Revelation Study Guide: Week 17, Chapter 12
By Coty Pinckney
Read Revelation 12 to 15:4 once, then chapter 12 alone at least two additional times, without referring to notes or commentaries. Most students of Revelation agree that chapter 12 begins a new section (though some would begin the section with the last verse of 11, and others end it with the last verse of 14).
(1) Think about the chapter as a whole. What images here must be symbolic? Are there any that are possibly literal?
(2) Who does the child represent? How do you know (see Psalm 2:7-10)? Who does the dragon represent? How do you know? Consider also Ezekiel 29:1-7 and 32:1-10, noting that in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (used in the 1st century), the word translated "monster" in 29:3 and 32:2 is the same as the word translated "dragon" in Revelation 12.
(3) The woman is harder to interpret. Who or what might the woman represent? List her characteristics as described in this chapter. Don't forget verse 17. See Genesis 37:9-11, Romans 9:1-8, Galatians 4:26-28. Given these Scriptures and the characteristics of the woman, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the different possible interpretations?
(4) How would you describe the wilderness or desert described in verses 6 and 14? Try to put yourself in the position of someone hearing this in 95AD, who is familiar with the Old Testament. See, for example, Exodus 16:10-12 and 1 Kings 19:1-8.
(5) Consider the battle between Michael and Satan. Note that this may, but need not, follow the events of 12:1-6 chronologically. For other references to Michael, see Daniel 10:13, 10:21, 12:1, and Jude 1:9. What does Satan's being thrown down represent? These verses may or may not help: Job 1 & 2, Zechariah 3:1-2, Matthew 28:18, John 12:31, 16:11, Hebrews 2:14, 1 John 3:8. Is this the same event or something different from what Jesus describes in Luke 10:18?
(6) In verse 11, who has conquered? By what means? What are the implications for us today? Note that the word translated "conquered" is the same as the word translated "overcome" in each of the letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3.
(7) Consider verses 13-16. Look at Exodus 19:3-6, Deuteronomy 32:9-13, Isaiah 40:27-31. Recall the images used in Ezekiel 29 and 32, which we looked at in question 2. How does this section speak to us today? What is Satan able to do to the woman and her "other offspring" (verse 17)? What is he not able to do? Recall our discussion of the witnesses in chapter 11.
Now read Stedman's sermon on chapter 12 as well as Wilcock pages 110-122. Stedman is particularly good when discussing the application of verse 11 to us today. In this section of Wilcock, he includes a look back at the structure of Revelation to this point; this is a key section for understanding his arguments for the way Revelation should be interpreted. Revise your answers, if necessary, in light of the insights of these two commentators.
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