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The Dragon Of Revelation 12


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 03:35 AM

It is maintained by 'orthodox' Christians that the dragon in Revelation 12 is symbolic of the supernatural evil being he calls ‘Satan’. There is nothing in this passage to warrant such an interpretation, and when the passage is expounded with reference to other parts of Scripture, the true understanding is unavoidable.

Firstly, the connection between Revelation 12 and Daniel 7 must be noted. In Daniel 7 we find a beast revealed to Daniel in a vision, which appears very much like the beast of Revelation 12:

Daniel 7:
7 After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns.

Revelation 12:
3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.


The similarity of these two beasts is significant, especially given the context of Daniel’s vision, in which empires are represented by beasts:

Daniel 7:
15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me.
16 I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter:
17 “As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth.

23 This is what he said: “As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth that shall be different from all the other kingdoms; it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.


The explicit interpretation of the angel is that these beasts represent empires, with the fourth beast representing the fourth empire on earth. The vision in Daniel 7 is related directly to the vision of the image in Daniel 2, in which four empires were represented by the four metals of the image of a man.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

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target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
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‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 03:36 AM

The fourth beast therefore represents the ‘fourth empire on earth’, the fourth in a list of empires of which Babylon is the first. This fourth beast must therefore represent the Roman empire, and when the same beast is seen in Revelation 12, there is every reason to conclude that it is speaking of the same empire.

This conclusion is strengthened by other Scriptural connections. The Greek word ‘drakwn’ here translated ‘dragon’ (also translated ‘serpent’ in some places), is used in the LXX to speak of kingdoms which were in opposition to God, and which took into captivity and persecuted His people:

(LXX)

Jeremiah 51:
34  He has devoured me, he has torn me asunder, airy darkness has come upon me; Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon has swallowed me up, as a dragon has he filled his belly with my delicacies.

Ezekiel 32:
2  Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharao king of Egypt, and say to him, Thou art become like a lion of the nations, and as a serpent [here in the LXX ‘drakwn’, dragon’] that is in the sea: and thou didst make assaults with thy rivers, and didst disturb the water with thy feet, and didst trample thy rivers.


The use of this particular word in Bible prophecy to identify the heathen enemies of God and His people, should already suggest to us the truth of its meaning in Revelation 12. When combined with the connection with Daniel 7, and its obvious use of beasts to represent empires, the conclusion is unavoidable – the dragon here in Revelation is not being used to represent a supernatural evil being, but to represent an empire which is hostile to God and His people – an adversary.

Edited by Fortigurn, 12 September 2005 - 03:36 AM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#3 Fortigurn

Fortigurn

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 03:37 AM

The following comment from Matthew Poole’s exposition demonstrates that this interpretation has been widely held for centuries, even among those Christians who believe in ‘Satan’ as a supernatural evil being:

‘And behold a great red dragon: see Re 12:7,9,17. Most judicious interpreters, by the great red dragon, understand the Roman emperors that first persecuted: the Christian church, of which Claudius was the first; yet some understand it of the devil, the old serpent; but the most and best interpreters understand it of the pagan emperors, by whom the devil did this work, called a great dragon, because of the vastness of that empire; a red dragon, for their cruelty against the Christians.’

Matthew Poole, ‘New Testament Commentary’, note on Revelation 12:3, 1685


The fact that Poole informs us that most interpreters understand the dragon here to represent Rome (those he calls ‘the most and best interpreters’), whilst only some understand it of ‘the devil, the old serpent’, is significant, confirming that this is a natural reading.

Edited by Fortigurn, 12 September 2005 - 03:37 AM.

Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics




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