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, ( Jude 1:9 ) ; nor to the of the angels when they rebelled against God, left their first estate, and were cast down to hell, ( Jude 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 F9 when Pharaoh pursued after Israel, there was war above and below, and there was a very fierce war (Mymvb) , "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 F11,
``when the holy blessed God descended on Mount Sinai, several companies of angels descended with him, (wtrwbxw lakym) , "Michael and his company", and Gabriel and his company:''"so kings armies", in ( Psalms 68:12 ) ; are by them interpreted of "kings of angels"; and it is asked who are these? and the answer is, Michael and Gabriel F12. 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 ( Jude 1:9 ) ( Daniel 10:13 ) ( 12:1 ) ; 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 ) ( 25:41 ) ; 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".
F9 Shaare Ora, fol. 26. 4.
F11 Debarim, Rabba, fol. 237. 4.
F12 Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 14. 3. & 26. 3.