Revelation 12:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.

King James Bible
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Darby Bible Translation
And another sign was seen in the heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems;

World English Bible
Another sign was seen in heaven. Behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns.

Young's Literal Translation
And there was seen another sign in the heaven, and, lo, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his head seven diadems,

Revelation 12:3 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

There appeared another wonder - a great red dragon - The dragon here is a symbol, not of the Roman empire in general, but of the Heathen Roman empire. This great pagan power must have, therefore, been thus represented from the religion which it supported. But what is a dragon? An entirely fabulous beast of antiquity, consequently, in this respect, a most proper emblem of the heathen worship, which consisted in paying adoration to numerous imaginary beings, termed gods, goddesses, etc. The very foundation of the heathen religious system is mostly built upon fable; and it is very difficult to trace many of their superstitions to any authentic original; and even those which appear to derive their origin from the sacred writings are so disguised in fable as literally to bear no more resemblance to the truth than the dragon of the ancients does to any animal with which we are acquainted. But it may be asked why the Spirit of God should represent the heathen Roman empire as a dragon, rather than by anger other of the fabulous animals with which the mythology of the ancient Romans abounded. The answer is as follows; In the eighth chapter of the Prophet Daniel, God has represented the kingdom of the Greeks by a he-goat, for no other apparent reason than this, that it was the national military standard of the Grecian monarchy; we may therefore expect that the pagan Roman empire is called a Dragon on a similar account. In confirmation of this point it is very remarkable that the dragon was the principal standard of the Romans next to the eagle, in the second, third, fourth, and fifth centuries of the Christian era. Of this we have abundant evidence in the writings of both heathens and Christians. Arrian is the earliest writer who has mentioned that dragons were used as military standards among the Romans. See his Tactics, c. 51. Hence Schwebelius supposes that this standard was introduced after Trajan's conquest of the Daci. See Vegetius de Revelation Militari a Schwebelio, p. 191, Argentorati, 1806; and Graevii Thesaur., Antiq. Roman., tom. x., col. 1529. Vegetius, who flourished about a.d. 386, says, lib. ii. c. 13: Primum signum totius legionis est aquila, quam aquilifer portal. Dracones etiam per singulas cohortes a draconariis feruntur ad praelium. "The first standard of the whole legion is the eagle, which the aquilifer carries. Dragons are also borne to battle by the Draconarii." As a legion consisted of ten cohorts, there were therefore ten draconarii to one aquilifer; hence, from the great number of draconarii in an army, the word signarii or signiferi, standard-bearers, came at last to mean the carriers of the dragon standards only, the others retaining the name of aquiliferi - See Veget., lib. ii. c. 7, and his commentators. The heathen Roman empire is called a Red dragon; and accordingly we find from the testimony of ancient writers that the dragon standards of the Romans were painted red. We read in Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xvi., c. 12, of Purpureum signum draconis, "the purple standard of the dragon." See also Claudianus in Rufinum, lib. ii., l. 177, 178. Pitiscus, in his Lexicon Antiq. Romans, and Ducange, in his Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, sub voc. Draco, have considered this subject at great length, especially the latter writer, who has made several quotations from Claudianus, Sidonius, Prudentius, and others, in which not only the standard, but also the image of the dragon itself, is stated to be of a red or purple color. Of what has been said above respecting the dragon, this is then the sum: a huge fabulous beast is shown to St. John, by which some Great Pagan power is symbolically represented; and the Red dragon is selected from among the numerous imaginary animals which the fancies of mankind have created to show that this great pagan power is the heathen Roman empire.

Having seven heads - As the dragon is an emblem of the heathen Roman power, its heads must denote heathen forms of government. - See the note on Revelation 17:10, where the heads of the beast are explained in a similar way. These were exactly seven, and are enumerated by Tacitus (Annal., lib. i., in principio) in words to the following effect: "The city of Rome was originally governed by kings. L. Brutus instituted liberty and the consulate. The dictatorship was only occasionally appointed; neither did the decemviral power last above two years; and the consular power of the military tribunes was not of long continuance. Neither had Cinna nor Sylla a long domination: the power of Pompey and Crassus was also soon absorbed in that of Caesar; and the arms of Lepidus and Antony finally yielded to those of Augustus." From this passage it is evident to every person well acquainted with the Roman history, that the seven forms of government in the heathen Roman world were,

1. The regal power;

2. The consulate;

3. The dictatorship;

4. The decemvirate;

5. The consular power of the military tribunes;

6. The triumvirate; and,

7. The imperial government.

It is singular that commentators in general, in their citation of this passage, have taken no notice of the triumvirate, a form of government evidently as distinct from any of the others as kings are from consuls, or consuls from emperors. For the triumvirate consisted in the division of the Roman republic into three parts, each governed by an officer possessed with consular authority in his own province; and all three united together in the regulation of the whole Roman state. Consequently, it differed entirely from the imperial power, which was the entire conversion of the Roman state from a republic to a monarchy.

