MICHAEL DEFEATS SATAN AND CASTS HIM DOWN TO EARTH = THE IMPETUS FOR HIS FINAL WRATH – RESULTING IN JOY IN HEAVEN AND TERROR ON EARTH
Marvin Rosenthal: Revelation 12 describes a war that occurs in heaven. The time for that conflict can be pinpointed at precisely the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel (Rev. 12:6, 13-14). The woman represents Israel, who gave Christ (the male child) to the world (Rev. 12:5) and who will be severely persecuted during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:13-17).
Speaking of this one who will hinder the Antichrist, Paul said, “only he who now hindereth will continue to hinder until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7). The word hindereth means to hold down, and the phrase taken out of the way means to step aside. Therefore, the one who had the job of hindering the Antichrist will step aside; that is, he will no longer be a restraint between the Antichrist and those the Antichrist is persecuting.
The Bible is explicit that the archangel Michael is the personage who will step aside. Daniel records that event this way: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Dan. 12:1).
It is important to note when this event occurs. The preceding verse says, “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain” (Dan. 11:45). This can only refer to the Antichrist, who will establish his headquarters between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea on the glorious mountain – Jerusalem. This occurs in the middle of the seventieth week in connection with his desecration of the temple and erection of a statue of himself.
Further, Daniel has already said that Michael will stand up during “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” The unprecedented time of trouble can only refer to the Great Tribulation. Since Daniel is told that this great trouble relates to his people – and his people are the Jews – this can only be “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), which is a synonym for the Great Tribulation. It is at that time that the archangel Michael will stand up. . .
The restrainer is not the Spirit. The restrainer is not taken out of the world; he simply ceases restraining. The restrainer does not cease his activity at the beginning of the seventieth week but at the midpoint. All of this activity fits, unstrained and perfectly, into a prewrath rapture of the church. The identification of Michael as the restrainer is by no means a new and novel idea. Michael is mentioned as the restrainer of Satan and the forces of evil as early as the first or second century A.D. in Greek magical papyri.
Craig Koester: The story of Satan’s expulsion from heaven offers readers incentive to persevere, despite the ongoing threat of evil. From an earthly perspective, evil can seem so pervasive as to be unstoppable. Where the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer, the Devil seems to reign. From a heavenly perspective, however, evil rages on earth, not because it is so powerful, but because it is so vulnerable. Revelation likens Satan to a rogue animal that the forces of God have corralled, driving it off the expansive plains of heaven into the fenced-in area of earth. The beast rampages within its newly limited circumstances, seeking to do as much damage as possible during the short time that remains until the company of heaven slips the noose around its head and chains it up so that it can do no further damage (12:11; 20:2). Those who think that Satan rages because he is invincible will give up in despair, but those who recognize that Satan rages on earth because he has already lost heaven and is now desperate have reason to resist him, confident that God will prevail.
Gordon Fee: On the basis of how this part of the narrative begins, one might be tempted to refer to this section under the heading “War in Heaven.” But that would be to mislead the reader by a large margin, since John’s interest lies not with the war as such, but with the defeat of the dragon and his eventually being “hurled to the earth.” The narrative thus comes in two clear parts: verses 7–9, which concentrate altogether on the defeat of the dragon; and verses 10–12, which by way of poetry announce the twofold effect of his defeat for the people of God on earth. In so doing it tells the essential Christian story in four parts, beginning with an announcement of the outcome (v. 10a) and its cause (v. 10b), followed by the believers’ own involvement (v. 11), with a concluding note of rejoicing in heaven and woe on earth (v. 12).
I. (:7-9) DRAGON’S DEFEAT AND EXPULSION FROM HEAVEN
A. (:7) Epic Angelic Warfare in Heaven
“And there was war in heaven,”
Robert Mounce: It is an all-out attempt on the part of Satan to regain his position in the presence of God. It does not refer back to the original expulsion of Satan from heaven but is the cosmic prelude to the consummation, an “end-time event.” At the same time it is the heavenly counterpart to the victory of Christ in his death and resurrection (cf. John 12:31). The triumph of the Messiah (v. 5) is now expressed in terms of the Holy War.
Sola Scriptura: This war is a cleansing war. First heaven will be cleansed of Satan. Then the earth will be cleansed of all e il doers – Satan and followers.
