Revelation 12:4

his tail drew
Drew is σύρει [syrei] : “To drag, pull, draw . . . in catching fish,”1 “as moving someone or something along by force.”2 He exhibited considerable influence over the stars with his tail. He was key in their rebellion. This is not his final casting out, but his original fall in sin and corruption of a portion of the heavenly host (Isa. Isa. 14:12; Eze. Eze. 28:14). This occurred early in God’s created order, prior to the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. Gen. 3:1-5).

a third of the stars of heaven
Stars refer to the angels (messengers or leaders) of the churches (Rev. Rev. 1:20+). They also refer to angels (Job Job 38:7; Rev. Rev. 9:1+; (4). Here, they refer to angels which followed the dragon in his rejection of God and fall into sin (Isa. Isa. 14:12; Eze. Eze. 28:15). They are “his angels” (Rev. Rev. 12:7+, Rev. 12:9+). Since there is an innumerable host of angels (see commentary on Revelation 5:11 ), one-third of such a vast number is countless. Those angels which remained in heaven are God’s elect (1Ti. 1Ti. 5:21).

threw them to the earth
Fallen angels (demons) were on the earth well in advance of Christ’s advent (Gen. Gen. 6:2-4; 1K. 1K. 22:22-23; 2Chr. 2Chr. 18:21-22). See commentary on Revelation 9:1.

woman who was ready to give birth
The promised birth witnessed by the law and the prophets (Gen. Gen. 3:15; Isa. Isa. 7:14; Isa. 9:6-7) was about to find fulfillment (Mtt. Mat. 1:20; Luke Luke 1:34). See commentary on Revelation 12:2.

to devour her child
As God had prophesied, there was established ongoing enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. Gen. 3:15). This is born out in the lengthy pattern throughout history of attempts to destroy the line leading from Adam—through Abraham—to bring forth the promised Lion from the tribe of Judah (Gen. Gen. 49:10). See diagram and commentary at Revelation 5:5. Historic evidence of Satan’s attempt to thwart the Messianic promise is abundant: Cain’s murder of Abel (Gen. Gen. 4:8); the pollution of the offspring of men by the “sons of God” with the “daughters of men” (Gen. Gen. 6:2-4);3 Pharaoh’s attempt to kill all male Hebrews (Ex. Ex. 1:16, Ex. 1:22; Acts Acts 7:19); Haman’s attempt to wipe out the Jews (Est. Est. 3:6); Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, attempts to wipe out all the royal heirs of Judah (2Chr. 2Chr. 22:10); Herod’s slaughter of the babes in his attempt to murder Jesus (Mtt. Mat. 2:16). “The most direct attempt was, of course, in the crucifixion of Christ.”4 The importance of the line leading to the Messiah is also seen in God’s supernatural intervention to allow Sarah to conceive in her old age (Heb. Heb. 11:11). Ultimately, the seed of the serpent did in fact bruise the heel of the redeemer—at His crucifixion (John John 8:44). Yet this “victory” of the serpent resulted ultimately in the bruising of his own head (Gen. Gen. 3:15). For the child overcame death and was ultimately caught up to God (see commentary on Revelation 12:5).

as soon as it was born
Although the serpent stood before the woman over an extended period of time, he made one last attempt when the child was first born. Through Herod, the serpent ordered the slaughter of all male children in Bethlehem and its districts who were two years old and under (Mtt. Mat. 2:16).

Notes

1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 794.

2 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 379.

3 “Seeking to produce a mongrel, half-human half-demon and thus unredeemable race of men, Satan sent demons (‘sons of God’; the same Hebrew phrase refers to angels in Job Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7; Ps. Ps. 29:1; Ps. 89:6) to cohabit with human women (Gen. Gen. 6:1-4).”—John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 12:4.

4 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 12:4.

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