The Woman and The Manchild of Revelation 12

Rev. 12:1-14  

1. Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.   2. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.  3. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.  4.  His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born.  5.  She bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And her child was caught up to God and His throne.  6.  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.  7.  And war broke out in heaven:  Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought.  8. But they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.  9. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; and he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  10.  Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night has been cast down”.  11.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  12. Therefore rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. 13.  Now when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time, times, and a half time , from the presence of the serpent.

Who are the woman and the male child (“manchild” in  K.J.V.) and what does this entire symbolic vision mean?  In general, the Catholic interpretation is that the woman represents Mary and the manchild, Christ.  Most Protestants and Evangelicals believe the woman represents the nation of Israel and the manchild represents Christ.

Ten Reasons Why the Woman and Manchild of Revelation 12 Cannot Refer to Israel and Christ

1.  Time Key.  The dragon has seven heads and seven crowns upon his heads.  The seven heads refer to the seven (satanic) successive world empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Anti-Christ world government.  (For scriptural support see Rev. 13 and 17 and Dan. 2, 7, and 8) The fact that the 7th head is crowned  (“seven diadems”) shows that the 7th head is in existence and also in POWER (crowned) at this time.  Christ lived during the time of the 6th head (Rome).  This scenario is unfolding during the time that the 7th head is in power (the anti-christ system).  This is a very important time key.

2.  Time Key.  The 10 horns.  This point is similar to #1 but slightly different.  We see the dragon here also has 10 horns.  What are the 10 horns?  If we can determine that, it will help us to determine our time frame here.  Let’s take a  look at  a parallel passage in Rev. 17:12-13 , “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for ONE HOUR as kings with the beast.  These are of one mind and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”  Horns in the scripture are symbolic of power.  These 10 horns represent 10 powers that will give their authority to the beast for just a short period of time, “one hour”.  This is the period we commonly refer to as the tribulation period.  Rev. 3:10 (speaking to the Philadelphian Church Age) also refers to the tribulation as the “hour of trial” which shall come upon the whole world.  Note, these 10 horns clearly are not 10 European nations as is commonly taught for they are “kings who have received no kingdom”.  They are 10 world powers who have no kingdom but give their power and authority to the beast for one hour.  The fact that we see these 10 horns on the dragon in Rev. 12 at the SAME TIME that the woman brings forth the manchild and he is “caught up” is also a very important time key.  They are only there for a VERY  limited time (referred to as “one hour”).  This dates our woman and the birth of the manchild and his catching up EXACTLY at the very beginning of the tribulation.  Obviously this is not referring to Israel and Christ.  An interesting side note: Here in Rev. 12 we see the horns but they are not crowned.  (The 7 heads are crowned but the 10 horns are not)  The ten horns have moved into position but they are not yet in full power.  Then in Rev. 13:1  we see the 10 horns with 10 crowns upon them.  By the beginning of Rev. 13 they have moved into full power.  This gives us a very specific time reference. Daniel 7 further proves that these 10 horns exist at the time of the anti-christ and the world government.  Dan. 7:19-22 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast…and the ten horns that were on it’s head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.  I was watching ; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came…”  The horn that had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words and made war against the saints is the anti-christ.  Remember, the ten horns are only in position for a short time, ONE HOUR, and that short time is during this very short reign of the anti-christ world government system.  It is at the beginning of this time we see the manchild born and caught up.

3.  Word Key. Harpadzo.  In verse 5 we see that the manchild is “caught up”.  The greek word for “caught up” is HARPADZO.  This is the same word translated “caught up” in 1 Thess. 4:17 referring to the rapture of the saints.  The word HARPADZO can be translated “caught up”, “snatched up”, or “raptured”.  Harpadzo is only used 9 times in the Greek New Testament.  This word means to be “snatched up quickly” and conveys the idea of force exercised and urgency. (See Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)  When Jesus ascended in Acts 1 there was no indication of Him being snatched up quickly or force exercised or any urgency whatsoever.  It simply says, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched , He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight”.

4.  Jesus was not snatched up urgently and with great force as soon as He was born as we see this manchild is.  Jesus lived 33 1/2 years, the last 3 1/2 being the time of His public ministry.  He was then crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven approximately 40 days later.   Here we see the manchild (male child) being snatched up as soon as he was born in order to escape the waiting jaws of the dragon.  This does not line up with the ascension of Christ.


