Revelation 12:7
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
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(7) And there was war . . .—Translate, And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels. This is one of those passages which has ever been regarded as more or less perplexing. It has afforded material for many poetic fancies, and has been the occasion of much speculative interpretation. We shall fail to catch the spirit of its meaning if we insist upon detaching the passage from its context; and the more so that the structure of the chapter seems to give an express warning against doing so. The narrative of the woman’s flight into the wilderness is suspended that this passage may be inserted. Could we have a clearer indication of the anxiety of the sacred writer to connect this war in heaven with the birth and rapture of the man child? The man child is born; born a conqueror. The dragon is His foe, and the powers of the foe are not confined to the material and historical world: he is a power in the world spiritual; but the man child is to be entirely a conqueror. His rapture into heaven is the announcement that there, in the very highest, He is acknowledged victor; and His victory is won over the power of the dragon, the old serpent, whose head is now bruised. “The prince of this world cometh,” said Jesus Christ, “and hath nothing in Me.” “Now is the judgment of this world; now is the prince of this world cast out. And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” Do we need more? There is mystery—unexplained mystery, perhaps—about this war in heaven, but there need be none about the general occasion referred to; it is the overthrow of the evil one by Christ: the death-blow given by the Lord of Life to him who had the power of death; it is the victory of Bethlehem, Calvary, and Olivet which is commemorated, and the effects of which are seen to transcend the sphere of the things seen. But why have we Michael and his angels introduced? This may be one of those unexplained mysteries referred to above. Some, indeed, think that this Michael is a designation of our Lord Himself, and of Him alone; but a consideration of the other passages in which Michael is mentioned (notably, Daniel 10:13, where Michael is called “one of the chief princes”) leaves this limited meaning doubtful, and almost suggests conflict among the spiritual hierarchies. It may, however, be the case that the name Michael—the meaning of which is, “who is like unto God”—is a general name applied to any who for the moment represent the cause of God in the great conflict against evil. It may thus belong, not to any one angel being, but be a kind of type-name used for the champion and prince of God’s people, and so employed in this passage to denote Him who is the Captain of our salvation.

Revelation 12:7-12. And there was war in heaven, &c. — It might reasonably be presumed that all the powers of idolatry would be strenuously exerted against the establishment of Christianity, and especially against the establishment of a Christian on the imperial throne: and these struggles and contentions between the heathen and the Christian religions are here represented by war in heaven, between the angels of darkness and angels of light. Michael was (Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1) the tutelar angel and protector of the Jewish Church. He performs here the same office for the Christian Church. He and the good angels, who are sent forth (Hebrews 1:14) to minister to the heirs of salvation, were the invisible agents on one side, as the devil and his evil agents were on the other. The visible actors in the cause of Christianity were the believing emperors and ministers of the word, the martyrs and confessors; and in support of idolatry, were the persecuting emperors and heathen magistrates, together with the whole train of priests and sophists. This contest lasted several years, and the final issue of it was, (Revelation 12:8-9,) that the Christian prevailed over the heathen religion; the heathen were deposed from all rule and authority, and the Christians were advanced to dominion and empire in their stead. Our Saviour said unto his disciples casting devils out of the bodies of men, (Luke 10:18,) I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. In the same figure Satan fell from heaven: and was cast out into the earth — When he was thrust out of the imperial throne; and his angels were cast out with him — Not only all the heathen priests and officers, civil and military, were cashiered, but their very gods and demons, who before were adored, became the subjects of contempt and execration. It is very remarkable that Constantine himself, and the Christians of his time, described his conquests under the same image, as if they had understood that this prophecy had received its accomplishment in him. Moreover, a picture of Constantine was set up over the palace gate, with the cross over his head, and under his feet the great enemy of mankind, who persecuted the church by the means of impious tyrants, in the form of a dragon, transfixed with a dart through the midst of his body, and falling headlong into the depth of the sea: in allusion, it is said expressly, to the divine oracles in the books of the prophets, where that evil spirit is called the dragon, and the crooked serpent. Upon this victory of the church there is introduced (Revelation 12:10) a triumphant hymn of thanksgiving for the depression of idolatry and exaltation of true religion. It was not by temporal means or arms that the Christians obtained this victory, (Revelation 12:11,) but by spiritual; by the merits and death of their Redeemer, by their constant profession of the truth, and by their patient suffering of all kinds of tortures, even unto death: and the blood of the martyrs hath been often called the seed of the church. This victory was indeed matter of joy and triumph to the blessed angels and glorified saints in heaven, (Revelation 12:12,) by whose sufferings it was in great measure obtained; but still new woes are threatened to the inhabiters of the earth; for, though the dragon was deposed, yet was he not destroyed; though idolatry was depressed, yet was it not wholly suppressed; there were still many pagans intermixed with the Christians, and the devil would incite fresh troubles and disturbances on earth, because he knew that he had but a short time — That is, it would not be long before the pagan religion should be totally abolished, and the Christian religion prevail in all the Roman empire.

