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Revelation 12:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Revelation 12:5; per Adam Clarke

And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne - In Yalcut Rubeni are these words: "Rachael, the niece of Methusala, was pregnant, and ready to be delivered in Egypt. They trod upon her, and the child came out of her bowels, and lay under the bed; Michael descended, and took him up to the throne of glory. On that same night the first born of Egypt were destroyed."

Revelation 12:5; per John Edward Clarke

And she brought forth a man child - The Christian Church, when her full time came, obtained a deliverer, who, in the course of the Divine providence, was destined: -

To rule all nations - The heathen Roman empire,

With a rod of iron - A strong figure to denote the very great restraint that should be put upon paganism, so that it should not be able longer to persecute the Christian Church. The man child mentioned in this verse is the dynasty of Christians emperors, beginning with Constantine's public acknowledgment of his belief in the divinity of the Christian religion, which happened in the latter part of a.d. 312, after the defeat of the Emperor Maxentius.

And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne - A succession of Christian emperors was raised up to the Church; for the Roman throne, as Bishop Newton observes, is here called the throne of God, because there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And she brought forth a man child - Representing, according to the view above taken, the church in its increase and prosperity - as if a child were born that was to rule over all nations. See the notes on Revelation 12:2.

Who was to rule all nations - That is, according to this view, the church thus represented was destined to reign in all the earth, or all the earth was to become subject to its laws. Compare the notes on Daniel 7:13-14.

With a rod of iron - The language used here is derived from Psalm 2:9; “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.” The form of the expression here used, “who was to rule” - ὅς μέλλει ποιμαίνειν hos mellei poimainein- is derived from the Septuagint translation of the Psalm - ποιμαινεῖς poimaineis- “thou shalt rule them”; to wit, as a shepherd does his flock. The reference is to such control as a shepherd employs in relation to his flock - protecting, guarding, and defending them, with the idea that the flock is under his care; and, on the supposition that this refers to the church, it means that it would yet have the ascendency or the dominion over the earth. The meaning in the phrase, “with a red of iron,” is, that the dominion would be strong or irresistible - as an iron scepter is one that cannot be broken or resisted. The thoughts here expressed, therefore, are:

(a)that the church would become universal - or that the principles of truth and righteousness would prevail everywhere on the earth;

(b)that the ascendency of religion over the understandings and consciences of people would be irresistible - as firm as a government administered under a scepter of iron; yet,

(c)that it would be rather of a character of protection than of force or violence, like the sway which a shepherd wields over his flock.

I understand the “man child” here, therefore, to refer to the church in its increase under the Messiah, and the idea to be, that that church was, at the time referred to, about to be enlarged, and that, though its increase was opposed, yet it was destined ultimately to assert a mild sway over all the world. The time here referred to would seem to be some period in the early history of the church when religion was likely to be rapidly propagated, and when it was opposed and retarded by violent persecution - perhaps the last of the persecutions under the pagan Roman empire.

And her child was caught up unto God - This is evidently a symbolical representation. Some event was to occur, or some divine interposition was to take place, as if the child thus born were caught up from the earth to save it from death, and was rendered secure by being in the presence of God, and near his throne. It cannot be supposed that anything like this would “literally” occur. Any divine interposition to protect the church in its increase, or to save it from being destroyed by the dragon - the fierce pagan power - would be properly represented by this. Why may we not suppose the reference to be to the time of Constantine, when the church came under his protection; when it was effectually and finally saved from pagan persecution; when it was rendered safe from the enemy that waited to destroy it? On the supposition that this refers to an increasing but endangered church, in whose defense a civil power was raised up, exalting Christianity to the throne, and protecting it from danger, this would be well represented by the child caught up to heaven.

This view may derive confirmation from some well-known facts in history. The old pagan power was concentrated in Maximin, who was emperor from the Nile to the Bosphorus, and who raged against the gospel and the church “with Satanic enmity.” “Infuriate at the now imminent prospect of the Christian body attaining establishment in the empire, Maximin renewed the persecution against Christians within the limits of his own dominion; prohibiting their assemblies, and degrading, and even killing their bishops.” Compare Gibbon, 1:325,326. The last struggle of pagan Rome to destroy the church by persecution, before the triumph of Constantine, and the public establishment of the Christian religion, might be well represented by the attempt of the dragon to destroy the child; and the safety of the church, and its complete deliverance from pagan persecution, by the symbol of a child caught up to heaven, and placed near the throne of God. The persecution under Maximin was the last struggle of paganism to retain the supremacy, and to crush Christianity in the empire. “Before the decisive battle,” says Milner, “Maximin vowed to Jupiter that, if victorious, he would abolish the Christian name. The contest between Yahweh and Jupiter was now at its height, and drawing to a crisis.”

