Lange Commentary - Revelation 20:9 - 20:10

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Lange Commentary - Revelation 20:9 - 20:10

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:



9And they went up on [om. on—ins. upon] the breadth of the earth, and compassed [encompassed] the camp [army or fortification ( ðáñåìâïëÞ )] of the saints about [om. about],and the beloved city: and fire came down from God [or om. from God] out of10 [ins. the] heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived [seduceth or misleadeth] them was cast into the lake of [ins. the] fire and [or ins. the] brimstone, where [ins. also are] the beast and the false prophet are [om. are], and [ins. they] shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever [into the ages of the ages].



By the prophetic preterite, as well as by the brevity of the description, the Seer expresses the vanity of this last rebellion, which is aimed directly against God in His people, and which, notwithstanding its terrifically mighty development, is instantaneously annihilated. These enemies, with their creaturely forces, stand opposed, as they think, merely to a city of the children of peace, whilst in reality they are drawn up against all the cosmical powers of Heaven. And they went up upon the breadth of the earth. The idea is that they come from the low-lands of the corners of the earth—to destroy the City of God upon the more central, elevated plain of the earth. But that the words are intended to convey the precise idea of a going up against Jerusalem, is difficult to suppose, because for the Seer the true Jerusalem, according to chap. 21, comes down from Heaven, and here only the beloved city is spoken of, which, as well as the camp of the saints—who are drawn up before the city, in order to its protection—the enemies encompass. It cannot be without reason that the Seer has here avoided the name of Jerusalem (although for an Israelitish heart it might be paraphrased by the expression, the beloved city), whilst in chap. 21. he uses the name in the same sense in which it is employed by the Apostle Paul, Gal_4:26. At this moment, when the last and, apparently, the most fearful crisis of the world’s history is close at hand—a crisis which is all the more fearful, or, we might say, the more demonically unnatural, if we conceive of the glorified Christ as shut in, together with the saints, by the hostile host—there falls from Heaven a fire which consumes the foe. An exegetical reading, with the confident feeling that this direct war against God must likewise be put down by God, has added the words, from God; viewed in another aspect, however, the brief term from Heaven is more effective; Heaven itself, the whole Cosmos, against which they finally rage, must now, for God’s sake, react against them, in destroying might, with its fire. And now Satan himself, who seduceth the nations, is cast into the pool of the fire and brimstone, whither the Beast and the False Prophet have preceded him. This view, like the discourse of Christ (Matthew 25.), is at variance with the mediæval idea that Satan, as a fire-demon and prince of hell, torments souls in hell. They shall, it is declared, be tormented day and night into the æons of the æons To the essence and spiritual condition of the prince of darkness and his consorts, their sphere and external mode of existence shall correspond. There are in their character no motives for a change; except that through the consummate stagnation of their condition, their consummate irritation must be more and more neutralized.


Rev_20:9. And they went up.Hab_1:6. “The term ἀíáâáßíåéí , usual where military marches are spoken of (1Ki_22:4; Ju. 1:1), because the position of the attacked is naturally conceived of as on a height (Hengstenberg), is the more fitting here, since the march of the heathen is really directed upward against Jerusalem.” Duesterdieck. The primary statement is rather, however, that they go up upon the breadth of the earth, the symbolic elevated plain of the earth, which, as such, forms the specific antithesis to the symbolic four corners of the earth; it is the highland of the spirit. The object of the attack is then, certainly, defined in accordance with an Old Testament conception (see Zec_12:7-8; comp. Köhler, Sacharja, p. 185). The saints have encamped about the beloved city to protect it. All the forces of the Kingdom of Heaven form the defence for all its possessions. If we glance once more at the passage cited [Zec_12:7-8], Zec_14:1-2 might seem to afford an explanation as to wherefore the Seer did not call the beloved city Jerusalem. Grotius apprehended the Seven Churches by the camp of the saints, and Constantinople by the beloved city. Others (Augustine, Vitringa, Hengstenberg) have regarded the city as the Church; Bengel and most moderns, as Jerusalem.

And fire came down.Eze_39:6; Eze_38:22; Gen_19:24; Lev_10:2; Num_16:35; Luk_9:54. See Syn. View. The fire catastrophe shows that the universal judgment of the world is at hand—the fiery metamorphosis of the earth. And consumed them.—To be understood of the destruction of their life in this present world.

Rev_20:10. And the devil that seduceth (or misleadeth) them. Ðëáíῶí , as the present participle, denotes the continuance of sin under punishment. And they shall be tormented.—Namely, the Devil, the Beast, and the False Prophet. A preliminary general presentment, see in Rev_14:11; the final presentment, Rev_20:14-15; Rev_21:8.


Section Ninteenth

Third or General End-Judgment. b. Earth-picture of the Last Judgment. (Rev_20:9-10.)

General and Special.—Brief history of the greatest war. 1. The war: (a) they went up; (b) they surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. 2. The defeat: (a) fire from Heaven devoured them; (b) Satan is cast into the lake of fire.—Great Heaven as an ally of this little earth.—The Kingdom of the Lord must always be victorious.—The greater the danger which menaces the people of God, the more wondrous their preservation.—The last victory, in its magnitude: Most wonderful (apparently without a weapon of defense), most mysterious (from Heaven), most glorious (destruction of Satan forever).

Starke: Those who regard this vision as, in part, fulfilled, apprehend it as relating to Turks, Tartars, Scythians and Mohammedans, etc. Those who take it, in company with the thousand years, as still future, etc. (Confused mingling of the most diverse periods!)—Dimpel: O wretched hellish trinity ! The Beast, the False Prophet and Satan, are tormented in the fiery lake to all eternity.

H. Böhmer (p. 293): The fact here presented, to wit, that Satan, after having been bound, shall at last be loosed again for a short time, seems to us to constitute a deep and weighty truth; not because sin can be traced only to a seduction through Satan, but because we must naturally suppose that God will, at some future day, permit all who set Him at defiance to unite themselves for the last possible battle against Him and thus prosecute their abuse of liberty to the climax of self-inflicted judgment. We hold this final emergence of Satan to be necessary, because without it there would be no real finale to that conflict which was begun in apostasy from God, and, consequently, no full victory.

[From M. Henry: God will, in an extraordinary and more immediate manner, fight this last and decisive battle of His people, that the victory may be complete, and the glory redound to Himself.—From Vaughan: Upon this gathering, this confederation of infidelity, of ungodliness, and of atheism, will burst the light of Christ’s coming, and the devouring fire of God.]