WOMAN AND THE MAN CHILD
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. Then being with
child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. Revelation 12:1–2
have titled chapters 12 through 14 as Systems of Religion. The preview we did in
our previous lecture suggested that the systems of religion seen in these
chapters correspond with the seven parts of the visions of the seals and
trumpets. In these chapters we find the woman in two conditions, a red dragon, a
beast rising up out of the sea, a lamb-like beast, and the Lamb on Mount Zion
with a reaping of a harvest and a gathering of clusters of grapes. Within these
three chapters we find 7 religious situations we can loosely call religious
systems. Matthew Henry begins his comments on these chapters:
is generally agreed by the most learned expositors that the narrative we have in
this and the two following chapters, from the sounding of the seventh trumpet to
the opening of the vials, is not a prediction of things to come, but rather a
recapitulation and representation of things past, which, as God would have the
apostle to foresee while future, he would have him to review now that they were
past, that he might have a more perfect idea of them in his mind, and might
observe the agreement between the prophecy and that Providence that is always
fulfilling the scriptures.
Henry’s English may be somewhat incomprehensible, so let’s restate what he
writes in words we can understand. The chapters we are about to study to not
predict future events at this point in the Revelation; rather, they look back
upon what has been revealed to give us a better understanding of what we have
studied. So, chapters 12 through 14 cover the same church history as the series
on the seals and the trumpets.
Woman Clothed With the Sun
first thing we encounter in this part of the vision is a woman clothed with the
sun. Verse 2 informs us that this woman is with child. This is a clear picture
of the nature of the early church. Paul writes in Galatians 4:26, “But the
Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” In this text Paul is
comparing the two covenants: the Law of the Old Testament and the gospel of the
New Testament. He likens the gospel to Jerusalem using it for a metaphor for the
church. Adam Clarke expands on the meaning of this Jerusalem.
is a spiritual Jerusalem, of which this is the type; and this Jerusalem, in
which the souls of all the righteous are, is free from all bondage and sin: or
by this, probably, the kingdom of the Messiah was intended; and this certainly
answers best to the apostle’s meaning, as the subsequent verse shows. There is
an earthly Jerusalem, but this earthly Jerusalem typifies a heavenly Jerusalem:
the former, with all her citizens, is in bondage; the latter is a free city, and
all her inhabitants are free also. And this Jerusalem is our mother; it
signifies the Church of Christ, the metropolis of Christianity, or rather the
state of liberty into which all true believers are brought.
Smith in his Thoughts, Critical and
Practical on the Book of Revelation briefly outlines the symbolism of the
first two verses.
woman,” the true church. “The sun,” the light and glory of the gospel
dispensation. “The moon,” the Mosaic dispensation. As the moon shines with a
borrowed light derived from the sun, so the former dispensation, shone with a
light borrowed from the present. There we had the type and shadow; here we have
the antitype and substance. “A crown of twelve stars,” the twelve apostles.
G. Smith in his The Revelation Explained
says essentially the same thing but in more words.
first symbol in the scene, the woman, directs us most definitely into the
department of the church for its fulfillment. We have, therefore, the original
church of God in the morning time of the Christian Era. . . . The Bible
recognizes two kinds of light, natural and spiritual; therefore the one may very
appropriately be used to symbolize the other. Christ is the “Sun of
righteousness: (Mal. 4:2); “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” now
shines in and through his church (II Cor. 4:4); and so we may infer that the
brightest luminaries of heaven gathered around the woman in this vision may be
designed to express her heavenly character, her spiritual equipment, power, and
glory. This view is strengthened by the suggestiveness of the royal insignia,
“a crown of twelve stars.” . . . The twelve stars in the diadem of the
church allude to the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
a later edition of this work he expands on the meaning of the light giving an
explanation for the moon.
moon is a fit symbol of the old covenant, above which the church had just risen,
only to be clothed in the superior brightness and glory of the new covenant. And
as the moon shines only with borrowed light, obtaining its illumination from the
sun; so, also, the old covenant was only a shadow of the good things to come and
now stands eclipsed in the brightness and transcendent glory of that new and
movement that later separated from the Church of God Reformation Movement
calling itself the Seventh Trumpet Message and the Seventh Seal Church still
followed the same interpretation. In a book titled The
Revelation With Gospel and Prophecy the writers explain on these verses:
the Revelation follows Isaiah the prophet, and uses a pure woman to symbolize
the true church, which is Mt. Zion. This woman standing on the moon, clothed
with the sun, with a crown of twelve stars upon her head is surely a symbol of
the New Testament Church, “built upon the foundations of the apostles and the
prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph. 2:20).
Standing on the moon would symbolize the Old Covenant under her feet. The light
of the moon is in reality, a reflection or shadow of the sun, the real light. .
. . The crown of twelve stars on her head would symbolize the twelve apostles,
which were lively head stones of the church. The woman herself is a symbol of
the church, the true tabernacle the Lord pitched, and not man.
these three examples that cover approximately 70 years we find consistency in
the interpretations of Bible teachers on these opening verses of this part of
the Revelation. This helps us to understand . . . .