Kendell Easley: Unless one takes the events of this chapter to reflect a flashback to the church age, the present event seems to be even later, at a time when Christian martyrs are being made (v. 11). Further, it is at a time very shortly before the end of the age, when “he knows that his time is short” (v. 12). This, then, must be a final exclusion of the devil from access to God shortly before Christ’s return.
John Walvoord: This event marks the beginning of the great tribulation described in Daniel 12:1. It is undoubtedly the same event as in Revelation 12. . . Though the events of this chapter deal in general with the end of the age, it is clear that they do not come chronologically after the seventh trumpet. Rather, the fall of Satan may be predated to the time of the seals in chapter 6, or even before the first seal. His fall begins the great tribulation.
David Thompson: It is clearly stated that there was war “in the heaven.” There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible:
- Heaven #1 – The atmospheric heaven where the birds fly and clouds are – Jeremiah 4:25.
- Heaven #2 – The stellar heaven where the sun, moon, galaxies and planets are – Is. 13:10.
- Heaven #3 – The throne of God heaven where God’s throne and home are – Rev. 4:2.
This third heaven is the heaven Paul referred to when he said he was caught up to the third heaven (II Cor. 12:2). This is “the” heaven where Satan is apparently permitted from time to time to come appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1). It is somewhere in this third heaven where this war apparently occurs.
a. Michael and the Good Angels
“Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon.”
Sola Scriptura: The importance of Michael to the eschatological end times cannot be over-stated. His voice will be heard at the Rapture (1 Thess 4:16). His actions will initiate the final unparalleled persecution of Israel (Dan 12:1). He initiates the battle that ignites the final conflict prior to the coming of the Son to rule all the nations (Rev 12:7). There is every possibility that he is the restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. The former three passages mentioned all deal with the beginning of the forty-two months; time, times and half a time; and, one thousand two hundred and sixty days, which mark the eschatological period just prior to the Lord’s return at Armageddon.
Daniel Akin: Michael is named in Scripture as the archangel (Dan 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 9). The name Michael means, “Who is like God?” The rhetorical question stands in stark contrast to Lucifier’s egocentric attack on the Lord, in which he said, “I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). Michael is the guardian and protector of God’s people. He has a particular role with respect to Israel, as Daniel 12:1 makes clear.
Satan and his angels (i.e., demons) fight and are defeated. They are cast out of heaven, and, as verse 13 notes, they are “thrown to the earth.” Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven as their home at the time of their original rebellion. The Bible seems to indicate that they still had some degree of access to heaven for a time (see Job 1:6; 2:1), but now having been beat down in this great battle, they are cast out permanently and denied any access to heaven at all. In other words, they are banished and barred from the presence of God and heaven forever.
David Thompson: Michael is an arch-angel (Jude 9). The adjectival prefix “arch” (arci) means he is a very high ranked angel who holds a high office and chief position among angels (G. Abbott- Smith, Greek Lexicon, p. 62). He is the only angel specifically identified this way. We suspect there are other angels that have this rank, but he is the only one specifically identified. Only two times in the New Testament is this term used. Here and I Thessalonians 4:16 when an archangel will announce the Rapture of the Church. There the angel is not named.
b. Dragon and the Bad Angels
“And the dragon and his angels waged war,”
B. (:8-9) Epic Defeat of the Dragon and Expulsion down to Earth
- (:8) Epic Defeat
“and they were not strong enough,”
b. Ousted from Heaven
“and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.”
- (:9) Expulsion down to Earth
a. Summary of the Great Dragon’s Defeat
“And the great dragon was thrown down,”
Daniel Akin: “The great dragon” emphasizes his ferocity and terror.
David Thompson: Satan is cast down here in Revelation from any present position that God has permitted him to have. Satan appears to have some sort of permitted access to God at the present time when he may appear before God to request something – Job 1:12; I Kings 22:21; Zechariah 3:1; Luke 22:31; Rev. 12:10. At this point in the Great Tribulation, Satan is no longer permitted to have any more access to heaven.
b. Specific Characterizations of the Great Dragon
1) Ancient Serpent
“the serpent of old”
Buist Fanning: The title “the ancient serpent” (v. 9a) specifies the dragon as the creature who deceived Eve in the garden (Gen 3:1–15; cf. 2 Cor 11:3). Genesis does not identify the serpent as Satan or the devil, but this became the traditional Jewish understanding (cf. Wis 2:23–24; 1 En. 13:1; 3 Bar. 9:7; Apoc. Ab. 23:1–14), and Paul reflects this as well (2 Cor 11:3 with Rom 16:20).
