The 2001 Commentaries

Revelation 12:9 – The dragon’s ‘messengers’

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At Revelation 12:9 we read:

‘He (the dragon) was thrown down to the earth along with his messengers.

In Greek, the word that we have translated as messengers is aggeloi (angels). So, as God and Jesus have their ‘messengers,’ it appears as though the ‘Dragon’ has some too. How many are there? And are these ‘demons’?

Revelation 12:4 says of the dragon, ‘he drags a third of the stars of heaven.’ It is popularly believed that this describes the dragon drawing followers from among God’s ‘angels’ in the heavens, after which they become ‘demons’. However, strictly speaking, the word for demon (Greek: diameno) appears to mean fixed in one place. The Bible uses it to describe the ‘sons of God’ who apparently came to earth and assumed human bodies in Noah’s day (see the commentary Demons for more information). Further, because they had forsaken heaven, these ‘demons’ were put into a prison-like state here on the earth during and after the Downpour of Noah.

Other Bible accounts about demons may suggest that this ‘fixing in one place’ means that they must be associated with either living or non-living things, which many call ‘possession.’ These appear to be the same ones that are referred to in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and in the Revelation, as ‘chained demons.’

Yet, there also appear to be a huge number of other followers of the Evil One that are not chained or fixed in one place. These, as well as the ‘chained demons,’ are mentioned at Isaiah 34:12-14:

Then, she will be without rulers,
Since her kings and great men will be gone.
So, thorns will grow in her cities and forts,
And they will be owned by chained demons
A place where ostriches roam.

Then, [loose] demons will meet with the chained ones,
And they will yell to each other.
Chained [spirits] will also find rest there
And they’ll find a place to retire.

Notice that the Dragon’s ‘messengers,’ which John saw and described in the Revelation, appear to still have access to the heavens until they eventually lose the battle there in ‘the Lord’s Day.’ But after that, they will be thrown down to the earth… though there is no indication that they become fixed to objects or people. So, this may be the reason why the Revelation refers to some of these followers as ‘messengers’ or ‘angels,’ not as demons.

But, why would ‘a third’ of God’s heavenly messengers choose to follow the dragon in rebellion? Well, while the Bible deals with the extent of the earthly rebellion against God, one can only imagine the full extent of the rebellion that is raging throughout our universe. However, a glimpse into the type of offer that the Slanderer might have made to seduce them into following him can be seen by the offer that he made to Jesus after his 40-day stay in the desert after his baptism.

Luke 4:6 tells us:

‘Then the Slanderer said:

I’ll give you power over all of these and the glory of them, because they have been given to me and I can give them to whomever I wish.’

So from this, we can see that the Slanderer now has power over all the governments of the world (also see Revelation 13:7). Apparently, he has offered heavenly messengers their own worldly governments, empires, and religions (worshipers) if they should choose to follow him.

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