Join us as we study through Revelation verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 12 Bible Study Guide With Questions – The Woman, The Child, And The Dragon
I. The Woman, Child, and Dragon (1-6)
II. The War In Heaven (7-12)
III. The Dragon’s Rage (13-17)
I. The Woman, Child, and Dragon (1-6)
Who does the woman in this passage represent? Why?
Who does the child in this passage represent? Why?
Who does the dragon in this passage represent? Why?
What might the crown of 12 stars on the woman’s head refer to?
What do the multiple heads, horns, and diadems on the dragon’s head refer to?
Who else in Revelation will rule the nations with a rod of iron?
What does it mean that the child “was caught up to God and to his throne?”
What will happen to the woman in verse 6?
What does this passage show us about the result of Satan’s long lasting scheme to thwart God’s plans?
What can we learn from this passage about God’s sovereignty?
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Revelation 20:1-2 – Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.
Isaiah 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
Revelation 19:15 – From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Overview – In this chapter we get a special behind the scenes look at the epic battle between God and Satan that has been raging ever since the devil rebelled. The battle spans millennia. It also is waged across the cosmos, both in heaven and on earth.
The book of Revelation is largely a description of this war. And in it, we see exactly how the war will end and Satan will be judged. God wins. Good triumphs over evil.
However, in this passage we see that people become ensnared in this conflict. Satan attempts to use people against God just as he originally seduced many angels to join him in this fight.
He alternatively seeks to either seduce and ensnare people or outright target them for destruction. Though he can’t hurt God directly, he seeks to hurt God by hurting God’s creation. So whether we like it or not, people have become embroiled in this conflict.
The arena has expanded from heaven to earth. And in this chapter we will see how that war effects God’s people.
2. The woman – There are several clues in this passage as to the identity of the woman. But we can first start with who the woman is not. At first glance, it may appear that this woman is Mary. After all, she gave birth to the most famous child in all of Scripture.
However, verse 6 depicts this woman as fleeing into the wilderness to herself escape the wrath of the dragon for three and a half years. Historically, this did not happen to Mary. Also, the description of the woman in verses 13-17 do not fit Mary. Specifically, the dragon is not just going after Mary’s offspring (17).
A better explanation is that the woman represents the nation Israel. Israel is often referred to as a “her” in the Old Testament (Lamentations 1:1-7). The text also gives us more clues that the woman represents Israel.
The woman is mentioned as being “clothed with the sun, with the moon…and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
This is remarkably similar to Joseph’s dream that he shared with his family in Genesis 37.
The best place to go to interpret Scripture is other Scripture and Genesis 37:9 interprets Revelation 12:1 very well. The twelve stars on the woman’s head refer to the twelve tribes of Israel, just as they do in Joseph’s dream. Note that Joseph only mentions eleven stars because he himself is the twelfth. And references to the sun and moon (Jacob and Rachel in the original dream) show where the woman (the nation of Israel) came from.
The nation of Israel produced the Messiah (the child) just as God originally promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:3). And we see that throughout the Bible and throughout history Satan hates the nation of Israel. They are God’s chosen people. So they have a target on their back.
3. The child – In this passage, the child refers to the Messiah, Jesus. He is the one who is going to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27, 19:15).
Revelation 2:27 – And he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
4. The dragon – There should be little doubt about who the dragon in this passage represents. If his actions are not clear enough, verse 9 names the dragon as “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan.”
The dragon has seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems. In Revelation 13 we will see that the dragon will give power to the beast (antichrist), who will hold sway politically over a number of regions or kingdoms. There will be a ten king alliance that the antichrist will rule over and through. That seems to be pictured by the ten horns. Eventually three of these will revolt and lose. The alliance will then be reduced to seven kings. The seven heads may refer to this.
Much of Satan’s influence in the world is exercised through governments. Behind the scenes he deceives, plots, and schemes. What he attempts to accomplish through subtlety now, he will accomplish through brute force and power then. The dragon will take complete control over the world government and claim the world as his domain. The seven diadems portray his prideful claim to be the ruler.
5. Satan’s scheme to thwart the Messiah –
Verse 4 tells us that Satan wanted to devour the child. He wanted to stop Jesus from ever accomplishing His mission. And Satan’s attempts to stop Jesus started long before He was born.
Let’s zoom out for a moment and look the big picture of this war.
When God created the world everything was good. It was perfect. There was no darkness, no evil. But it didn’t take long for things to change. Only a few chapters later after Adam and Eve rebelled against Him people’s sin had become “great on the earth” (Genesis 6:5-6).
