And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
Verse 1. - And there appeared a great wonder; and a great sign was seen (Revised Version). This sign consists of the whole of the appearances, the account of which is contained in this verse and the following one. The vision is thus plainly declared to be figurative (cf. the use of the corresponding verb in Revelation 1:1). In heaven. Though the scene of the vision opens in heaven, it is immediately afterwards transferred to the earth. It is doubtful whether any particular signification is to be attached to the expression, though Wordsworth notes concerning the Church, "For her origin is from above; hers is the kingdom of heaven." And Bengel, "The woman, the Church, though on earth, is nevertheless, by virtue of her union with Christ, in heaven." A woman. The woman is undoubtedly the Church of God; not necessarily limited to the Christian Church, but the whole company of all who acknowledge God, including the heavenly beings in existence before the creation, as well as creation itself. The figure is found both in the Old Testament and in the New. Thus Isaiah 54:5, 6, "For thy Maker is thine Husband .... For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved" (cf. also John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32). Clothed with the sun. The whole description is intended to portray the glory and beauty of the Church. Most of the ancient commentators give particular interpretations of the symbols employed. Thus the sun is believed to represent Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. Primasius quotes Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." And the moon under her feet. This is interpreted as showing the permanent nature of the Church; she treads underfoot the moon, the symbol of changing times and seasons. It is thought that a reference is thus intended to the futility of the endeavours made to subvert the Church (cf. Song of Solomon 6:10). Others variously interpret the moon of
(1) the Mosaic Law;
(2) the irreligion of the world;
(3) the Mohammedan power.
But the figure is probably intended simply to enhance the beauty of the vision, and to portray the exceeding glory of the Church. We may also imagine the symbol to denote stability of existence in the midst of change of outward appearance, as the moon is ever existent and ever reappearing, though obscured for a time. And upon her head a crown of twelve stars. This image immediately suggests a reference to the twelve apostles of the Christian Church, and the twelve tribes of the Jewish Church. Wordsworth observes, "Twelve is the apostolic number, and stars are emblems of Christian teachers." In like manner the Jews were accustomed to speak of the minor prophets as "the twelve." The crown is στέφανος ( the crown of victory - the idea of which is prominent throughout the vision.
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
Verse 2. - And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. The present, "crieth," κρὰζει, is found in א, A, P, Coptic, Andreas in a et bav., etc.; the imperfect, ἐκράζεν, is read in C, Vulgate, 7, 8, 31, etc., Andreas in c et p, Primasius; the aorist, ἐκράζεν, in B, twelve cursives (cf. the words of our Lord in John 16:21, 22). A similar image occurs in Isaiah 26:17; Isaiah 66:7, 8; Micah 4:10. The trouble which afflicted the Jewish Church, and the longing of the patriarchs for the advent of the Saviour, are here depicted. So also St. Paul, encouraging the Romans to bear patiently their sufferings, says, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22).