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 there was war in heaven - There was a state of things existing in regard to the woman and the child - the church in the condition in which it would then be - which would be well represented by a war in heaven; that is, by a conflict between the powers of good and evil, of light and darkness. Of course it is not necessary to understand this literally, anymore than the other symbolical representations in the book. All that is meant is, that a vision passed before the mind of John as if there was a conflict, in regard to the church, between the angels in heaven and Satan. There is a vision of the persecuted church - of the woman fleeing into the desert - and the course of the narrative is here interrupted by going back Revelation 12:7-13 to describe the conflict which led to this result, and the fact that Satan, as it were cast out of heaven, and unable to achieve a victory there, was suffered to vent his malice against the church on earth. The seat of this warfare is said to be heaven. This language sometimes refers to heaven as it appears to us - the sky - the upper regions of the atmosphere, and some have supposed that that was the place of the contest. But the language in Revelation 11:19; Revelation 12:1 (see the notes on those places), would rather lead us to refer it to heaven considered as lying beyond the sky. This accords, too, with other representations in the Bible, where Satan is described as appearing before God, and among the sons of God. See the notes on Job 1:6. Of course this is not to be understood as a real transaction, but as a symbolical representation of the contest between good and evil - as if there was a war waged in heaven between Satan and the leader of the heavenly hosts.

Michael - There have been very various opinions as to who Michael is. Many Protestant interpreters have supposed that Christ is meant. The reasons usually alleged for this opinion, many of which are very fanciful, may be seen in Hengstenberg (Die Offenbarung des heiliges Johannes), 1:611-622. The reference to Michael here is probably derived from Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1. In those places he is represented as the guardian angel of the people of God; and it is in this sense, I apprehend, that the passage is to be understood here. There is no evidence in the name itself, or in the circumstances referred to, that Christ is intended; and if he had been, it is inconceivable why he was not referred to by his own name, or by some of the usual appellations which John gives him. Michael, the archangel, is here represented as the guardian of the church, and as contending against Satan for its protection. Compare the notes on Daniel 10:13. This representation accords with the usual statements in the Bible respecting the interposition of the angels in behalf of the church (see the notes on Hebrews 1:14), and is one which cannot be proved to be unfounded. All the analogies which throw any light on the subject, as well as the uniform statements of the Bible, lead us to suppose that good beings of other worlds feel an interest in the welfare of the redeemed church below.

And his angels - The angels under him. Michael is represented as the archangel, and all the statements in the Bible suppose that the heavenly hosts are distributed into different ranks and orders. See the Jde 1:9 note; Ephesians 1:21 note. If Satan is permitted to make war against the church, there is no improbability in supposing that, in those higher regions where the war is carried on, and in those aspects of it which lie beyond the power and the knowledge of man, good angels should be employed to defeat his plans.

Fought - See the notes on Jde 1:9.

Against the dragon - Against Satan. See the notes at Revelation 12:3.

And the dragon fought and his angels - That is, the master-spirit - Satan, and those under him. See the notes on Matthew 4:1. Of the nature of this warfare nothing is definitely stated. Its whole sphere lies beyond mortal vision, and is carried on in a manner of which we can have little conception. What weapons Satan may use to destroy the church, and in what way his efforts may be counteracted by holy angels, are points on which we can have little knowledge. It is sufficient to know that the fact of such a struggle is not improbable, and that Satan is successfully resisted by the leader of the heavenly host.

