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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 12 - Verse 11

Verse 11. And they overcame him. That is, he was foiled in his attempt thus to destroy the church. The reference here, undoubtedly, is primarily to the martyr age, and to the martyr spirit; and the meaning is, that religion had not become extinct by these accusations, as Satan hoped it would be, but lived and triumphed. By their holy lives; by their faithful testimony; by their patient sufferings, they showed that all these accusations were false, and that the religion which they professed was from God, and thus in fact gained a victory over their accuser. Instead of being themselves subdued, Satan himself was vanquished, and the world was constrained to acknowledge that the persecuted religion had a heavenly origin. No design was ever more ineffectual than that of crushing the church by persecution; no victory was ever more signal than that which was gained when it could be said that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

By the blood of the Lamb. The Lord Jesus—the Lamb of God. See Barnes "Re 5:6"; compare See Barnes "Joh 1:29".

The blood of Christ was that by which they were redeemed, and it was in virtue of the efficacy of the atonement that they were enabled to achieve the victory. Compare See Barnes "Php 4:13".

Christ himself achieved a victory over Satan by his death, (See Barnes "Col 2:15"; See Barnes "Heb 2:15,) and it is in virtue of the victory which he thus achieved that we are now able to triumph over our great foe.

"I ask them whence their victory came;

They, with united breath,

Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,

Their triumph to his death."

And by the word of their testimony. The faithful testimony which they bore to the truth. That is, they adhered to the truth in their sufferings; they declared their belief in it, even in the pains of martyrdom, and it was by this that they overcame the great enemy; that is, by this that the belief in the gospel was established and maintained in the world. The reference here is to the effects of persecution, and to the efforts of Satan to drive religion from the world by persecution. John says that the result, as he saw it in vision, was that the persecuted church bore a faithfull testimony to the truth, and that the great enemy was overcome.

And they loved not their lives unto the death. They did not so love their lives that they were unwilling to die as martyrs. They did not shrink back when threatened with death, but remained firm in their attachment to their Saviour, and left their dying testimony to the truth and power of religion. It was by these means that Christianity was established in the world, and John, in the scene before us, saw it thus triumphant, and saw the angels and the redeemed in heaven celebrating the triumph. The result of the attempts to destroy the Christian religion by persecution demonstrated that it was to triumph. No more mighty power could be employed to crush it than was employed by the Roman emperors; and when it was seen that Christianity could survive those efforts to crush it, it was certain that it was destined to live for ever.

{a} "overcame him" Ro 8:33,37 {b} "lives" Lu 14:26

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