Revelation 12:12
Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Therefore rejoice . . .—Better, For this cause rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that tabernacle in them. The words “for this cause” must be taken to refer to the overthrow of the evil one. This is the cause of joy to the heavens, and to them that tabernacle (not “dwell”) in them. The word is (as in Revelation 7:15; Revelation 13:6; Revelation 21:3) “tabernacle.” This allusion to the tabernacle where the glory of God and the mercy-seat were to be found, is not without force. The sacred imagery of the tabernacle of witness calls to mind the safe dwelling which the sanctuary of God afforded to those whose testimony was given in the wilderness of sorrow. Those who tabernacled in the secret place of the Most High could rejoice with joy unspeakable.

Woe to the inhabiters . . .—Translate, Woe to the earth and the sea! (the words “to the inhabiters of” are not found in the best MSS.) because the devil is gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing (or, because he knoweth: his knowledge that his season of power is short is the reason of his great wrath) that he hath (but) a short season. The painful consciousness of defeat has roused a deeper and more obstinate rage. Sin, which blunts the conscience, blinds the reason, and drives men madly to attempt the impossible, or to rouse

“the unconquerable will

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield.”

The woe to the sea and earth is simply a warning voice to all that, though the foe is overcome and death smitten, yet that he has power, quickened by defeat and fear, for a last struggle; and that therefore they need to be sober and vigilant against the adversary. His season is short. He may be active, sowing tares among the wheat and animating various hostile powers, such as the wild beasts of Revelation 13; but he has only a season: there is a limit to his power and the time of his power. “A little while “was the word our Lord used to denote His time of absence (John 16:16-22):” Behold, He comes quickly!”

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.Therefore rejoice, ye heavens - It is not unusual in the Scriptures to call on the heavens and the earth to sympathize with the events that occur. Compare the notes on Isaiah 1:2. Here the heavens are called on to rejoice because of the signal victory which it was seen would be achieved over the great enemy. Heaven itself was secure from any further rebellion or invasion, and the foundation was laid for a final victory over Satan everywhere.

And ye that dwell in them - The angels and the redeemed. This is an instance of the sympathy of the heavenly inhabitants - the unfallen and holy beings before the throne - with the church on earth, and with all that may affect its welfare. Compare the notes on 1 Peter 1:12.

Woe to the inhabiters of the earth - This is not an imprecation, or a wish that woe might come upon them, but a prediction that it would. The meaning is this: Satan would ultimately be entirely overcome - a fact that was symbolized by his being cast out of heaven; but there would be still temporary war upon the earth, as if he were permitted to roam over the world for a time and to spread woe and sorrow there.

And of the sea - Those who inhabit the islands of the sea and those who are engaged in commerce. The meaning is, that the world as such would have occasion to mourn - the dwellers both on the land and on the sea.

For the devil is come down unto you - As if cast out of heaven.

Having great wrath - Wrath shown by the symbolical war with Michael and his angels Revelation 12:7; wrath increased and inflamed because he has been discomfited; wrath the more concentrated because he knows that his time is limited.

Because he knoweth that he hath but a short time - That is, he knows that the time is limited in which he will be permitted to wage war with the saints on the earth. There is allusion elsewhere to the fact that the time of Satan is limited, and that he is apprised of that. Thus in Matthew 8:29, "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" See the notes on that passage. Within that limited space, Satan knows that he must do all that he ever can do to destroy souls, and to spread woe through the earth, and hence, it is not unnatural that he should be represented as excited to deeper wrath, and as rousing all his energy to destroy the church.

12. Therefore—because Satan is cast out of heaven (Re 12:9).

dwell—literally, "tabernacle." Not only angels and the souls of the just with God, but also the faithful militant on earth, who already in spirit tabernacle in heaven, having their home and citizenship there, rejoice that Satan is cast out of their home. "Tabernacle" for dwell is used to mark that, though still on the earth, they in spirit are hidden "in the secret of God's tabernacle." They belong not to the world, and, therefore, exult in judgment having been passed on the prince of this world.

the inhabiters of—So Andreas reads. But A, B, and C omit. The words probably, were inserted from Re 8:13.

is come down—rather as Greek, "catebee," "is gone down"; John regarding the heaven as his standing-point of view whence he looks down on the earth.

unto you—earth and sea, with their inhabitants; those who lean upon, and essentially belong to, the earth (contrast Joh 3:7, Margin, with Joh 3:31; 8:23; 1Jo+4:5; Php 3:19, 1 John 4:5) and its sea-like troubled politics. Furious at his expulsion from heaven, and knowing that his time on earth is short until he shall be cast down lower, when Christ shall come to set up His kingdom (Re 20:1, 2), Satan concentrates all his power to destroy as many souls as he can. Though no longer able to accuse the elect in heaven, he can tempt and persecute on earth. The more light becomes victorious, the greater will be the struggles of the powers of darkness; whence, at the last crisis, Antichrist will manifest himself with an intensity of iniquity greater than ever before.

short time—Greek, "kairon," "season": opportunity for his assaults.