7. In Job 1:6-11; 2:1-6, Satan appears among the sons of God, presenting himself before God in heaven, as the accuser of the saints: again in Zec 3:1, 2. But at Christ's coming as our Redeemer, he fell from heaven, especially when Christ suffered, rose again, and ascended to heaven. When Christ appeared before God as our Advocate, Satan, the accusing adversary, could no longer appear before God against us, but was cast out judicially (Ro 8:33, 34). He and his angels henceforth range through the air and the earth, after a time (namely, the interval between the ascension and the second advent) about to be cast hence also, and bound in hell. That "heaven" here does not mean merely the air, but the abode of angels, appears from Re 12:9, 10, 12; 1Ki 22:19-22.

there was—Greek, "there came to pass," or "arose."

war in heaven—What a seeming contradiction in terms, yet true! Contrast the blessed result of Christ's triumph, Lu 19:38, "peace in heaven." Col 1:20, "made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; whether … things in earth, or things in heaven."

Michael and his angels … the dragon … and his angels—It was fittingly ordered that, as the rebellion arose from unfaithful angels and their leader, so they should be encountered and overcome by faithful angels and their archangel, in heaven. On earth they are fittingly encountered, and shall be overcome, as represented by the beast and false prophet, by the Son of man and His armies of human saints (Re 19:14-21). The conflict on earth, as in Da 10:13, has its correspondent conflict of angels in heaven. Michael is peculiarly the prince, or presiding angel, of the Jewish nation. The conflict in heaven, though judicially decided already against Satan from the time of Christ's resurrection and ascension, receives its actual completion in the execution of judgment by the angels who cast out Satan from heaven. From Christ's ascension he has no standing-ground judicially against the believing elect. Lu 10:18, "I beheld (in the earnest of the future full fulfilment given in the subjection of the demons to the disciples) Satan as lightning fall from heaven." As Michael fought before with Satan about the body of the mediator of the old covenant (Jude 9), so now the mediator of the new covenant, by offering His sinless body in sacrifice, arms Michael with power to renew and finish the conflict by a complete victory. That Satan is not yet actually and finally cast out of heaven, though the judicial sentence to that effect received its ratification at Christ's ascension, appears from Eph 6:12, "spiritual wickedness in high (Greek, 'heavenly') places." This is the primary Church-historical sense here. But, through Israel's unbelief, Satan has had ground against that, the elect nation, appearing before God as its accuser. At the eve of its restoration, in the ulterior sense, his standing-ground in heaven against Israel, too, shall be taken from him, "the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem" rebuking him, and casting him out from heaven actually and for ever by Michael, the prince, or presiding angel of the Jews. Thus Zec 3:1-9 is strictly parallel, Joshua, the high priest, being representative of his nation Israel, and Satan standing at God's fight hand as adversary to resist Israel's justification. Then, and not till then, fully (Re 12:10, "NOW," &c.) shall ALL things be reconciled unto Christ IN HEAVEN (Col 1:20), and there shall be peace in heaven (Lu 19:38).

against—A, B, and C read, "with."

And there was war in heaven: by heaven, in this place, doubtless is meant the church of God; and supposing that the pagan emperors are to be understood by the dragon, ( which is pretty generally agreed), there can be no great doubt, but by this war in heaven, is to be understood those persecutions which the primitive church endured between the years 64 and 310.

Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: the two parties were the pagan emperors, and their officers, and party, and Michael and his angels. But who is here meant by Michael and his angels? Some, by this Michael, understand a principal angel called the archangel, Judges 1:9, one of the chief princes, Daniel 10:13. Others, by Michael here understand Christ himself, who, they think, is understood by Michael, Daniel 12:1. The matter is not much; it is most certain that the battle is not ours, but Christ’s. It is as certain that Christ exerciseth his power by his angels, and that they have a ministration about his church. The meaning is no more than this, that Christ and his party opposed the pagan persecutors and their party.