So God promised to redeem the world. Through Abraham’s descendant He would bring blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3). The same promise was made in front of he snake in Eden (Genesis 3:15). It is a promise that would be fulfilled in the Messiah.
Satan is not dumb. He knows Scripture. And he is aware of God’s plan to send a Messiah. He also knew that this Messiah would come through God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel (the woman).
So from the beginning Satan has attempted to block God’s plan by preventing Christ from ever being born. The best tacticians wage war on many levels. And knowing God’s plan ahead of time, Satan, being the skilled terrorist that he is, has tried to sabotage this plan over and over through millennia.
He tries to corrupt the goodness in God’s creation. He tries to destroy the line of Christ to even prevent Jesus’ birth.
Reflect: How has Satan tried to thwart God’s plan of sending the Messiah?
Below we will see a quick overview of how Satan has tried to block God’s plan and how God has won each time.
Satan attempted to corrupt the human race (Genesis 2). If mankind is corrupted and fathers pass down original sin to their children, then how can a perfect Savior be born? God defeated this by the miracle of the virgin birth.
Satan attempts to kill the godly line (Able). God raised up another godly line in Seth (Genesis 4:25).
Satan attempted to pollute all the bloodlines of the human race (Genesis 6). God instead sends the flood and preserves one chosen family.
A famine comes which threatens the fledgling family of Israel. God protects His people by sending Joseph ahead to Egypt (Genesis 38-50).
In Egypt, Satan tries to kill all of the male children (Exodus 1:15-16). The midwives disobey because they feared God and the nation continues. Later the idol-worshiping king tried to wipe out the Israelites when they were on the border of the Red Sea. But God flipped the script, protected His people, and wiped out the attacking armies.
Satan attempted to use Haman the Agagite to exterminate all Jews from the planet. He got so far as to get the Persian king’s royal seal of approval (Esther 3:6, 13). God again flipped he script. He raised up Mordecai and Esther, putting them in the exact place and the exact time they needed to be to deliver His people.
Through Herod, Satan attempted to have Jesus killed along with all the male children in Bethlehem under two (Matthew 2:16). God miraculously delivers the child and his family (Matthew 2:13-14).
Satan attempted to tempt Jesus and cause Him to sin. If he was successful, Jesus could not save us. But Jesus resisted the temptation (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Finally, Satan had Jesus killed, thinking this could stop Jesus from reigning as king (Luke 22:3). But this was part of God’s plan all along and the method by which He accomplished salvation for all.
So we see that the dragon has been after the child all along. Like a skilled tactician, he began long before Jesus was actually born. But God is a far greater tactician. He told exactly what He was going to do ahead of time. He even declared it to the enemy. Then He made it happen, using the very responses of the enemy to further His plan and reveal His sovereign power for all to see.
One of the most famous plays in baseball history is when Babe Ruth pointed out exactly where he was going to homer the pitch, and then did it.
That is what God did. Nothing can thwart His plan.
Application: Do not fret about circumstances that seem stacked against you. God is sovereign. His perfect plans will be fulfilled, both in your life and in the world.
6. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven – Likely this is a reference to the fallen angels who joined Satan’s rebellion. It is this verse that points to one third of angels having joined in the rebellion. All of those who did became demons.
7. The woman fled and was nourished for 1260 days – During the second half of the tribulation, the dragon will unleash his anger on the nation of Israel. God will preserve a remnant and give a place of special divine protection for His people.
II. The War In Heaven (7-12)
Who is fighting in this war?
Why might God let angels fight for Him instead of just winning with a word?
When do you think this war takes place? Why?
What will happen to Satan and his followers at the conclusion of this war?
What is Satan called in this passage?
What is his purpose in accusing believers?
What do you learn about God in this passage?
What do you learn about the final conclusion of this war?
How does seeing the end give you hope now?
How can believers conquer Satan?
How can it be called overcoming when they are killed?
How will Satan react when he is cast permanently cast out of heaven?
1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Ephesians 6:11-12 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Now war arose in heaven – There is going to be a clash of the ages in heaven. Michael and God’s good angels will pit themselves against Satan and his horde of fallen angels.
Someone might ask, “Why doesn’t God just banish Satan and his demons with a word? Why does he need to use angels to fight for Him?”
God can go everything Himself. That is true. He doesn’t need people to share the gospel. He could boom it from the heavens. He doesn’t need angels to take messages to His saints. He could do it Himself. The King of Kings could have certainly taught His people without the prophets. God could make missionaries and preachers expendable.
