Revelation Chapter Twelve
I. Content of the Chapter
A Woman and A Great, Fiery Red Dragon
I. A woman travailed in birth (v.1-2)
II. A great, fiery red dragon attempted to devour the child born by the woman (v.3-4)
III. The male child was caught up to heaven (v.5)
IV. The woman fled into the wilderness (v.6)
V. War broke out in heaven (v.7-9)
VI. The declaration of victory in heaven (v.10-12)
VII. The dragon persecuted the woman (v.13-16)
VIII. The dragon went to make war with the rest of the woman’s offspring (v.17)
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Rev. 12:1 “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.”
YLT: “And a great sign was seen in the heaven, a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,”
Meaning of Words: “sign”: omen, mark, token; “appear”: show self, be seen; “clothed”: array, put on.
Spiritual Meaning: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven:” it means that a scene (or a sign) was shown in heaven to John, that he can foreknow the reasons for things happened on the earth and he can prophesy about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings (See 10:11). And therefore the things recorded from this place to the end of this book can be the detailed contents of the little book (See 10:10).
woman” This woman
symbolizes the total amount of God’s people, including believers in the
generation of grace, the people of
with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve
stars” This sentence
shows the status of the woman: 1) clothed with the sun. Christ is the sun who brings us the day-spring
(See Luke. 1:78-79). 2) With
the moon under her feet. The law is the
moon which transforms and leads us to believe in Christ (See Gal. 3:24). 3) And on her head a garland of
twelve stars. The twelve stars
are the ancestors of the people of
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) How glorious is the status of God’s people on the earth----they are the light of the world (sun, moon and stars) and shine for God in the dark world.
2) God’s people is the center of all things happened between the earth and the heaven. Not only the will of God but also the target of the devil’s attack is upon this group of people.
Rev. 12:2 “Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.”
YLT: “and being with child she doth cry out, travailing and pained to bring forth.”
Meaning of Words: “being with child”: having in womb; “labor”: being in labor pains; “pain”: be distressed, torture.
Spiritual Meaning: “Then being with child,” “she” is the total amount of all God’s people (See v.1). “Being with child” refers to having an embryo in the womb and it symbolizes that a group of special ones among God’s people are specially hated by the enemy of God (See v.4).
“She cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” “In labor” symbolizes that one travailed in birth for the purpose of letting a group of people among God’s people be transformed into the image of Christ (See Gal. 4:19). “Cried out…in pain” symbolizes prayers which God’s people had paid the price to make.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers are those who have Christ in them and we must let Christ grow up in our hearts until we are transformed to the image of Christ (See Rom. 8:29).
2) Travailing in birth is the only way for the growth of believers. It is impossible for Christians who are covetous of ease and comfort to make progress in the spiritual life.
Rev. 12:3 “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.”
YLT: “And there was seen another sign in the heaven, and, lo, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his head seven diadems,”
Meaning of Words: “fiery red”: purplish-red; “dragon”: serpent, tempting viper.
Spiritual Meaning: “And another sign appeared in heaven:” the word “another” refers to the heavenly scene seen from another point of view.
“Behold, a great, fiery red dragon” “dragon” symbolizes Satan (See v.9). “Great” is in contrast with serpent and the small serpent refers to its aspect of tempting men with quirkiness (See 2Cor. 11:3) and the great dragon refers to its aspect of devouring men fiercely (See v.4; 1Pet. 5:8). “Fiery red” is color of blood and it symbolizes that it was a murderer from the beginning (See John. 8:44).
“Having seven heads and ten horns” “heads” and “horns” all symbolize the worldly influence and power (See 17:10-12). The power of the seven heads is much greater and that of the ten horns is smaller.
“And seven diadems on his heads” “diadems” symbolizes the glory of reign.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “A great, fiery red dragon” is the symbol of Satan and it is the enemy of Christians. Some Chinese Christians hold that the Chinese dragon is not the dragon in the Bible and therefore they have decorations of dragon in their houses, however, those who love the Lord from their pure hearts would rather do away with the evil completely than give place to the devil (See Eph. 4:27).
2) The features of Satan are its nature of cruelty and its great potential of power. We should never regard it as ordinary.
Rev. 12:4 “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.”
YLT: “and his tail doth draw the third of the stars of the heaven, and he did cast them to the earth; and the dragon did stand before the woman who is about to bring forth, that when she may bring forth, her child he may devour;”
Meaning of Words: “throw”: cast aside, cast off; “Child”: daughter, son.
Spiritual Meaning: “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” “His tail drew” refers to the followers that followed after it. “A third of the stars of heaven” symbolizes that a third of angels (See Job. 38:7) followed Satan and betrayed God (See Is. 14:12) and became the fallen angels. “Threw them to the earth” indicates that they shall be thrown to the earth with Satan (See v.9).
