VISION OF THE
CHILD, AND THE
1. This episode
describes in detail the persecution of Israel and the elect
Church by the beast, which had been summarily noticed,
and the triumph of the faithful, and torment of the unfaithful. So also
the sixteenth through twentieth chapters are the description in detail
of the judgment on the beast, &c., summarily noticed in
Re 11:13, 18.
The beast in
&c., is shown not to be alone, but to be the instrument in the hand of
a greater power of darkness, Satan. That this is so, appears from the
time of the eleventh chapter being the period also in which the events
of the twelfth and thirteenth chapters take place, namely, 1260 days
(Re 12:6, 14;
Re 11:2, 3).
great--in size and significance.
wonder--Greek, "sign": significant of momentous truths.
in heaven--not merely the sky, but the heaven beyond just
woman clothed with the sun . . . moon under her
feet--the Church, Israel first, and then the Gentile Church;
clothed with Christ, "the Sun of righteousness." "Fair as the moon,
clear as the sun." Clothed with the Sun, the Church is the bearer of
divine supernatural light in the world. So the seven churches (that is,
the Church universal, the woman) are represented as light-bearing
(Re 1:12, 20).
On the other hand, the moon, though standing above the sea and
earth, is altogether connected with them and is an earthly light:
sea, earth, and moon represent the worldly element, in
opposition to the kingdom of God--heaven, the sun. The moon cannot
disperse the darkness and change it into-day: thus she represents the
world religion (heathenism) in relation to the supernatural world. The
Church has the moon, therefore, under her feet; but the stars, as
heavenly lights, on her head. The devil directs his efforts against the
stars, the angels of the churches, about hereafter to shine for ever.
The twelve stars, the crown around her head, are the twelve tribes of
Israel [AUBERLEN]. The allusions to Israel
before accord with this: compare
"the temple of God"; "the ark of His testament." The ark lost at the
Babylonian captivity, and never since found, is seen in the "temple of
God opened in heaven," signifying that God now enters again into
covenant with His ancient people. The woman cannot mean, literally, the
virgin mother of Jesus, for she did not flee into the wilderness and
stay there for 1260 days, while the dragon persecuted the remnant of her
[DE BURGH]. The sun,
moon, and twelve stars, are emblematical of Jacob, Leah, or
else Rachel, and the twelve patriarchs, that is, the Jewish Church:
secondarily, the Church universal, having under her feet, in due
subordination, the ever changing moon, which shines with a borrowed
light, emblem of the Jewish dispensation, which is now in a
position of inferiority, though supporting the woman, and also of the
changeful things of this world, and having on her head the crown of
twelve stars, the twelve apostles, who, however, are related closely to
Israel's twelve tribes. The Church, in passing over into the Gentile
world, is (1) persecuted; (2) then seduced, as heathenism begins to
react on her. This is the key to the meaning of the symbolic woman,
beast, harlot, and false prophet. Woman and beast form
the same contrast as the Son of man and the beasts in
Daniel. As the Son of man comes from heaven, so the woman is
seen in heaven
The two beasts arise respectively out of the sea (compare
and the earth
(Re 13:1, 11):
their origin is not of heaven, but of earth earthy. Daniel beholds the
heavenly Bridegroom coming visibly to reign. John sees the woman, the
Bride, whose calling is heavenly, in the world, before the Lord's
coming again. The characteristic of woman, in contradistinction to man,
is her being subject, the surrendering of herself, her being receptive.
This similarly is man's relation to God, to be subject to, and receive
from, God. All autonomy of the human spirit reverses man's relation to
God. Woman-like receptivity towards God constitutes faith. By it
the individual becomes a child of God; the children
collectively are viewed as "the woman." Humanity, in so far as
it belongs to God, is the woman. Christ, the Son of the woman,
emphatically called "the MAN-child" (Greek,
"huios arrheen," "male-child"). Though born of a woman, and
under the law for man's sake, He is also the Son of God, and so the
HUSBAND of the Church. As Son of the woman, He is
"'Son of man"; as male-child, He is Son of God, and Husband of
the Church. All who imagine to have life in themselves are severed from
Him, the Source of life, and, standing in their own strength, sink to
the level of senseless beasts. Thus, the woman designates
universally the kingdom of God; the beast, the kingdom of the world.
