Revelation 12

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Revelation 12
Apocalypse 19. Michael and the angel. Revelation 12 v 7-9. Scheits. Phillip Medhurst Collection.jpg
Apocalypse 19. Michael and the angel. Revelation 12:7-9. Scheits. Phillip Medhurst Collection
BookBook of Revelation
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part27

Revelation 12 is the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle,[1][2] but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate.[3] This chapter contains the accounts about the woman, the dragon, and the child, followed by the war between Michael and the dragon, then the appearance of the monster from the sea.[4] William Robertson Nicoll, a Scottish Free Church minister, suggests that in this chapter the writer has created a Christianised version of a Jewish source which "described the birth of the Messiah in terms borrowed from ... cosmological myths [such as] that of the conflict between the sun-god and the dragon of darkness and the deep".[5]


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 17 verses. The Vulgate version has 18 verses.[6]

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are among others:[7][a]

Old Testament references[edit]

New Testament references[edit]

The Woman, the Dragon and the Child (12:1–6)[edit]

Illustration of the woman of the Apocalypse in Hortus deliciarum (redrawing of an illustration dated c. 1180), depicting various events from the narrative in Revelations 12 in a single image.

Verse 1[edit]

Now 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.[10]

The King James Version refers to "a great wonder" [11] and the Revised Standard Version refers to "a great portent".[12] The Greek word used is σημεῖον, rendered sign in many other passages in the New Testament.[13] Anglican biblical commentator William Boyd Carpenter writes that "the word sign is preferable to wonder, both in this verse and in Revelation 12:3. It is the same word which is rendered sign in Revelation 15:1. It is a sign which is seen: not a mere wonder, but something which has a meaning; it is not 'a surprise ending with itself', but a signal to arrest attention, and possessing significance; there is 'an idea concealed behind it'."[14]

Verse 3[edit]

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.[15]

The word rendered "dragon" - Ancient Greek: δράκων, drakōn - occurs 9 times (and 4 more in derivative forms)[16] in the New Testament, only in the Book of Revelation, where it is uniformly rendered as here: "dragon".[13] The word for diadem (Greek: διάδημα) occurs only three times in the New Testament, always in the Book of Revelation.

Verse 5[edit]

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.[17]
  • "A man child": from Greek: υἱὸν ἄρρενα,[b] huion arréna, literally: "a son, a male".[19] The term "man child" in Jeremiah 20:15 (KJV: "A man child is born") is translated from the Hebrew term: בן וכר, where in the Greek it is υἱὸς ἄρσην, or simply ἄρσην as in the Septuagint rendering of this passage.[20]
  • "Rule" from Greek: ποιμαίνειν, poimainein,[18] meaning "tend as a shepherd" (cf. Revelation 2:27).[21] It was prophesied in Psalm 2:9, that Christ should break the nations with a rod of iron.[22]

Michael and the Dragon (12:7–12)[edit]

Der Engelsturz ("Fall of the rebel angels"), by Peter Paul Rubens, between 1621 and 1622.

Verse 7[edit]

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought.[23]

Michael (Mikha'el in David H. Stern's translation of the Bible into English) appears in the Book of Daniel as "the special patron or guardian angel of the people of Israel".[24]

Verse 9[edit]

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.[25]
  • "Old serpent": This is the only place in canonical Scripture where without doubt it is revealed that the 'Tempter in Eden' (Genesis 3:1) was 'the Devil' (cf. Wisdom 2:24 for a non-canonical Scripture allusion).[24]

Verse 11[edit]

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.[26]
  • "Overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" or "conquered him on account of the blood of the Lamb", implying that the power of the accuser or the devil was removed when 'the Lamb of God' had taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and when the redeemed people have the boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19).[27]

The Dragon and the Woman (12:13–17)[edit]

Verse 14[edit]

And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.[28]

Verse 16[edit]

And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.[30]
  • "The earth opened her mouth and swallowed up": these words can be linked to the narrative of the earth opening her mouth and swallowing up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in Numbers 16:30.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Book of Revelation is missing from Codex Vaticanus.[8]
  2. ^ Byzantine, Majority, Textus Receptus: υἱὸν ἄρρενα; Westcott-Hort: υἱὸν ἄρσεν; Tischendorf (8th edition): υἱὸν ἄῤῥην.[18]


  1. ^ Davids, Peter H (1982). I Howard Marshall and W Ward Gasque (ed.). New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle of James (Repr. ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. ISBN 0802823882.
  2. ^ Evans, Craig A (2005). Craig A Evans (ed.). Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John, Hebrews-Revelation. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor. ISBN 0781442281.
  3. ^ F. L. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 45
  4. ^ Bauckham 2007, p. 1289.
  5. ^ Nicoll, W. R., Expositor's Greek Testament on Revelation 12, accessed 5 November 2018
  6. ^ Revelation 12:1-18: Vulgate
  7. ^ Elliott, J. K. "Revelations from the apparatus criticus of the Book of Revelation: How Textual Criticism Can Help Historians." Union Seminary Quarterly Review 63, no. 3-4 (2012): 1-23.
  8. ^ Claremont Coptic Encyclopaedia, Codex Vaticanus, accessed 29 September 2018
  9. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Book IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 838. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  10. ^ Revelation 12:1: NKJV
  11. ^ Revelation 12:1 KJV
  12. ^ Revelation 12:1 RSV
  13. ^ a b Barnes, Albert, Barnes' Notes on Revelation 12, accessed 8 November 2018
  14. ^ Boyd Carpenter, W., Commentary on Revelation, chapter 12, accessed 7 November 2018
  15. ^ Revelation 12:3 NKJV
  16. ^ Strong's Greek 1404. drakón.
  17. ^ Revelation 12:5 KJV
  18. ^ a b Greek Text Analysis: Revelation 12:5. Biblehub
  19. ^ Vincent, Marvin R. (1886) Vincent's New Testament Word Studies, "Revelation 12". Hendrickson Publishers. Internet Sacred Texts Archive. Biblehub.
  20. ^ Bengel, Johann. Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. Revelation 12. Accessed on 24 April 2019.
  21. ^ Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert; Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary On the Whole Bible, "Revelation 12". 1871.
  22. ^ a b Poole, Matthew, A Commentary on the Holy Bible. "Revelation 12".
  23. ^ Revelation 12:7 NKJV
  24. ^ a b Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Revelation 12, accessed 28 April 2019
  25. ^ Revelation 12:9 KJV
  26. ^ Revelation 12:11 KJV
  27. ^ Boyd Carpenter, W., Revelation 12, in Ellicott, C. J. (Ed.) 1905), Ellicott's Bible Commentary for English Readers, London: Cassell and Company, Limited, [1905-1906] Online version: (OCoLC) 929526708 accessed 28 April 2019
  28. ^ Revelation 12:14 KJV
  29. ^ Bauckham 2007, p. 1297.
  30. ^ Revelation 12:16 KJV


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