“And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth” it symbolizes that Satan is always an opponent of the people of God and withstands them from ages and generations (See Gen. 3:15).
“To devour her Child as soon as it was born.” It symbolizes that the main aim of Satan is to eliminate a group of people who have great achievements in the spiritual life among the people of God (See the note in v.2).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Satan has a third of the spiritual power and they can also make the supernatural tokens and miracles. Believers should never believe any tokens and miracles easily, lest we be deceived.
2) To the weak believers, the devil always uses the means of deceit and to believers who are spiritually strong, it changes to deal with them directly with its ferocious appearance.
Rev. 12:5 “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”
YLT: “and she brought forth a male child, who is about to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, and caught away was her child unto God and His throne,”
Meaning of Words: “male”: masculine; “Child”: son; “rule”: shepherd, feed; “caught”: take, seize.
Spiritual Meaning: “She bore a male Child” “a male Child” symbolizes a group of people whose spiritual life is much stronger and they are from the people of God.
“Who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” it typifies that they are overcomers (See 2:26-27) and they shall reign with Christ a thousand years in the generation of kingdom (See 20:4, 6).
“And her Child was caught up to God and His throne” it symbolizes that the overcomers were caught up to God and His throne (See 7:9-10, 14-17) instead of the air (See 1Thess. 4:16).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers should seek to be strong and become overcomers because only overcomers shall be caught up before the great tribulation. The rest shall be left and be tormented by the devil and they shall unavoidably experience the great tribulation personally (See v.17; 3:10)
2) The reward of overcomers is great and they shall be directly caught up to God and His throne and they shall reign with the Lord.
Rev. 12:6 “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
YLT: “and the woman did flee to the wilderness, where she hath a place made ready from God, that there they may nourish her -- days a thousand, two hundred, sixty.”
Meaning of Words: “flee”: escape, run away; “prepare”: make ready, provide; “feed”: nourish, bring up.
Spiritual Meaning: “Then the woman fled into the wilderness,” it symbolizes that since the overcomers have been caught up, the spiritual conditions of the whole God’s people fall into the state of desolation.
“Where she has a place prepared by God,” it symbolizes that God does not want His people to be wiped out and He has prepared various circumstances for different ones, that in general they shall keep alive continually (please note that “a place” should not refer to a certain district on the earth because all the people of God cannot dwell in one place).
“That they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” it symbolizes that the time that the most of God’s people were kept was three and a half years. It implies that they were kept during the period of the great tribulation and the group of overcomers had been caught up to God and His throne before the period of the great tribulation.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God cares for men of Him and has made preparation for them----He shall deliver them from evil at any rate (See Matt. 6:13).
2) The circumstances arranged by God and the difficulties permitted by Him all have the certain time limit. Only he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved (See Matt. 24:13).
Rev. 12:7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,”
YLT: “And there came war in the heaven; Michael and his messengers did war against the dragon, and the dragon did war, and his messengers,”
Meaning of Words: “fight”: be engaged in warfare, make war; “Michael”: who is like God; “angels”: servants.
Literal Meaning: “And war broke out in heaven:” it refers to the spiritual war in heaven.
“Michael and his angels fought with the dragon;” “Michael” is the archangel (See Jude. 8). “His angels” refers to all the good angels led by Michael the archangel. “Fought with the dragon” refers to fighting with Satan and its angels.
“And the dragon and his angels fought” “the dragon” refers to Satan (See v.9). “His angels” refers to the evil angels that betrayed God with Satan and the total of them reaches a third of all the angels (See the note in v.4). “Fought” refers to fighting with Michael and the good angels.
Rev. 12:8 “but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.”
YLT: “and they did not prevail, nor was their place found any more in the heaven;”
Meaning of Words: “prevail”: have force, can do, might, could; “place”: room, location, position.
Literal Meaning: “but they did not prevail,” it indicates that Satan and its angels were defeated.
“Nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.” It indicates that there is no room for them in heaven.
Rev. 12:9 “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
YLT: “and the great dragon was cast forth -- the old serpent, who is called `Devil,' and `the Adversary,' who is leading astray the whole world -- he was cast forth to the earth, and his messengers were cast forth with him.”
Meaning of Words: “old”: long ago, primeval; “the Devil’: the traducer, the accuser, the slander; “Satan”: the opponent, resister; “deceive”: trick, seduce; “the whole world”: the entire world, the whole land.
Literal Meaning: “the great dragon, that serpent of old” “that serpent of old” indicates that the serpent which deceived Eve into sinning in the beginning (See Gen. 3:13) was Satan and it was old now.
