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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 12

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

With the seventh trumpet the mystery of God was to be finished. Chapter Revelation 10:7 . This has already sounded, and "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ." Chap Revelation 11:15 . We cannot therefore, with any degree of probability, suppose that the long series of persecutions and trials predicted in this and the following chapters belongs to the seventh trumpet. Both the numbers contained in these prophecies, and their general character, identify them with those previously recorded. Accordingly there is a general agreement among expositors that the vision here goes back to the primitive days of Christianity, and gives a new series of revelations containing a more interior and spiritual view of the history of the church, that of the preceding series having been more outward and providential.

A woman ; undoubtedly a symbol of God’s church.

Clothed with the sun ; with the glory of Christ’s presence, and the graces of his Spirit.

The moon ; according to some, a symbol of all sublunary things; others, with more reason, regard it as a symbol of the less glory of the Mosaic economy.

A crown of twelve stars ; the twelve apostles of the New Testament, answering to the twelve tribes of the Old. Twelve is the symbol of God’s people. Compare chapter Revelation 21:12 ; Revelation 21:14 , where the twelve angels of the twelve gates represent the twelve tribes of Israel; and the twelve foundations the twelve apostles. We can in this world but faintly conceive the glories with which saints in heaven are crowned, and to which, after their days of trial, all true believers will be for ever exalted.

Verse 2

Travailing in birth ; a symbol of the fruitfulness of the church in times of great trial. Compare Isaiah 54:1 ; Isaiah 66:8 .

Verse 3

A great red dragon ; the pagan Roman empire, considered as the agent of the devil, and animated with his spirit. Red or purple was the distinguishing color of the Roman emperors, as it has since been of the popes and cardinals.

Seven heads ; explained in chap Revelation 17:9 , to mean the seven hills of Rome and her seven kings; that is, as commonly interpreted, the seven forms of government which prevailed in Rome. See note to chap Revelation 17:9 .

Ten horns ; the ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire was ultimately divided. See Daniel 7:24 , where the Roman empire is represented by the same general symbol. Seven crowns upon his heads ; not, as afterwards, upon his horns. The Roman empire is always represented in prophecy in its whole duration. But the seven crowns upon its heads indicate that the seat of empire is yet in Rome; not, as afterwards, in the ten kingdoms which rise out of the old empire. Compare chap Revelation 13:1 , where the crowns are on the horns, and the explanation of the angel, chap Revelation 17:12 .

Verse 4

Drew the third part of the stars of heaven ; probably representing the subjection of the kings and rulers of a large part of the world to the Roman power. The enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, Genesis 3:15 , has always existed, and has been manifested in various ways, especially in the persecution by the wicked of the children of God.

Verse 5

A man - child ; this man-child is Christ, the seed of the mystic woman, considered as the head and representative of all his disciples. It includes, therefore, not only him, but all who are through faith united to him.

Caught up unto God , and to his throne ; representing the exaltation of Christ, and through him the protection of his people and their victory over their enemies.

Verse 6

Fled into the wilderness ; spoken here by way of anticipation. See note to verse Revelation 12:14 . God is mindful of his people in all their trials, kindly provides for them all the blessings which he sees best, and will one day give them dominion over all the earth. Daniel 7:27 .

Verse 7

War in heaven ; representing the conflict for supremacy between the truth of Christianity and the old system of pagan delusion. Michael seems here to represent all the agencies employed by Christ, as the dragon does the devil acting in and through his agents, especially the persecuting emperors and their servants.

Verse 9

Was cast out ; truth and its friends prevailed, and idolatry was overthrown.

Was cast out into the earth ; excluded from his former position of power and office. The dragon in heaven is thought by many to mean the devil enthroned in the chief place of power; the dragon on earth, to mean the devil cast out of that place, but still active against the church Ver Revelation 12:13-17 . Whoever may be the instruments of persecuting the people of God, Satan is their leader; they are his servants, and are doing his work. Romans 6:16 .

Verse 10

The accuser of our brethren ; Satan, who, so long as he retained his place of power, persecuted and destroyed Christ’s servants by false accusations. In the name here given to Satan, there seems to be an allusion to the manifestation made of his character in the case of Job, chap Revelation 1:9-11 ; Revelation 2:4-5 ; and which was again made in the calumnies which he raised against Christians in the primitive ages.

Verse 11

By the blood of the Lamb-by the word of their testimony ; not by carnal weapons, but by faith in the efficacy of Christ’s atonement, and their faithful testimony to his truth.

Loved not their lives unto the death ; would not renounce the truth to save their lives. The children of God will be triumphant, and come off conquerors, and more than conquerors, over all their foes; not by worldly stratagem or force, but by the power of truth and love exemplified in the cross, and set home by the Holy Ghost.

Verse 12

Great wrath ; at his overthrow in heaven.

A short time ; his time to persecute God’s people and hinder the truth. The twelve hundred and sixty days that remain to him are short absolutely, and short in comparison with the ages during which he has been the god of this world.

Verse 14

Two wings of a great eagle ; representing the assistance granted by God to his church, to escape the rage of her persecutors, or to endure and survive it.

The wilderness ; the sojourn of the church in the wilderness agrees with the prophesying of the two witnesses in sackcloth. It is another representation of the same thing.

A time , and times , and half a time ; the same as three years and a half, forty-two months, and twelve hundred and sixty days. See Daniel 7:25 .

Verse 15

The serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman ; thought by many to represent the inundation of northern barbarians, by which Satan hoped to overwhelm Christianity.

Verse 16

The earth helped the woman ; these pagan hosts, instead of destroying God’s church, in many ways befriended her. They settled down in the regions conquered by them and embraced Christianity.

Verse 17

The remnant of her seed ; representing those who remained faithful to the truth of the gospel. The manner in which he made war upon them is immediately set forth in the following chapter. Sin unrestrained is outrageous, cruel, and persevering. When the agents of Satan are foiled in one way, they try another; and unless changed by the power of the Holy Ghost, however often they may be disappointed, they will continue their opposition for ever.

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 12". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/revelation-12.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
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