And ten horns - That these ten horns signify as many kingdoms is evident from the seventh chapter of Daniel, where the angel, speaking of the fourth beast, says, that "the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise;" and in this view of the passage many commentators are agreed, who also admit that the ten kingdoms are to be met with "amid the broken pieces of the Roman empire." And it is evident that nothing less than the dismemberment of the Roman empire, and its division into ten independent kingdoms, can be intended by the angel's interpretation just quoted. If, therefore, the ten horns of Daniel's fourth beast point out as many kingdoms, for the very same reason must the horns of the dragon have a similar meaning. But the Roman empire was not divided into several independent kingdoms till a considerable time after it became Christian. In what sense then can it be said that the different kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided by the barbarous nations are horns of the dragon? They were so because it was the Roman monarchy, in its seventh Draconic form of government, which was dismembered by the barbarians. For though the Roman empire was not completely dismembered till the fifth century, it is well known that the depression of the heathen idolatry, and the advancement of Christianity to the throne, elected not the least change in the form of government: the Romans continued still to be under subjection to the imperial power; and, consequently, when the heathen barbarous nations divided the Roman empire among themselves, they might very properly be denominated horns of the dragon, as it was by means of their incursions that the imperial power, Founded by the heathen Caesars, was abolished. Machiavel and Bishop Lloyd enumerate the horns of the dragon thus:

1. The kingdom of the Huns;

2. The kingdom of the Ostrogoths;

3 The kingdom of the Visigoths;

continued...

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

wonder. or, sign. See on ver.

Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet...

a great.

Revelation 12:4,9,17 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth...

Revelation 13:2,4 And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion...

Revelation 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast...

Revelation 17:3,4 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit on a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy...

Revelation 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

Isaiah 27:1 In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent...

Isaiah 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old...

seven heads.

Revelation 13:1,3 And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns...

Revelation 17:9,10 And here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits...

ten.

Revelation 17:3,7,12,16 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit on a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy...

Isaiah 9:15 The ancient and honorable, he is the head; and the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail.

Daniel 2:42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.

Daniel 7:7,8,20,24 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly...

seven crowns.

Revelation 13:1 And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns...

Library
Prevailing Prayer.
Text.--The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.--James v. 16. THE last lecture referred principally to the confession of sin. To-night my remarks will be chiefly confined to the subject of intercession, or prayer. There are two kinds of means requisite to promote a revival; one to influence men, the other to influence God. The truth is employed to influence men, and prayer to move God. When I speak of moving God, I do not mean that God's mind is changed by prayer, or that his
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Third
refers to Exodus. The promise is, "I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it" (ii. 17). It is in this third Epistle, which refers to the wilderness period and Balaam's counsel, that we have a special reference to the manna, the wilderness sustenance, of which Exodus contains the record. "Bread from Heaven" and "Angels' food" (Ps. lxxviii. 24,25) are set over against the lusts of the
E.W. Bullinger—Commentary on Revelation

In the Days of Queen Esther
Under the favor shown them by Cyrus, nearly fifty thousand of the children of the captivity had taken advantage of the decree permitting their return. These, however, in comparison with the hundreds of thousands scattered throughout the provinces of Medo-Persia, were but a mere remnant. The great majority of the Israelites had chosen to remain in the land of their exile rather than undergo the hardships of the return journey and the re-establishment of their desolated cities and homes. A score or
Ellen Gould White—The Story of Prophets and Kings

Apostles To-Day?
"Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are ye not my work in the Lord?"--1 Cor. ix. 1. We may not take leave of the apostolate without a last look at the circle of its members. It is a closed circle; and every effort to reopen it tends to efface a characteristic of the New Covenant. And yet the effort is being made again and again. We see it in Rome's apostolic succession; in the Ethical view gradually effacing the boundary-line between the apostles and believers;
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Cross References
Isaiah 27:1
In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword-- his fierce, great and powerful sword-- Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.

Daniel 7:7
"After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast--terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

Daniel 7:20
I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell--the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

Revelation 12:1
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.

Revelation 12:4
Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.

Revelation 12:7
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

Revelation 12:9
The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Jump to Previous
Appeared Crowns Diadems Dragon Enormous Fiery-Red Great Head Heads Heaven Horns Kingly Marvel Portent Red Seven Sign Ten Wonder
Jump to Next
Appeared Crowns Diadems Dragon Enormous Fiery-Red Great Head Heads Heaven Horns Kingly Marvel Portent Red Seven Sign Ten Wonder
Links
Revelation 12:3 NIV
Revelation 12:3 NLT
Revelation 12:3 ESV
Revelation 12:3 NASB
Revelation 12:3 KJV

Revelation 12:3 Bible Apps
Revelation 12:3 Biblia Paralela
Revelation 12:3 Chinese Bible
Revelation 12:3 French Bible
Revelation 12:3 German Bible

Revelation 12:3 Commentaries

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.

Bible Hub
Revelation 12:2
Top of Page
Top of Page