Revelation 12:9
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.
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(9) And the great dragon . . .—Better, And he was thrown down, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan: he who deceives the whole world was thrown to the earth, and his angels were thrown with him. Thus the victory of Christ is marked by the overthrow of the great adversary. The stronger than the strong one has come, and taken away his armour (Luke 11:21-22). The death-blow is given. The prince of this world (who found nothing in Christ) is judged (John 16:11). The adversary is described as the dragon, the fierce and cruel foe who is ever ready to devour (1Peter 5:8). The ancient serpent. The serpent was used as an emblem of the evil principle. (Comp. Genesis 3:1). But the head of the ancient foe of man is now bruised: he is the devil, the accuser and calumniator. He is called the accuser of the brethren in the next verse; he is Satan, the adversary, and he is the seducer, the deceiver, as he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44).

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 the great dragon was cast out - See the notes on Revelation 12:3. That there may be an allusion in the language here to what actually occurred in some far distant period of the past, when Satan was ejected from heaven, there can be no reason to doubt. Our Saviour seems to refer to such an event in the language which he uses when he says Luke 10:18, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven"; and Jude, perhaps Revelation 12:6, may refer to the same event. All that we know on the subject leads us to suppose that at some time there was a revolt among the angels, and that the rebellious part were cast out of heaven, for an allusion to this is not infrequent in the Scriptures. Still the event here referred to is a symbolical representation of what could occur at a later period, when the church would be about to spread and he triumphant, and when Satan would wage a deadly war against it. That opposition would be as if he made war on Michael the archangel, and the heavenly hosts, and his failure would be as great as if he were vanquished and cast out of heaven.

That old serpent - This doubtless refers to the serpent that deceived Eve (Genesis 3:1-11; Revelation 20:2; compare the notes on 2 Corinthians 11:3); and this passage may be adduced as a proof that the real tempter of Eve was the devil, who assumed the form of a serpent. The word "old" here refers to the fact that his appearance on earth was at an early stage of the world's history, and that he had long been employed in the work which is here attributed to him - that of opposing the church.

Called the devil - To whom the name devil is given. That is, this is the same being that is elsewhere and commonly known by that name. See the notes on Matthew 4:1.

And Satan - Another name given to the same being - a name, like the other, designed to refer to something in his character. See it explained in the notes on Job 1:6.

Which deceiveth the whole world - Whose character is that of a deceiver; whose agency extends over all the earth. See the John 8:44 note, and 1 John 5:19 note.

He was cast out into the earth - That is, he was not suffered to pursue his designs in heaven, but was cast down to the earth, where he is permitted for a time to carry on his warfare against the church. According to the interpretation proposed above, this refers to the period when there were indications that God was about to set up his kingdom on the earth. The language, however, is such as would be used on the supposition that there had been, at some period, a rebellion in heaven, and that Satan and his followers had been cast out to return there no more. It is difficult to explain this language except on that supposition; and such a supposition is, in itself, no more improbable than the apostasy and rebellion of man.

And his angels were cast out with him - They shared the lot of their leader. As applicable to the state of things to which this refers, the meaning is, that all were overthrown; that no enemy of the church would remain unsubdued; that the victory would be final and complete. As applicable to the event from which the language is supposed to have been derived - the revolt in heaven - the meaning is, that the followers in the revolt shared the lot of the leader, and that all who rebelled were ejected from heaven. The first and the only revolt in heaven was quelled; and the result furnished to the universe an impressive proof that none who rebelled there would be forgiven - that apostasy so near the throne could not be pardoned.

9. that old serpent—alluding to Ge 3:1, 4.

Devil—the Greek, for "accuser," or "slanderer."

Satan—the Hebrew for "adversary," especially in a court of justice. The twofold designation, Greek and Hebrew, marks the twofold objects of his accusations and temptations, the elect Gentiles and the elect Jews.

world—Greek, "habitable world."

And the great dragon was cast out; the dragon mentioned Revelation 12:3, which typified the pagan emperors. In casting them out,

the devil who influenced them, was cast out, who is here called the

old serpent, with reference to the form in which he seduced Eve, as well as his malignity to man.

The devil, that is, the accuser of the brethren, (of which we have an instance in Job 1:1-22),

and Satan, which name he hath from his opposition to Christ and all Christians.

Which deceiveth the whole world; by seducing them to idolatry and superstition.

He was cast out into the earth; cast down from his former state.

And his angels were cast out with him; the instruments he used in persecuting the church, were put out of power. Mr. Mede understands it of the demons which the heathens worshipped as inferior gods. John, being in his trance still, thought he saw a great red dragon, (which he judged to be the devil), and Christ, or the good angels, fighting with and overcoming him; and that he saw the devil, and those evil angels assisting him, thrown down to the earth. This prophetically and typically signified; that though the Roman emperors, being pagans, should persecute the church upwards of three hundred years, yet they should be overthrown, and paganism, with all its idolatry and superstition, should be rooted out; which occasioned a great deal of glory to God from the praises and thanksgivings of his people, expressed in the next three verses.