And there was war in heaven,.... Not in the third heaven, the habitation of God, the seat of the angels and glorified saints, there is no discord, jars, and contentions there, nothing but peace, love, and joy; but in the church below, which is militant, and has in it as it were a company of two armies; or rather in the Roman empire, which was the heaven of Satan, the god of this world, and of his angels; and this war refers not to the dispute between Michael the archangel and the devil about the body of Moses, Jde 1:9; nor to the of the angels when they rebelled against God, left their first estate, and were cast down to hell, Jde 1:6; nor to that ancient and stated enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, Genesis 3:15, which has appeared in all ages of time, more or less, since the fall of Adam; nor to the combats which Christ personally had with Satan and his powers when here on earth, as in the wilderness, immediately after his baptism, and in the garden, a little before his death, and on the cross, when he spoiled principalities and powers, and destroyed him that had the power of death, the devil; but rather to the conflict which Christ and his people had with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with the Roman powers, and with false teachers during the three first centuries; though it seems best to understand it of the war commenced by Constantine against Paganism, and which was finished by Theodosius, by whom Heathenism received its death wound, and was never restored since the phrase of war in heaven is not unknown to the Jews; they say (i) when Pharaoh pursued after Israel, there was war above and below, and there was a very fierce war "in heaven":

Michael and his angels fought against the dragon: by whom is meant not a created angel, with whom his name does not agree, it signifying "who is as God"; nor does it appear that there is anyone created angel that presides over the rest, and has them at his command; though the Jews seem to imagine as if the angels were ranged under several heads and governors, of whom they make Michael to be one; for they say (k),

"when the holy blessed God descended on Mount Sinai, several companies of angels descended with him, , "Michael and his company", and Gabriel and his company:''

"so kings armies", in Psalm 68:12; are by them interpreted of "kings of angels"; and it is asked who are these? and the answer is, Michael and Gabriel (l). Lord Napier thinks that the Holy Ghost is designed, who is equally truly God as the Father and the Son, and who in the hearts of the saints opposes Satan and his temptations; but it seems best to interpret it of Jesus Christ, who is equal with God, is his fellow, is one with the Father, and in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily: he is the Archangel, the first of the chief princes, the head of all principality and power, who is on the side of the Lord's people, pleads their cause, defends their persons, and saves them; see Jde 1:9; and by "his angels" may be meant either the good angels, literally understood, who are his creatures, his ministers, and whom he employs under him, in protecting his people, and in destroying his enemies; or else the ministers of the Gospel, who are called angels in this book, and who, under Christ, fight the good fight of faith, contend earnestly for it, being valiant for the truth upon earth; or rather the Christian emperors, particularly Constantine and Theodosius, and the Christians with them, who opposed Paganism in the empire, and at last subdued, and cast it out:

and the dragon fought, and his angels; there is such an order among the evil angels, as to have one of their own at the head of them, they having cast off their allegiance to God and Christ, who is styled the prince of devils, and his name is Beelzebub: hence we read of the devil and his angels; see Matthew 12:24; and these may be intended here, unless false teachers, who transform themselves into angels of light, as their leader sometimes does, should be thought to be meant, who resist the truth and oppose themselves to the ministers of it; though rather, Satan as presiding over, and influencing the Roman Pagan empire, and the Roman emperors, who acted under him, are here designed; with whom Constantine and Theodosius, under Christ, combated, such as Maximinus, Maxentius, Licinius, Arbogastes, and Eugenius, and those that were with them. The Arabic version renders it, "the serpent with his soldiers".

(i) Shaare Ora, fol. 26. 4. (k) Debarim, Rabba, fol. 237. 4. (l) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 14. 3. & 26. 3.

And there was war in heaven: {14} Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

(14) Christ is the Prince of angels and head of the Church, who bears that iron rod Re 12:5. Also see Geneva Da 12:1. In this verse a description of the battle and of the victory in the two verses following Re 12:8,9. The psalmist noted this battle as did Paul; Ps 68:9 Eph 4:8 Co 2:15.

Revelation 12:7-12. Not only is it in vain that the dragon lays snares for the child (Revelation 12:5), but he is now cast down to earth by Michael and his angels, who begin a battle with him and his angels,—a crisis which, in its salutary significance for believers, is celebrated by a loud voice in heaven giving praise, but which also, as the cry of woe indicates, makes the whole earth the scene for the rage of the dragon cast upon it.

