Revelation 12 - The True Church

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

Revelation speaks of two women, one pure, (Rev 12) the other a whore (Rev 17). These two women represent the true and false Christian churches in the world today. This chapter will identify the true... "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

"All need wisdom carefully to search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this earth’s history.... In the very time in which we live, the Lord has called His people and has given them a message to bear. He has called them to expose the wickedness of the man of sin who has made the Sunday law a distinctive power, who has thought to change times and laws, and to oppress the people of God who stand firmly to honor Him by keeping the only true Sabbath, the Sabbath of creation, as holy unto the Lord." { Testimonies to Ministers 117.5}

"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Revelation Chapter 12

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

5 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.

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days.

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9 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.

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

11 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.

12 Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].

14 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.

15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

16 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.

17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The true remnant church of Christ (the pure woman) keeps the commandments of God (all ten of them including the Seventh Day Sabbath which is Saturday) and have the testimony of Jesus Christ which is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10).


God presents the history of His church under the symbol of a pure woman and her experience. Satan and the kingdoms he has used to oppose God and His church are symbolized by a seven-headed dragon. This chapter includes many things that occurred before Johnʼs time showing that not all of Revelation was future of Johnʼs day.

  • Revelation 12 identifies the true church (the pure woman) which keeps the law of God

  • Revelation 12 identifies the originator of the true church (the man-child, Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman)

  • Revelation 12 identifies the remnant church's great enemy (the dragon=the devil / Satan)

  • Revelation 12 shows the dragon trying to rid the earth of the man-child (Jesus) using the empire of Rome

  • Revelation 12:17 shows the unrelenting attack on the true church by the dragon (Devil / Satan)

  • Revelation 12 shows the earth swallowing up the flood sent by the dragon as the woman flees to the new world - the USA.

  • Revelation 12, therefore, shows that the true remnant church, the remnant of her seed which keeps all the commandments of God and has the spirit of prophecy could only have arisen in the land of the free - the USA.

verse 1 A great wonder in heaven

Heaven = Gr. ouranos - heaven, air, sky, where God dwells. Here the region occupied by the Sun, Moon and stars, not the heaven where God dwells for the things described in this vision did not occur in heaven but on earth.

Revelation 12 and13 present the unholy trinity:

  • The Dragon seen in heaven

  • The Beast which comes from the sea

  • The False prophet comes from the earth.

The places remind us of the Sabbath commandment which says, “For [in] six days the LORD made HEAVEN and EARTH, the SEA, and all that in them [is]” (Exo 20:8- 11).

verse 1 The Woman

Woman = The pure or true church. In the both the Old and New Testament a pure woman symbolises a pure church (Isa 54:5, 6; Jer 6:2; 2Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-32); a corrupt woman symbolises a corrupt church (Jer 3:20; Eze 23:2-4; Rev 17:1-3). The pure woman of Rev 12 represents the true church because she gives birth to Christ (v 5) and is clothed with Heavenʼs lights (v 1).

The true church in the Old Testament is one with the true Church in the New Testament. Christ is not going to marry two women, Israel and the church, but one, because they are one church.

Acts 7:38 refers to Israel as the “CHURCH (ekklesia) in the wilderness.” The “congregation,” “gathering” and “assemembly,” of ISRAEL in the Old Testament is translated “ekklesia (CHURCH),” in the LXX (Greek Bible).

2Cor 11:2 refers to the true church as a “VIRGIN.” Does the fact that this woman in Rev 12 is pregnant prove that she is not the church? Not at all, because virgins can conceive.

This symbolic woman gives birth to Christ, the “man child,” (v 5). Therefore this symbolic woman is symbolically the mother of Jesus. Who is Jesusʼ Mother symbolically speaking? Jesus said, “...My MOTHER and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” (Luke 8:20-21).

This woman in Rev 12 cannot be Christʼs literal mother Mary because: (a) This vision is symbolic, not literal. Mary did not give birth to Jesus in heaven, no literal dragon was present at the birth, Mary was not clothed with the Sun, moon and stars, etc. (b) Mary did not flee into the wilderness for 1260 days following Christʼs ascension as this woman did (v 6).

The woman is represented as fully organized with the 12 apostles before the birth of Christ is described.

verse 1 Clothed with the Sun, Moon, Stars

Clothed with the Sun = The glory of the New Testament dispensation. Christ revealed in the New Testament (Mal 4:2; John 8:12). She (the true church) is clothed with the great light of the New Testament.

Standing upon the Moon = The Mosaic dispensation. She stands on the types of the Old Testament (moon) - Christ reflected in the Old Testament and type of the Sanctuary service. As the Moon foretells of the coming sun, so the Old Testament foretold of the coming the Sun of righteousness. (2Cor 3:7-9). They had types and shadows, we have antitype and substance.

Wearing a crown of 12 Stars = Christ revealed in his people (Dan 12:3). Crown of 12 stars = 12 tribes in the Old Testament. 12 disciples in the New Testament.

