Revelation 12:5
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne.
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And she brought forth a man child - Representing, according to the view above taken, the church in its increase and prosperity - as if a child were born that was to rule over all nations. See the notes on Revelation 12:2.

Who was to rule all nations - That is, according to this view, the church thus represented was destined to reign in all the earth, or all the earth was to become subject to its laws. Compare the notes on Daniel 7:13-14.

With a rod of iron - The language used here is derived from Psalm 2:9; "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron." The form of the expression here used, "who was to rule" - ὅς μέλλει ποιμαίνειν hos mellei poimainein - is derived from the Septuagint translation of the Psalm - ποιμαινεῖς poimaineis - "thou shalt rule them"; to wit, as a shepherd does his flock. The reference is to such control as a shepherd employs in relation to his flock - protecting, guarding, and defending them, with the idea that the flock is under his care; and, on the supposition that this refers to the church, it means that it would yet have the ascendency or the dominion over the earth. The meaning in the phrase, "with a red of iron," is, that the dominion would be strong or irresistible - as an iron scepter is one that cannot be broken or resisted. The thoughts here expressed, therefore, are:

(a) that the church would become universal - or that the principles of truth and righteousness would prevail everywhere on the earth;

(b) that the ascendency of religion over the understandings and consciences of people would be irresistible - as firm as a government administered under a scepter of iron; yet,

(c) that it would be rather of a character of protection than of force or violence, like the sway which a shepherd wields over his flock.

I understand the "man child" here, therefore, to refer to the church in its increase under the Messiah, and the idea to be, that that church was, at the time referred to, about to be enlarged, and that, though its increase was opposed, yet it was destined ultimately to assert a mild sway over all the world. The time here referred to would seem to be some period in the early history of the church when religion was likely to be rapidly propagated, and when it was opposed and retarded by violent persecution - perhaps the last of the persecutions under the pagan Roman empire.

And her child was caught up unto God - This is evidently a symbolical representation. Some event was to occur, or some divine interposition was to take place, as if the child thus born were caught up from the earth to save it from death, and was rendered secure by being in the presence of God, and near his throne. It cannot be supposed that anything like this would "literally" occur. Any divine interposition to protect the church in its increase, or to save it from being destroyed by the dragon - the fierce pagan power - would be properly represented by this. Why may we not suppose the reference to be to the time of Constantine, when the church came under his protection; when it was effectually and finally saved from pagan persecution; when it was rendered safe from the enemy that waited to destroy it? On the supposition that this refers to an increasing but endangered church, in whose defense a civil power was raised up, exalting Christianity to the throne, and protecting it from danger, this would be well represented by the child caught up to heaven.

This view may derive confirmation from some well-known facts in history. The old pagan power was concentrated in Maximin, who was emperor from the Nile to the Bosphorus, and who raged against the gospel and the church "with Satanic enmity." "Infuriate at the now imminent prospect of the Christian body attaining establishment in the empire, Maximin renewed the persecution against Christians within the limits of his own dominion; prohibiting their assemblies, and degrading, and even killing their bishops." Compare Gibbon, 1:325, 326. The last struggle of pagan Rome to destroy the church by persecution, before the triumph of Constantine, and the public establishment of the Christian religion, might be well represented by the attempt of the dragon to destroy the child; and the safety of the church, and its complete deliverance from pagan persecution, by the symbol of a child caught up to heaven, and placed near the throne of God. The persecution under Maximin was the last struggle of paganism to retain the supremacy, and to crush Christianity in the empire. "Before the decisive battle," says Milner, "Maximin vowed to Jupiter that, if victorious, he would abolish the Christian name. The contest between Yahweh and Jupiter was now at its height, and drawing to a crisis."

The result was the defeat and death of Maximin, and the termination of the efforts of paganism to destroy Christianity by force. Respecting this event, Mr. Gibbon remarks, "The defeat and death of Maximin soon delivered the church from the last and most implacable of her enemies," 1:326. Christianity was, after that, rendered safe from pagan persecution. Mr. Gibbon says, "The gratitude of the church has exalted the virtues of the generous patron who seated Christianity on the throne of the Roman world." If, however, it should be regarded as a forced and fanciful interpretation to suppose that the passage before us refers to this specific event, yet the general circumstances of the times would furnish a fulfillment of what is here said:

(a) The church would be well represented by the beautiful woman.

(b) The prospect of its increase and universal dominion would be well represented by the birth of the child.

(c) The furious opposing pagan power would be well represented by the dragon in its attempts to destroy the child.

(d) The safety of the church would be well represented by the symbol of the child caught up to God, and placed near his throne.

Revelation 12:5 per Adam Clarke

And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne - In Yalcut Rubeni are these words: "Rachael, the niece of Methusala, was pregnant, and ready to be delivered in Egypt. They trod upon her, and the child came out of her bowels, and lay under the bed; Michael descended, and took him up to the throne of glory. On that same night the first born of Egypt were destroyed."