And the great dragon was cast out,.... From heaven, or from power and authority in the Roman empire, namely, the devil, where he had long presided; it is observable that Constantine himself speaks of "the dragon" being removed from the government of the commonwealth by the providence of God, and by the ministry, or means of him (m); and he had his own effigies on a table placed before the porch of his palace, with the cross over his head, and a dragon under his feet thrust through with darts, and falling headlong (n);

the old serpent; who is so called, because, of old, from the beginning, almost as soon as the world was, he appeared in the form of a serpent, or rather made use of it as an instrument and means, by which he seduced Eve, and so brought on the ruin of mankind, it is very usual with the Jews to call the devil , "the old serpent" (o); wherefore John uses this phrase as a known one, to explain who was meant by the great dragon:

called the devil and Satan; the first of these names signifies an accuser, and a forger of calumnies, and such is the old serpent; he accuses God to men, as if he was envious of their happiness, as in the case of our first parents, and of men to God, of which there is an instance in the case of Job; and hence he is in Revelation 12:10 called the accuser of the brethren; and the latter of them signifies an enemy, one that is filled with hatred and enmity to God and Christ, and to his church and people, whose adversary he is said to be, and at whose right hand he stands to resist, as he did Joshua the high priest:

which deceiveth the whole world; which he did by deceiving our first parents, from whom all mankind spring, and in whose loins they were when they were deceived; so the Jews say (p) of the old serpent, that , "he deceives the whole world"; and so he deceived and corrupted the old world before the flood; and so he seduces every age and generation of men in the world; but here the Roman empire, sometimes called all the world, as in Luke 2:1, is meant, whom Satan deceived by drawing it into idolatry and superstition;

he was cast out into the earth; he was cast out of the Roman empire, from the rule of it, and worship in it, the Heathen gods and Heathen emperors being no more; when he possessed and instigated, and influenced the Huns, Goths, and Vandals, a meaner and baser sort of people, hereafter in this chapter called the earth, which is said to help the woman, contrary to the intention of Satan; the phrase denotes the greatness of the fall of Satan, his loss of power, and the meanness and low estate of the persons he afterwards had the power of, both the savage people before mentioned, and the antichristian party:

and his angels were cast out with him; the Heathen emperors, magistrates, priests, and other votaries of his, which he made use of as instruments to do his will.

(m) Euseb. de Vita Constantini, l. 2. c. 46. (n) Ib. l. 3. c. 3.((o) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 9. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 29. 1. Imre Binah in Zohar in Gen. fol. 3. 1. & 15. 2. & passim, Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 50. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 7. 3. & 8. 2. & 26. 3. & 46. 1. & Caphtor, fol. 101. 2.((p) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 13. 3.

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.
Revelation 12:9. καὶ ἐβλήθη. After the circumstantial designation of the subject has been given, the verb is repeated, and then receives also the more accurate determination, ἐβλ. εἰς τὴν γῆν. The aggregation of designations describe the nature and activity of the enemy as completely as possible; which is appropriate for the reason that thereby it is, on the one hand, indicated what believers have to expect from this enemy now working against them on earth,[3106] and, on the other hand, it is said that this enemy, even though his hostile activity be so various, yet is already a thoroughly conquered adversary.[3107] First stands the designation Ὁ ΔΡΆΚΩΝ Ὁ ΜΈΓΑς, as that of the subject given by Revelation 12:3 sqq., with which the other designations are connected as appositives: Ὁ ὌΦΙς Ὁ ἈΡΧΑῖΟς, with an allusion to Genesis 3,[3108] whence also the rabbinical expressions חַנָחשׁ הַקַרִמֹונִי and חַנָחָשׁ הַראשֹׁוך[3109] are derived.

Ὁ ΚΑΛΟΎΜΕΝΟς ΔΙΆΒΟΛΟς, Κ.Τ.Λ. The ΔΙΆΒΟΛΟς stands here with the Ὁ ΚΑΛΟΎΜΕΝΟς in a like manner as an appellative, just as in Revelation 20:3 with Ὅς ἘΣΤΙΝ; while, on the other hand, the Ὁ ΣΑΤΑΝᾶς, because of the art.,[3110] appears in both places as a proper noun, like Ὁ ΔΙΆΒΟΛΟς also in, e.g., Revelation 20:10. The definition added to Ὁ ΣΑΤ., viz., Ὁ ΠΛΑΝῶΝ Τ. ΟἸΚ. ὍΛ., which is not altogether intelligible from what is said in Revelation 12:1, but refers to the antichristic activity of Satan[3111] described in ch. 13, shows us on its part that the entire present account has its peculiar intention and meaning, not so much in itself, as rather in its connection with what follows.[3112]

[3106] Cf. Revelation 12:12 sqq.

