|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:12-17 The church and all her friends might well be called to praise God for deliverance from pagan persecution, though other troubles awaited her. The wilderness is a desolate place, and full of serpents and scorpions, uncomfortable and destitute of provisions; yet a place of safety, as well as where one might be alone. But being thus retired could not protect the woman. The flood of water is explained by many to mean the invasions of barbarians, by which the western empire was overwhelmed; for the heathen encouraged their attacks, in the hope of destroying Christianity. But ungodly men, for their worldly interests, protected the church amidst these tumults, and the overthrow of the empire did not help the cause of idolatry. Or, this may be meant of a flood of error, by which the church of God was in danger of being overwhelmed and carried away. The devil, defeated in his designs upon the church, turns his rage against persons and places. Being faithful to God and Christ, in doctrine, worship, and practice, exposes to the rage of Satan; and will do so till the last enemy shall be destroyed.
Verse 17. - And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed; waxed wroth... went away to make, etc. (Revised Version). Having failed to prevent the mission of' the man child - Christ Jesus - and having been foiled in his attempts to overwhelm the Church of God, Satan proceeds to attack the individual members of the Church - the seed of the woman. The method by which he endeavours to do this is related in the following chapters. Wordsworth points out an analogy between the means which Satan employs to destroy the Church as described here, and those described in the seals. The "rest of her seed" (Revised Version) signifies all the children of the woman, excluding the man child of ver. 5. All members of the Church of God are thus referred to, those who are brethren of Christ (cf. Hebrews 2:11, "For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren"). Which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (nearly all manuscripts omit "Christ"); hold the testimony (Revised Version). This plainly points out who are the "rest of the seed" - they are those who are God's faithful servants. We may see in the description a reference to the Church of God, both Jewish and Christian. The members of the Jewish Church were they to whom "the commandments of God" were specially revealed, and Christians are they who specially "hold the testimony of Jesus." (For an explanation of the latter phrase, see on Revelation 1:2.) We have now reached another stage in the history of the warfare carried on by the devil against God. Vers. 7-12 of this chapter describe the origin of the hostility of Satan towards God; vers. 4 and 5 relate the attempts of the devil to destroy Christ and to thwart his mission; vers. 13-16 refer to the attacks of Satan upon the Church of God, by which he hoped to destroy it as a whole, before there was time for the "seed" to spring up. Having failed in every attempt, the dragon now sends other agents by whom he hopes to destroy the individual members of the Church - the other seed of the woman - the brethren of Christ.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the dragon was wroth with the woman,.... The devil was very angry with the church, because he could not destroy her by the Arian persecution he had raised; and because he could not carry her away with the flood, either of errors and heresies, or of the barbarous nations; and because he could not, by any means, come at her, and indeed did not well know where she was, a place being prepared for her of God in the wilderness, where she was taken care of: wherefore he took another method as follows,
and went to make war with the remnant of her seed; which refers to the war the beast, to whom he gave his power, seat, and authority, is said to make with the saints; and which was entered into and carried on by his instigation, of which there is an account in the following chapter: the persons with whom he went to make war are described as "her seed"; the seed of the church, her spiritual offspring, the sons and daughters she brought forth to Christ; between which seed, and Satan and his seed, there always was an enmity: and these are "the remnant" of her seed, a few persons scattered up and down, a remnant according to the election of grace; who were not in bodies, or in church states, regularly formed, as heretofore, but in private families, and some here, and some there; and who were called out to bear a testimony for Christ in corrupt times: and these are further described as such
who keep the commandments of God: and not the traditions of men: nor are the commands of the moral law of God so much designed, though it is true that these were kept by the seed of the church; but rather the ordinances of the Gospel, the commands of God our Saviour, such as baptism and the Lord's supper; which were kept by these faithful ones, as they had been delivered, when they began now to be sadly corrupted by the antichristian party:
and have the testimony of Jesus Christ; the Gospel, which is a testimony concerning him; See Gill on Revelation 1:2. This they had in their hearts, a spiritual knowledge and saving experience of it; and this they had in their hands, they made a profession of it, they held it forth, and held it fast; all which was the reason of Satan's enmity against them, and war with them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. wroth with—Greek, "at."
went—Greek, "went away."
the remnant of her seed—distinct in some sense from the woman herself. Satan's first effort was to root out the Christian Church, so that there should be no visible profession of Christianity. Foiled in this, he wars (Re 11:7; 13:7) against the invisible Church, namely, "those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus" (A, B, and C omit "Christ"). These are "the remnant," or rest of her seed, as distinguished from her seed, "the man-child" (Re 12:5), on one hand, and from mere professors on the other. The Church, in her beauty and unity (Israel at the head of Christendom, the whole forming one perfect Church), is now not manifested, but awaiting the manifestations of the sons of God at Christ's coming. Unable to destroy Christianity and the Church as a whole, Satan directs his enmity against true Christians, the elect remnant: the others he leaves unmolested.
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