5.  The woman here in Rev. 12  flees into the “wilderness” for 1260 days.  This is another time key.   AS SOON as the manchild is caught up we see the woman flee into the wilderness for 1260 days.  How could this possibly be first century Israel?  What kind of wilderness did Israel flee into for 1260 days after Christ ascended?  Some try to make this fit by saying it’s 1260 years.  But this still doesn’t fit Israel’s history at all.   This 1260 days is actually the 3 1/2 year period that the anti-christ is in power which we refer to as the “tribulation”.  (“and he was given authority to continue for 42 months”  Rev. 13:5)  It begins at the time the manchild is caught up.  This 3 1/2 year period is also referred to as “a time, and times, and half a time in our main text in Rev. 12:14. (one year plus two years plus one half a year) Referring to the anti-christ, this same period of 3 1/2 years is mentioned in Dan. 7:25 “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law.  Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a TIME AND TIMES AND HALF A TIME”. 

6.  The nature of the Book of Revelation is future.  Rev. 1:1,3 clearly shows the nature of the Book of Revelation is future: “things which must shortly take place” or literally “things which must take place quickly” and it is referred to as a “prophecy” in verse 3.  We know that Revelation was written about 90 A.D..  Jesus Christ was crucified about 30 A.D..   To make the woman out to be Israel and the manchild Christ, would be in contrast to the introductory statement of this book.  This book is not past history but future history.

7.  The setting of the Book of Revelation is the “day of the Lord”.  In Rev 1:10, the Apostle John writes, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day”.  The Greek simply says, “I came to be in Spirit in the Lord’s day”.  John was projected into the future “day of the Lord” by the Spirit of God. There is no difference between the “Lord’s day” and the “day of the Lord”. This is not referring to Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week.  So what exactly is the “day of the Lord”?  If you do a Bible study on the “day of the Lord ” you will find it refers to the 1000 year period commonly referred to as “the millennium”, and the short period of time just preceding it, namely,  the time mainly covered here in the book of Revelation.   Israel bringing forth Jesus Christ did not happen  in this time period known as the “day of the Lord”.  It happened over two thousand years previous to it. Therefore to make the woman and birth and catching up of the manchild out to be Israel and Christ contradicts John’s statement that he was transferred by the Spirit to the Day of the Lord.

8.  The woman is “clothed with the sun”.   The sun in the book of Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible is symbolic of the righteousness of Christ. In the first chapter of Revelation John sees Jesus and describes his countenance as being “like the sun shining in its strength”.  (Rev. 1:16)  In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, Jesus is prophesied of; “But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings”.  (Mal. 4:2)  This woman clothed with the righteousness of Christ is not a picture of first century Israel.  Obviously there were righteous individuals in Israel, but generally speaking there was a lot of self-righteousness,  pharisaism, dead religion, and spiritual pride.  

9. “Who will rule all nations with a rod of iron”.  The manchild here is said to be one who “will rule all nations with a rod of iron”.  And of course this is used to show that the manchild refers to Christ.  There are a number of scriptures showing that Christ will rule “all nations with a rod of iron”.  They include Psalm 2:9, and Rev. 19:5 and these do indeed refer to Christ.  But one scripture that may be overlooked within this context is Rev. 2:26-27.  Here Jesus is referring to overcoming Christians.  “And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations, he shall rule them with a rod of iron, they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels, as I also received from my Father”.   So here we see the overcomers in Christ will rule all nations with a rod of iron along with Jesus during the millennial period. 

10.  The Whole Picture.  This is probably the most compelling argument of all.   When you step back and look at the entire vision as a whole, when you see the “forest for the trees”,  it just doesn’t fit Israel and Christ.   It’s easy to misinterpret symbolic passages by overemphasizing minor points and/or de-emphasizing major points or themes. Very simply the whole picture is a pregnant woman who is in pain to give birth.  Before her stands a dragon with seven heads and ten horns waiting to devour her child as soon as it is born.  As soon as the manchild is born he is snatched up to heaven.  Then the dragon turns his aggression towards the woman who flees into the wilderness for 1260 days.  The picture just doesn’t fit.  At least it doesn’t fit Israel and Christ.   But it does fit when the symbols, the time keys, the word keys, and the meaning of the Greek word HARPADZO are all taken into consideration.

THEN WHO DOES THIS WOMAN AND MANCHILD REFER TO? 

Let me at least present another interpretation, one that I believe fits perfectly.

We know who the dragon is.  Verse nine tells us it’s the Devil and Satan.  But this is Satan as he has manifested himself through these seven world empires down through history.  In this picture he has seven  heads, seven crowns, and 10 horns.   This is our time key.   The Antichrist system (the 7th head) is in power (crowned).  The 10 horns are positioned.  This is right at the beginning of the tribulation period.

