Revelation 12:1-5

The Woman and the Dragon

1 A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was with child. She cried out, laboring and in pain, giving birth.

Rev 12:1-2
A Woman  –  this is the same woman mentioned in 2 John 1:1, “the elect lady and her children.” This woman is the Bride of Christ, New Jerusalem, the holy City, who is aided by God, Christ, and the Angels. She gave birth to the “male child,” the firstborn from the dead (Rev 1:5), as we shall see in verse 5 below. There are two women in the Book of Revelation; the other woman is the Great Harlot, the kingdom of the beast (Rev  16:10), the great City.

clothed with the sun – God and the glory of God. From Isaiah 60:1-2, “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” This describes the coming kingdom of heaven and God as the rising sun. The Spirit of Christ, the body of Christ, being the Kingdom of heaven, has a face “shining as the sun” in Revelation 1:16 (see also Mat 17:2); Paul called this “the glory of God in the face of Christ,” (2 Cor 4:6), “the radiance of the glory of God” (Heb 1:3).  In Revelation 16:8-9, the kingdom of the beast is scorched by the sun, by the Spirit of God (described as a river of fire in Daniel 7:10.) The light of the natural “sun” in New Jerusalem is replaced by the illumination of “God” (Rev 21:23).

and the moon under her feet – the only comparison to the moon is Christ. The light of the moon in New Jerusalem is replaced by the lamp of Christ (Rev 21:23). Christ is the “moon” who reflects the light and glory of God onto the world; in Revelation 18:1, the earth was “illuminated with His glory.” He is in subjection to God in the New Jerusalem (1 Cor 15:28), as being under the sun.

and on her head a crown of twelve stars – stars represent angels in the Book of Revelation, see Rev 1:16,20; 8:11; 9:1; 12:4; 22:16. Twelve Angels surround New Jerusalem, the holy City (Rev 21:12).

The end time Church is described as “the brightness of the heavens” (NIV) in Daniel 12:3.  Jesus called the kingdom of heaven “the light of the world” (Matt 5:14).  The sun, moon and stars represent all the light that shines on the world. Jesus’ statement “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall” (Matt 24:29) refers to the dimming of the kingdom of heaven, and the final deception of Satan that is allowed by God, see Rev 20:7 . The stars, that will fall, are likely angels, see Rev 12:4; 8:10; 9:1.

she was with Child – the kingdom of heaven began with the baptism of Christ, but Christ was not yet born as the “Male Child” as we shall discover in verse 5.

being in labor and in pain – Jesus described His crucifixion as the pain of a woman in labor, in John 16:21, and this is the meaning expression of “in labor and in pain” in this passage.

The prophecy of Revelation follows the Book of Daniel. In Daniel 9:26, we were told that the Latins (the Romans, the Red Dragon) “the people of the ruler to come” (Daniel 9:26), would cut off the Messiah, “in the middle of the week” (Daniel 9:27), and “put an end to sacrifice and grain offering.” The offering for sin under the Old Covenant came to an end with Christ’s death. Christ died so that many might have eternal life. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven, was like a Woman in labor, waiting to bring life – to many.

3 Another sign was seen in heaven. Behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns.

Rev 12:3
a great red dragon – there are four main attacks of Satan against the saints, the first is the red dragon, the power of Rome; the “exceedingly dreadful beast” we met in Daniel 7:19.

RepresentationMethod of attackPrimary Time Period
Red DragonRoman EmpireEarly Church
DragonSatan, the Antichrist33 – 1471
Scarlet BeastFalse Christ, False Lord193 – 1471
False ProphetFalse teachings193 – present
Three unclean frogsThe Dragon,
and False Prophet
Post 2470

The seven heads are the seven powers against the saints which will discuss in detail in Chapter 17. The “Red Dragon” represents Rome as a political power, as the seven diadems are on the seven heads. Later, the diadems will move to the Ten horns, when we discuss the Ten states that came out of Rome. The red colour of the Dragon in Chapter 12 is the official color of the Roman Empire. Rome attacks the male child.

4 His tail drew one third of the stars of the sky, and threw them to the earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. 

Rev 12:4
a third of the stars – from Daniel 8:10, the Dragon (Satan) caused some of the stars to fall to the earth. Here, we see that a third of the angels followed the lawless one. These were cast out of heaven in verse 9.

the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth – most immediately think of Herod’s attempt to kill the Christ Child. But the birth we are actually speaking of is described in verse 5.

5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Her child was caught up to God, and to his throne. 

Rev 12:5
who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron – this is the birth described in Psalms 2:7-9, “today I have begotten You…You shall break them with a rod of iron.”

and her child was caught up to God and to His throne– the explanation of the birth in Psalms 2:7-9 comes in Acts 13:33-34. When God raised up Jesus, He said “You are My Son; today I have begotten You.”  Christ became the firstborn of New Jerusalem, when He resurrected. See also Romans 1:4.