The result was the defeat and death of Maximin, and the termination of the efforts of paganism to destroy Christianity by force. Respecting this event, Mr. Gibbon remarks, “The defeat and death of Maximin soon delivered the church from the last and most implacable of her enemies,” 1:326. Christianity was, after that, rendered safe from pagan persecution. Mr. Gibbon says, “The gratitude of the church has exalted the virtues of the generous patron who seated Christianity on the throne of the Roman world.” If, however, it should be regarded as a forced and fanciful interpretation to suppose that the passage before us refers to this specific event, yet the general circumstances of the times would furnish a fulfillment of what is here said:

(a)The church would be well represented by the beautiful woman.

(b)The prospect of its increase and universal dominion would be well represented by the birth of the child.

(c)The furious opposing pagan power would be well represented by the dragon in its attempts to destroy the child.

(d)The safety of the church would be well represented by the symbol of the child caught up to God, and placed near his throne.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 972

1 (ch. 20:12, 13; 1 Peter 4:17; 2 Peter 1:10, 11). Measuring the Church of God—The grand judgment is taking place, and has been going on for some time. Now the Lord says, Measure the temple and the worshipers thereof. Remember when you are walking the streets about your business, God is measuring you; when you are attending your household duties, when you engage in conversation, God is measuring you. Remember that your words and actions are being daguerreotyped [photographed] in the books of heaven, as the face is reproduced by the artist on the polished plate.... 7BC 972.1

Here is the work going on, measuring the temple and its worshipers to see who will stand in the last day. Those who stand fast shall have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. When we are doing our work remember there is One that is watching the spirit in which we are doing it. Shall we not bring the Saviour into our everyday lives, into our secular work and domestic duties? Then in the name of God we want to leave behind everything that is not necessary, all gossiping or unprofitable visiting, and present ourselves as servants of the living God (Manuscript 4, 1888). 7BC 972.2

19 (see EGW on Exodus 31:18; Isaiah 6:1-7; 58:12-14). Tables of Stone a Convincing Testimony—When God's temple in heaven is opened, what a triumphant time that will be for all who have been faithful and true! In the temple will be seen the ark of the testament in which were placed the two tables of stone, on which are written God's law. These tables of stone will be brought forth from their hiding place, and on them will be seen the Ten Commandments engraved by the finger of God. These tables of stone now lying in the ark of the testament will be a convincing testimony to the truth and binding claims of God's law (Letter 47, 1902). 7BC 972.3

Ark in Heaven Contains Commandments—Sacrilegious minds and hearts have thought they were mighty enough to change the times and laws of Jehovah; but, safe in the archives of heaven, in the ark of God, are the original commandments, written upon the two tables of stone. No potentate of earth has power to draw forth those tables from their sacred hiding place beneath the mercy seat (The Signs of the Times, February 28, 1878). 7BC 972.4

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 438

In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, against whose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9, 10. A correct interpretation of the symbols employed is necessary to an understanding of this message. What is represented by the beast, the image, the mark? GC 438.1

The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome. GC 438.2

In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.... And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy. GC 439.1

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Ellen G. White
Evangelism, 577

We May Have Less to Say—There is need of a much closer study of the Word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work. We may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the Papacy, but we should call attention to what the prophets and apostles have written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has so shaped matters, both in the giving of the prophecy, and in the events portrayed, as to teach that the human agent is to be kept out of sight, hid in Christ, and the Lord God of heaven and His law are to be exalted.—Counsels to Editors, pp. 45, 46. (1896). Ev 577.1

Pictured Truth Appeals to Catholics—Elder S is arousing a good interest by his meetings. People of all classes come out to hear, and to see the life-size images that he has of the beasts of Revelation. A great many Catholics come to hear him. Much of his preaching is in the words of the Bible. He uses as few of his own words as possible. So if his hearers war against what he says, they war against the Word of God.—Letter 352, 1906. Ev 577.2

None need to feel that the Catholics are beyond their reach.—Manuscript 14, 1887. Ev 577.3

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 438

In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, against whose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9, 10. A correct interpretation of the symbols employed is necessary to an understanding of this message. What is represented by the beast, the image, the mark? GC 438.1

The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome. GC 438.2

In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.... And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy. GC 439.1

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