Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) And they overcame him . . .—Better, And they conquered him (not “by,” but) on account of the blood of the Lamb, and on account of the word of their testimony, &c. They overcame him—i.e., the accuser, the devil: their victory over him is “owing to” the blood of the Lamb. Who is he that condemneth, when Christ hath died? What power can the accusations of the adversary have when the Lamb of God hath taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and when we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus? (Hebrews 10:19.) Dean Alford mentions the tradition that Satan accuses men all days of the year except on the Day of Atonement. But their victory is also in virtue of the word of their testimony: in virtue of the word to which they bore witness; not simply, I think, because they had a word of God to which they could bear witness, but because they had a word of God and did bear witness to it. The Christian victory is a victory of dependence and of obedience: of dependence on Him without whom they can do nothing; and of obedience to Him: it is in keeping of His commandments there is great reward: and in bearing testimony that the testimony becomes a power and a treasure. So it was the man who did Christ’s commandments who was like the man whose house was founded on the rock. Theoretical religion relaxes the energy of faith, even though it may brace the intellect; practical religion invigorates faith, gives it its force, and moulds the heroism of those who, in their love of Christ, “love not their lives even unto death.” It is thought that these last words imply that the martyred saints alone are spoken of. This seems to me a mistake. It is true that in the martyr we have the fullest practical token of that spirit of devotion to Christ which loves Him more than life itself; but the spirit of such devotion and such love has breathed in thousands who have never died the martyr’s death, but who have devoted their lives to Him they loved. The martyr spirit needs not death to show itself; many lose their lives for Christ’s sake who have never been called to lay down their lives for Him, and these, as truly as those who have passed away in the shroud of flame, have loved not their lives unto the death. “He may bid us die for Him: He does bid us live for Him. If we do not the one—the less—we may be quite sure that we shall never rise to the other—the higher and the more glorious” (Dr. Vaughan).

12:7-11 The attempts of the dragon proved unsuccessful against the church, and fatal to his own interests. The seat of this war was in heaven; in the church of Christ, the kingdom of heaven on earth. The parties were Christ, the great Angel of the covenant, and his faithful followers; and Satan and his instruments. The strength of the church is in having the Lord Jesus for the Captain of their salvation. Pagan idolatry, which was the worship of devils, was cast out of the empire by the spreading of Christianity. The salvation and strength of the church, are only to be ascribed to the King and Head of the church. The conquered enemy hates the presence of God, yet he is willing to appear there, to accuse the people of God. Let us take heed that we give him no cause to accuse us; and that, when we have sinned, we go before the Lord, condemn ourselves, and commit our cause to Christ as our Advocate. The servants of God overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, as the cause. By the word of their testimony: the powerful preaching of the gospel is mighty, through God, to pull down strong holds. By their courage and patience in sufferings: they loved not their lives so well but they could lay them down in Christ's cause. These were the warriors and the weapons by which Christianity overthrew the power of pagan idolatry; and if Christians had continued to fight with these weapons, and such as these, their victories would have been more numerous and glorious, and the effects more lasting. The redeemed overcame by a simple reliance on the blood of Christ, as the only ground of their hopes. In this we must be like them. We must not blend any thing else with this.And they overcame him - That is, he was foiled in his attempt thus to destroy the church. The reference here, undoubtedly, is primarily to the martyr age and to the martyr spirit; and the meaning is, that religion had not become extinct by these accusations, as Satan hoped it would be, but lived and triumphed. By their holy lives, by their faithful testimony, by their patient sufferings, they showed that all these accusations were false, and that the religion which they professed Was from God, and thus in fact gained a victory over their accuser. Instead of being themselves subdued, Satan himself was vanquished, and the world was constrained to acknowledge that the persecuted religion had a heavenly origin. No design was ever more ineffectual than that of crushing the church by persecution, no victory was ever more signal than what was gained when it could be said that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

By the blood of the Lamb - The Lord Jesus - the Lamb of God. See the notes at Revelation 5:6; compare the notes on John 1:29. The blood of Christ was that by which they were redeemed, and it was in virtue of the efficacy of the atonement that they were enabled to achieve the victory. Compare the notes on Philippians 4:13. Christ himself achieved a victory over Satan by his death (see the Colossians 2:15 note; Hebrews 2:15 note), and it is in virtue of the victory which he thus achieved that we are now able to triumph over our great foe.

"I ask them whence their victory came.

They, with united breath,

Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,

Their triumph to his death."

