In Revelation 12:1, Jesus symbolizes His church as a woman “clothed with the sun,” with “the moon under her feet,” and wearing “a crown of twelve stars.” What do these symbols mean?

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“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).

Revelation 12 begins a new line of prophecy, which continues to the end of the book. This section of prophecy sets forth the church of God in conflict with the powers of evil, and the church’s ultimate triumph over them. Let’s examine the symbols and their meanings:

A. Woman-In OT, the true church is represented by a woman (Isa. 54:5, 6; Jer. 6:2). When the church apostatized it was compared with a corrupt woman (Jer. 3:20; Eze. 23:2–4). The same figures appear in the NT (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25–32; Rev. 17:1–3).

In Revelation 12, the woman represents the true church. She is presented as about to give birth to Christ  (vs. 2, 4, 5) and later as being persecuted, following the ascension of Christ (vs. 5, 13–17).

B. The sun represents Jesus, His gospel, and His righteousness “The Lord God is a sun” (Psalms 84:11; Malachi 4:2). Without Jesus there is no salvation (Acts 4:12). And Jesus wants His church to reflect His light.

C. “The moon under her feet” represents the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so the sacrificial system reflected the light of the Messiah to come (Hebrews 10:1).

D. The “crown of twelve stars.” In general commentators have applied this symbol to both the 12 patriarchs and the 12 apostles. Since the principal emphasis in Revelation 12 is on the NT church, the emphasis is on the 12 apostles. At the same time, the picture of 12 tribes is also carried over into the NT church (Rev. 7:4).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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