Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Revelation
Book: Revelation
Chapter: 12

A description of the Church of Christ and of Satan, under the
figures of a Woman and of a great red Dragon. (1-6) Michael and
his angels fight against the Devil and his angels, who are
defeated. (7-12) The Dragon persecutes the Church. (13,14) His
vain endeavours to destroy her, He renews his War against her
seed. (14-17)

1-6 The Church, under the emblem of a Woman, the mother of
believers, was seen By the Apostle in Vision, in Heaven. She was
clothed with the Sun, justified, sanctified, and shining By
union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The Moon was under
her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler Light of
the Revelation made By Moses. Having On her head a Crown of
twelve Stars; the doctrine of the Gospel, preached By the twelve
apostles, is a Crown of Glory to all true believers. As in pain
to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of
sinners might End in their Conversion. A Dragon is a known
emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for
him On Earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the City
built upon Seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten
kingdoms. Having Seven crowns, representing Seven forms of
government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the Stars
in Heaven, and casting them down to the Earth; persecuting and
seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the
Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies,
the Church brought forth a manly issue of true and Faithful
professors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the
Mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations,
and in whose right his members partake the same Glory. This
blessed offspring was protected of God.

7-11 The attempts of the Dragon proved unsuccessful against the
Church, and fatal to his own interests. The seat of this War was
in Heaven; in the Church of Christ, the kingdom of Heaven On
Earth. The parties were Christ, the great Angel of the Covenant,
and his Faithful followers; and Satan and his instruments. The
strength of the Church is in having the Lord Jesus for the
Captain of their Salvation. Pagan Idolatry, which was the
Worship of devils, was cast out of the empire By the spreading
of Christianity. The Salvation and strength of the Church, are
only to be ascribed to the King and Head of the Church. The
conquered enemy hates the presence of God, yet he is willing to
appear there, to accuse the people of God. Let us take heed that
we give him No cause to accuse us; and that, when we have
sinned, we go before the Lord, condemn ourselves, and commit our
cause to Christ as our Advocate. The servants of God overcame
Satan By the Blood of the Lamb, as the cause. By the Word of
their Testimony: the powerful preaching of the Gospel is mighty,
through God, to pull down strong holds. By their courage and
patience in sufferings: they loved not their lives So Well but
they could lay them down in Christ's cause. These were the
warriors and the weapons By which Christianity overthrew the
power of pagan Idolatry; and if Christians had continued to
fight with these weapons, and such as these, their victories
would have been more numerous and glorious, and the effects more
lasting. The redeemed overcame By a simple reliance On the Blood
of Christ, as the only ground of their hopes. In this we must be
like them. We must not blend any thing else with this.

12-17 The Church and all her friends might Well be called to
praise God for deliverance from pagan Persecution, though other
troubles awaited her. The Wilderness is a desolate place, and
full of serpents and Scorpions, uncomfortable and destitute of
provisions; yet a place of safety, as Well as where one might be
alone. But being thus retired could not protect the Woman. The
Flood of water is explained By many to mean the invasions of
barbarians, By which the western empire was overwhelmed; for the
Heathen encouraged their attacks, in the Hope of destroying
Christianity. But ungodly men, for their worldly interests,
protected the Church amidst these tumults, and the overthrow of
the empire did not help the cause of Idolatry. Or, this may be
meant of a Flood of error, By which the Church of God was in
danger of being overwhelmed and carried away. The Devil,
defeated in his designs upon the Church, turns his rage against
persons and places. Being Faithful to God and Christ, in
doctrine, Worship, and practice, exposes to the rage of Satan;
and will do So till the last enemy shall be destroyed.