The woman is the church of Jesus Christ.  She is clothed with the sun, the legal righteousness of Jesus. (Rev. 1:16, Mal. 4:2)  She also has the moon under her feet.  The moon has no light of its own,  it merely reflects the light of the sun.  The moon could possibly represent the Old Testament/law which had no light in and of itself, it merely reflected the light of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  The woman is standing above the law.  We also see the woman has a crown or victors wreath (in Greek, “stephanos”) of 12 stars.  Stars refer to saints in the Bible. Daniel was told that “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever”.  Stars are a perfect picture of the saints of God,  bright lights shining in the dark night sky of this world.  (“You are light of the world”)  The number 12 could very possibly be a reference to the 12 “Apostles of the Lamb”.  They hold a special position in the church.

Here in Revelation 12 we also see that the church is pregnant.  She is the outward church, the visible church, the church we see as we gaze across the vast horizon of Christianity.  But inside of her is another church, an invisible church.  This is a manchild church, a warrior church.   He’s growing and growing inside of the visible church.  As this manchild church grows he’s causing his mother more and more discomfort until she cries out in pain.  There needs to be a separation.  There needs to be a delivery, a birth.  Not only is he making her uncomfortable, but he’s uncomfortable inside of her.  He’s restrained on every side.  He has no freedom of movement.  He can’t do what he is designed to, which is manifest the love and power and glory of Jesus Christ to the earth.   Eph. 4:13 “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a PERFECT MAN, to the measure and the stature of the fullness of Christ”.  This is the manchild of Revelation 12.  The woman is the true church of Jesus Christ.  She is legally righteous for she is clothed with the sun.  But she is bound with traditions, denominational ties, worldliness, and she lacks power.  She knows the Lord, she may even love the Lord, but she is not “in love” with Him.  She’s lukewarm.  She tends to quench the Spirit.  Her child is making her very uncomfortable because he’s red-hot on fire for Jesus.  He’s radical in love for Jesus, his worship for Jesus, his witnessing for Jesus, and his love for others.  She doesn’t like all that stuff.  She’s more traditional.  She’s uncomfortable in the realm of the Spirit.  But the manchild walks in the Spirit, worships in the Spirit, prays and sings in the Spirit, and wars in the Spirit.  It’s where he belongs.  It’s what he knows.  He has been endued with dunamis power from on high.  He’s a threat to the devil.  He knows how to do spiritual warfare and the devil knows it.  He knows how to wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And he will deal a death-blow to the Antichrist system before he is “caught up”.   Rev. 13:3 and 13:14  “and I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded”…”who was wounded by the SWORD and lived”.    Therefore the dragon stands before the woman “to devour her child as soon as it was born”.  As long as the manchild stays hidden inside of the woman he is safe.  But the separation is inevitable.  She can’t stand him growing any more inside of her and he can’t stand the restraint and lack of freedom living inside of her.

Rev. 12:4  His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon it was born. (Parallel passage,  Dan. 8:10 “And it grew up to the host of heaven;  and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them”  Clearly not referring to Satan and 1/3 of the angels falling which is commonly taught) ) Notice that while the dragon is focused on the woman and her soon to be born manchild his tail swoops up and pulls down a third of the stars of heaven and throws them to the earth. If stars are symbolic of the saints of God (which they are)  then this is a picture of subtle satanic deception or a “falling away” or apostacy.  In  2nd Thess. 2:1-3 Paul admonishes the Thessalonians, “Now brethren, concerning the coming (or presence, PAROUSIA) of our Lord Jesus Christ and our GATHERING TOGETHER to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the DAY OF THE LORD  had come.  Let no one deceive you by any means;  for THAT DAY will not come unless the FALLING AWAY (APOSTACIA) comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.”  In this extremely insightful  passage, Paul tells the Thessalonians concerning the rapture, not to believe that the day of the Lord had already come, no matter who tells them so because two things must take place first; the great falling away and the antichrist be revealed.  This “falling away”  is synonymous with the dragon sweeping the third of the stars out of heaven with his tail. What this represents is subtle deception, very possibly acceptance and/or worship of the of the antichrist and his system.  Notice the implication here in 2nd Thessalonians when you just read this portion of scripture at face value.  They were concerned that the Day of the Lord had already come and they had missed the rapture.  Paul tells them not to believe it no matter if  they hear it by word or by letter or by spirit (spiritual gift?) because these two things must happen first before the rapture and the onset of the day of the Lord, 1. the falling away and  2. the antichrist be revealed.  Notice in the minds of the Thessalonian Christians, how they were concerned about the very real possibility of missing the rapture and ending up in the tribulation period.  Also notice how Paul refutes the concept of the “imminent rapture” (that the rapture can happen at any time).  The rapture cannot happen until the Anti-Christ World Government is in place and the anti-christ (the man of sin) is revealed.

