Revelation 12:9

cast out
This is the first stage in the de facto fulfillment of what was previously accomplished de jure at Christ’s First Coming (Luke Luke 10:18; John John 12:31; John 16:11; Col. Col. 2:15; Heb. Heb. 2:14; 1Jn. 1Jn. 3:8). The next stage occurs with his binding in the abyss (Rev. Rev. 20:1-3+) after which he is released, but then cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 20:10+).

that serpent of old
ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος [ho ophis ho archaios] , the serpent, the ancient . This is a direct allusion to his role as the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Gen. Gen. 3:1-4), and especially God’s prophecy which set forth a number of truths concerning the serpent and the line leading to Messiah (Gen. Gen. 3:14-16):
  1. God would put enmity between the serpent and the woman and between the serpent’s seed and her Seed.
  2. The woman’s seed would bruise (crush) the serpent’s head.
  3. God would bring Messiah via the rebellious woman, but only through pain (of childbirth).
The reference to serpent of old indicates that the stand-off between the woman in labor and the serpent is an age-old situation which spans the time from Eve to the virgin Mary and beyond. Thus, the woman signifies not just Mary, nor just Israel, but the promise of a redeemer through the line of Israel stretching all the way back to the first woman, Eve. See commentary on Revelation 12:1.

the devil
Διάβολος [Diabolos] , a compound word made up of δια [dia] (against) and βαλλω [ballō] (to throw). This title emphasizes his role as slanderer, throwing accusations against the saints. Diabolos is the usual rendering of שָׂטָן [śāṭān] , “satan,” in the LXX (e.g., Job Job 1:6) suggesting the two words are almost synonymous.”1

who deceives the whole world
World is οἰκουμένην [oikoumenēn] : “The whole inhabited earth,”2 with reference to those portions which are populated by humans, the region to which the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations prior to the end (Mtt. Mat. 24:14). “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1Jn. 1Jn. 5:19). By the sorcery of Babylon, the nations were deceived (Rev. Rev. 18:23+). His first target of deception was Eve (Gen. Gen. 3:4-5; 2Cor. 2Cor. 11:3; 2Ti. 2Ti. 2:14), but he has been at work deceiving nations all through history. He is the father of lies, there is no truth in him (John John 8:44). Those through whom he deceives are most effective because they themselves are deceived (2Ti. 2Ti. 3:13).

Educated and ignorant, king and pauper, male and female, Jew and Gentile, strong and weak, young and old, black and white—all are deceived by him. All the world’s high-sounding philosophies, conceived ever so brilliantly by profound thinkers—whether pragmatism, idealism, gnosticism, determinism, hedonism, materialism, transcendentalism, existentialism, deism, or any of countless others, and regardless of the eminence of the geniuses with whose names they are associated—Aristotelianism, Platonism, Hegelianism, Marxism, Maoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Kantianism, Freudianism—all are man-originated, man-centered, and man-honoring, rather than God-originated, God-centered, and God-honoring [Col. Col. 2:8-9].3

His ultimate deceiving tool at the time of the end is the False Prophet who performs great signs to deceive those who dwell on the earth (Rev. Rev. 13:13-14+), those who receive the mark of the beast and worship his image (Rev. Rev. 19:20+). See commentary on Revelation 13:11. Satan empowers both the Beast and the False Prophet as two mighty deceivers. In a similar way that God gives power to the two witnesses who testify of God (Rev. Rev. 11:3+), these two are empowered by Satan as master deceivers during a time when deception will be the rule rather than the exception. The deception will be so strong that only by the power of the Holy Spirit will the regenerate avoid succumbing to the signs and lying wonders:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th. 2Th. 2:9-12)

The False Prophet is the ultimate from among those Jesus warned of: “false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive” (Mtt. Mat. 24:24a.). At the Second Coming of Christ, Satan is bound in the abyss so as to halt his deceiving ministry for the duration of the Millennium (Rev. Rev. 20:3+), but at the end he will be released to deceive the nations one final time (Rev. Rev. 20:8-10+).


1 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 12:9.

2 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), 561.

3 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 12:9.