Jesus and the Church in Revelation 12

At the beginning of the 12. Chapter of the Revelation John tells of his vision of a pregnant woman who is about to give birth. He sees her in radiant splendor - clothed in the sun and the moon under her feet. On her head is a wreath or a crown of twelve stars. Who are the women and the child related to?

In the 1. Book of Moses we find the story of the biblical patriarch Joseph, who had a dream in which he revealed a similar scene. He later told his brothers that he had seen the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowing to him (1Mo 37,9).

The portraits in Josef's dream clearly related to his family members. It was Joseph's father Israel (sun), his mother Rahel (moon) and his eleven brothers (stars, see 1Mo 37,10). In this case, Joseph was the twelfth brother or "star". Israel's twelve sons became populous tribes and grew into a nation that became God's chosen people (5Mo 14,2).

Revelation 12 radically changes the elements of Joseph's dream. He reinterprets them with reference to spiritual Israel - the Church or the assembly of God's people (Gal 6,16).

In Revelation, the twelve tribes do not refer to ancient Israel, but symbolize the whole Church (7,1-8). The woman dressed in the sun could portray the church as the radiant Bride of Christ (2Kor 11,2). The moon under the woman's feet and the crown on her head could symbolize her victory through Christ.

According to this symbolism, the "woman" of Revelation 12 represents God's pure church. Bible scholar M. Eugene Boring says: "She is the cosmic woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and crowned with twelve stars holding the Messiah "(Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching," Revelation ", p. 152).

In the New Testament, the church is known as spiritual Israel, Zion and "the mother" (Gal 4,26, 6,16, Eph 5,23-24, 30-32, Hebr 12,22). Zion-Jerusalem was the idealized mother of the people of Israel (Jes 54,1). The metaphor was transferred to the New Testament and applied to the church (Gal 4,26).

Some commentators see the symbol of the Lady of Revelation 12,1-3 as meaningful. The picture, they say, is a reinterpretation of Jewish conceptions of the Messiah and pagan Redeemer myths with reference to the Christ experience. M. Eugene Boring says: "Woman is neither Mary nor Israel nor the Church, but less and more than all of them. The images John used bring several elements into context: the image of the pagan myth of the Queen of Heaven; from the story about Eve, the mother of all living, from the first book of Moses, whose "seed" trampled the head of the primeval serpent (1Mo 3,1-6); of Israel escaping the dragon / pharaoh on eagle wings into the desert (2Mo 19,4; Ps 74,12-15); and Zion, the 'mother' of the people of God in all periods, Israel and the Church "(p. 152).

With this in mind, some biblical commentators in this section see references to various pagan myths as well as to the story of Joseph's dream in the Old Testament. In Greek mythology, the pregnant goddess Leto is persecuted by the dragon Python. She escapes to an island where she gives birth to Apollo, who later kills the dragon. Almost every Mediterranean culture had some version of this mythical battle in which the monster attacks the champion.

The image of the revelation of the cosmic woman brands all these myths as false. It says that none of these stories understands that Jesus is the Savior and that the Church is the people of God. Christ is the son who slays the dragon, not Apollo. The church is the mother of and for whom the Messiah comes; Leto is not the mother. The Goddess Roma - the personification of the Roman Empire - is actually a type of international spiritual prostitute, Babylon the Great. The true queen of heaven is Zion, which is the church or people of God.

Thus, the revelation in the story of the woman reveals old political-religious beliefs. The British Bible scholar GR Beasley-Murray says that the use of the Apollo myth by John "is an amazing example of communicating the Christian faith through an internationally known symbol" (The New Century Bible Commentary, "Revelation", p. 192) ).

Revelation also presents Jesus as the Savior of the Church - the long-awaited Messiah. Thus, the book implicates the meaning of the Old Testament symbols in a definitive way. BR Beasley-Murray states, "By using this means of expression, John at one stroke made the fulfillment of pagan hope and the Old Testament promise in the Gospel of Christ asserted. There is no other Savior except Jesus "(p. 196).

Revelation 12 also exposes the main antagonist of the Church. He is the terrifying red dragon with seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns on his head. The revelation uniquely identifies the dragon or the monster - it is "the old serpent, which means devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world" (12,9 and 20,2).

Satan's earthly agent [representative] - the beast of the sea - also has seven heads and ten horns and he also has scarlet color (13,1 and 17,3). Satan's character is reflected in his earthly representatives. The dragon personifies the evil. Since ancient mythology had many references to dragons, the audience of John would have known that the dragon of Revelation 13 was a cosmic enemy.

What the seven heads of the dragon represent is not immediately clear. However, since John uses the number seven as a symbol of completeness, this may indicate the universal nature of Satan's power, and that he fully embodies in himself all evil. The dragon also has seven tiaras or royal crowns on its heads. They could represent Satan's unwarranted claim against Christ. As Lord of Lords, Jesus is all crowns of authority. He is the one who will be crowned with many crowns (19,12.16).

We learn that the dragon "swept away the third part of the star of the sky and threw it on the ground" (12,4). This fraction is used several times in the book of Revelation. Maybe we should understand this expression as a significant minority.

We also receive a short biography of the "boy" of the woman, a reference to Jesus (12,5). The revelation here tells the story of the Christ event and refers to Satan's unsuccessful attempt to thwart God's plan.

The dragon tried to kill or "eat" the child of the woman at the time of his birth. This is an indication of a historical situation. When Herod heard that the Jewish Messiah had been born in Bethlehem, he killed all the infants in the city, leading to the death of the Infant Jesus (Mt 2,16). Of course, Jesus escaped to Egypt with his parents. Revelation tells us that Satan was indeed behind the plot to murder Jesus - to "eat" him.

Some commentators believe that Satan's attempt to "eat" the woman's child also included his temptation of Jesus (Mt 4,1-11), his obscuration of the Gospel message (Mt 13,39), and his incitement to the crucifixion of Christ (Joh 13,2). By killing Jesus through the crucifixion, the devil may have assumed that he had won a victory over the Messiah. In fact, it was Jesus' death itself that saved the world and sealed the fate of the devil (Joh 12,31, 14,30, 16,11, Kol 2,15, Hebr 2,14).

Through his death and resurrection, Jesus, the child of the woman, was "taken to God and his throne" (12,5). That is, he was raised to immortality. God has elevated the glorified Christ to a position of universal authority (Phil 2,9-11). It is destined to "graze all nations with an iron rod" (12,5). He will feed the peoples with loving, but absolute authority. These words - "rule all peoples" - clearly identify who the child's symbol refers to. He is God's anointed Messiah who is destined to rule God's kingdom throughout the earth (Ps 2,9, Rev 19,15).

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