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
Verse 3. - And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and there was seen another sign in heaven (Revised Version). (See on ver. 1.) The appearance seen is not a representation of the devil as he actually is, but the sign - the dragon - is figurative and descriptive of the particular characteristics now about to be exhibited. In heaven - most likely merely in the space above, where he could be easily seen. Wordsworth, however, says, "Because the power here represented assails the Church, the kingdom of heaven." And behold a great red dragon. His identity is established by ver. 9, where he is called "the great dragon, the old serpent, the devil, Satan, the deceiver." Red; no doubt to enhance his terrible appearance; suggestive of his murderous, destructive character. "Dragon" (δράκων,) in the New Testament occurs only in this book. In the Old Testament the word is of frequent occurrence. In the LXX. δράκων is used seventeen times to express the Hebrew tannin (a sea or land monster, especially a crocodile or serpent); five times it stands for leviathan; twice it represents kephir (young lion); twice nachash (serpent); once attud (he-goat); and once pethen (python). Tannin (singular) is always rendered by δράκων except in Genesis 1:21, where we find κῆτος; but twice it is corrupted into tannim (viz. Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2). The latter word, tannim, is the plural of tan (a jackal), and is found only in the plural; but once it is found corrupted into tannin (Lamentations 4:3). There is no doubt as to the signification of the appearance. The dragon, is, in the Old Testament, invariably a symbol of what is harmful, tyrannous, murderous. It is a hideous, sanguinary monster, sometimes inhabiting the sea, sometimes the desolate places of the earth, always "seeking whom it may devour." In some passages it refers to Pharaoh (Psalm 74:13; cf. Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2); in others it is a type of what is noxious or desolate (Job 7:12; Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:13; Psalm 44:19; Jeremiah 9:11, etc.). In Isaiah 27:1 we have the combination, "leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent;... the dragon that is in the sea." Having seven heads and ten horns. The description of the beasts in Revelation 12-17, is evidently derived from the vision of Daniel (7.), although the details differ. It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that the interpretation generally should follow the same lines as that applied to the Old Testament symbols, with which the writer was so familiar. The appearances described in Daniel are universally considered to typify various worldly powers which oppressed the Church and nation of the Jews. Similarly here the symbolism seems intended to portray the opposition of the devil to the Church of God, working through the power of the world. The heads and horns are both declared in Revelation 17:10, 12 to typify kingdoms - in what way we shall presently see (Revelation 17:10). The numbers seven and ten are both symbolical of completeness (see Revelation 1:4; Revelation 5:1; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:3). We have, therefore, in this picture of the dragon, the idea of the full and complete power of the world arrayed on earth against God and his Church. This power, connected with and derived from the devil, the prince of this world (John 12:31), is often alluded to by St. John as being opposed to, or in contrast with, the godly (see John 7:7; John 14:17; John 15; John 16; John 17; 1 John 2:15; 1 John 3:13; 1 John 5:4, etc.). And seven crowns upon his heads; seven diadems (Revised Version). That is, the kingly crown, the symbol of sovereignty, worn by the dragon to denote his power as "prince of this world." The word διαδήματα is found in the New Testament only here and Revelation 13:1 and Revelation 19:12. It is not the στέφανος, the crown of victory worn by the saints (see Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 6:2, etc.). No account is given of the disposition and arrangement of the heads, horns, and diadems; nor is it necessary. The seven crowned heads signify universal sovereignty; the ten horns, absolute power. Probably those to whom St. John wrote understood the symbol as referring specially to the power of heathen Rome, which was at that time oppressing the Church; but the meaning extends to the power of the world in all ages (see on Revelation 13:1).
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
Verse 4. - And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth; draweth (Revised Version). Not the stars with which the woman is crowned (see ver. 1), but other stars. In describing the vast power of the devil, St. John seems to allude to the tremendous result of his rebellious conduct in heaven, in effecting the fall of other angels with himself (Jude 1:6). The seer does not here interrupt his narrative to explain the point, but returns to it after ver. 6, and there describes briefly the origin and cause of the enmity of the devil towards God. The third part (as in Revelation 8:7, et seq.) signifies a considerable number, but not the larger part. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born; which was about to be delivered, that when she was delivered, he might devour her child (Revised Version). A graphic picture of what is true of Christ himself of the Church, both Jewish and Christian, and of every individual member of the Church. This is another example of the personal history of Christ being repeated in the history of his Church. The devil, in the person of Herod, attempts to prevent the salvation of the world; through Pharaoh he endeavours to crush the chosen people of God, through whom the Messiah was to bless all the earth; by means of the power of Rome he labours to exterminate the infant Church of Christ.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Verse 5. - And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; a son, a male - the Greek υἱόν, ἄρσεν, renders it emphatic - who is to rule, as in the Revised Version; to rule, or to govern as a shepherd (cf. the verb in Matthew 2:6). This reference and Psalm 2:9 leave no doubt as to the identification of the man child. It is Christ who is intended. The same expression is used of him in Revelation 19, where he is definitely called the "Word of God." And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. The sentence seems plainly to refer to the ascension of Christ and his subsequent abiding in heaven, from whence he rules all nations. The seer, perhaps, wishes to indicate at once the absolute immunity of Christ from any harm proceeding from the power of the devil, whose efforts are henceforth directly aimed only at the Church of Christ. Satan still hopes to injure Christ through his members. As remarked above (see on ver. 4), what is true of the personal history of Christ is often true of his Church and of his true members. And thus some have seen in this passage a picture of the woman, the Church, bringing forth members, to devour whom is Satan's constant purpose, but who in God's good time are taken to his throne to be near himself.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Verse 6. - And the woman fled into the wilderness. As with Christ, so with his Church. His great trial took place in the wilderness; so the trial of the Church occurs in the wilderness, by which figure the world is typified. It is generally pointed out that this verse is here inserted in anticipation of ver. 14. We prefer rather to look upon it as occurring in its natural place, the narrative being interrupted by vers. 7-13 in order to account for the implacable hostility of the devil. Where she hath a place prepared of God. א, A, B, P, and others insert ἐκεῖ as well as ὅπου, "where she there hath," etc. - a redundancy which is an ordinary Hebraism. Though the Church is "in the world," she is not "of the world" (John 17:14, 15); though the woman is in the "wilderness," her place is "prepared of God." The harlot's abode (Revelation 17.) is in the wilderness, and it is also of the wilderness; it is not in a place specially prepared of God. That they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. The sense is the same as in ver. 14, "that she should be sustained there." The interpretation of the 1260 days, or 3.5 years, coincides here with that adopted in Revelation 11:2. It describes the period of this world's existence, during the whole of which the devil persecutes the Church of God. As Auberlen points out, this is, in Revelation 13:5, declared to be "the period of the power of the beast, that is, the world power." (For a discussion of the whole subject of this period, see on Revelation 11:2.)
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Verses 7, 8. - And there was war in heaven. The passage vers. 7-13 is an interruption of the narrative of the persecution of the woman by Satan. It is caused, apparently, by a desire to account in some degree for the relentless hostility of the devil towards God and his Church. Two explanations of the passage may be referred to.
(1) Vers. 7-13 relate to the period anterior to the Creation, concerning which we have a slight hint in Jude 1:6. This, on the whole, seems to agree best with the general sense of the chapter, and to present fewest difficulties. Thus:
(a) It accounts for the insertion of the passage (see above).
(b) The war is directly between the devil and Michael, not between the devil and Christ, as at the Incarnation and Resurrection.
(c) Vers. 8 and 9 seem to require a more literal interpretation than that which makes them refer to the effects of Christ's resurrection.
(d) It was not at the period of the Incarnation that the scene of Satan's opposition was transferred to the earth, as described in ver. 12.
(e) The song of the heavenly voice may be intended to end with the word Christ (ver. 10), and the following passages may be the words of the writer of the Apocalypse, and may refer to the earthly martyrs (see on ver. 10).
(f) This attempt of the devil in heaven may be alluded to in John 1:5, "The darkness overcame it not" (see also John 12:35).
(2) The passage may refer to the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, and the victory then won over the devil. This interpretation renders the whole passage much more figurative.
(a) Michael is the type of mankind, which in the Person of Jesus Christ vanquishes the devil.
(b) Subsequent to the Resurrection Satan is no more allowed to accuse men before God in heaven, as he has done previously (see Job 1; Zechariah 3:1; 1 Kings 22:19-22); he is thus the accuser cast down (ver. 10), and his place is no more found in heaven (ver. 8).