“And her child was CAUGHT UP  to God and to his throne”.  As I stated earlier this term “caught up” is HARPADZO in the Greek. 

In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words it is defined as follows: “HARPAZO” (the D is not there but has been added by scholars for proper phonetic pronunciation) “to snatch or catch away,  is said of the act of the Spirit of the Lord in regard to Philip in Acts 8:39; of Paul in being caught up to paradise, 2 Cor. 12:2,4;  of the rapture of the saints at the return of the Lord, 1 Thess. 4:17;  of the rapture of the man-child in the vision of Rev. 12:5..  This verb conveys the idea of force suddenly exercised…”  

This word clearly ties the catching up of the man-child with the catching up of the saints in 1 Thess. 4:17.  This is the only place it is used in the Book of Revelation.  The purpose of this snatching away of the manchild is very, very clear, to escape the waiting jaws of the dragon who wanted “to devour her child as soon as it was born”  (vs. 4).  Notice how this can’t be referring to the ascension of Jesus.  The devil thought he had destroyed Jesus on the cross.  Jesus ascended into heaven approximately 40 days after His crucifixion and resurrection.  At the ascension of Christ the devil was NOT waiting for Jesus to be “born” of the nation of Israel so he could “devour him”.  This catching away of the manchild is the escape Jesus spoke of  in Luke 21:36  lit. “Shake sleep and pray always that you may gain sufficient strength to ESCAPE all these things that will come to pass and stand before the Son of Man”.  It also refers to the promise of Jesus to the Philadelphian Church Age in Rev. 3:10. “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the HOUR OF TRIAL which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

“Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days”.  The church that is left behind now flees into the wilderness, (spiritual wilderness) which is the tribulation period.  The anti-christ is in full power.  The woman has to go “underground” or take the mark of the beast. (Rev. 13:16-18)  God will provide for her even though she is facing severe persecution.  “He persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child” (Rev. 12:13).   

In verses 7 – 10 we see there is war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the devil and his angels.  The devil and his angels do not prevail and are cast to the earth.  Verse 11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death”.  Reference to overcoming Christians who had been accused day and night by the devil. Verse 12  then says, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!  (referring to the raptured manchild company) Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea!  (reference to the woman who is left behind and the rest of the world)  For the devil has come down to you , having great wrath, because he knows that he has a SHORT TIME.”   Basically, what happens after the manchild is raptured is that all hell breaks loose on the whole earth.  The devil is unleashed for this short period of time, and world government will be fully implemented with the anti-christ as the world savior and leader.  The manchild, as long as he is on the earth is actually a restraining force holding back evil.  Second Thess. 2:7 says  “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until HE IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY”.  Here we see a restraining force of a masculine gender (HE) that  is restraining lawlessness and evil until HE IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY”.  This fits perfectly with the manchild of Rev. 12!  Theologians have theorized over the years of who the “HE” could be (the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit in the church, etc.) but none of them really fit satisfactorily because the Holy Spirit is not  removed from the earth nor “taken out of the way”. As a matter of fact the Holy Spirit will be working mightily in the saints during the tribulation (this time of intense persecution).

In conclusion (is anybody is still reading???)  I would just like to make some biblical comparisons of the manchild with various scriptural texts. I hope you at least consider these things.  Thank you, Chuck

The manchild of Rev. 12 is:

1.  He who is HARPADZO’D (caught up, snatched up, raptured) up to heaven as soon as he is born.  Rev. 12:5

2. He who is born during the time that the 7th head is crowned (the anti-christ world government system is in power).  Rev. 12:3

3. He who is raptured after “the man of sin, the son of perdition” (the anti-christ) is revealed”  2 Thess. 2:3

4. Those that “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.   Eph. 4:13

5.  The Philadelphian Church Age that is promised in Rev. 3:10  “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth”. 

6.  The five wise virgins of Matthew 25 that “were ready (and) went in with Him (the Bridegroom, Jesus) to the wedding and the door was shut”.  Matt. 25:10

7.  The ones Jesus spoke of in Lk. 21:36 that “Shake sleep and pray always that you may gain sufficient strength to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man”.

8.  The restraining force of 2 Thess. 2:7  “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only HE who now restrains will do so until HE is taken out of the way”.

9.  The Bride of Christ seen in Rev. 19:7.  “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready”.

10. Those dwelling in heaven when Satan is cast down to the earth.  Rev. 12:12