Revelation 12:5 per John Edward Clarke

And she brought forth a man child - The Christian Church, when her full time came, obtained a deliverer, who, in the course of the Divine providence, was destined: -

To rule all nations - The heathen Roman empire,

With a rod of iron - A strong figure to denote the very great restraint that should be put upon paganism, so that it should not be able longer to persecute the Christian Church. The man child mentioned in this verse is the dynasty of Christians emperors, beginning with Constantine's public acknowledgment of his belief in the divinity of the Christian religion, which happened in the latter part of a.d. 312, after the defeat of the Emperor Maxentius.

And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne - A succession of Christian emperors was raised up to the Church; for the Roman throne, as Bishop Newton observes, is here called the throne of God, because there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

And she brought forth a man child,.... Not Christ, literally and personally considered, or Christ in his human nature, as made of a woman, and born of a virgin, which was a fact that had been years ago; but Christ mystically, or Christ in his members, who are called by his name, because he is formed in them, and they are the seed of the woman, the church; and many of these were brought forth to Christ by the church in the primitive times, who were a manly birth, hale, strong, and robust Christians; or rather this manly birth may design a more glorious appearing and breaking forth of the kingdom of Christ in the Roman empire; for though Christ came as a King, yet his kingdom was not with observation in the days of his flesh; and though, upon his ascension to heaven, he was made and declared Lord and Christ, and had a kingdom and interest in the world, and even in the Roman empire, during the first three centuries, yet this was attended with the cross and persecution; but now, towards the close of that period, Constantine, a Christian emperor, was born, under whose influence and encouragement the Gospel was spread, and the kingdom of Christ set up and established in the empire; and this seems to be the thing intended here, he being of a generous, heroic, and manly disposition:

who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; this has a manifest reference to Psalm 2:9; which psalm, and the passage referred to in it, evidently belong to Christ; and as this is represented as something future, what should be hereafter, and not what would immediately take place, it may regard the kingdom of Christ in the last times, of which the present breaking forth of it in Constantine's time was an emblem and pledge; and may denote the universality of it, it reaching to all the kingdoms of the world, and the manner which Christ will rule, especially over his enemies, antichrist and his followers, whom he will destroy with the breath of his mouth, and break in pieces with his rod of iron, and order all that would not have him to reign over them slain before him; and as this may be applied to Christ mystical, the seed of the church, and members of Christ, as it is in Revelation 2:26; it may relate to their reign with Christ on earth, when they shall sit on thrones, and judge the world, when the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to there; but since this is expressly said of the man child in the text, it may be expressive even of the temporal government of Constantine, who was an heroic and victorious prince, and extended his dominions to the several parts of the world; as far as Britain to the west, and all Scythia to the north, Ethiopia to the south, and the remote parts of India to the east, even to the ultimate parts of the whole world, as Eusebius (h) affirms, making his kingdom to be three times larger than that of Alexander the great: and more especially it may describe the kingdom of Christ in his times; which was spread throughout all the nations of the empire; when Paganism was demolished, both in the continent and in the isles of the sea, and the strong holds Satan were pulled down, not by carnal, but spiritual weapons; when multitudes of souls were converted by the word, the rod of Christ's strength, and when the saints were guided, directed, fed, and comforted by it; for the allusion seems to be to the shepherd's rod, with which he leads and feeds his sheep; the same word signifies both to rule and feed:

and her child caught up unto God, and to his throne; which is to be understood not of Christ's ascent to heaven in human nature, when he was set down on the same throne with his Father; nor of Christ mystical, or of the saints being caught up into the air, to meet the Lord and be for ever with him, and sit down with him on the same throne; but rather of some glorious advance of the church and kingdom of Christ on earth; for as "to fall from heaven" is expressive of debasement and meanness, and of a low estate that a person is brought into, Isaiah 14:12; so an ascending up to heaven, as the two witnesses in the preceding chapter are said to do, denotes exaltation, or a rise to some more glorious state and condition, which was the case of the church in Constantine's time: and this may also take in the accession of Constantine himself to the imperial throne, which was the throne of God; for king's have their sceptres, thrones, and kingdoms from him, they his viceregents, and in some measure represent and are therefore called gods, and the children of the most high; yea, since Constantine, as advanced to the empire, was such an instrument in Christ's hand for the setting up and establishing his kingdom in it, Christ himself may be here represented as reigning over the Roman empire, as a presage and prelude of his reigning over all the earth another day.

(h) De Vita Constantini, l. 1. c. 8.

{10} And she brought forth a man {11} child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

(10) The second history of this Church delivered of child: in which first the consideration of the child born, and of the mother, is described in two verses Re 12:6: secondly the battle of the dragon against the young child, and the victory obtained against him in the three verses following Re 12:7-9: last of all is sung a song of victory, to Re 12:10-12. Now John in consideration of the child born, notes two things: for he describes him, and his station or place in this verse.