First System of Religion
first system of religion illustrated by this woman is the church Jesus built and
inaugurated on the Day of Pentecost.
we must understand that Jesus built His particular church: Matthew 16:18, “On
this rock I will build my church.”
that church actually built? Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and
to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to
shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Jesus built
His church on the rock, which is saying He built His church upon Himself, the
atonement He made through His blood on the cross—the revelation that He is the
Son of God and redeemer of mankind. Jesus identifies Himself with His church
because it is His body. Colossians 1:24, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for
you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for
the sake of His body, which is the church.”
church came into being on the Day of Pentecost 50 days after the resurrection of
Jesus. Acts 2:1–4 Records that auspicious event. The disciples were in one
place, which probably was the temple in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit came on them
and filled them. This was the time when the disciples, who were devout Jews,
were actually born of the Spirit and the opening of the gospel dispensation.
church is pictured as a woman in Revelation 12:1. She is pictured as a married
woman that is expecting a child. In Ephesians 5:22–27 the Apostle Paul places
the church in the same relationship to Christ as the wife to the husband.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head
of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the
body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to
their own husbands in everything.” (Verses 22–24)
sees the church clothed with the sun. The Prophet Malachi foresaw this in
behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who
do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to
you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His
wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
Messianic prophecy appears to suggest the Day of Pentecost. Jesus had come and
made atonement for sin—a burning oven that burns up sin like stubble. For
those that accept the gospel and experience the atonement, Christ is the Sun of
Righteousness. Notice the word “sun” is capitalized indicating divinity, but
it is not the word “son” as a boy child, it is sun as the sun that shines
light on the earth. The light of this Sun sheds His light on the souls of
mankind and heals the wounds of sin. But see that His light also produces
growth—personal spiritual growth and growth of the church. Paul speaks of this
light in 2 Corinthians 4:4, where He calls the gospel the light of the gospel of the glory of
Christ, who is the image of God. Albert Barnes comments on this light:
is the emblem of knowledge, purity, or innocence; and is here and elsewhere
applied to the gospel, because it removes the errors, and sins, and wretchedness
of men, as the light of the sun scatters the shades of night.
woman stands on the moon indicating the change in dispensations where the gospel
has risen above the Old Testament but yet is supported by it. In 1 Corinthians
10:11 Paul teaches about the importance of the Old Testament. Of events recorded
in the Old Testament he writes “Now all these things happened to them as
examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the
ages have come.” Matthew Henry writes,
history was written, to be a standing monitor to the church, even under the last
and most perfect dispensation: To us, on whom the end of the world is come, the
concluding period of God’s gracious government over men. Note, Nothing in
scripture is written in vain. God had wise and gracious purposes towards us in
leaving the Jewish history upon record; and it is our wisdom and duty to receive
instruction from it. Upon this hint the apostle grounds a caution.
woman wore a garland of twelve stars. When the woman is understood to be the
church built by Jesus it is quite obvious that this garland represents the 12
apostles of Christ. Luke 6:13, “And when it was day, He called His disciples
to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.” The
twelve apostles were the original cadre of church Jesus sent out as He began to
expand the influence of His church. The original apostles, except Judas,
remained in Jerusalem until after the conversion of Paul. From that time on the
church expanded. Each of the original apostles met a martyr’s death except for
was the first apostle to die. He was killed by Herod in Jerusalem.
died in Hierapolis in Asia Minor in AD 52.
died in Parthia in AD 60.
who replaced Judas, died in Jerusalem.
was crucified at Patrae in Greece.
was said to have died in AD 64 in Rome during the persecution under Nero.
the apostle Jesus later added to the church, also died in Rome under the
persecution by Nero.
translated Matthew’s gospel into the language of heathen nations. He was
killed either by the sword or was beaten to death.
took the gospel to India where he was killed by a spear.
died a natural death in Ephesus at the age of about 100.
last thing we see about the woman, the church, in verse 2 is that she is in
labor about to give birth. The actual birth is recorded in verse 5 as the birth
of a man child. It is interesting that of the 8 Bible versions I use in my
study, the NKJV is the only version that capitalizes the word child, suggesting
the child is Jesus. The footnote in my study Bible says,
“The woman represents the true people of God, the faithful in Israel
before Christ came, and His church today. The Child is Jesus.” No support is
given for this statement. This cannot be as Jesus was not born from either the
church or the nation of Israel; He is God incarnate.
the child is birthed from the woman it can only represent the vast body of
converts under the gospel preaching of the church at this time. This birth began
on the Day of Pentecost where it is said in Acts 2:41 that “about three
thousand souls were added to them.” In Acts 2:47 it says that “the Lord
added to the church daily those who were being saved.” In Acts 4:4 after the
first scuffle of persecution from the Jews, “many of those who heard the word
believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” Finally,
the growth of the church was so strong it simply says in Acts 5:14, “And
believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
System Was New To the World
first two verses of chapter 12 introduce us to the first system of religion in
this series. This system was new in the world. While God had a people under the
Old Testament, the provisions of that system never really dealt with the human
condition. Hebrews 5:8 says that it was only a shadow of the heavenly things
because in Hebrews 10:11 we are told that the sacrifices of that system could
never take away sin.
great sign that appeared in the heaven of Revelation 12:1 ushered in a new and
perfect system that actually corrects the human condition: Hebrews 10:14 “For
by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” With
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus, the church was born
and Jesus began the process of building it. That building is pictured by the
birth of the child as “believers were increasingly added to the Lord,
multitudes of men and women.”
Smith, Uriah, Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation,
Steam Press: Battle Creek, MI. 1875,
Smith, F. G., The Revelation Explained, The
Warner Press: Anderson, IN, 1908,
ppg 154 & 155.
Smith, F. G., The Revelation Explained,
Faith Publishing House: Guthrie, OK, 1918
(Reprint 1973), pg. 213.
Lawson, J. F.; Turnbow, P. D.; and Rogers, D. W.,
The Revelation with Gospel and
date unknown, pg 28.