[3107] Cf. Revelation 12:10 sqq.

[3108] Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3.

[3109] Cf. Schöttgen.

[3110] Which Ew. incorrectly wants to remove.

[3111] Cf. especially Revelation 13:14, Revelation 20:8; Revelation 20:10.

[3112] Revelation 12:17 sqq.

Revelation 12:9. Δράκων and ὄφις are in the LXX interchangeable terms for the leviathan or sea-monster of mythology, who is here defined as the old serpent (a rabbinical expression, cf. Gfrörer, i. 386–389); so Tiâmat, the primaeval rebel, as dragon and serpent (cf. Rohde’s Psyche, 371) had been identified in JE’s paradise-story with the malicious and envious devil (Sap. 2:24; En. xx. 7; Test. Reub. 5). The opponent of God was the adversary of man (cf. Oesterley’s [917] vol. of Mess. Idea, 176 f.). Two characteristic traits of Satan are blended here: (a) cunning exercised on men to lure them into ruin (πλανῶν, κ.τ.λ., cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 11:3), and (b) eagerness to thwart and slander them before God (Revelation 12:10, cf. En. xl. 7; Zechariah 3:1 f.). The second is naive and archaic, of course, in a Christian apocalypse.

[917] Codex Sangermanensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., now at St. Petersburg, formerly belonging to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its text is largely dependent upon that of D. The Latin version, e (a corrected copy of d), has been printed, but with incomplete accuracy, by Belsheim (18 5).

9. cast out] “Out” is not expressed—the sense is rather “cast down.”

that old serpent] Genesis 3:1. This is the only place in canonical Scripture (see, however, Wis 2:24) where we are told that the Tempter in Eden was the Devil: but it cannot be doubted that we are so told here.

the Devil and Satan] The Greek word from which the former name is derived is regularly used in the LXX. as the representative of the latter: though the two are not quite synonymous, the Hebrew name meaning “the Adversary,” and the Greek “the Slanderer” (e.g. the same word is used in a general sense in 1 Timothy 3:11). “Satan” has the article here, as always in the O. T., except in the Book of Job; it is still rather a designation than a proper name. In Enoch xl. 7 we have it used in the plural in a passage very like this: “The fourth voice I heard expelling the Satans, and prohibiting them from coming into the presence of the Lord of spirits, to prefer accusations against the inhabitants of the earth.” The voice is afterwards explained to be that of Phanuel, the angel of penitence and hope.

he was cast out into the earth] St Luke 10:18, St John 12:31 throw light on what must be meant—a breaking of the power of the Devil by that of the Incarnate Lord: but we cannot be quite sure that our Lord speaks of the same fall of Satan in both passages, or in either of the same that St John describes.

Revelation 12:9. Ὁ καλούμενος διάβολος, καὶ ὁ σατανᾶς, κ.τ.λ. The devil and Satan are exactly synonymous, as Druse teaches, and Raphel, in his Annot. from Polybius, p. 719; for both שטן, and διαβάλλειν mean to place one’ self between for the purpose of resistance; wherefore also the Septuagint frequently has διάβολος for שטן, which is retained at 1 Kings 11:14; 1 Kings 11:23; 1 Kings 11:25. Therefore there is no more difference between them than between gladius, in ordinary appellation, and ensis in poetic usage. The only difference lies in the Hebrew and Greek idiom; and the adversary is pointed out, who harasses the Gentiles, as the devil, and the Jews, as Satan; in this place, indeed, saints of both classes. Even Andreas of Cæsareia saw, that there was force in the double appellation; and lest I should be accused of refining too nicely, Grotius refers this double appellation to the Jews and Gentiles. But the observation appertains to this text, in which both the Hebrew and the Greek names are joined together: in other texts, even the appellation of the devil, inasmuch as it is alone, may no doubt appertain to the Jews.—ὁ πλανῶν, which deceiveth) The devil is a liar and a murderer, John 8:44; a seducer, in this passage, and raging, Revelation 12:12, where despair, in consequence of the shortness of the time, inflames his rage. But the saints, who overcome him, have faith, love, and hope.

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. Revelation 12:9The great dragon (ὁ δράκων ὁ μέγας)

Lit., the dragon, the great (dragon).

That old serpent (ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος)

Lit., the serpent, the old (serpent). For this habitual construction in John, see on 1 John 4:9. For ἀρχαῖος old, see on 1 John 2:7, and compare "he was a murderer ἀπ' ἀρχῆς from the beginning," John 8:44; ἀρχή beginning being etymologically akin to ἀρχαῖος old.

The Devil

See on Matthew 4:1.


See on Luke 10:18.

The deceiver (ὁ πλανῶν)

Lit., he that deceiveth. See on 1 John 1:8.

World (οἰκουμένην)

See on Luke 2:1 The world with all its inhabitants.

Down to (εἰς)

Lit., into.

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