Grant Osborne: The “ancient serpent” is characterized by two things: crafty deceit and implacable opposition to God and his people. The latter is seen in the curse of Gen. 3:15, where continual “hostility” characterizes the relationship between the serpent and all human beings, a hostility demonstrated in the last part, “He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.” In one sense this portrays the uneven battle between snakes and humans, where the snake has to strike at the heel while the person smashes its head. In another sense it portrays the ongoing battle between good and evil. In the OT the “serpent” is linked to Leviathan, the sea monster of chaos (Job 26:13; Isa. 27:1); but it was not until later Judaism that the serpent was linked to Satan (Wis. 2:24; 3 Bar. 9.7; b. Sanh. 29a). In the NT this identification is made complete (2 Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9; 20:2).
David Thompson: He is identified as the “serpent of old.” What this means is that he started his attack in Eden and ever since then he has been slithering around in a secretive way trying to poison and destroy everything and everyone. He secretly slithers around and tries to destroy and devour any that he can. He is not the friend of people; he is a deadly, venomous serpent.
2) Devil = Satan
“who is called the devil and Satan,”
J. Hampton Keathley, III: “The devil” is the Greek diabolosand means “slanderer, defamer.” It reminds us of Satan’s activity to impugn the character of God (see Job 1) and to accuse believers for whom Christ died (cf. Rev. 12:10and Rom. 8:34).
“Satan” is the Greek satanas and is derived from the Hebrew satan which means “adversary.” It points to Satan as the opponent of God, of believers, and of all that is right and good. Satan may appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), but it is only a sham of deception to further aid him in his work as the arch adversary and opponent of God. In 1 Peter 5:8 Satan is called “your adversary, the devil.” Here the word “adversary” is not satanas, but antidikos, and though similar in meaning, antidikos is more explicit. It specifically refers to “an opponent in a lawsuit.” It was used of a court scene where accusations are made. God has indicted Satan for his sin, found him guilty, and sentenced him to the lake of fire (Matt. 12:41). By the implications of Scripture, as in the titles of Satan and in the keen interest of angels in man (cf. Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:12), it appears that Satan has appealed the sentence and called God unfair, unjust, and unloving. He has impugned the character of the supreme judge. He stands as the defamer of God’s character, the accuser of believers, and our adversary in general.
“who deceives the whole world;”
Buist Fanning: The readers knew these titles already, and John had previously used “Satan” (2:9, 13 [2x], 24; 3:9) and “devil” (2:10) to warn them about this one’s insidious influence in the world of their day. But gathering these descriptions together in one place as here (also four of them again in 20:2) provides an unmistakable reinforcement to strengthen the readers’ resistance for the future. Knowing their enemy and his ruthless schemes will serve them well.
David Thompson: Satan is not a truth setter or a straight shooter; he is a deceiver. His goal is to deceive the world. He has deceived many angels into following him, but now his goal is to deceive people and lead them away from God and His word and His will. He is deceptively trying to lead people away from the good and true ways of God. He is trying to deceive nations in regard to Israel, to the Bible, to methods of salvation and to concepts of God. He is a deceiver, not a truth setter.
Tony Garland: 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. 13:13-14+), those who receive the mark of the beast and worship his image (Rev. 19:20+). 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. 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. (2 Th. 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” (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. 20:3+), but at the end he will be released to deceive the nations one final time (Rev. 20:8-10+).
c. Summary of the Great Dragon’s Defeat Repeated and Expanded
“he was thrown down to the earth,”
“and his angels were thrown down with him.”
II. (:10-12) DIVERSE REACTIONS TO THE EXPULSION OF THE DRAGON
A. (:10-12b) Joy in Heaven
- (:10) Hymn of Praise
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,”
J. Hampton Keathley, III: At this point a voice is heard in heaven. It is a voice of praise announcing the millennial kingdom with its salvation accompanied by the power of God and authority of Christ. Salvation in this context refers not to one’s personal salvation from sin’s penalty, though this is included, but to deliverance from the reign of Satan and the Tribulation and to the completion of that which God will do to establish the reign and rule of Christ on earth.