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them: he calls to the angels and saints again to rejoice; some think, to the church also: these tell us, that

the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea, in St. John’s writings, always signify the enemies of the church, earthly, carnal men.

For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath; the devil now being divested of the power he exercised against the church, will fall upon you; for though he principally hateth the saints, as most opposite to him, yet he is the common hater of mankind.

Because he knoweth that he hath but a short time; and he hath but a little time to execute his malice, he shall shortly be confined to the bottomless pit. It is hard to say whether here be intended all in general, or the worser part of the world only; for great judgments after this came upon the whole Roman empire by the Goths and Vandals, and upon the church by the Arians, and by antichrist, of whose rise we shall read in the next chapter. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them,.... So in the prophetic language, at times, and upon occasions of rejoicing, the heavens are called upon to join, and bear a part therein, Psalm 96:10; and by these may be meant here the angels of heaven, who rejoice at every advance of Christ's kingdom and interest; they rejoiced at his incarnation, and so they do at the conversion of every single sinner; and much more may they be thought to do so at such a time as this, when there were such multitudes of conversions, and the churches and interest of Christ in so flourishing a condition, and Satan's kingdom so much weakened; and to these may be joined the souls of the saints departed, who might be made acquainted with this wonderful change of things in the empire; and it may also be understood of the saints, the members of the several churches, even all heavenly minded persons, who were born from above, and were partakers of the heavenly calling, and whose conversations were in heaven; these are called upon to take their part in this song of praise and thanksgiving:

woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea: such as are of the earth, earthy, sensual, and earthly minded persons; and who are like the troubled waters, and raging waves of the sea, cannot rest, but cast up mire and dirt, and foam out their own shame; the barbarous nations of the Goths and Vandals, carnal professors of religion, and the antichristian party, which quickly upon this sprung up, may be intended, on whom this woe is denounced; the reason of which follows:

for the devil is come down unto you; and a greater woe cannot be upon men on earth, than to have the devil among them, who always brings mischief with him, and breathes nothing but ruin and destruction to men; he having lost his power in the Roman empire, possessed the above persons, and took up his residence among them; he came down, but not willingly, he was forced to it, he was cast down:

having great wrath; because he was conquered, and cast out of heaven, and was deprived of the worship that had been long given him, as the god of the world, and of that authority and influence which he had over men: and this his great wrath was seen in stirring up the Arians to persecute the Christians; and in the times of Julian, when he endeavoured to regain his lost power; and in bringing in the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, into the empire, to waste and destroy it; and in moving the antichristian party, which soon prevailed, to make war against the saints:

because he knoweth he hath but a short time; ere he should be shut up in the bottomless pit, or be confined in the place of torment, and ere his full punishment should be inflicted on him; which time of his to tempt, deceive, disturb, and distress men, is to be no longer than during the forty two months of antichrist's reign, and the 1260 days, or years, of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, and of the church's being in the wilderness, and no longer than till the thousand years' reign of Christ with his saints begins, which, in comparison of his long reign in the Gentile world, is but a short time; and though, after the thousand years are ended, he will be let loose, yet it will be but for a season, a very small time, when he will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and be tormented night and day, for ever and ever.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 12:12. Διὰ τοῦτο. We cannot regard the ground of joy for the heavens, and those dwelling therein (οἱ ἐν αὐτοῖς ακηνοῦντες are only those whose actual place of abode is the heavens, and who there, as the expression σκηνοῦν indicates, have glorious rest disturbed by no woe or conflict,[3154] but not also believers on earth, as Hengstenb., by a false comparison with Php 3:20, Ephesians 2:6, explains), to be both the casting of the dragon out of heaven (Revelation 12:9), and the victory of believers (Revelation 12:11),[3155] but only the former;[3156] for although Revelation 12:11, in connection with Revelation 12:10, proleptically celebrates the victory of earthly believers over the dragon, based upon the heavenly victory over the same, the affair is displayed here as it is in reality; to the heavenly beings alone belongs the pure joy, while woe is proclaimed to the whole earth and all its inhabitants, even to believers on earth; for just these have now to struggle even unto blood with the enraged dragon.

οὐαὶ τὴν γῆν, κ.τ.λ. The accus., which in Greek[3157] as well as in Latin occurs regularly in exclamations, is unusual here only so far as it stands with οὐαί, which is otherwise usually combined with the dat.

