For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Revelation 9:20. It is used here, as it is in Revelation 9:20, in a bad sense, as denoting evil spirits. Compare the notes on Matthew 4:1-2, Matthew 4:24.
Working miracles - Working what seemed to be miracles; that is, such wonders as to deceive the world with the belief that they were miracles. See the notes on Revelation 13:13-14, where the same power is ascribed to the "beast."
Which go forth unto the kings of the earth - Which particularly affect and influence kings and rulers. No class of people have been more under the influence of pagan superstition, Muhammedan delusion, or the papacy, than kings and princes. We are taught by this passage that this will continue to be so in the circumstances referred to.
And of the whole world - That is, so far that it might be represented as affecting the whole world - to wit, the pagan, the Muhammedan, and the papal portions of the earth. These still embrace so large a portion of the globe, that it might be said, that what would affect those powers now would influence the whole world.
To gather them - Not literally to assemble them all in one place, but so to unite and combine them that it might be represented as an assembling of the hosts for battle.
To the battle of that great day of God Almighty - Not the day of judgment, but the day which would determine the ascendency of true religion in the world - the final conflict with those powers which had so long opposed the gospel. It is not necessary to suppose that there would be a literal "battle," in which God would be seen to contend with his foes; but there would be what might be properly represented as a battle. That is, there would be a combined struggle against the truth, and in that God would appear by his providence and Spirit on the side of the church, and would give it the victory. It accords with all that has occurred in the past, to suppose that there will be such a combined struggle before the church shall finally triumph in the world.
working miracles—Greek, "signs."
go forth unto—or "for," that is, to tempt them to the battle with Christ.
the kings of the earth and, &c.—A, B, Syriac, and Andreas omit "of the earth and," which clause is not in any manuscript. Translate, "kings of the whole habitable world," who are "of this world," in contrast to "the kings of (from) the East" (the sun-rising), Re 16:12, namely, the saints to whom Christ has appointed a kingdom, and who are "children of light." God, in permitting Satan's miracles, as in the case of the Egyptian magicians who were His instruments in hardening Pharaoh's heart, gives the reprobate up to judicial delusion preparatory to their destruction. As Aaron's rod was changed into a serpent, so were those of the Egyptian magicians. Aaron turned the water into blood; so did the magicians. Aaron brought up frogs; so did the magicians. With the frogs their power ceased. So this, or whatever is antitypical to it, will be the last effort of the dragon, beast, and false prophet.
battle—Greek, "war"; the final conflict for the kingship of the world described in Re 19:17-21.Revelation 16:16.
working miracles; lying ones, to deceive men; this clearly points out who are meant, namely, the followers of antichrist, who, as they spread the doctrines of devils, endeavour to confirm them by signs and lying wonders:
which go forth unto the kings of the earth: those who have committed fornication with the Romish antichrist, such of them as will remain:
and of the whole world; as many Pagan princes as they can come at, and engage by any ways and means in their interest; they will go forth to them like the lying spirit to Ahab's prophets, 1 Kings 22:22
to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty; that is, they will persuade them to gather together, to fight against the saints, the Gentile Christians in the several parts of the world, and the Jewish Christians, now settled in their own land; and this will be the battle of the Lord, who is God Almighty, and it will be fighting against him; and therefore the attempt must be vain and fruitless, and issue in the ruin of those who are gathered to it, who will be deceived and drawn into it by these diabolical spirits: and this is called "the battle of that great day of God"; not of the day of judgment, for it will be before that time; but of that day of vengeance upon all the remains of his and his church's enemies, both Pagan, Papal, and Mahometan, who will for this purpose be gathered together; "which", as the Ethiopic version renders it, "God has appointed".For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Revelation 16:14. “They are (not, these are) spirits of daemons”. These devilish imps muster God’s opponents to the final conflict. The fierce invasion of the kings of the east seems to give an impetus to the kings of the world. Antichrist’s power extends to these (cf. Revelation 11:10). “As the Lord sent his apostles to all the nations, so shall he (i.e., Antichrist) send false apostles” (Hippol. vi. cf. A. C. 188 f.). The sources of the tradition lie in Addit. Esther, 11:6 f., where the two dragons cry, and at their summons all nations gather to do battle against the righteous nation; also in the belief that Israel’s foes muster against her in the latter days (Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:17-20. Revelation 20:7-10; after Ezekiel 38-39.; Zechariah 14:2 f.; En. lvi. 90.; Sib. Or. iii. 310–322, 663–674). In Asc. Isa. iv. Beliar, in the guise of Nero, comes “and with him all the powers of this world, and they will hearken to him in all that he desires” (cf. below on Revelation 17:13; Revelation 17:17). These demonic spirits are not crushed till the day of judgment (En. Revelation 16:1 ἕως τῆς κρίσεως τῆς μεγάλης, Jub. x., Matthew 8:29). The three locusts which issne from the month of the Beast in Hermas, Vis. iv. 1. 6, belong to the conception of Revelation 9:1.14. devils] Strictly demons: see on Revelation 16:13.