And by the word of their testimony - The faithful testimony which they bore to the truth. That is, they adhered to the truth in their sufferings, they declared their belief in it, even in the pains of martyrdom; and it was by this that they overcame the great enemy - that is, by this that the belief in the gospel was established and maintained in the world. The reference here is to the effects of persecution and to the efforts of Satan to drive religion from the world by persecution. John says that the result as he saw it in vision was, that the persecuted church bore a faithful testimony to the truth, and that the great enemy was overcome.

And they loved not their lives unto the death - They did not so love their lives that they were unwilling to die as martyrs. They did not shrink back when threatened with death, but remained firm in their attachment to their Saviour, and left their dying testimony to the truth and power of religion. It was by these means that Christianity was established in the world, and John, in the scene before us, saw it thus triumphant, and saw the angels and the redeemed in heaven celebrating the triumph. The result of the attempts to destroy the Christian religion by persecution demonstrated that it was to triumph. No more mighty power could be employed to crush it than was employed by the Roman emperors; and when it was seen that Christianity could survive those efforts to crush it it was certain that it was destined to live forever.

11. they—emphatic in the Greek. "They" in particular. They and they alone. They were the persons who overcame.

overcame—(Ro 8:33, 34, 37; 16:20).

him—(1Jo 2:14, 15). It is the same victory (a peculiarly Johannean phrase) over Satan and the world which the Gospel of John describes in the life of Jesus, his Epistle in the life of each believer, and his Apocalypse in the life of the Church.

by, &c.—Greek (dia to haima; accusative, not genitive case, as English Version would require, compare Heb 9:12), "on account of (on the ground of) the blood of the Lamb"; "because of"; on account of and by virtue of its having been shed. Had that blood not been shed, Satan's accusations would have been unanswerable; as it is, that blood meets every charge. Schottgen mentions the Rabbinical tradition that Satan accuses men all days of the year, except the day of atonement. Tittmann takes the Greek "dia," as it often means, out of regard to the blood of the Lamb; this was the impelling cause which induced them to undertake the contest for the sake of it; but the view given above is good Greek, and more in accordance with the general sense of Scripture.

by the word of their testimony—Greek, "on account of the word of their testimony." On the ground of their faithful testimony, even unto death, they are constituted victors. Their testimony evinced their victory over him by virtue of the blood of the Lamb. Hereby they confess themselves worshippers of the slain Lamb and overcome the beast, Satan's representative; an anticipation of Re 15:2, "them that had gotten the victory over the beast" (compare Re 13:15, 16).

unto—Greek, "achri," "even as far as." They carried their not-love of life as far as even unto death.

And they overcame him; Michael and his angels, mentioned Revelation 12:7, overcame the dragon and his angels: the Christians overcame the pagans.

By the blood of the Lamb: some translate dia here, propter, because of, as denoting the meritorious cause, which is true; for Christ’s blood was both the meritorious and exemplary cause of their victory. But this will not agree with the usage of the term in the next words. Others therefore rather choose to translate it, by, as denoting the efficient cause, whether principal (as was the blood of the Lamb) or instrumental.

And by the word of their testimony; as was their preaching, and professing the gospel.

And they loved not their lives unto the death; and by their patient bearing the cross, not shunning the danger of death, that they might preach Christ, and own his truths, and live up to the holy rule of his gospel. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,.... The Lord Jesus Christ, by whose blood they were redeemed and ransomed out of the hands of Satan, that was stronger than they; and by which they were justified from all sin, and so all charges and condemnation were of no avail against them, whether of Satan or the world; and by which they were cleansed from all pollution, both internal and external; and by which even their conversation garments were washed and made white; by this they also, drew nigh to God with boldness, as to their own God, notwithstanding the accusations of Satan; and this they could, and did make use of as a shield to defend them against all his charges; and this being sprinkled upon them, as it gave them an inward conscience peace amidst all, so it was their security from the destroying angel; and under this purple covering they went triumphantly to glory, having through it obtained an entire conquest over Satan: as also

and by the word of their testimony; either by Christ, the essential Word, they bore record of, who is sharper than any twoedged sword, and through whom they were made more than conquerors; or rather by the use they made of the Scriptures of truth, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, to which they bore a faithful testimony, and to which they adhered, and by so doing gained the victory over Satan and his instruments, whether false teachers or persecutors; and particularly by the Gospel, which they embraced, professed, and preached with constancy and courage, and by their last testimony they bore to it at their death, on the account of it, as it follows:

and they loved not their lives unto the death; they did not value them; they made no account of them; they were not anxiously careful to preserve them; they chose to lose them; they ran to the stake, and willingly and cheerfully laid them down; they did not count them dear unto them, as said the Apostle Paul, that they might finish their course with joy, and testify the Gospel of the grace of God, or bear a testimony to it, Acts 20:24; yea, as Christ has directed, Luke 14:26; they hated their lives in comparison of him, and when in competition with him and his Gospel; and by dying thus they conquered Satan; had they loved their lives, and saved them by denying Christ and his truths, Satan would have conquered them; but dying in the cause of Christ, and for it, they got the victory over him.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they {b} loved not their lives unto the death.