τῆν γὴν καὶ τὴν θὰλ. In opposition to the heavenly world,[3158] the entirety of the earthly world is designated, in connection with which there is no reference to the relation of the two particular parts as such; much less is any allegorical interpretation admissible.[3159]

ὅτι κατέβη, κ.τ.λ. Reason for the cry of woe: the earth and sea are to be the theatre for the activity of the devil, now allotted to this sphere, who will give vent to his great wrath the more as he knows that he has only a brief time. Instead of the ἐβλήθη, a κατέβη naturally occurs here, because, as a dreadful activity of the enraged enemy is portrayed, it is more appropriate that it should not be expressly marked that the descent of the enemy is involuntary.

ἔχων θυμὸν μέγαν. The great wrath belonging to the dragon because of his antichristic nature, he has shown already (Revelation 12:4). By the overthrow described in Revelation 12:7 sqq., this wrath can only be inflamed anew. To this is added the fact, that the dragon knows that only a short time is allowed him. To identify this ὀλίγον καιρόν with the 3½ days mentioned in Revelation 17:11 “as the time of antichrist,”[3160] is as arbitrary as the reckoning of Bengel, who takes “the short time,” as somewhat longer than the 3½ times (Revelation 12:14), i.e., equal to four times, or four times 222 2/9 years, and regards the period from the year 947 to the year 1836. But in the meaning of the Apoc., the shortness of the time given Satan for his antichristian work on earth, depends simply upon the fact that “the time is at hand,” or that the Lord is soon coming to judge Satan together with his instruments.[3161]

[3154] Cf. Revelation 13:6, Revelation 7:15, Revelation 21:3. Beng., Ew., De Wette.

[3155] Beng.

[3156] De Wette.

[3157] Cf. Matth., Ausführl. Gramm., sec. 427.

[3158] Cf. Revelation 7:2 sq., Revelation 5:13.

[3159] Against Beng., who understands here by “earth and sea,” Asia and Europe. Cf. Hengstenb., who regards the sea as the sea of nations.

[3160] Ebrard.

[3161] Cf., in general, Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:20; especially Revelation 17:11, Revelation 20:1 sqq.Revelation 12:12. εὐφραίνεσθε, cf. the Egyptian hymn in honour of Râ, the sun-god: “Râ hath quelled his impious foes, heaven rejoices, earth is delighted”.—οὐαὶ κ.τ.λ. This desperate and last effort of Satan is a common apocalyptic feature (cf. e.g., 4 Esd. 13:16 f.; Ap. Bar. xxviii. 3, xli. 1, lxxv. 5; Mark 13:21; Did. xvi.), which John identifies later with the Imperial cultus.

The dragon’s pursuit of the woman (Revelation 12:13-17) resumes and expands the hint of Revelation 12:6.12. Therefore] Because of the coming of “the salvation and might and kingdom,” in which the victory of “our brethren” is included.

that dwell] Lit. that tabernacle.

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. Perhaps it is to be illustrated by texts like St John 9:39; John 15:22 : the Incarnation, as it broke the otherwise invincible power of sin, so made sin more deadly, if it remains in spite of Christ’s coming.

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.Revelation 12:12. [128] ΟὐΑῚ, woe) This is the last denunciation of the third and most grievous woe, which has already been frequently denounced; and under it at length the beast assails. Wherefore the remarks which Wolf makes most recently. T. iv. Curar, p. 530, he also approves of, p. 535, when he prefers to the other interpreters, those who think that the government of the Roman Pontiff is marked out by the beast. Revelation 13:1.—τῇ γῇ καὶ τῇ θαλάσση, the earth and the sea) The earth is placed before the sea, either because the earth, as opposed to the heaven, is superior (to the sea), and the sea is only a part of the earth, which is understood in the following verse under the earth: or because the third woe really began in Asia, before it began in Europe, through the instrumentality of the beast.—ὀλίγον καιρὸν, a short time) καιρὸς, in this place, has a peculiar signification, a time of 2222/9 years; and ὀλίγός καιρὸς is the period next above the 3½ times, which are the subject of Revelation 12:14; and therefore the ὈΛΊΓΟς ΚΑΙΡΌς, is four times, or 8888/9 years, are from a. 947 to A. 1836, as is collected from the proportions of the other periods, with which this is connected. See Erkl. Offenb. p. 619.

[128] Ver. 11. οὐκ, not) By this negative a contradiction is given to the accusation, the subject of which is indicated by this very expression.—V. g.

τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτῶν, their own soul) or life. In like manner Satan had also accused Job, Job 2:4. Against him, who renounces his love of life, the calumniator has now no power.—V. g.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. Dwell (σκηνοῦντες)

See on John 1:14. Compare Revelation 7:15; Revelation 13:6; Revelation 21:3.

To the inhabiters (τοῖς κατοικοῦσιν)

Omit. Read, as Rev., woe for the earth and for the sea.

Wrath (θυμὸν)

See on John 3:36.

Time (καιρὸν)

See on Matthew 12:1; see on Mark 1:15; see on Acts 1:7.

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