A Woman, a Child, and a Dragon
Rubel Shelly   -  

Lesson 8: The Book of Revelation
A Woman, a Child, and a Dragon
Revelation 12:1-17
Rubel Shelly, teaching

1. Students of the Book of Revelation typically see the book in “two halves” – Part One in
chapters 1-11 and Part Two in chapters 12-22. What shift of focus takes place at 12:1?

2. The interesting imagery of a pregnant woman links together the Old and New Testaments
and invites us to appreciate the two-covenant identify of Israel as the community of God’s
people. Please read Isaiah 26:17-18 and Galatians 6:16. How do you see Israel as a
continuous concept through both covenants? Why is it important to see Jesus and the
church as the fulfillment and enlargement – and not a repudiation or abandonment – of the
covenant with Abraham?

3. Who or what is represented by the “great red dragon” of this chapter? What do the details of
his appearance (i.e., color, horns, crowns) say about the dragon’s character and intent?

4. What is the dragon’s reaction to the birth of the woman’s child? How does God intervene to
protect the child? How does he protect the woman who gave birth to him? Explain how the
story of the Four Gospels is summed up in this dramatic imagery.

5. As with all the symbolic representations in Revelation, Satan’s frustration at being unable to
destroy the woman’s male child is pictured as a “war” that breaks out in Heaven. Although
some interpreters point here to discover the origin of Satan, why does that not fit within
the biblical narrative? What is the point of this scene?

6. When Satan’s assault against Heaven fails, what is his next move? When the dragon attacks
the woman, what becomes of her? What is the source of her rescue?

7. Why does the dragon then turn his fury on the woman’s other children (i.e., the Christ Child’s
brothers and sisters)? How are those children described at verse 17? Why is it important to
John’s original readers to understand this picture? What does it say about their situation?

Chapters 12 – 14 constitute the most substantial parenthesis in the Revelation. Yet they are more than a
parenthesis, for they form the central section of the book. Not only do they come at the mid-point of the
work, they provide an understanding of the nature of the conflict in which the Church is engaged, and
into which John sees she is to be drawn to the limit. The struggle of the saints against the Caesars is here
portrayed in the context of an age-long resistance to the God of heaven on the part of evil powers. That
process is about to reach its climax in an all-out warfare against the Church. The raging of the powers of
hell, however, terrible as it may be, is shown to be in vain, for in the victory of the crucified and ascended
Christ they have been defeated, and their final overthrow is not far distant.
(G.R. Beasley-Murray)