With the casting down of Satan one more step, and a very important one at that, has been accomplished in moving toward the reign of God on earth. This must occur before peace can be established on earth. The angelic conflict and the slandering accusations of Satan that God has allowed throughout history to demonstrate His divine essence, especially His holiness, will at this point be just about over.
a. Focus of Praise
“Now the salvation,”
“and the power,”
Buist Fanning: This mention of God’s “power” (δύναμις) is significant in this context because it reminds us that the victory of Michael and his company over Satan (vv. 7–9) will be due ultimately to God’s ruling power and Christ’s victorious authority. God’s holy angels are the instruments of his sovereign purpose in the universe.
3) Kingdom Advancement
“and the kingdom of our God”
Tony Garland: The seventh trumpet is yet future to our day and so the kingdom awaits and we continue to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mat. 6:10).
How utterly idle is the discoursing of modernists and religious educationalists and social reformers about “the kingdom.” Their talk is full of “the kingdom this” and “the kingdom that”; whereas our Lord Jesus has not yet taken His kingdom. It has not yet been given Him of the Father. We are not living in kingdom days, but in days when Satan is the prince of this world and the god of this age, also, when he is accusing the saints before God. Only those born again ever see the kingdom of God; and “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”—wholly a separate thing from human arrangements and reforms! is the only form of the kingdom of God now. (Newell)
4) Authority of Christ Demonstrated
“and the authority of His Christ have come,”
Sola Scriptura: This is the only place in the Revelation to speak of the authority of Christ. After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” The expulsion of Satan from heaven will be an overt expression of the Lord’s authority over heaven. The expulsion of Satan from the earth will be an overt expression of the Lord’s authority over earth.
b. Finishing Off Satan’s Role as Accuser – Denied Access to God’s Throne
“for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down,
who accuses them before our God day and night.”
- (:11) History of Triumph
a. Powerful Testimony
“And they overcame him”
Marvin Rosenthal: To overcome is to vanquish the enemy, to be triumphant over difficulty. The entire context of the seven churches is set in the arena of the seventieth week and the activity of Satan and the Antichrist. Of those who are truly triumphant, John wrote, “And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11); that is, they were willing to be martyrs, if being an overcomer required it. The only other time the word overcomer is used in Revelation is after all of the events of the seventieth week are complete. John wrote: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21:7).
a) “because of the blood of the Lamb”
J. Hampton Keathley, III: The blood of the Lamb, the basis of victory, refers to the person and work of Christ on the cross. This is the place, point in time, and the means of Satan’s defeat (cf. John 16:8f; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14). At the cross Jesus answered the accusations of Satan proving that God is perfectly consistent with His divine essence. The cross demonstrated that He is perfect righteousness, justice, holiness, love, mercy, and grace. Therefore men can always resist and overcome Satan if they will turn to Jesus Christ (see 1 John 5:4-6).
S. Lewis Johnson: Waylon Morris, some years ago, made a very significant study of the term blood. And he came to the conclusion, and I think it’s a right conclusion, is that when the Bible speaks about the blood and the blood of Christ, specifically, it refers not to what one might think, that is simply the shedding of physical blood, but it refers to a violent death. To put it in other language, when we read of the blood of Christ, we are talking about a death that is a death by violence. In other words, it involves a sacrifice. It involves the making of propitiation. We cannot speak of the blood in a physical sense only. It’s necessary that our Lord die physically, but the real significant death of our Lord is his spiritual death. When he cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” he is experiencing spiritual death. The physical death follows, that’s part of the curse of the fall. But the real death is the spiritual death.
b) “and because of the word of their testimony,”
Kendell Easley: In the face of pressure to turn away from faith in Christ, they did not give in. Such perseverance not only reveals the genuineness of their faith, it completely overcomes the devil. Of course, he does his best to overcome them, successfully killing some. Those who did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death show by that very death their victory. Loyalty to Christ to the point of death not only overcomes the devil, but it will have its own grand reward (20:4–6).