miracles] Strictly signs, as in Revelation 13:14. One may notice, that this is the word always used for miracles in St John’s Gospel.
go forth unto the kings &c.] See Revelation 19:19, and cf. Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:8.
the battle] Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:19-21.Revelation 16:14. Ἐκπορεύεσθαι) Many varieties of reading occur here, and among them, ἃ ἐκπορεύεται is a specious one: but if this were the original reading, it would not have been altered in such a variety of ways, as the infinitive, ἐκπορεύεσθαι, which was not equally comprehended by the copyists on account of the parenthesis. But the sentence would be abrupt without the infinitive, εἶδον πνεύματα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος. For the mode of expression is not the beast out of the sea, out of the earth, out of the bottomless pit, but ascending out of the sea, etc. Nor does the other infinitive, συναγαγεῖν, subjoined without any con junction, cause any difficulty, as alleged by Wolf. For there is often an accumulation of infinitives: Luke 1:74-79; Ephesians 3:16-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:6 : and the sense is plain in this passage: I saw them go forth, that they might gather. There is a Simultaneum [See Append. Techn. Terms], concerning which see Erkl. Offenb. p. 84. Moreover two events are marked as occurring at the same time, either by a repetition of the same words, 2 Kings 2:14, or by an interruption of the construction, as here.
 Stephens’ Rec. Text has ἐκπορεύεσθαι: A has ἐκποοεύεται: B, ἐκποοευονται Vulg. has “precedent,” or, as other MSS. read, “procedunt.”—E.Verse 14. - For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles. This explains the account given in ver. 13. In the plague of the frogs, the Egyptian magicians imitated the plague of Moses; the second beast (the false prophet) is represented as leading men astray by his miracles (Revelation 13:13). After the sixth trumpet came the digression, in which an account was given of the two witnesses of God, who worked miracles (Revelation 12.); here, after the sixth vial, we have a short digression, in which an account is given of the three witnesses of Satan, who endeavour rework on his behalf, by exhibiting miracles. (For the meaning of this working of miracles, see on Revelation 13:13.) Which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world; the kings of the whole world - omitting "of the earth" (Revised Version). The kings of the world are those whose aim and delight is the possession of the pleasures of this world; those who have their treasure in this world, and whose hearts are therefore also there; those who exercise their influence and power in regard only to the things of this world; in short, the worldly. To gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty; God, the Almighty. This battle is described in Revelation 19:11-21, which see. The great day is the last great judgment day. The battle referred to here, and described in Revelation 19, and again in Revelation 20:1-10, is apparently the battle which is being waged against God by the forces of evil all through the history of the world, from the fall of Adam until the last judgment day. This seems certain from the description given in Revelation 19. and 20. How, then, can it be described as the "battle of the great day"? Probably because on that day will occur the crisis, as it were, of the conflict; on that day will the issue be plainly determined, and the struggle terminated. Though the battle is proceeding daily, there is little to remind us of it; the very existence of, and necessity for, such warfare is sometimes forgotten in the daily round of life: at the last day will be plainly exhibited the nature of the incessant hostility between God and the devil, and the power of the latter will be manifested only to be visibly shattered and finally destroyed.
Omit of the earth and.
See on Luke 2:1.
The battle (πόλεμον)
Rev., more literally, war. Battle is μάχη.
That great day (ἐκείνης)
Omit. Read, as Rev., "the great day."
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