The woman of whom Jesus was born represents the Old Testament
congregation of God. The woman's travail-pains
represent the Old Testament believers' ardent longings for the promised
Redeemer. Compare the joy at His birth
As new Jerusalem (called also "the woman," or "wife,"
Re 21:2, 9-12),
with its twelve gates, is the exalted and transfigured Church, so the
woman with the twelve stars is the Church militant.
2. pained--Greek, "tormented" (basanizomene).
DE BURGH explains this of the
bringing in of the first-begotten into the world
AGAIN, when Israel shall at last welcome Him, and
when "the man-child shall rule all nations with the rod of iron." But
there is a plain contrast between the painful travailing of the
woman here, and Christ's second coming to the Jewish Church, the
believing remnant of Israel, "Before she travailed she brought
forth . . . a MAN-CHILD," that is,
almost without travail-pangs, she receives (at His second
advent), as if born to her, Messiah and a numerous seed.
3. appeared--"was seen."
wonder--Greek, "semeion," "sign."
red--So A and Vulgate read. But B, C, and Coptic
read, "of fire." In either case, the color of the dragon implies
his fiery rage as a murderer from the beginning. His
representative, the beast, corresponds, having seven heads
and ten horns (the number of horns on the fourth beast of
But there, ten crowns are on the ten horns (for before
the end, the fourth empire is divided into ten kingdoms); here,
seven crowns (rather, "diadems," Greek,
"diademata," not stephanoi, "wreaths") are upon his
seven heads. In
the Antichristian powers up to Christ's second coming are represented
by four beasts, which have among them seven heads, that is, the
first, second, and fourth beasts having one head each, the
third, four heads. His universal dominion as prince of this
fallen world is implied by the seven diadems (contrast the "many
diadems on Christ's head,"
when coming to destroy him and his), the caricature of the seven
Spirits of God. His worldly instruments of power are marked by the
ten horns, ten being the number of the world. It marks his
self-contradictions that he and the beast bear both the number
seven (the divine number) and ten (the world number).
4. drew--Greek, present tense, "draweth," "drags down."
His dragging down the stars with his tail (lashed back
and forward in his fury) implies his persuading to apostatize, like
himself, and to become earthy, those angels and also once eminent human
teachers who had formerly been heavenly (compare
Re 12:1; 1:20;
stood--"stands" [ALFORD]: perfect tense,
ready to be delivered--"about to bring forth."
for to devour, &c.--"that when she brought forth, he might
devour her child." So the dragon, represented by his agent Pharaoh (a
name common to all the Egyptian kings, and meaning, according to some,
crocodile, a reptile like the dragon, and made an Egyptian
idol), was ready to devour Israel's males at the birth of the
nation. Antitypically the true Israel, Jesus, when born, was sought
for destruction by Herod, who slew all the males in and around
5. man-child--Greek, "a son, a male." On the deep
significance of this term, see on
Re 12:1, 2.
rule--Greek, "poimainein," "tend as a shepherd";
rod of iron--A rod is for long-continued obstinacy until they
submit themselves to obedience [BENGEL]:
which passages prove the Lord Jesus to be meant. Any interpretation
which ignores this must be wrong. The male son's birth cannot be
the origin of the Christian state (Christianity triumphing over
heathenism under Constantine), which was not a divine child of the
woman, but had many impure worldly elements. In a secondary sense,
the ascending of the witnesses up to heaven answers to Christ's
own ascension, "caught up unto God, and unto His throne": as also His
ruling the nations with a rod of iron is to be shared in by believers
What took place primarily in the case of the divine Son of the woman,
shall take place also in the case of those who are one with Him, the
sealed of Israel
and the elect of all nations, about to be translated and to reign with
Him over the earth at His appearing.
6. woman fled--Mary's flight with Jesus into Egypt is a type of
where she hath--So C reads. But A and B add "there."
a place--that portion of the heathen world which has received
Christianity professedly, namely, mainly the fourth kingdom, having its
seat in the modern Babylon, Rome, implying that all the heathen
world would not be Christianized in the present order of things.
prepared of God--literally, "from God." Not by human
caprice or fear, but by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of
God, the woman, the Church, fled into the wilderness.
they should feed her--Greek,