J. Hampton Keathley, III: “And because of the word of their testimony” draws our attention to the activitythat overcomes and defeats the attacks of Satan. The word of their testimony refers to the proclamation of the Word, Bible doctrine and the truth of Jesus Christ both by life and by lip. By the word of God known, believed, and applied by faith in consistent Christian living, believers are able to put to silence the accusations of Satan and to reveal him for what he is. Jesus Christ, our Advocate, answers his accusation in heaven, but we too can answer them by proclaiming and living the Word. Satan and his world system claim that God is not what man needs; the world claims man’s need is human knowledge, science, and the material things of life. But we demonstrate the world to be wrong when we do not live as materialists, when we love not the world nor the temporal things in the world (1 John 2:15-17). When we seek to live by God’s Holy Word and live as sojourners rather than by the temporal details of life, we counter Satan’s accusations (cf. Job 1and 2 with Matt 4:4).
b. Persevering Testimony
“and they did not love their life even to death.”
Daniel Akin: Those who follow the Lamb, the Christ of God, have conquered, become victorious, over the dragon. And how did we overcome? Two grounds for our victory are noted: the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (i.e., our faithfulness to the gospel of King Jesus). The power of the blood of Jesus is indeed sufficient for our sin. It is also sufficient for a martyr’s death. Indeed, the loyalty of the child of God to the Lamb who shed His blood is witnessed by their faithfulness even unto death. This verse beautifully states that their love for the Lamb was greater than their love for their own life. Amazingly, the blood of the martyrs shows not the triumph of Satan but rather the triumph of the saints as their acceptance of Jesus and His work on the cross provides victory over sin as well as Satan. Because our sins have been washed in the blood of the Lamb of God, no accusation by the Devil can stand against us. We have not been forgiven because of who we are; we have been forgiven because of who He is and what He has done for us. He washed our sins away in His precious blood. For such a great salvation, we gladly and willingly put our lives on the line. He is worth it.
- (:12a) Heavenly Celebration
“For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them.”
Robert Mounce: Verse 12 refers back to v. 10—the heavens are to rejoice because the accuser is cast down. The call for rejoicing echoes such exclamations as Isa 49:13 (“Shout for joy, O heavens”) and Ps 96:11 (“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad”). Those that dwell in heaven are angelic beings. That they “tabernacle” there does not indicate a temporary residence, but emphasizes the presence of God (cf. 7:15; 21:3). While the casting out of Satan brings rejoicing in heaven, it is cause for woe upon the earth and the sea.
Grant Osborne: The third part of this hymn (12:12) relates the results for heaven and for earth. Διὰ τοῦτο (dia touto, on account of this) refers to the whole of 12:10–11, not just to verse 11 itself. Because of the coming of the kingdom, which involves both the overthrow of Satan and the victory of the faithful, the heaven-dwellers are called upon to rejoice and the earth-dwellers to mourn. In the OT heaven and earth are normally called on to rejoice together (Ps. 96:11; Isa. 44:23; 49:13). Since the “earth” has come under the control of evil powers, however, it must suffer the consequences. Εὐϕραίνεσθε (euphrainesthe, rejoice) was used in 11:10 of the earth-dwellers’ “joy” at the death of the two witnesses. There is often a religious tone to the term, with implications of worship (in 11:10 they exchange gifts, reflecting the Festival of Purim), and that is certainly the case here, as all of heaven is called to celebrate with joy over the great victory of Christ and the saints (see also 18:20). Both “heaven” and those who “dwell” in it are named. These are not separate entities, and the καί (kai, and) is probably epexegetical, “heaven, namely those who dwell in it.” While some think these are angelic beings (Morris, Mounce, Thomas), it is more likely that all heavenly beings, including the saints (6:9–11), are intended. Bauckham (1993b: 240) rightly sees a contrast between “the heavens and those who dwell in it” here and “the earth and those who dwell in it” in 13:12. The earth-dwellers are those who worship the beast, while the heaven-dwellers are those who worship God and Christ. This parallels the contrast between heaven and earth/sea in chapter 13, and this contrast is further heightened by the verb that always characterizes the earth-dwellers, κατοικοῦντες (katoikountes, those who inhabit) and the verb for the heaven-dwellers, σκηνοῦντες (skēnountes, those who tabernacle), a contrast repeated in 13:6, 8. This verb was used in 7:15 of the enthroned God “spreading his tent” over the victorious saints in heaven, indicating his eternal protection over them and fellowship with them. This builds on that image and pictures the redeemed as having a permanent home in heaven. They belong to heaven, while the unbelievers belong to earth. Michaelis (TDNT 7:377–78) shows how the σκήνη word group in Revelation consistently evokes the tabernacle-in-heaven imagery (see 21:3), and the thrust here is that the believers will “tabernacle” permanently with God in heaven.