However, God seems to delight in using His created agents, whether that is people or angels. We are all called to join this battle against Satan and his demons. As we fight that good fight, we grow spiritually. Our faith is increased. At the same time we grow more bold and more reliant upon the Holy Spirit. Christian character grows through struggle.
We can assume that angels also reap some benefit personally from serving God. This is what they were created to do. So rather than doing everything Himself, God empowers His followers to be His standard bearers.
Application: Let us lift His standard high and wave it proudly as His loyal ambassadors!
2. There was no longer any place for them in heaven – After Satan is defeated all access to heaven is closed off. When will this occur? It is probably a still future point in time which will take place during the seven year tribulation.
Job 1:6-7 – Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Job 2:1-2 – Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
As we can see in the book of Job, even after Satan sinned and lost his permanent home in heaven, he still had access there. The “sons of God” in these verses are angels. And because Satan is allowed to present himself we can assume that includes both the good angels and the fallen angels.
We don’t for sure why God still allows this access for now. Perhaps it is a type of mercy toward them or merely just a method to maintain some level of communication.
However, in the book of Revelation we see this war playing out. And the first widespread battle is in heaven. Satan is soundly defeated and forever loses any access to the throne room of God. Later in verse 12 we will see how he reacts to that.
3. A loud voice in heaven – After Satan’s defeat a loud voice proclaims God’s victory. His dominion over the entire universe is being established without question. Step by step he is rooting out all opposition.
4. Satan is the accuser – Here Satan is called the “accuser of our brothers.” It reminds us of his nature. If an artist ventured to pain a portrait of Satan, he should do so with Satan pointing his finger in accusation toward believers. That is his traditional pose. He revealed this in the book of Job and he does the same now.
Application: Let us be careful not to be like Satan. Do not be hasty to accuse others.
5. They have conquered him by the blood of Lamb – We can conquer this accuser. The strength to do so does not belong to us. It is only possible to overcome him through Christ. Jesus already won the war when He came out of the tomb. By joining with Him, relying on Him, we too can win the victory.
Note that these believers who conquer are killed for their faith. Yet they are still described as conquerors. Martyrdom is not a defeat for believers. Rather, it is a victory. It is a victory to stand firm in your faith until the end. It is a victory to never give in to persecution by denying the Lord and joining the world.
Application: When you face temptation, rely on Christ. Look to the cross. It is at the cross that you will find victory.
6. The devil has come down in great wrath because he knows his time is short – Satan will be like a cornered dog, or should we say dragon? Once he is cast out of heaven, he realizes that the final chapter is in progress. He has very little time left. Rather than humbling himself and throwing himself upon the mercy of God, he continues his scheming. His anger is unleashed even more.
III. The Dragon’s Rage (13-17)
What does it mean that the dragon pursues the woman?
How will God protect His people during this time?
What does “time, times, and half a time” mean?
Who are “her offspring” in verse 17?
What important principles can we learn about God from this chapter?
Isaiah 54:17 – No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3 – But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. He pursued the woman – Since Satan lost the war in heaven, he will turn his attention elsewhere. His attack will focus primarily on the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people.
He will pursue the remnant into the wilderness where they are being protected.
2. The woman was given two wings of the great eagle – God will again protect His people. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s miracles on the behalf of His people are recorded over and over. During the end times, He will continue to do this.
God will enable the remnant to speedily escape what Satan throws against them.
Will this be some fleet of helicopters and aircraft? Or will it be something supernatural akin to the parting off the red sea?
We don’t know for sure. God uses both supernatural means and natural means to accomplish His objectives. Either method accomplishes the same result and God receives the glory.
3. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman – Most likely this is figurative language referring to an army that he sends after them. The army is so large it is like a river gushing out to chase them down.
4. The earth came to the help of the woman – It looks like at God’s command the earth will open up and swallow the attacking army never to be seen again.
God has done this miracle before.
Numbers 16:31-33 – And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
And He can do it again. Once again, it will be clear who is the one in charge. He is the commander of heavens and the earth. Even the earth itself obeys Him.
Application: For the Jews at that time all of their senses will tell them they are doomed. It will seem that there is no hope. A massive force is after them. And they won’t have the weapons to resist. But God will fight for them as He has done so many times before. Let us trust in God even when we don’t in the moment see Him working. He has proven Himself over and over again.
5. The dragon became furious with the woman and went to make war with the rest of her offspring – Since God will be supernaturally protecting the Israelites remnant in the wilderness, Satan will change tactics. He will go after all the diaspora of Jews around the world. And he will also go after all of those who keep God’s commands (all believers).
Reflect: How does this chapter encourage you and strengthen your faith?