καὶ ἐγένετο πόλεμος ἐν τ. οὐρ. The conception that the dragon pursued the child even to the throne of God (Revelation 12:5), and that this is the cause of the struggle which arose,[3082] not only has no foundation in the context, but is also inconsistent with what is said in Revelation 12:5, because the κ. ἡρπάσθη declares that the child, by its being caught up to God and God’s throne, is completely secured from any further pursuit on the part of the dragon. The idea, also, that the dragon also made only the attempt to seize the child from God’s own hand, is in itself not possible. But in the struggle which now arises, it is not Satan, but Michael, who appears as taking the offensive. After the dragon did what is described in Revelation 12:3-4,—and after the child was in complete security,—not only the dragon who had attempted the attack on the child, but also his angels, are driven out of heaven. The very circumstance that in Revelation 12:7 the discourse is not only concerning the dragon, but also concerning his adherents, points to the fact, that the bold undertaking of the dragon (Revelation 12:3 sq.), the most extreme to which his antichristian nature brings him, furnishes Michael and his army of angels the immediate occasion, on their part, for laying hold upon the dragon and all his angels, and casting them out of heaven.

ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. For at this place the dragon is; cf. Revelation 12:3. Every allegorical interpretation[3083] brings with it a confusion of the context in details, and as a whole. Cf. also Revelation 12:8.

ὁ Μιχαὴλ. The opinion of Vitringa, urgently advocated by Hengstenb., that Michael is not an angel (according to Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1, the guardian angel of the O. T. people of God, according to Judges 1:9 an archangel), but Christ himself, or, as Hengstenb. prefers to say, the Logos, miscarries—even apart from Judges 1:9, where the express designation, ὁ ἀρχάγγελος, according to Hengstenb., is as little a proof against the divinity of Michael, as the declaration of the Lord (John 14:28) testifies against the homoousia of the Son—by its being altogether impossible to regard Michael (Revelation 12:7) and the child (Revelation 12:5) as one and the same person. In this passage, also, Michael the archangel[3084] appears as the leader of the angelic army (καὶ οἱ ἄγγ. αὐτου), with which he contends for the Messiah and his kingdom.

τοῦ πολεμῆσαι μετὰ τ. δράκ., κ.τ.λ. Just as undoubted as is this reading according to the MSS. at hand, is its obscurity in a grammatical respect; since the gen. infinitive τοῦ πολεμῆσαι, in connection with the words ὁ Μιχ. καὶ οἱ ἄγγ. αὐτου, is without all analogy in the Greek of the LXX. and the N. T. The seeming parallel, Acts 10:25, is distinguished from this passage by the very fact that there a proper grammatical reason is present,[3085] while in this passage the connection of the gen. infinitive τοῦ πολεμῆσαι with the subj. ὁ Μιχ., κ.τ.λ., admits of no grammatical explanation whatever; for neither the analogy of passages like Isaiah 44:14, Joshua 2:5, is applicable where the inf., introduced by לֶ, stands in definite dependence upon a preceding idea, and where the LXX. also place a finite tense,[3086] nor is the supplying of the words “had war,” upon which, then, the τοῦ πολεμ. is regarded as dependent,[3087] allowable. If it were possible from the ἐγένετο πόλεμος to supply an ἐγένοντο before ὁ Μιχ. καί οἱ ἀγγ. αὐτ.,[3088] or if the ἐγένετο dare be regarded as extending to ὁ Μιχ.,[3089] the τοῦ πολεμῆσαι would then be correctly added.[3090] But that twofold conception is so doubtful as to constrain us to the opinion that our text is defective or corrupt.[3091] As a sensible conjecture, the Elz. reading, ἐπολέμησαν, commends itself, since the τοῦ before the infin. may be repeated from the preceding αὐτοῦ, and the change of the πολεμῆσαι into the form of a finite tense is without difficulty; but if the τοῦ πολεμῆσαι of the MSS. be correct,—and its difficulty favors it,—a finite tense immediately before, upon which this τοῦ πολεμ. depends, may have fallen out, possibly ἀνέστησαν or ἦλθαν, or the like, since the essential meaning is manifestly that which the versions express.[3092] The conjecture is most probable, that the words πόλεμος ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ are nothing but a marginal note that has entered into the text, made in order to mark the noteworthy contents of the passage;[3093] if these words be regarded as absent, the connection of the ΤΟΎ ΠΟΛ. with the ΚΑῚ ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ Ὁ ΜΙΧ. Κ. ΟἹ ἌΓΓ. ΑὐΤΟῦ does not seem difficult, since the genitive of the telic infinitive[3094] correctly depends upon the idea of the movement lying in the ἘΓΕΝΕΤΟ.[3095] This conjecture has in its favor, that the reception into the text of the doubtful words ΠΌΛΕΜΟς ἘΝ Τῷ ΟὐΡΑΝῷ is incomparably more probable than the falling-out of a finite tense before ΤΟῪ ΠΟΛ.; it is also to be considered, that, as in what follows, the ἘΠΟΛΈΜΗΣΕ is formed only according to the chief subject Ὁ ΔΡ., the same phraseology is probable also in the first clause. Moreover, while it would have been difficult for John to have written Ὁ ΜΙΧ. ΚΑῚ ΟἹ ἌΓΓ. ΑὐΤΟῦ ἘΠΟΛΈΜΗΣΕ,—for the sing., after ΚΑῚ ΟἹ ἌΓΓΕΛΟΙ ΑὐΤΟῦ had preceded, would have been unallowable in the style of the Apoc., and besides, in connection with the following, ἘΠΟΛΈΜΗΣΕ appears to be still more monotonous than the ἘΠΟΛΈΜΗΣΑΝ even of the Rec.,—the ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ, on the other hand, in immediate connection with Ὁ ΜΙΧ. ΚΑῚ ΟἹ ἌΓΓ. meets all requirements, and commends itself especially by the fact that it gives the meaning that the attack proceeded from Michael and his angels.

