And the great dragon was cast out - See the notes on Revelation 12:3. That there may be an allusion in the language here to what actually occurred in some far distant period of the past, when Satan was ejected from heaven, there can be no reason to doubt. Our Saviour seems to refer to such an event in the language which he uses when he says Luke 10:18, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" ; and Jude, perhaps Revelation 12:6, may refer to the same event. All that we know on the subject leads us to suppose that at some time there was a revolt among the angels, and that the rebellious part were cast out of heaven, for an allusion to this is not infrequent in the Scriptures. Still the event here referred to is a symbolical representation of what could occur at a later period, when the church would be about to spread and he triumphant, and when Satan would wage a deadly war against it. That opposition would be as if he made war on Michael the archangel, and the heavenly hosts, and his failure would be as great as if he were vanquished and cast out of heaven.
That old serpent - This doubtless refers to the serpent that deceived Eve (Genesis 3:1-11; Revelation 20:2; compare the notes on II Corinthians 11:3); and this passage may be adduced as a proof that the real tempter of Eve was the devil, who assumed the form of a serpent. The word "old" here refers to the fact that his appearance on earth was at an early stage of the world' s history, and that he had long been employed in the work which is here attributed to him - that of opposing the church.
Called the devil - To whom the name devil is given. That is, this is the same being that is elsewhere and commonly known by that name. See the notes on Matthew 4:1.
And Satan - Another name given to the same being - a name, like the other, designed to refer to something in his character. See it explained in the notes on Job 1:6.
Which deceiveth the whole world - Whose character is that of a deceiver; whose agency extends over all the earth. See the John 8:44 note, and I John 5:19 note.
He was cast out into the earth - That is, he was not suffered to pursue his designs in heaven, but was cast down to the earth, where he is permitted for a time to carry on his warfare against the church. According to the interpretation proposed above, this refers to the period when there were indications that God was about to set up his kingdom on the earth. The language, however, is such as would be used on the supposition that there had been, at some period, a rebellion in heaven, and that Satan and his followers had been cast out to return there no more. It is difficult to explain this language except on that supposition; and such a supposition is, in itself, no more improbable than the apostasy and rebellion of man.
And his angels were cast out with him - They shared the lot of their leader. As applicable to the state of things to which this refers, the meaning is, that all were overthrown; that no enemy of the church would remain unsubdued; that the victory would be final and complete. As applicable to the event from which the language is supposed to have been derived - the revolt in heaven - the meaning is, that the followers in the revolt shared the lot of the leader, and that all who rebelled were ejected from heaven. The first and the only revolt in heaven was quelled; and the result furnished to the universe an impressive proof that none who rebelled there would be forgiven - that apostasy so near the throne could not be pardoned.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Revelation 12:9:
2 Corinthians 11:3
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