(b) He is said in the Hebrew tongue, to love his life, who values his life more than anything else: and on the other side, he is said not to love his life, who does not hesitate to risk it, if need requires it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 12:11. Καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐνίκησαν αὐτὸν. That the αὐτοι refers to τ. ἀδελφῶν ἡμ., and, therefore, those accused by the dragon (ὁ κατηγ. αὐτούς, Revelation 12:10), but not the angel Michael (Revelation 12:7), are here represented as those who have conquered[3136] the dragon, results not only from the words in themselves, which do not allow an immediate reference of the αὐτοὶ to a subject in Revelation 12:7, but also from the manner of the conflict and the victory indicated, which does not at all agree with what is described in Revelation 12:7.[3137] From the identity of those accused in Revelation 12:10, and contending in Revelation 12:11, it does not follow, however, that the idea of ἐνίκησαν αὐτον is: “They have won the case against him,” as Beng.[3138] wishes; but the idea of the νικᾶν here is the same as everywhere in the Apoc., which regards every kind of temptation which Satan has prepared for believers as a mighty conflict,[3139] and therefore every confirmation of faith as a victory over the arch-enemy.[3140] On the fundamental conception, 1 John 2:13-14, is to be compared, although, as the form, so also the reference there is different. The perf. ΝΕΝΙΚΉΚΑΤΕ ΤῸΝ ΠΟΝΗΡΌΝ describes the life of faith then existing in Christian young men, as having for its foundation the victory obtained over the wicked one by faith itself; the aor. ἘΝΊΚΗΣΑΝ ΑὐΤῸΝ, however, by placing the victory over Satan as a definite fact entirely in the past, is said by a prolepsis similar to that whereby, in Revelation 7:9 sqq., believers are beheld in a proleptical vision after the victory has been won.[3141] In fact, the ἐνίκησαν is applicable not until the conflict lasting unto death, requiring the surrender of life in fidelity to the cause,[3142] is actually fought through, and the garment washed in the blood of the Lamb[3143] has been kept pure in spite of all the temptations and persecutions on the part of Satan. But although the worshippers know that the conflict against the dragon still in reality impends over their brethren on earth,[3144] yet they can celebrate the victory of believers as one already gained, because the victory won over Satan in heaven[3145] has rendered him an overcome enemy also to believers on earth. Since thus the victory still in fact to be won by believers—to which properly all the consolatory language of the Apoc. refers—is celebrated by these heavenly voices as already obtained, the strongest encouragement is given believers. Hence Revelation 12:11 appears not as a “digression,”[3146] but is in every respect appropriate.

ΔΙᾺ ΤῸ ΑΊΜΑ ΤΟῦ ἈΡΝΊΟΥ, Κ.Τ.Λ. On account of the ΔΙΆ with the accus., the blood of the Lamb and the word of testimony of believers appears not as the means (ΔΙΆ with gen.), but as the reason or cause on account of which the victory is won. This form of the presentation is no less suitable than the former;[3147] but in the first member ΔΙᾺ ΤῸ ΑἸΜΑ Τ. ἈΡΝ., the latter corresponds much more accurately with the inner connection, sustained by Revelation 12:11, to what precedes. Entirely analogous is the relation in Revelation 3:21 between the Ὁ ΝΙΚῶΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ., and the Ὡς ΚἈΓῺ ἘΝΊΚΗΣΑ, Κ.Τ.Λ. The victory of believers on earth is based upon the victory won over Satan in heaven; the peculiar truth, however, in what is reported from Revelation 12:7 on, and in the closest connection with Revelation 12:5,—that, viz., which, beneath the shell of the occurrences beheld, must be properly understood as the actual cause of the victory for believers on earth,—is Christ’s victory over Satan. This victory the Lamb has won over the dragon by shedding his blood. The blood of the Lamb is therefore the cause of the victory of believers.[3148] In the same way the statement is added: καὶ δαὶ τὸν λόγον τῆς μαρτυρίας αὐτων. Here we would expect the gen., because the testimony given by believers presents itself most simply as the means whereby they conquer. De Wette is inclined to assume this mode of representation by “a sort of zeugma,” which he tries to maintain in the διά. But the διά with the accus. has its complete justification, because the word of the testimony of believers, like the blood of the Lamb, can appear as the objective ground of their victory, since it is the word of the testimony given by believers with all fidelity even unto death,[3149] yet, also, at the same time, the word of such testimony as believers have previously received, which they now have as the condition of their victory beyond and above themselves.[3150] Thus the word of testimony has also an objective side, according to which it appears, like the blood of the Lamb, as the ground, not as the means, of their victory; while, on the other hand, the blood of the Lamb can be considered the actual ground of the victory only when the subjective side, viz., the believing participation in this blood, or the being washed thereby,[3151] is kept in mind.