[3082] Eichh., Herd., De Wette, Stern.

[3083] Beda: “In the Church, in which he says that Michael with his angels fights against the devil, because, by praying and ministering his aid, he contends, according to God’s will, for the wandering Church.”

[3084] Beng., Ew., De Wette, Hofm., Ebrard, Auberlen, etc.

[3085] As the genitive infinitive clause, in which the subject enters as an accus. (τοῦ ει̇σελθεῖν τὸν Πέτρον), depends upon the expressly impersonal ἐγένετο.

[3086] Against Ew.: “It must be fought by them.” Bleek, Züll.

[3087] Hengstenb.

[3088] Cf. Meyer on Acts 10:25.

[3089] Cf. Lücke, p. 454.

[3090] Cf. Winer, p. 304.

[3091] Lücke, De Wette, Winer, p. 307.

[3092] Vulg.: Praeliabantur.

[3093] Nevertheless, e.g., Andreas—who, moreover, has the suspicious words in the text—gives the section (Revelation 12:7-12), the title: περὶ τοῦ πολἑμου πῶν ἀγγέλων καὶ τών δαιμόνων, κ.τ.λ. How very usual were brief declarations in the MSS. concerning the contents, is extraordinarily manifest if the long series of lists of contents be read which occur in cod. א in the Book of Acts. Cf. Nov. Text. Gr. ex Sin. Cod., ed. Tischendorf, Lips., 1865; P., lxxxii. A similar annotation is, e.g., Isaiah 30:6.

[3094] Cf. Acts 3:2; Acts 3:12.

[3095] Cf. Acts 20:16; Acts 21:17; Acts 25:15; Luke 10:32; John 6:25; John 6:19.