Sun. Moon & Stars are all the heavenly lights. The church is “throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Tim 3:17.

Without the light of truth we would not be able to see the dragon! The woman (Church) is introduced as longing for the appearance of the man child - Christ.

The Sun, Moon and eleven stars are seen in a symbolic vision in Gen 37:9. The Sun - Josephʼs father. The Moon - his Mother

The 11 stars - his brethren. If these symbols are used in Rev 12 then the woman is not Israel, but clothed with him, standing on Josephʼs mother etc.

verse 3 The 7-headed Great Red Dragon = the Devil or Satan Rev 12:9

Red symbolizes sin & blood (Isa 1:18).

Dragon = A Kingdom or a king. God called Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, a great dragon (Eze 29:3). Egypt is a “whale [tanniym - dragon] in Eze 32:2. The dragon is Egypt in Isa 59:1-2.

Babylon is likened to a dragon (Jer 51:34) Leviathan is a dragon (Isa 27:1).

The dragon in Rev 12 primarily symbolises Satan (v 9). Secondarily it symbolizes the Roman Empire because it was through Rome that Satan tried to kill Jesus at His birth as described in verse 4. Compare Matt 2:16. Herod was a Roman appointed ruler who tried to kill baby Jesus. So was Pilate who delivered up Jesus to death.

Incidentally the Roman Empire even used the red dragon as their symbol.

As the seven-headed dragon existed in Christʼs time (v 1-4), and persecutes the end-time remnant (v 17), it obviously symbolizes more than just the Roman Empire.

As Egypt was the superpower at the time Israelʼs deliverer was born, so Rome was the superpower at the time when the Christ the Deliverer, was born. See Chart

Seven crowned heads

The crowns upon the seven heads show that the heads symbolise seven different beasts which represent seven political kingdoms or nations through which Satan has opposed Godʼs work on earth. These figure in other prophecies:

Beast = Kingdom - Daniel 7:23. Excluding the Ram and He-Goat which are sacrificial animals used in the sanctuary service, there are only 7 beasts in Daniel and Revelation representing the seven kingdoms of Bible prophecy.

1. Babylon - the Lion of Daniel 7

2. Medo-Persia, - the Bear of Daniel 7

3. Greece, - the Leopard of Daniel 7

4. Pagan Rome, - the Terrible beast of Daniel 7

5. The Papal State, - the Beast of revelation 13:1-10

6. The atheistic State, (Atheism) - the Beast from the Bottomless Pitt of Revelation 11

7. The Apostate Protestant State. - the Second beast of Revelation 13:11-17

The 10 horns symbolically represent the nations of Europe which give their power to the beast. (See on Rev 17).

verse 4 The dragonʼs tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth

As we are dealing with a symbolic dragon, the stars which his “tail” drew are symbolic stars.

Tail = The lies of a false prophet. (Isa 9:15). Those who do not keep the commandment of the Lord are likened to tails (Deut 28:13).

Stars = Angels. (Job 38:7)

Satan was cast out of heaven (Isa 14:12) as a sinner. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1John 3:4.

Satan rebelled against the eternal law of God, which is a transcript of Godʼs character of love (Rom 13:8-10). Deceived by his lies 1/3 of the angels (“stars”) sided with Satan and were cast out of heaven with him.

Incidentally the Jews had three rulers, Kings, Priests and Sanhedrin. Rome took away 1/3 when they removed the Jewish kings.

verse 4 To devour her child at birth

Satan moved on Herod, a representative of Pagan Rome, to kill Christ as soon as He was born (Matt 2:16).

verse 5 The man child

The man child = Christ, the “Son of man.” The man child literally “a son, a man,” is an unusual expression which points to Christ. “Son of man” was the title Christ most often used for Himself.

Christ will “rule” (destroy) all nations with a rod of iron (Rev 19:15; Ps 2:7-9).

Christ was caught up to Godʼs throne (Rev 3:21; Heb 1:12; 10:12).

verse 6 Woman fled into the wilderness

After Christʼs ascension Satan “persecuted the woman which brought forth the manchild.” (v 13). Through Pagan Rome Satan attempted to exterminate the church but she survived. The power of Pagan Rome which had withheld the rise of “that wicked,” was eventually “taken out of the way,” and the “man of sin” was revealed taking Godʼs place as lord over the chuch. (2Thess 2). This apostate organisation, Papal Rome, continued to persecute the true church causing her to flee into the wilderness areas of Europe. There for over 1000 years faithful saints, such as the Waldenses, maintained the ancient faith.

See Appendix.

verse 6 That they should feed her

Verse 13 says that the church was “nourished.” The Church feeds on and is nourished with, “every Word of God” (Mattt 4:4), both the Old & New Testaments.

Verse 14 says that the woman fled into the wilderness on eagleʼs wings. This symbolism is drawn from the Exodus (Exo 19:4). As God “fed” literal Israel in the wilderness with manna (Deut 8:16), so He fed the church in the wilderness with the word of God (John 6:49-63). “THEY” which fed her are the two witnesses, the Old & New Testaments which testify of Christ (See on Rev 11).

