in AD 67. See Luke 21:20-21;

from the dragon . . Literally from the serpent; also in Revelation 12:15. See Revelation 12:9 - NLTSB

Verse 15

12:15–16 These verses describe the futile efforts of Satan to destroy the woman. These two verses should probably be understood as a metaphor for an attempted destruction of God’s people (compare note on Rev 12:1). - FSB

spewed water out . . Rivers of adversity - Psalms 124:4 This may be a metaphor connected to God’s wrath in Hosea 5:10.

flood . . We have not means for interpreting this description in detail. All we can say certainly is, that it describes the providential foiling of Satanic attempts at the destruction of Israel. Perhaps the most plausible suggestion of a definite meaning of the “flood” [better translated river] is that the Christians of Jerusalem, in their flight to “the mountains” (St Matthew 24:16 &c.) of Pella, were delivered by a miracle or special providence from the dangers of the passage of Jordan: - CBSC

Verse 16

Revelation 12:16

Help given.

The earth helped . . Nature fought for Barak and Deborah against the Canaanite city of Hazor and her military general, Sisera: (1) the rain stopped their chariots (cf. Judges 5:4) and (2) even the stars (thought of as angelic powers) fought against Sisera (cf. Judges 5:20). - Utley

earth … swallowing . . May recall the judgments on Egypt (Exodus 15:12) and on Korah’s followers (Numbers 16:30-33). - NIVZSB

Verse 17

went away to make war . . The phrase “to make war” is metaphorical of spiritual, political, and economic oppositions. This is an allusion to Daniel 7:21 (cf. Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:7). This persecution is the very evidence of the church’s victory through Christ (cf. Philippians 1:28). - Utley

make war with the rest of her offspring . . The evil one tried to destroy the Messianic community by (1) destroying the Messiah, (2) destroying the mother church, and (3) by destroying all Messianic followers. Utley

the rest . . The remnant, the righteous faithful, by this time is now the church.

The Devil’s persecution of God’s people.

those who keep God’s commands . . Cf. Revelation 14:12; 1 John 3:24. - NIVZSB

testimony . . Cf. Revelation 1:2, Revelation 1:9; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 20:4. - NIVZSB

those who obey . . This description shows this reference is to the church. They will be attacked by the enemy, but they will be spiritally protected. Revelation 12:6.

That war still continues today on different fronts and various avenues. Chapter 13 deals with specific enemies he employed.

[Rev. 12:18] "And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore." . . Most translations put this as the beginning of Revelation 13:1.

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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Revelation 12". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/revelation-12.html. 2021.