There seems to be three views among scholars as to when this cosmic war happened. 1. The war happened at creation. 2. The war happened at the cross. 3. The war is a future war that happens right before the end. Osborne*** takes the creation view by stating that Ps. 74:13-14 argues for it because it teaches of the defeat of the Leviathan at creation and also that Genesis 6:1-4 is a result of that defeat. (Pgs. 468-471). Mounce* takes third view somewhat and calls it “the intense hostility to be poured out upon the church in the days of final tribulation” He places this at the time of John. (Pg. 240).
I wonder about a fourth view that contemplates this war spanning the entire breadth of time and space creation, and in the timeless, infinite heaven. Genesis opens with a creation story that introduces a sevenfold structure which repeats throughout the Bible and becomes a hallmark of the perfection of God. The number seven figures prominently in this book.
We are told God finished all His work after six days. On the seventh day He rested.
The seven spirits before God’s throne could signify the perfection of what He has done and the entirety of His will. The One Who sees all things, including the end from the beginning, only has to look out from His throne.
In this same sevenfold structure, Revelation allows a view of God’s purpose and resolution as it unfolds into the rest of a new creation, into the new promised land.
7 And war broke out1 in heaven. Michael2 and his angels made war3 with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back4. 8 And he was not strong enough and a place was not found for them any longer in heaven5 . 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the old snake6, who is called the Devil and Satan7, who deceives8 the whole world9 was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a great voice in heaven saying,
“Now have come the salvation10 and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ11
because the accuser of our brothers and sisters,12
who accuses them before our God day and night was thrown down.13
11 And they conquered14 him because of the blood of the lamb
and because of the word of their testimony
and they did not love their life to the point of death15.
12 Because of this, celebrate, [the]16 heavens,
namely17 those who are living18 in them!
But woe19 to the earth and sea,
because the Devil has come down to you
having great anger20,
having known21 that he has a short22 time.”
1 ἐγένετο (broke out)
Greek: “became” or “was”. “There was war in heaven”.
2 ὁ Μιχαὴλ (Michael)
Michael is one of four archangels (Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel) that see the destruction that the fallen angels have caused in 1 Enoch 9:1-11, and appeal to God to step in. The fallen angel story in 1 Enoch is a descriptive retelling of the the Genesis 6:1-4 story where angels came down from heaven and mated with mortal women.
In the OT, Michael is only mentioned in Daniel 10:13; 21; and 12:1 where he is portrayed as a leader of an army of angels.
3 τοῦ πολεμῆσαι (made war)
The Greek here is “barbarous”. Moule++ (Pg. 129). The TR replaces τοῦ πολεμῆσαι with ἐπολέμησαν (they made war). A copyist probably did this to smooth out the bad Greek.
4 ἐπολέμησεν (fought back)
Greek: “made war”.
It is very interesting that John was able to get the aorist form of the verb correct only to have it in the 3rd person singular! It should be in the third person plural. It is also possible that the 3rd person singular form is correct and the translation be rendered: “And the dragon made war and his angels as well.”
Osborne*** has “fought back” in his translation as the dragon’s response to Michael and his angels making war with him. (Pg. 467).
5 “and a place was not found for them any longer in heaven”
The dragon was defeated and no longer welcomed in heaven.
Osborne*** states that there is a three-stage process in the final defeat of Satan: 1. His original expulsion from heaven, 2. the death and resurrection of Christ, 3. Satan’s final destruction and his angels in the lake of fire. (Pg. 471).
Just as the dragon was thrown out of heaven, we are about to see him defeated and thrown from earth.
6 ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος (the old snake)
or “the ancient snake”. Osborne*** sees this as a direct link to the snake who deceived Eve in Genesis 3:1-15. (Pg. 471).
With this reference, we are transported back to the Garden where the snake questions Eve, “Did God really say that?” He implies that God does not have their best interest at heart and is not being truthful. He deceives by accusing God of deceit.
7 Διάβολος καὶ ὁ Σατανᾶς (the Devil and Satan) Διάβολος (Devil) means “accusing falsely” or “slanderous”. ὁ Σατανᾶς
(Satan) is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew. It means “accuser”.
After the fall of mankind, Satan could rightly accuse everyone for all are guilty of sin. He put the mark of death on every man, and unless God interceded, this would be the end.
That was not God’s plan. He set things right, and seals all who would listen in His redemption and salvation.
8 ὁ πλανῶν (who deceives)
Greek: “Who leads astray” or “Who misleads”.
The Good Shepherd leads his flock to the safety of green pastures. Misleading is a chief characteristic of a false shepherd.
9 The unbelievers of the world. This is normally stated through out the Apocalypse as “the one who dwell on the earth”.
There is a way that seems right to man, but leads to destruction.
10 ἡ σωτηρία (the salvation)
This could also be translated as “the deliverance”. In the OT, this can
also have a sense of “victory”. That is the context here.