(11) That is Christ the head of the Church joined with his Church (the beginning root and foundation of which is the same Christ) endued with kingly power and taken up into heaven out of the jaws of Satan (who as a serpent did bite him on the cross) that sitting on the heavenly throne, he might reign over all.

5. man-child—Greek, "a son, a male." On the deep significance of this term, see on [2714]Re 12:1, 2.

rule—Greek, "poimainein," "tend as a shepherd"; (see on [2715]Re 2:27).

rod of iron—A rod is for long-continued obstinacy until they submit themselves to obedience [Bengel]: Re 2:27; Ps 2:9, which passages prove the Lord Jesus to be meant. Any interpretation which ignores this must be wrong. The male son's birth cannot be the origin of the Christian state (Christianity triumphing over heathenism under Constantine), which was not a divine child of the woman, but had many impure worldly elements. In a secondary sense, the ascending of the witnesses up to heaven answers to Christ's own ascension, "caught up unto God, and unto His throne": as also His ruling the nations with a rod of iron is to be shared in by believers (Re 2:27). What took place primarily in the case of the divine Son of the woman, shall take place also in the case of those who are one with Him, the sealed of Israel (Re 7:1-8), and the elect of all nations, about to be translated and to reign with Him over the earth at His appearing.

12:1-6 The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother of believers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She was clothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining by union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was under her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light of the revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown of twelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelve apostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in pain to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of sinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a known emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for him on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the city built upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten kingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms of government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the stars in heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting and seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies, the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithful professors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations, and in whose right his members partake the same glory. This blessed offspring was protected of God. 12:5 And she brought forth a man child. If the reader will turn to Re 12:17, he will learn that the remnant of the woman's seed is those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The offspring of the woman, the woman's seed, then refers to the saints. The man child is a symbol of the faithful members of the Church. But how shall they rule all nations with a rod of iron? The Greek says rule as shepherds with a rod of iron. This implies a firm and permanent, but tender and loving rule, not a stern rule. In Re 2:27, it is promised that whosoever overcometh shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. In Re 19:15 the same thing is stated of the Word of God. This is accomplished through the saints. They shall yet possess the earth. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. The kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ. The man child, the woman's seed, the saints, shall have a complete, an undisputed, a resistless dominion. And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. This figure always means a glorious exaltation. It signifies that God will protect the saints and give them victory. This was probably fulfilled when Christianity triumphed over Paganism in the fourth century. Verse 5. - And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; a son, a male - the Greek υἱόν, ἄρσεν, renders it emphatic - who is to rule, as in the Revised Version; to rule, or to govern as a shepherd (cf. the verb in Matthew 2:6). This reference and Psalm 2:9 leave no doubt as to the identification of the man child. It is Christ who is intended. The same expression is used of him in Revelation 19, where he is definitely called the "Word of God." And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. The sentence seems plainly to refer to the ascension of Christ and his subsequent abiding in heaven, from whence he rules all nations. The seer, perhaps, wishes to indicate at once the absolute immunity of Christ from any harm proceeding from the power of the devil, whose efforts are henceforth directly aimed only at the Church of Christ. Satan still hopes to injure Christ through his members. As remarked above (see on ver. 4), what is true of the personal history of Christ is often true of his Church and of his true members. And thus some have seen in this passage a picture of the woman, the Church, bringing forth members, to devour whom is Satan's constant purpose, but who in God's good time are taken to his throne to be near himself.


Revelation 12:2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin …

Jeremiah 31:22 How long will you go about, O you backsliding daughter? for the LORD …

Micah 5:3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travails …

Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and …

rule. See on ch.

Revelation 2:26,27 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will …

Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite …

Psalm 2:9,10 You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces …

caught. See on ch.

Revelation 11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, Come up …

Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken to them, he was received up into …

A man-child (υἱὸν ἄῤῥενα)

Lit., a son, a male. The correct reading is ἄρσεν, the neuter, not agreeing with the masculine individual (υἱὸν son) but with the neuter of the genus. The object is to emphasize, not the sex, but the peculiar qualities of masculinity - power and vigor. Rev., a son, a man-child. Compare John 16:21; Jeremiah 20:15.

To rule (ποιμαίνειν)

Lit., to shepherd or tend. See on Matthew 2:6.

A rod of iron

Compare Psalm 2:9, and see on Revelation 2:27.

Was caught up (ἡρπάσθη)

See on Matthew 12:12. Compare Acts 23:10; Jde 1:23.

12:5 And she brought forth a man child - Even Christ, considered not in his person, but in his kingdom. In the ninth age, many nations with their princes were added to the Christian church. Who was to rule all nations - When his time is come. And her child - Which was already in heaven, as were the woman and the dragon. Was caught up to God - Taken utterly out of his reach.
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