The church in the wilderness during the period of Papal supremacy had the word of God unadulterated. This made them special objects of Satanʼs hatred.

Of all English versions the KJV is the most similar to the unadulterated word of God possessed by the church of the wilderness. The manuscripts from which the KJV was translated are in harmony with the manuscripts held by the church in the wilderness and with about 95% of all known Bible manuscripts! Many newer versions are not.

verse 6 The 1260 days

This is a symbolic prophecy, and as a symbolic day = a year (Eze 4:6; Num 14:34). the 1260 days = 1260 years. For 1260 years the apostate church had power - (538 - 1798. See on Dan 7:25). During this time Satan used the apostate church to “make WAR,” on God's faithful saints. The Waldenses and Albigenses in the wilderness areas of Europe maintained the true faith observing ALL of Godʼs ten commandment, including the seventh day Sabbath. It is those who keep ALL of Godʼs commandments that Satan hates most (See v 17).

See Appendix - Waldenses. See General Introduction - Time periods.

verses 7-11 War in heaven

The RSV says, “NOW war arose in heaven,” as if the war followed the 1260 days. However in the underlying Greek there is no word for “now.” The KJV, NASB, NIV are all truer to the Greek on this verse.

Verses 6 -7 contain a transition from events on earth to events in heaven. Verse 6 described the 1260 years during which the little horn/beast, “made WAR” on Christʼs saints (See Dan 7:21; Rev 13:7). Rev 12:7 then takes us back to the very BEGINNING of the great controversy between Christ and Satan when “WAR” broke out in heaven.

“Michael” is a transliteration of the Heb. Mikael, which means “Who is like God?” It is one of Christʼs names.

verses 8-9 Satan and his angels CAST OUT

The heaven in v 1 was the sky. The heaven here is the place where God dwells and the place from which Satan fell. Michael and His angels cast Satan and his angels OUT of heaven before the creation of the world. “Cast out of heaven, Satan set up his kingdom in this world, and ever since, he has been untiringly striving to seduce human beings from their allegiance to God.” E.G. White, 7 Manuscript Release, p63.

verse 9 That old serpent called the Devil and Satan

Verse 9 calls the dragon, “that old SERPENT.” This brings to mind the events

long ago in Eden. After being thrown out of heaven (v 8) Satan entered Eden and, through the medium of a SERPENT, he managed to get mankind to follow him into sin. Satan thus became the “prince of this world,” and the “whole world” has been deceived into sin.

verse 10 Accuser cast DOWN

As the “prince of this world” Satan regained access to certain councils in heaven as the representative head of this planet (See Job 1:6-7; John 12:31). There Satan ACCUSED the brethren. None had lived a sinless life until the Messiah came.

In carrying out his enmity toward Christ till he crucified Him, Satan completely uprooted himself from the affections of the universe. Christʼs death silenced forever Satanʼs claims that with God self-denial was impossible. It was seen that God denied Himself because of His love for mankind. He who had been accusing the brethren since he had lured mankind into sin, was, at Calvary, cast DOWN to the earth, the only place in the universe where he still finds a welcome.

At Christ's birth the angels had rejoiced and when Christ defeated Satan on Calvary the inhabitants of heaven declared as one voice, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Wonderful thought, that those in heaven regard us as their brethren.

Salvation - Salvation is sure. Strength - The strength of Christ to save is His love seen in glory on Calvary.

Kingdom - Christ kingdom is sure. His power or authority is come.

verse 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony

“Christ has made it possible for every member of the human family to resist temptation.”

By the blood of the lamb, and Christ who is the “WORD” of the Christians testimony. “If ye abide in me, and my WORDS abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

“Ye shall be WITNESSES unto me.”

verse 11 They loved not their lives unto the death

All must die to self. Many, especially during the 1260 years, literally gave their lives rather than dishonour Christ by sinning.

verse 12 Rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in THEM

There is the heaven where God dwells. There is also the heaven where the stars shine. In these “heavens” there are those who rejoice in Christʼs victory and the certain end of Satan and evil.

1Cor 4:9 speaks of mankind being a spectacle to the “worlds,” Gr. kosmos, where unfallen beings dwell.

Satan was CAST OUT of heaven before the creation of the world (v 9), he was CAST DOWN at Calvary (v 10), he will soon be CAST INTO the bottomless pit (Rev 20:1-3) and he knows that he will soon be CAST INTO the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). He is full of wrath knowing that he hath but a short time left.

“Short” time, Gr. oligos, means “few, small, little,” but its size is dependant upon that with which it is compared. James speaks of a manʼs life as a “little time (a little oligos).” James 4:4.

In Rev 12:12 oligos refers to a period that is “short (oligos),” compared with the more than 4000 years Satan has been doing evil.

verse 13 Persecuted the woman

Having failed to kill Christ, the man child who ascended to heaven, Satan turned his wrath upon Christʼs church.