A Woman and the Dragon
Revelation 12:1-17
.1 ¶ And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:    Wonder Or "sign" See the first note.
  Wonder ... a woman Notice the contrast with v3. The identity of the woman is soon to be discovered. See the second note below this table.
  Clothed with the sun The righteousness of Christ see note.
  Moon What is the relationship between sun and moon here? See note c for this verse.
 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.   With child From this verse and others, we think of Mary. See note. Find more on v2 on another page. Scroll down. The rest of this page has comments for v1.
 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.    Dragon The meaning of this chapter is developed as these symbols are understood. The dragon sign is drawn from ps07413,14. He is leviathan in Job jb4124. We see him as Satan in v9. Imperial Rome was pagan which includes open devil worship. This is the viewpoint of the chapter. For more on this verse, see another page.
 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.    Notes for verse 4. 
.5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.   Notes. for verse 5.
.6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.    The comments on this verse are followed by demonstrations of literary structures.
.7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
.8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
  7 - Michael Comments on these verses are on a page which identifies Michael.
  8 - Place May mean either location or assigned responsibility. Satan had had a high place ez2814.
.9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.   Old serpent Or "serpent of old" identifying the dragon here as the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
  Into the earth I understand this to mean his liberty to roam the universe was terminated. We understand more by v10. See notes for verse 9.
.10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
.11 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.
  Notes for verse 10.
  Notes for verse 11.
.12 ¶ Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
.13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
  Notes for verse 12
  Notes for verse 13
.14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.   Serpent From the beginning of this chapter, Satan has been working as the dragon. For verses 14-16, he is called the serpent to emphasize his deceptive nature in support of false religion. See on v9 above. See notes for verse 14
 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
  Notes for verse 15
  Notes for verse 16
.17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.   Went The dragon had persecuted the woman and now turns to persecute the rest of her descendants. See Notes on the dragon and the remnant.
  Remnant Greek loipoi meaning "remaining ones." There are other words meaning "remnant." 
  Have the testimony In Greek, this may mean the Christian witness or the testimony that comes from Jesus. Comparing with re1910 shows the word to have the latter meaning. In the present context, "keep" makes our choice for "testimony" more natural.
  Notes on the testimony of Jesus.
  Notes on Bible and modern prophets
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The woman
   I suggest you stop and read the whole chapter in your Bible (or above)  to get an idea of the unfolding drama. It is a conflict between the woman and the dragon. You will notice that the story cycles back to cover the same events with additional information. Try to imagine what is going on. And of course pray for understanding.

    The woman in the sky is considered to be the first of seven wonders or signs.
            Dragon - Michael
            Beast - Lamb
            Beast from the earth - Coming of Son of Man

Who is the woman?The passages pointed to by links often include more than one verse.
     "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:" (Rev. 12:1).
    First we notice that this is a new scene and a new vision and it's symbolic. John's attention is drawn to the woman in the sky. What might she represent? Many women appear in Bible history. Could it be one of them? We can't think of any who could be represented as dressed in the sun and above the moon. However, we do find one who is called, "the woman." in ge0313.
   So is the woman Eve? We aren't ready to say. But remember that Eve was wearing fig leaves, not the sun, when she heard this sentence from God ge0307. What else can we learn from our verse? Here is another passage about a symbolic woman. God, through Isaiah, is addressing His people in captivity.
   "For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name. . . . For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit. . . .For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee." (Isa. 54:5-7). Also see je0602, is5406, 2co1102.
   We'll see Eve again later v9.

   Also we recall how Jesus once addressed His mother, "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." (John 2:4). So Mary may be seen in the picture, too, but not as "the mother of God." Pagans had goddesses which were seen as "queen of heaven." The pure woman pictured here is not queen of heaven any more than the dragon is king. (We see both the woman and the dragon (coming in verse 3) in the sky or "heaven.").
   Here's a passage to clarify Mary's role or absence thereof: "Then came to him [Jesus] his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it." (Luke 18:19-21. Compare Matt. 12:46. We'll see Mary again, too.
Clothed with the sun
   We turn back to Isaiah. He is addressing Zion, God's people, telling them about the coming Redeemer. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (Isa. 60:1-3)
   Here the clothing of Zion would be the glory of the Lord. His glory is His character ex3318. Notice another passage about the clothing of Zion, is6110.
   So the woman clothed with the sun is God's faithful people who have taken on His glory or character, which they receive constantly from the Sun of righteousness mal0402. God's people are His church.

Twelve stars

    "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:" (Rev. 12:1).

From what source might the symbolism in the twelve stars have been drawn?
   "And he [Joseph] said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. . . . And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me." (Gen. 37:6-9).
   The twelve stars here are the sons of Jacob. As you remember, Joseph's brothers hated him and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. When famine came to his family, they got grain from Egypt, bowing before the prime minister not knowing that it was Joseph. Thus his dreams were fulfilled. The situation is a little different in the woman's crown. We see no difference among the stars. We'll see why in a minute.

Image © Corel
   The word translated "crown" is stephanos which is a garland, a wreath of victory, in contrast to diadema or "diadem" which is a crown of royalty. This reinforces our idea that the woman is the victorious and purified church.
   Jacob had prevailed with God and was renamed, Israel 0801c.  After the famine, Israel moved his family to Egypt where they later became slaves. God's people who left Egypt were the "children of Israel" which are recognized as twelve distinct tribes, one for each son. The conquered land of Canaan was divided among the tribes representing their political relationship the Israelite leadership of the Old Testament.
   Of course, the woman we see here is in the New Testament. After the rejection of Christ, the promises of God have been inherited by a new Israel Rev. 7:1-8.

Another set of twelve
    Our Lord took twelve disciples. That number was not by chance. This symbol of leadership of the church of the New Testament was different from that of the past. In the Old Testament it was the twelve tribes or tribal leaders. Both are seen in the New Jerusalem 2112or the whole page.

Why would she stand on the moon?
   We have more to learn. Certainly the lady is not an astronaut. Notice that the moon is "under her feet."
   She wears a crown of stars on her head. Thus sun, moon, and stars are all in the picture. We have seen the sun as the source of her righteousness and the stars in her crown as the identity of her domain all God's people before and after the cross. What then is the moon?
   We notice that it is "under her feet." This language means subjection 1ki0503, ps04703. She has the moon under control. Keeping this in mind, notice the following passage about sun, moon, and stars:
   "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good." (Gen. 1:16, 17).
   Why would the woman want to subjugate the moon? We saw that it ruled the night which is the time of darkness. "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [qualified us] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" co0112f. Also ps01809. We are not saying that the moon is bad. We only see it as a symbol of evil when compared with the sun. Compare ps00805f. God has delivered us from the Satan's domain of sin. Notice Paul's commission of bringing light in ac2618. The woman is living in victory over sin.
    Later in the chapter we will see Satan described as "that old serpent" or, in other translations, "the serpent of old" re1209a. What did God tell the serpent soon after the beginning of life on this planet?
    "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
    In the picture, the snake bites the woman and she stamps on its head. Here she stands on the dragon's domain the moon. Thus we have her justification covered with the robe of Christ's righteousness and her sanctification victory over the powers of darkness.

Who then is the woman?
   The remainder of her offspring are seen in the final verse in the chapter to be people who "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The woman herself then represents the faithful of all ages, the pure church of Christ made up of faithful people since the beginning of time.

   By God's grace you and I may be a part of the faithful ones.

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