Revelation 12. The woman and the dragon

Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation revisits the story of the church by going back to creation with allusions to the first mother – Eve (her name means: Mother of the Living, the woman, in Revelation 12:17, is also a mother to more than the messiah). The question is; how does the church conquer her great enemy Satan? [Audio | Notes]

Michael Flynn


Revelation 12

For further thought

Chapters 8 and 9 repeat, with different images and emphases, the themes of chapters 6 and 7. Likewise, chapter 11, with the story of the two witnesses, is recapitulated in chapter 12 with the story of the woman, the dragon and the male child.

In the law of the old covenant a legal charge or legal transaction needed to be validated by at least two witnesses (for example: Deuteronomy 17:5-7; 19:15). In chapter 11 it is likely that the combined imagery of Temple, Witnesses and the Ark of the Covenant point to one aspect of the life of the church represented by the witnesses, namely, to prophecy against the wickedness of a world that disowns God’s ways. The world hates this witness and would kill the church (John 15:18) yet mysteriously the church persists and lives again even where it once seemed to be dead.

Chapter 12 revisits the story of the church from another direction, rather than picking up references to law and temple, the vision takes as further back to creation with allusions to the first mother – Eve (her name means: Mother of the Living, the woman, in Revelation 12:17, is also a mother to more than the messiah)

Q: Read Genesis 2 & 3 and make note of the allusions used in Revelation 12 – some people identify the woman in this passage with Mary, the mother of Jesus; does that interpretation work well or not?

Q: What does the imagery of a royal woman clothed with universal significance and dignity, whom nature serves and glorifies, and yet, is frail, humiliated, in pain, homeless and on the run from her enemies, teach us about the church?

Q: In the Genesis creation story, we’re told that the irony behind the woman’s pain in child birth (bringing new life into the world) is that will one day it will produce a child who will crush the serpent’s head; that is, destroy the liar and the effect of his lie which is our death. How did Jesus crush the serpent’s head? (see 5:9f)

Q: Verse 5 is an odd summary of Jesus’ earthly life. Why does this verse cite Psalm 2?

Q: How is the current state of the church described in this chapter? What are we to do in this state? (Elsewhere in the New Testament the church is described as being: ‘strangers in the world’ (ie homeless) – 1 Peter1:1; in exile – dispersed amongst the nations – James 1:1; as a woman – 2 John 1, Ephesians 5:21-33; and on the verge of the promised land in the wilderness – Hebrews 3:7-19)

Q: Who is the dragon and what does he do?

Q: Why are the images surrounding the dragon repulsive?

Q: The effect of Christ’s death was to force Satan from the heavenly court of God. He has no influence there now. What was the basis of his influence and why was he tolerated in the court? 

Q: What difference did Christ’s atonement make to Satan’s status and influence with God?

Q: Read Romans 3:21-26. What did the cross of Christ mean to God?

Q: How do we conquer Satan, our great enemy?

The woman and the dragon – Revelation 12 (talk outline)

The woman

The dragon

The male child

Defeating Satan