Who is the Woman of Revelation 12:1-2?

The Nation of Israel

Many Bible students have wondered whether or not there was a double meaning attributed to the woman identified in Revelation 12:1,2:

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: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

There are various views as to the identity of this woman. Three of the most popular are as follows:

  1. She is the Virgin Mary.
  2. She is the church.
  3. She is the nation Israel.

The first view may be discounted because of the fact that nowhere in Scripture is Mary pictured as in verse 1. Nor is Mary ever portrayed in the Gospels as verse 4 indicates. There is no Biblical ground to believe she underwent the experience of verse 6. Moreover, how could verse 17 apply to her? She does not fit the picture.

The second view–that the woman of Revelation 12 is the church–has many advocates and defenders. The difficulty with this view is that the church did not give birth to Christ; He is the builder of the church and its foundations.

The third view–that the woman is actually the nation of Israel–is supported by several Biblical arguments. The Baptist Greek scholar, A. T. Robinson, held that the apostle John must have had Isaiah 7:14 in mind. Even more, under the direction of the Spirit, he knew Isaiah 9:6; 66:7-8; Micah 5:2; and Romans 9:4,5. The reference in Revelation 12:1 to the sun, moon, and stars indicates a complete system of government and reminds the reader of Genesis 37:9. God has caused royal dignity to rest in Israel in the line of David. The number 12 appears with the 12 patriarchs, 12 disciples, and 12 thrones (Matthew 19-28).

In Revelation 12:1, Israel is seen, not as she has been or is now, but as she will be. It is the nation of God as He intended her to be, a condition that will be fulfilled in the reign of her Messiah. When the child, who is Christ, was born, the people of Israel were not in a place of power and dignity, but under the gawking yoke of Roman domination. (Liberty Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, p. 820).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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