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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 12 - Verse 14

Verse 14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle. The most powerful of birds, and among the most rapid in flight. See Barnes on "Re 4:7".

The meaning here is, that the woman is represented as prepared for a rapid flight; so prepared as to be able to outstrip her pursuer, and to reach a place of safety. Divested of the figure, the sense is, that the church, when exposed to this form of persecution, would be protected as if miraculously supplied with wings.

That she might fly into the wilderness. There is here a more full description of what is briefly stated in Re 12:6. A wilderness or desert is often represented as a place of safety from pursuers. Thus David (1 Sa 23:14-15) is represented as fleeing into the wilderness from the persecutions of Saul. So Elijah (1 Ki 19:4) fled into the wilderness from the persecutions of Jezebel. The simple idea here is, that the church, in the opposition which would come upon it, would find a refuge.

Into her place. A place appointed for her; that is, a place where she could be safe.

Where she is nourished. The word here rendered nourished is the same—trefw—which occurs in Re 12:6, and which is there rendered feed. It means to feed, nurse, or nourish, as the young of animals, (Mt 6:26; 25:37; Lu 12:24; Ac 12:20; ) that is, to sustain by proper food. The meaning here is, that the church would be kept alive. It is not indeed mentioned by whom this would be done, but it is evidently implied that it would be by God. During this long period in which the church would be in obscurity, it would not be suffered to become extinct. Compare 1 Ki 17:3-6.

For a time, and times, and half a time. A year, two years, and half a year; that is, forty-two months, (See Barnes on "Re 11:2";) or, reckoning the month at thirty days, twelve hundred and sixty days; and regarding these as prophetic days, in which a day stands for a year, twelve hundred and sixty years. For a full discussion of the meaning of this language, see Barnes "Da 7:25".

It is manifest that there is an allusion here to the passage in Da 7:25 that the twelve hundred and sixty days refer to the same thing; and that the true explanation must be made in the same way. The meaning of the passage before us is, that during all the time of the continuance of that formidable, persecuting power, (the papacy) the true church would not in fact become extinct. It would be obscure and comparatively unknown, but it would still live. The fulfilment of this is found in the fact that during all the time here referred to, there has been a true church on the earth. Pure, spiritual religion—the religion of the New Testament—has never been wholly extinct. In the history of the Waldenses, and Albigenses, the Bohemian brethren, and kindred people; in deserts and places of obscurity; among individuals and among small and persecuted sects; here and there in the cases of individuals in monasteries, (All affecting instance of this kind—perhaps one of many cases that existed—is mentioned by D'Aubigne.) (B. 1. p. 79, Eng. Trans.,) which came to light on the pulling down, in the year 1776, of an old building that had formed a part of the Carthusian convent at Basle. A poor Carthusian brother, by the name of Martin, had written the following confession, which he had placed in a wooden box, and enclosed in a hole which he had made in the wall of his cell, where it was found:—"O most merciful God, I know that I can only be saved, and satisfy thy righteousness by the merit, the innocent suffering and death of thy well-beloved Son. Holy Jesus! my salvation is in thy hands. Thou canst not withdraw the hands of thy love from me: for they have created and redeemed me. Thou hast inscribed my name with a pen of iron in rich mercy, and so as nothing can efface it, on thy side, thy hands, and thy feet," etc. the true religion has been kept up in the world, as in the days of Elijah God reserved seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal: and it is possible now for us, with a good degree of certainty, to show, even during the darkest ages, and when Rome seemed to have entirely the ascendency, where the true church was. To find out this, was the great design of the Ecclesiastical History of Milner; it has been done, also, with great learning and skill, by Neander. From the face of the serpent. The dragon—or Satan represented by the dragon. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

The reference here is to the opposition which Satan makes to the true church under the persecutions and corruptions of the Papacy.

{f} "two wings" Isa 40:31

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