“Called the Devil and Satan” the word “Devil” means “accuser” and “slanderer” in the original. The Devil likes accusing men of God before God (See v.10) and slandering us before men (See 2:9). The original meaning of “Satan” is “the opponent”. It desired to exalt itself and be like God (See Is. 14:14). Not only it is against God and opposes God but also it is against men of God (See 1Pet. 5:8).
“Who deceives the whole world” The main works of the devil is deceiving men in the whole world. It deceives the world that they may worship false gods and idols and it also deceives believers that their minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (See 2Cor. 11:3).
“He was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” They were the spiritual wickedness in high places (See Eph. 6:12) and now there isn’t room for them in heaven any more.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Devil has two faces: one is as ferocious as the dragon and the other is as cunning as the serpent. To the former, we should resist the devil, and it will flee from us (See James 4:7); to the latter, we should be prudent, lest we be deceived by it.
2) The Devil also has two names: one is the Devil that specially accuses us to weaken our conscience and the other is Satan that specially opposes us and tries its best to sift us as wheat (See Luke. 22:31).
Rev. 12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”
YLT: “And I heard a great voice saying in the heaven, `Now did come the salvation, and the power, and the reign, of our God, and the authority of His Christ, because cast down was the accuser of our brethren, who is accusing them before our God day and night;”
Meaning of Words: “accuse”: complaint, impeach; “day”: daytime; “night”: nighttime.
Literal Meaning: “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven” it is the heavenly declaration of victory.
“‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come” “salvation, and strength and the kingdom…and the power” men of God originally have partaken in these, however, we haven’t fully enjoyed and experienced them. “Have come” means that now they fully come and be realized and become our full enjoyment and experiences.
“For the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” “Accused them…day and night” refers to accusing unceasingly and it also implies that we have faults that can be taken advantage of by it, otherwise it cannot have the position to accuse us. “Our brethren” refers to all believers----we are those who do the will of God on the earth (See Matt. 12:50).
Rev. 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
YLT: “and they did overcome him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life -- unto death;”
Meaning of Words: “to”: till, until; “love”: like, admire; “lives”: breathing, breath, the life of soul.
Literal Meaning: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” “the blood of the Lamb” refers to the blood of the Lord Jesus shed on the cross. We are saved through the blood (See Eph. 1:7; 1Pet. 1:19) and overcome through it because this blood enables us to overcome all the accusations of the devil (See Rom. 8:33).
“And by the word of their testimony” refers to the words that believers testified to and opened their mouth to declare before all the people and the spiritual realm----declaring that the devil had been defeated and we have been cleansed by the precious blood and our conscience is good.
“And they did not love their lives to the death.” “To the death” refers to being martyred for the Lord. “Did not love their lives” refers to losing the life of soul for the Lord willingly (See Matt. 16:25).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The precious blood of the Lord is absolutely effective. Whatever sin we have sinned, as long as we are willing to confess our sins and repent, He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (See 1John. 1:7-9).
2) The sharp weapons in the spiritual war are not only the word of God (See Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12) but also the word of our testimony. The more we experience the word of God, the more word of our testimony we will have.
3) The one that had the power of death is the devil and it utilizes men’s fear of death to enslave us (See Heb. 2:14-15). When believers have the determination to not fear death, even the devil is powerless towards us. The only request the Lord has made to the afflicted is that they should be faithful until death (See 2:10).
Rev. 12:12 “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."”
YLT: “because of this be glad, ye heavens, and those in them who do tabernacle; wo to those inhabiting the land and the sea, because the Devil did go down unto you, having great wrath, having known that he hath little time.'”
Meaning of Words: “heavens”: the sky (the plural word); “great wrath”: great indignation, great anger; “time”: day, season.
Literal Meaning: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!” “Heavens” refers to the air, the outer space and the third heaven. “Dwell in them” the main targets are the overcomers who were caught up to heaven and all the angels.
“Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea!” “The earth” symbolizes the Jews. “The sea” symbolizes the Gentiles (See the note in v.18).
“Because he knows that he has a short time.” “A short time” refers to the three and a half years of the great tribulation (See v.14; 11:2; 13:5).
“For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath,” “great wrath” refers to the wrath of the devil and it also shows that the great tribulation is due to not only the wrath of God and the Lamb (See 6:16-17) but also the factor of the devil’s wrath.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth (See Col. 3:2). In this way, we live on the earth as if we were in heaven. Though the devil comes down to the earth with great wrath, it is powerless to those who live in the heavenly realm.
2) The devil knows that it has a short time and we who are of God should know that a short time is left more. Yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry (See Heb. 10:37). And therefore we should prepare ourselves as early as possible in order to meet the second coming of the Lord.
