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The Woman and the Man-Child. The Dragon
The persecution which the Church had already suffered, and which was about to burst forth again, is the great fact which underlies the whole ’Revelation.’ The sufferings of the Church and its members have been referred to again and again, particularly in Revelation 11:1-13. In the ’seals’ and the ’trumpets’ the Church has been assured, in a broad and general manner, that God’s judgments will fall upon the world of wickedness, and that the ungodly will bow before the power of the Lamb. In the remainder of the book (Revelation 12-22), the victory of Christ and His Church is foretold in more definite detail. The great enemies of Christ are brought forward, under the personifications of the Dragon (Revelation 12), the two Beasts (Revelation 13 f.), and the harlot City (Revelation 17). Then we are shown Christ’s battle against them, and the complete overthrow both of them and of all evil (Revelation 18-20), after which the book ends with the glorious and everlasting blessedness of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21 f.).
The first great enemy of Christ’s Church, the cause of all the hostility against her, is Satan. Christ suffered his enmity, but passed through it triumphantly (Revelation 12:1-6). Satan is already conquered in principle (Revelation 12:7-9), though for a short time the Christian Church experiences his malignity (Revelation 12:10-17).
1-6. The Church, of both the OT. and NT. covenants, is shown under the figure of a woman, clothed with heavenly glory (Revelation 12:1) from whom the Messiah is about to come: cp. Isaiah 66:19; Micah 4:10. She is opposed by the devil (Revelation 12:9), pictured as a dragon, red with the blood of the saints: cp. Revelation 17:3. (Revelation 12:3). His seven heads and ten horns (cp. Daniel 7:7) represent the Roman emperors through whom he exercised his power. The seven crowned heads perhaps signify the seven emperors, from Augustus to Titus, who had really reigned. The ten horns may stand for the same emperors with the addition of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius: cp. Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:10. (see chapter A. Scott, ’Century Bible: Revelation,’ p. 53). The dragon waits to attack the Messiah (Revelation 12:4), but when He is born (cp. Psalms 2:8.), the dragon has no power over Him, and He is exalted to God’s throne: cp. Philippians 2:9; (Revelation 12:5). The Church escapes from the dragon, as the Church of Israel escaped from Pharaoh into the wilderness, to be kept during a time of trouble: see on Revelation 11:2; (Revelation 12:6). The reference here may be to seasons of rest which the Palestinian Church experienced during the troubles which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem (cp. Acts 9:31), and to the escape of the Christians of Jerusalem to Pella before the siege: cp. Matthew 24:16.
1, 3. Wonder] RV ’sign.’
3. Crowns] RV ’diadems,’ i.e. kingly crowns.
4. Tail, etc.] i.e. he was huge and mighty: cp. Daniel 8:10.
6. Feed] RV ’nourish.’
7-9. The Christians for whom St. John wrote were beginning to experience persecution: cp. Revelation 2:3, Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:4, note, 10. Yet their victory is assured. This is symbolically expressed under the figure of a war in heaven between good and evil angels (Revelation 12:7) in which Satan and his host are conquered and cast down from heaven (Revelation 12:8.). The figure is derived from Jewish apocalyptic ideas, but the meaning for Christians is that in the Death and Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, Satan was already essentially conquered: cp. John 12:31.; John 16:33.
7. Michael] one of the four archangels: cp. Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1; Judges 1:9.
9. Out] RV ’down.’
Serpent] cp. Genesis 3:1. Satan] i.e. ’adversary’ (Heb.), or ’devil’ (diabolos, Gk.): cp. Job 1:6; Psalms 109:6; Zechariah 3:1. Deceiveth] cp. John 8:44.
10-12. Satan being already potentially conquered, heaven celebrates in anticipation the victory which the persecuted saints will win because Christ died for them and gives them strength to die.
10. Accused] cp. 1 Timothy 3:6.
11. By] RV ’because of’ (twice). Word of, etc.] i.e. the word of Christ to which they testify.
13-17. The devil is not able to hurt a section of the Church, perhaps the Palestinian Church at Pella is meant, for God protects her. God’s protection is described in terms of the deliverance of the exodus, when Israel was borne by God on eagles’ wings, cp. Exodus 19:4; (Revelation 12:14), and escaped from Pharaoh into the wilderness, passing safely through the Red Sea (’water as a river,’ Revelation 12:15.). This being so, Satan turns against the Church in Gentile lands (Revelation 12:17).
In this chapter St. John used figures which were frequently employed in Jewish apocalypses. These may have been derived originally from the ancient myth of the fight between the sun and darkness. Whatever was their original meaning, here they are symbolical of Christian truth: cp. note, Revelation 6, on St. John’s use of the prophecy in Matthew 24.
15. Flood.. flood] RV ’river.. stream.’
16. Flood] RV ’river.’
17. Was] RV ’waxed.’ Seed] cp. Galatians 4:26. Have] RV ’hold.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Revelation 12". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30