(c) The earth and sea represent the worldly and tumultuous nations. Perhaps the strongest argument in favour of the second view is found in Luke 10:18 and John 12:31. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; Michael and his angels [going forth] to war with the dragon (Revised Version). Alford explains the infinitive phrase as compounded of the genitive τοῦ and depending upon ἐγένετο. Michael (מָי־כאֵל) signifies, "Who is like to God?" We may compare this with the cry of the worldly in Revelation 13:4, "Who is like unto the beast?" In Daniel, Michael is the prince who stands up for the people of Israel (Daniel 12:1; Daniel 10:13, 21). Michael, "the archangel," is alluded to in Jude 1:9 as the great opposer of Satan. St. John, perhaps borrowing the name from Daniel, puts forward Michael as the chief of those who remained faithful to the cause of God in the rebellion of Satan and his angels. The angels of the dragon are the stars of ver. 4, which he drew with him to the earth, and possibly the reference to this event in ver. 4 gives rise to the account in vers. 7-13. Some commentators interpret the war here described as that between the Church and the world. Michael is thus made to be symbolical of Christ, and some have no difficulty in indicating a particular man (such as Licinius) as the antitype of the dragon. And the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. The Greek is stronger, not even their place, etc. Οὐδέ is read in א, A, B, C, Andreas, Arethas; οὔτε is found in P, 1, 17, and others. So complete was the defeat of Satan that he was no longer permitted to remain in heaven in any capacity.
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Verse 9. - And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; cast down (Revised Version); the whole inhabited earth (Revised Version, margin). "The dragon:" so called, because he is the destroyer (see on ver. 3). "The ancient serpent," as he was revealed in Genesis 3. So in John 8:44 he is "the destroyer from the beginning." "The devil" (Διάβολος) is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Satan, שָׂמָן, "the accuser, the adversary;" reference is made in ver. 10 to the signification of the name, "The Deceiver." Wordsworth says, "The deceits by which Satan cheated the world in oracles, sorcery, soothsaying, magic, and other frauds, are here specially noticed. These were put to flight by the power of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, in the preaching of the gospel by the apostles and others in the first ages of Christianity. Our Lord himself, speaking of the consequence of the preaching of the seventy disciples, reveals the spiritual struggle and the victory: 'I was beholding Satan as lightning fall from heaven' (Luke 10:17, 18)." He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him; cast down to the earth, etc. (Revised Version). "To the earth" in a twofold sense:
(1) the phrase is a description of the loss of dignity and power on the part of Satan, in being cast to earth as opposed to heaven;
(2) earth is the scene of his future operations, where he may still in some degree sustain the struggle against God.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Verse 10. - And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven. The "great voice" is characteristic of all the heavenly utterances (cf. Revelation 5:2; Revelation 6:1, 10; Revelation 16:17, etc.). The personality of the speaker is not indicated. From the following chorus the voice would seem to proceed from many inhabitants of heaven. Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; the salvation and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ (Revised Version). The Revised Version marginal reading may also be noticed, Now is the salvation... become our God's, and the authority [is become] his Christ's. The heavenly inhabitants celebrate the triumphant confirmation of God's supremacy, which has been vindicated by the defeat and expulsion of the rebellious hosts. "The salvation of God" (σωτηρία) is that which proceeds from him; "that salvation which belongs to God as its Author" (Alford); cf. Revelation 7:10; Revelation 19:1. "The authority of his Christ" is first manifested in heaven; Satan is cast down to the earth, and here again at a subsequent epoch the authority of Christ is displayed, and another victory won over the devil. This seems to be the conclusion of the heavenly song. As before stated (see on ver. 7), the three and a half verses now concluded seem to relate to a period previous to the creation of the world. It seems equally probable that the following two and a half verses refer to those earthly martyrs and suffering Christians for whom this book is specially written. These two views can be reconciled by supposing the song of the heavenly voice to cease at the word "Christ" (ver. 10); and then the writer adds words of his own, as if he would say, "The cause of the victorious song which I have just recited was the fact that the devil was cast down, the same who is constantly accusing (ὁ κατηγορῶν) our brethren. But they (our brethren) overcame him, and valued not their lives, etc. Well may ye heavens rejoice over your happy lot, though it means woe to the earth for a short time." For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. The one accusing them (ὁ κατηρορῶν); not the past tense. Satan does not cease to accuse, though he may not do so with effect, since he may be overcome by the "blood of the Lamb." The heavenly beings are henceforth beyond his reach. He can yet accuse men - our brethren - says St. John; but even here his power is limited by the victory of the death and resurrection of Christ referred to in ver. 5. "Accuser" (κατήγορος) is found in א, B, C, P, Andreas, Arethas. The form κατήγωρ, found in A, is rather the Targumic and rabbinic corruption of the word קטיגור, than the Greek word itself. "Of our brethren," the saints and martyrs (see above); "is cast down" (or, "was cast down") from heaven.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Verse 11. - And they overcame him (cf. the frequent references to those who overcome, and the promises made to them, Revelation 2 , etc.). The reference "they" is to "our brethren," the accused ones of ver. 10. By the blood of the Lamb; because of the blood, etc. (Revised Version). That is, "the blood of the Lamb" is the ground or reason of their victory, not the instrument. So in Revelation 1:9, "1 John... was in the island called Patmos, because of the Word of God (διὰ τὸν λόγον)" (cf. Revelation 6:9). Winer agrees with this view of the present passage, against Ewald and De Wette (p. 498 of Moulton's translation). "The Lamb," who was seen "as it had been slain" (Revelation 5:6) - Christ. And by the word of their testimony; and on account of the word, etc. The one phrase is the natural complement of the other. "The blood of the Lamb" would have been shed in vain without the testimony, the outcome of the faith of his followers; that testimony would have been impossible without the shedding of the blood. And they loved not their lives unto the death; their life even unto death. That is, they valued not their life in this world, even to the extent of meeting death for the sake of giving their testimony. There is no article in the Greek, merely ἄχρι θανάτον; so also in the same phrase in Acts 22:4. The article of the Authorized Version in Acts 22:4 is probably derived from Wickliffe's Bible; that in the present passage, from Tyndale's.
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Verse 12. - Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them; O heavens (Revised Version). Κατοικοῦντες, "that dwell," is read in א, 26, 29, 30, 31, 98, Andreas, Vulgate, Primasius, Memphitie, Armenian. The Revisers have followed the common reading of σκηνοῦντες, "tabernacled," which is found in the majority of manuscripts. Alford observes, "There is no sense of transitoriness in St. John's use of σκηνόω, rather one of repose and tranquillity (cf. Revelation 7:15)." Κατασκηνοῦντες is found in C. So in Revelation 13:6 the abiding place of God is called his tabernacle. These are the words of the writer (see on ver. 10). The cause for this rejoicing has been given in ver. 9; the devil having been cast out, those in heaven enjoy absolute immunity from all harm which he can work. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! Woe for the earth and for the sea! (Revised Version). A few cursives give τοῖς κατοίκουσιν, "to the dwellers." The influence of the devil works woe to the whole world - to the human inhabitants, to the animal and vegetable life of the earth which was cursed for man's sake (cf. Genesis 3:17). For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time; or, came down (aorist). "A short season" (καιρός) in which to exist in the world. His wrath, kindled by his ejectment from heaven, is the greater because of the comparative shortness of his reign on earth. This "short season" is the period of the world's existence from the advent of Satan till the final judgment. It is short in comparison with eternity, and it is frequently thus described in the New Testament (Romans 9:28; 1 Corinthians 7:29; Revelation 3:11, etc.). It is the "little time" of Revelation 6:11; the "little season" of Revelation 20:3, during which Satan must be loosed. Here ends the digression descriptive of the struggle in heaven before the creation of the world, and the following verses take up and continue the narrative which was interrupted after ver. 6.