LXVIII. (b.) Revelation 12:7. πόλεμος ἐν οὐρανῷ

Philippi (Kirch. Glaubenslehre, III. 321 sq.): “In the N. T. there seem to be contradictory expressions. For while, according to Revelation 12:7 sqq., Satan still dwells in heaven, according to Luke 10:18 he has already fallen from heaven like lightning; and while, according to Ephesians 2:2, the power of the prince of darkness prevails in the air, according to 2 Peter 2:4 God has cast the fallen angels into the abyss, and delivered them unto chains of darkness as those who are to be kept for judgment, and in Jude, Revelation 12:6, they are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. On the other hand, they pray (Revelation 12:7. ἐγένετοτοῦ π. (= ותהי מלחמה בשׂמים לִהלחם), the nomin. makes this rare use of the genit. infin. even more clumsy and irregular than the similar constr. with accus. in Acts 10:25 (where see note). The sense is plain, and it is better to put the constr. down to syntactical laxity than to conjecture subtle reasons for the blunder or to suggest emendations such as the addition of ἐγένετο to πόλεμους (Vit. i. 168), or of ἦσαν or ἐγένετο before ὁ Μ. κ. οἱ ἄγ. αὐτοῦ (Ws., Bousset), the latter being an irregular nomin., or the alteration of πολ. to ἐπολέμησαν (Düst.) or the simple omission of πόλεμοςοὐρανῷ. For πολ. μετὰ cf. Thumb 125 (a Copticism?). In the present form of the oracle, the rapture of messiah seems to have stimulated the devil to fresh efforts, unless we are meant to understand that the initiative came from Michael and his allies. The devil, as the opponent of mankind had access to the Semitic heaven, but his role here recalls the primitive mythological conception of the dragon storming heaven (A. C. 146–150). Michael had been for over two centuries the patron-angel or princely champion of Israel (ὁ εἷς τῶν ἁγίων ἀγγέλων ὂς ἐπὶ τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ ἀγαθῶν τέτακται, En. Revelation 20:5; cf. A. C. 227 f.; Lueken 15 f.; Volz 195; R. J. 320 f., and Dieterich’s Abraxas, 122 f.). As the protector of Israel’s interests he was assigned a prominent rôle by Jewish and even Christian eschatology in the final conflict (cf. Ass. Mos. x. 2). For the theory that he was the prince-angel, like a son of man (Daniel 7:13) who subdued the world-powers, cf. Grill 55 and Cheyne 215 f. More generally, a celestial battle, as the prelude of messiah’s triumph on earth, forms an independent Jewish tradition which can be traced to the second century B.C. (cf. Sibyll. iii. 795–807, 2Ma 5:2-4; Jos. Bell. vi. 5, 3).—καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ The only allusion in the Apocalypse (cf. even Revelation 20:11 with Matthew 25:41) to the double hierarchy of angels, which post-exilic Judaism took over from Persia (Bund, iii. 11). In the Leto-myth, Pytho returns to Parnassus after being baffled in his pursuit of the pregnant Leto.

The War in Heaven, Revelation 12:7-127. there was war 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. Milton may have been justified in using this description as illustrating or suggesting what may be supposed to have happened then: but we must not identify the two.

Michael] Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1. The two latter 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.

his angels] He is called “the archangel” in Judges 9 : the angels are “his,” as well as “angels of the Lord,” just as either a general or a king can talk of “his soldiers.”

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.”

Revelation 12:7. Ὁ Μιχαὴλ, Michaël) The archangel, but still, a created angel. Daniel 10:13; Judges 1:9. Nic. Collado, Raph. Eglinus, Jonas Le Buy, Grotius, Cluver, Mede, Dimpelius, and others, recognise a created angel.—τοῦ πολεμῆσαι[125]) that is, ἮΣΑΝ. An elegant expression. Thus Basil of Seleucia says of Abel, ὍΛΟς ΤΟῦ ΔΏΡΟΥ ΓΕΝΌΜΕΝΟς, altogether intent upon that which he was offering. Comp. 2 Chronicles 26:5, in the Hebrew. The war was occasioned by the πλάνῃ, with which the whole world was carried away.—ΜΕΤᾺ) together with, that is, against. So μετὰ, Revelation 12:17; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:4; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:19.

[125] So AB (omitting τοῦ) Syr. But Rec. Text, ἐπολέμησαν; Vulg. “præliabantur.”—E.

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. Revelation 12:7There was (ἐγένετο)

Lit., there arose.

War in heaven

Compare 1 Kings 22; Job 1, Job 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Luke 10:18.


See Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; and see on Jde 1:9.

Fought (ἐπολέμησαν)

The correct reading is τοῦ πολεμῆσαι to fight. So Rev., "going forth to war against the dragon (κατὰ τοῦ δράκοντος). The correct reading is μετά with.

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