καὶ οὐκ ἠγάπησεν, κ.τ.λ. The not loving their souls, i.e., readiness to surrender life replacing ἄχρι θανάτου.[3152] As faithful witnesses, therefore, they suffered death, and just by this, like the Lord himself, won the victory.[3153]

[3136] Beng., Ew., De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[3137] Cf. the closing words of Revelation 12:11.

[3138] Cf. Romans 3:4.

[3139] Cf. Revelation 12:17.

[3140] Revelation 15:2. Cf., in general, the νικᾶν in the epistle, chs. 2, 3.

[3141] When Klief. here opposes a prolepsis, this must be taken together with the fact, that, understanding the woman (Revelation 12:1) as Christianity of the last times, i.e., of believers mentioned in Revelation 12:11, purified by suffering, he finds in the entire vision a representation of actual circumstances and events of the end. In this sense, he considers, e.g., the victory of Michael (Revelation 12:7) as the execution of the moral victory previously gained by believers (Revelation 12:11).

[3142] Cf. close of Revelation 12:11.

[3143] Cf. Revelation 7:4.

[3144] Cf. Revelation 12:12, and, besides, Revelation 12:17.

[3145] Revelation 12:7 sqq.

[3146] De Wette.

[3147] Against De Wette.

[3148] Utterly preposterously Ew. rationalizes by remarking on the ἐνίκησαν αὐτ. διὰ τ. αἷμα τ. ἁρν.: “By Christianity established by Christ’s death, which was also an example to them.”

[3149] This is the meaning of the αὐτῶν with τ. λ. τ. μαρτ.

[3150] Cf. Revelation 12:17.

[3151] Cf. Revelation 7:14, Revelation 1:5; Var. Lect.

[3152] Cf. Revelation 2:10; Php 2:8.

[3153] Cf. Revelation 3:21, Revelation 1:18, Revelation 5:5, Revelation 6:9.Revelation 12:11. This sentence, like Revelation 12:7, suggests that earth’s history is the reflex and outcome of transactions in heaven, on the common principle of Jalkut Rub. (on Exodus 14:7): “there was war above in heaven) and war below (on earth), and sore was the war in heaven”. Satan’s dislodgment from heaven is another (cf. on Revelation 11:19) sign of messiah’s approaching victory (cf. Yasna xxx. 8). What Jesus had already seen in his own victory over daemons (Matthew 12:24 f.; cf. J. Weiss, Predigt Jesu, 28 f., 89 f.), John hails from another standpoint, as inaugurating the messianic age. Vexilla regis prodeunt. How readily the mythological trait could be moralised is evident from a passage like Romans 8:33 f., of which Revelation 12:11 is a realistic variant. In the background lie conceptions like that of En. xl. 7 where the fourth angel of the Presence is heard “fending all the Satans and forbidding them to appear before the Lord of Spirits to accuse men” Revelation 12:11 chronologically follows Revelation 12:17, but the author, by a characteristic and dramatic prolepsis, anticipates the triumph of the martyrs and confessors, who refute Satan’s calumnies and resist his wiles. In opposition to the contemporary Jewish tradition (Ap. Bar. ii. 2, xiv. 12; 4 Esd. 7:77, etc.), it is not reliance on works but the consciousness of redemption which enables them to bear witness and to bear the consequences of their witness. This victory on earth depends on Christ’s previous defeat of evil in the upper world (Colossians 2:15; cf. above on Revelation 2:10, also Revelation 21:8) which formed its headquarters.11. by the blood] More literally because of the blood … and because of the word.

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, l.c.

unto the death] They carried the temper of not loving life (not only to the renunciation of life’s joys, but) even to 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. Overcame (ἐνίκησαν)

See on 1 John 2:13.

By the blood of the Lamb (διὰ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἀρνίου)

The preposition διά with the accusative signifies on account of. Hence Rev., correctly, because of: in virtue of the shedding of that blood. Similarly in the succeeding clause, "because of the word of their testimony." For lamb, see on Revelation 5:6.

Testimony (μαρτυρίας)

See on John 1:7.

They loved not their life even unto death

Alford, correctly, "they carried their not-love of their life even unto death."

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