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Verse 13. - And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (For an explanation of the characters here alluded to, see on the previous verses.) The devil, defeated in his attempts against God in heaven, and foiled in his attack upon the man child - Christ Jesus (see ver. 5), now directs his efforts against the woman - the Church. The interpretation must not be confined to one peculiar form of evil which assails the Church, but must include all - the bodily persecutions with which those to whom St. John wrote were afflicted, the heresies which arose in the Church, the lukewarnmess of her members (Revelation 3:16), and all others.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
Verse 14. - And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle. "The two wings of the great eagle" is found in most authorities, though א omits both the articles. The symbol of the eagle is a common one in the Old Testament, and this may account for the presence of the article. The escape of the Jewish Church from the power of Pharaoh, and her preservation in the wilderness, are referred to under a like figure (see Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself"). The natural enmity between the eagle and the serpent is alluded to by Wordsworth (Wordsworth, in loc., where see a full exposition of the symbolism here employed). "The two wings" may typify the Old and New Testaments, by the authority of which the Church convicts her adversaries, and by which she is supported during her period of conflict with the devil. That she might fly into the wilderness, into her place. The reference to the flight of Israel from Egypt is still carried on. "Her place" is the "place prepared of God" (ver. 6). The Church, though in the world, is not of the world (see on ver. 6). Where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. Still the history of Israel is borne in mind. As the chosen people were nourished in the wilderness, so the Church of God is sustained in her pilgrimage on earth. The redundant δπον ἐκεῖ, "where there," follows the analogy of the Hebrew (see on ver. 6). "The time, times, and half a time," is the period elsewhere described as 42 months, 1260 days, 3.5 years. It denotes the period of the existence of this world (see on Revelation 11:2). The expression is taken from Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7. By this verse and ver. 6 is established the identity of the two expressions - 1260 days, and the time, times, and half a time (i.e. one year + two years + half a year). The plural καιροί is used for "two times," as no dual occurs in the Greek of the New Testament (see Winer, p. 221, Moulton's translation). The construction, "nourished from the face" (τρέφεται ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ ὄφεως), is built upon the analogy of the Hebrew. The "serpent" is the "dragon" of ver. 13 (cf. ver. 9, "the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan"). The two words are used as convertible terms (cf. ver. 17, where he is again called "the dragon").
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
Verse 15. - And the serpent cast out of his month water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood; cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a river... carried away by the river. A flood, in the Old Testament, has several significations. It frequently expresses overwhelming misfortune. Thus Psalm 69:15, "Let not the waterflood overflow me;" Psalm 90:5, "Thou carriest them away as with a flood" (cf. also Daniel 9:26; Daniel 11:22; Isaiah 59:19; Jeremiah 46:7; Amos 9:5, etc.). The flood is typical of every form of destruction with which the devil seeks to overwhelm the Church of God. At the period of the writing of the Apocalypse, it plainly symbolized the bitter persecutions to which Christians were subjected; but its meaning need not be limited to this one form of destruction. Thus all those writers are correct, so far as they go, who interpret the flood of the Mohammedan power, of heresy, of the Gothic invasion, etc.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
Verse 16. - And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth; swallowed up the river (Revised Version). "The earth" frequently, but not invariably, in the Revelation signifies "the wicked." It is doubtful, therefore, how far the figure here employed should be pressed. What is certain is that the writer intends to express the idea that the Church is preserved in a wonderful and even miraculous way from the efforts of the devil. Further than this we cannot proceed safely. Possibly we may see in the passage an allusion to the world embracing Christianity, by which the instrument of Satan's ill will became a defence to the Church; though an earlier period and earlier deliverances seem more likely to be intended (such as the conversion of St. Paul); for after endeavouring to destroy the woman at one stroke, the dragon proceeds to war with her seed. The words recall another incident in the history of the Israelitish flight from Egypt and sojourn in the wilderness, viz. that of the destruction of Korah and his company; though, of course, the nature of the incidents is not the same in both cases.
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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.