While the heavens rejoice, the “earth and the sea” are called on to mourn. In this verse the three primary regions of the Apocalypse are found: heaven, earth, and sea. The last two, however, refer to the same entity, the realm of evil. The two beasts of chapter 13 emerge from the sea and the earth respectively. In the laments of chapter 18, the grief of the “kings of the earth” (18:9–10), the “merchants of the earth” (18:11–12), and the “captains of the sea” (18:17b–18) are again contrasted to the rejoicing of the heavens (18:20). Here the call to mourn utilizes the same term (οὐαί, ouai, woe) that initiated the three “woes” of the trumpet judgments (8:13; 9:12; 11:14). As there, the “woe” builds on the judgment oracles of the OT and depicts the effects of the wrath of God on those who have rebelled against him. In the only other occurrence of the term in the book, double “woes” introduce the laments of the kings, merchants, and sea captains in 18:10, 16, 19 at the fall of Babylon the Great. There and here the other aspect of the “woe” is seen, the mourning of those who have felt the wrath of God. While the primary thrust in 12:12b is the devil’s “wrath” against the unbelievers on earth, Beale (1999: 667) correctly points out that John does not have just unbelievers in mind but all who are still on the earth, the saints and the unsaved. In 12:13–17 his attack on the saints is part of his “wrath” against all on earth.
B. (:12b) Terror on Earth
- Unleashing of Woe
“Woe to the earth and the sea,”
- Unavoidable Terror
“because the devil has come down to you,”
- Unleashing of Great Wrath
“having great wrath,
Daniel Akin: As his time draws to a close, his fury will increase to proportions beyond our wildest imagination. Truly hell will come to earth during these horrible final days of the tribulation [Great Tribulation].
Kendell Easley: In these verses, then, we receive the second part of the answer to the question, “Why is the consummation necessary?” The answer: because the devil’s final expulsion has so filled him with fury that he will bring terrible woes to earth and sea. The consummation will end this state of affairs forever.
Sola Scriptura: This conclusively proves that the wrath that the followers of Christ will experience on the earth during the “short time” of Satan’s anger outbursts is not the wrath of God. The overwhelming part of the time called “the great tribulation” is the wrath of Satan against God’s elect [who are not raptured until after the Great Tribulation and right before the Day of the Lord].
- Urgency of Satan’s Wrath
“knowing that he has only a short time.”
Buist Fanning: His accusations in God’s presence have now come to an end, but as vv. 12b–17 will show, his angry persecution of God’s people will intensify for the limited time that will remain for him on earth in that future day.
John MacArthur: Verse 12 says that Satan and his forces have only “a short time” after they leave heaven, supporting the view that they will have only the last three and a half years of the Tribulation to operate, rather than the full seven years. They will not arrive on earth later than that, since they clearly are present during the terrible events of the last three and a half years, the Great Tribulation (cf. 9:1ff.). During that last period, Satan’s full power will be directed at anyone belonging to God, especially Israel.
Grant Osborne: There are two reasons for the devil’s wrath: First, he has lost his place in heaven (12:7–9, 10b), and second, this means ὀλίγον καιρὸν ἔχει (oligon kairon echei, he has a short time) left. His final defeat is imminent. Satan knows that he cannot win and that it is only a “short time” before he is cast into the lake of fire (20:10). This same sense of imminence characterizes the parousia expectation of the NT (Matt. 16:27; 1 Cor. 1:7; Rev. 22:7, 12, 20), even though Jesus said that only the Father “knows about the day or the hour” (Matt. 24:36). While believers are characterized by good works in their time on earth, Satan wants to do as many evil works as he can in his short time left. His judgment is both inevitable and imminent, so the world must brace itself for the outpouring of evil from Satan and his demonic hordes. Why does Satan hate his own followers, the earth-dwellers? Unbelievers are still made in the image of God, and they are still the objects of God’s love (John 3:16). So they are the objects of Satan’s wrath. It is clear in the Gospels that demon possession has only one goal—to torture and kill all who are made in the image of God (see Mark 5:1–20 and 9:14–29).