Jesus overcame the world and offers to share that victory with us.
11 An allusion to Daniel 7:14.
Δανιήλ 7·14 καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἐξουσία, καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς κατὰ γένη καὶ πᾶσα δόξα αὐτῷ λατρεύουσα· καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ἥτις οὐ μὴ ἀρθῇ, καὶ ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ, ἥτις οὐ μὴ φθαρῇ.
7:14 And authority was given to him, and all the nations of the earth according to race, and all glory while serving him, and his authority is an eternal authority, which will never pass away, and his kingdom, which will never be destroyed.
12 Notice who Satan accuses. John indicates it is believers who are slandered by Satan. This makes sense if one considers that if anyone is in Christ they are blameless and have received the righteousness of God. To accuse someone of guilt who is not guilty is to slander that person. To say someone is guilty when they are is only telling the truth, and is not slanderous.
13 This is an allusion to Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-6. This may indicate that the Devil can no long accuse people before God (see Job chapter 1). This may be another reason why he makes war with people in verse 17. In other words, he makes it personal with believers instead of just accusing them before God. He goes from indirect to direct.
This is the third time in this section we are told that the Devil was thrown down. There is no doubt that he was ejected from heaven and this was done by the will of God. This was done in consequence to his rebellion. The war began in heaven and will end on earth. We find ourselves in the middle of a battle for the souls of man. The war will be won by God; Satan is already defeated, but seeks to take as many casualties as he can.
14 ἐνίκησαν (overcome, conquer, prevail)
Though accused by Satan, they were able to be victorious by two actions: the blood of the lamb and their choice of life, of believing and living the word of God.
15 ἄχρι θανάτου (to the point of death)
Greek: “as far as death”. This parallels 2:10. See note there. The conquerers were willing to die for their beliefs and maintained their witness of Jesus Christ. Verse 11 also parallels with 6:9.
Another paradox rises before us. Being willing to die for believing in Jesus Christ leads one to life. The opposite leads to death. Many that hear this dismiss this as foolish.
16 [οἱ] ([the])
This is in brackets as it may not be original to the passage.
17 καὶ (namely)
Normally καὶ means “and”, but here “heaven” represents the ones who
live in heaven.
Here is a sharp distinction between heaven and earth. It is the difference between the sweet aroma of the gospel of salvation and the overpowering oder of corruption.
18 σκηνοῦντες (living)
or “spreading their tent”.
19 οὐαὶ (woe)
Some commentators suggests that this is the third woe, but the first two woes were all judgements against unbelievers. This, on the other hand, is a warning to both unbelievers and believers alike. Besides, the third woe is found in the seventh trumpet. Beale* (Pg. 667).
20 θυμὸν (anger)
θυμός, οῦ m: an intense, passionate desire of an overwhelming and possibly destructive character — ‘intense desire, overwhelming passion. (Louw & Nida Lexicon).
Osborne*** offers two reasons as to why the Devil is angry: 1. He has lost his place in heaven, and 2. he only has “a short time” remaining. He knows he can’t win. (Pg. 479).
21 εἰδὼς (having known)
This carries a perfect tense that may indicate that the dragon already knew that he only had a short time on earth before he was thrown down to it.
22 ὀλίγον (short)
So it is that our time here on earth is short as well, but what we do with it will determine our future, and it will not be short.
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
Ἀποκάλυψις 12·7 Καὶ ἐγένετο πόλεμος ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Μιχαὴλ καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ τοῦ πολεμῆσαι μετὰ τοῦ δράκοντος. καὶ ὁ δράκων ἐπολέμησεν καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ, 8 καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν οὐδὲ τόπος εὑρέθη αὐτῶν ἔτι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. 9 καὶ ἐβλήθη ὁ δράκων ὁ μέγας, ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος, ὁ καλούμενος Διάβολος καὶ ὁ Σατανᾶς, ὁ πλανῶν τὴν οἰκουμένην ὅλην, ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ ἐβλήθησαν. 10 καὶ ἤκουσα φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ λέγουσαν·
ἄρτι ἐγένετο ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,
ὅτι ἐβλήθη ὁ κατήγωρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἡμῶν, ὁ κατηγορῶν αὐτοὺς ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἡμέρας καὶ
νυκτός. 11 καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐνίκησαν αὐτὸν διὰ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἀρνίου
καὶ διὰ τὸν λόγον τῆς μαρτυρίας αὐτῶν καὶ οὐκ ἠγάπησαν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτῶν ἄχρι θανάτου.
12 διὰ τοῦτο εὐφραίνεσθε, [οἱ] οὐρανοὶ καὶ οἱ ἐν αὐτοῖς σκηνοῦντες.
οὐαὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν, ὅτι κατέβη ὁ διάβολος πρὸς ὑμᾶς
ἔχων θυμὸν μέγαν, εἰδὼς ὅτι ὀλίγον καιρὸν ἔχει.