And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle,
&c.] By which are meant, not the two testaments, by which she was supported under afflictions, trials, and persecutions, and against Satan and all his efforts; nor the two graces of faith and hope, by which she rose, and dwelt on high, in the view of invisible things, and with contempt of the world, its frowns or flatteries; nor, as others think, prayer and good works, by the former of which she flew to God for supplies of grace and protection, and by the latter was useful and profitable to men, and gave glory to God, and escaped the just censures of the world; nor are two powerful kingdoms, within the dominions of the dragon, intended, as others have thought, who take them to be France and Spain, to which Britain was an appendix; when they were in the possession of Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine the great, where the Christians had refuge in the persecution under Dioclesian; but this was before the war in heaven, and the downfall of Paganism in the empire, and before the above persecution; rather these two wings of the eagle design the eastern and western divisions of the Roman empire: it is not unusual in Scripture for a monarchy, or monarch, as the Assyrian king and kingdom, to be signified by an eagle, and the wings of eagles, ( Ezekiel 17:3 Ezekiel 17:12 ) ( Daniel 7:4 ) ; and it is well known that the eagle is the ensign of the Roman empire, to which the allusion is in ( Matthew 24:28 ) ; and at the death of Theodosius the empire was divided, as has been observed before, into two parts; the eastern empire was given to one of his sons and the western to another; and this was between the Arian persecution, and the irruption of the Goths and Vandals, when the church was fleeing and gradually disappearing; and these two empires both went under the Christian name, and supported the outward visible church, though much corrupted, and still more and more corrupting; by which means the pure members of the church, though few and very obscure were preserved. In a word, these wings may denote the swiftness in which the church proceeded to disappear, having lost her former simplicity and glory for which eagles' wings are famous, ( Proverbs 23:5 ) ; and more especially that divine strength and support by which she was bore up, and carried through, and delivered out of sore afflictions and persecutions; see ( Isaiah 40:31 ) . The allusion is to God's deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt when he bore them as on eagles wings, and carried them though the wilderness, ( Exodus 19:4 ) ( Deuteronomy 32:10-12 ) , so here it follows,
that she might fly into the wilderness;
a place desolate, and full of serpents and scorpions, uncomfortable, and destitute of provisions, and yet a place of safety as well as of solitariness and retirement; and chiefly designs the obscure and invisible state of the pure church in the times of the antichristian apostasy; (See Gill on Revelation 12:6).
Into her place;
which was prepared of God for her, as in ( Revelation 12:6 ) ;
where she is nourished
by the ministers of the word the two witnesses that prophesy in sackcloth who feed the church with knowledge and understanding; with the words of faith and good doctrine, with the Gospel, and the truths of it, which are sweet, comfortable and nutritive; and with the ordinances of the Gospel, the entertainment of Wisdom's house, the feast of fat things, and the breasts of consolation; and with Christ the hidden manna, the food of the wilderness: and that
for a time, and times, and half a time;
that is, all the times of antichrist, the forty two months of his reign; during which time the holy city is trodden under foot, and in a desolate and afflicted condition outwardly, as may be learnt by comparing together ( Daniel 7:25 ) ( Revelation 13:5 ) ( 11:2 ) ; and until the end of wonders, or when time shall be no longer or till the seventh angel has sounded his trumpet as appears from ( Daniel 12:7 ) ( Revelation 10:6 Revelation 10:7 ) . This date is the same with 1260 days in ( Revelation 12:6 ) , for "time" signifies a prophetic year, or 360 years; and "times" two years, or 720 years; and half a time, half a year, or 180 years, in all 1230 years; and which are to be reckoned, not from the beginning of the church's flight in Constantine's time, or from the Arian persecution, but from her entering into her wilderness state, or entire disappearance upon the prevalence of the antichristian apostasy; which might be when the bishop of Rome took upon him the title of universal bishop: and here and during this time she is hid
from the face of the serpent;
that is, from his wrath so as that he cannot utterly destroy her. God having reserved a sealed number for himself; see ( Revelation 6:16 ) , or from the sight of the serpent as the Arabic version renders it, so as that he could not discern with all his quick sight where the church was.