Rev. 12:13 “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.”
YLT: “And when the dragon saw that he was cast forth to the earth, he pursued the woman who did bring forth the male,”
Meaning of Words: “persecute”: press forward, pursue.
Spiritual Meaning: “the woman who gave birth to
the male Child” refers to the
total people of God, including believers who were left on the earth and the
Rev. 12:14 “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
YLT: “and there were given to the woman two wings of the great eagle, that she may fly to the wilderness, to her place, where she is nourished a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent;”
Meaning of Words: “place”: wilderness, position, location; “time”: day, date, opportunity; “from”: away, off.
Spiritual Meaning: “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle,” “two wings of a great eagle” symbolizes the power of God’s preservation and salvation (See Exod. 19:4; Deut. 32:11-12).
“That she might fly into the wilderness to her place” (please see the note in v.6).
“From the presence of the serpent” please note “the dragon” was replaced by “the serpent” here and probably it implies that it had changed its tactic and used the way of deceit to deal with the weak people of God.
“Where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time” “a time and times and half a time” corresponds with “the half of the week” (See Dan. 9:27). And therefore it is interpreted as three and a half years and it is the time of the great tribulation.
Rev. 12:15 “So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.”
YLT: “and the serpent did cast forth after the woman, out of his mouth, water as a river, that he may cause her to be carried away by the river,”
Meaning of Words: “after”: behind, back; “spew”: cast, throw; “carry away”: carry off, wash away.
Spiritual Meaning: “water” symbolizes various invisible powers from Satan such as: the trend of the world (See Ps. 124:4), heretical teachings and other cunning craftiness.
Some Bible exegetes held that “water” symbolizes the forces of Satan, however, such interpretation cannot be applied to the spiritual meaning of “the woman” because since she is the total name of God’s people, they cannot gather together and dwell in some immovable places.
Rev. 12:16 “But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”
YLT: “and the land did help the woman, and the land did open its mouth and did swallow up the river, that the dragon did cast forth out of his mouth;”
Meaning of Words: “help”: rescue; “open”: open up, unfold.
Spiritual Meaning: please note that since the things in this chapter all have the symbolic meanings, “the earth” in this verse cannot be interpreted literally that the ground cleaved and devoured the forces of Satan (See Num. 16:31-33). Here “the earth” also has the symbolic meaning and it symbolizes the hearts of men (See Mark 4:26-28). “The earth opened its mouth” symbolizes that the minds of God’s people were opened (See Luke. 24:45) to see through all the craftiness of Satan. “The flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth” the flood in this verse is “the river” in the original and it “water” in v.15 have the same symbolic meaning.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The devil utilizes the trend of the world and the wind of heresies to wash us away and therefore we should grow up quickly and no longer be children, tossed to and fro, by the trickery of it, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (See Eph. 4:14).
2) May the Lord open our understanding, that we might understand the scriptures (See Luke. 24:45), and by reason of use have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil (See Heb. 5:14).
Rev. 12:17 “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
YLT: “and the dragon was angry against the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, those keeping the commands of God, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Meaning of Words: “enraged”: be angry, provoke; “keep”: preserve, watch, hold fast; “commandment”: injunction, command.
Spiritual Meaning: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring” “the rest of her offspring” refers the other children besides the male Child (See v.5), i.e. those who had not been caught up and were left (See Matt. 24:40).
“Who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” “Who keep the commandments of God” symbolizes those who fear God among the Jews. “Have the testimony of Jesus Christ” symbolizes those who were left among Christians but repented in the great tribulation and was willing to hold fast to the testimony.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Heavenly Signs and Wars
I. The heavenly signs (v.1-6)
A. the woman who was travailing in birth (v.1-2)----the total of God’s people travailed in birth
B. a great, fiery red dragon wanted to devour the Child born by the woman (v.3-4)----Satan wanted to devour overcomers
C. the male Child was caught up as soon as he was born (v.5)----overcomes were raptured
D. the woman was fed in the wilderness one thousand two hundred and sixty days (v.6)----the most part of God’s people were kept by God
II. The heavenly war (v.7-12)
A. the devil and its angels were cast to the earth (v.7-9)----there isn’t their room in heaven any more
B. the declaration of victory (v.10-11)----the three factors in overcoming the devil
C. the warning to the earth and the sea (v.12)----the devil wanted to deal with the earthly people of God with great wrath
III. The earthly war (v.13-17)
A. the dragon persecuted the woman (v.13-16)----God’s people were kept by God
1. two wings of a great eagle----the power of God’s preservation and salvation
2. the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth----God opened the minds of His people that they won’t be deceived
B. the dragon went to make war with the rest of her offspring (v.17)----the Jews and the Gentile believers
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren