Revelation 12:3
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

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
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

And there appeared another wonder in heaven - Represented as in heaven. See the notes on Revelation 12:1. That is, he saw this as occurring at the time when the church was thus about to increase.

And behold a great red dragon - The word rendered "dragon" - δράκων drakōn - occurs, in the New Testament, only in the book of Revelation, where it is uniformly rendered as here - "dragon:" Revelation 12:3-4, Revelation 12:7,Revelation 12:9, Revelation 12:13, Revelation 12:16-17; Revelation 13:2, Revelation 13:4,Revelation 13:11; Revelation 16:13; Revelation 20:2. In all these places there is reference to the same thing. The word properly means "a large serpent"; and the allusion in the word commonly is to some serpent, perhaps such as the anaconda, that resides in a desert or wilderness. See a full account of the ideas that prevailed in ancient times respecting the dragon, in Bochart, Hieroz. lib. iii. cap. xiv., vol. ii. pp. 428-440. There was much that was fabulous respecting this monster, and many notions were attached to the dragon which did not exist in reality, and which were ascribed to it by the imagination at a time when natural history was little understood. The characteristics ascribed to the dragon, according to Bochart, are, that it was distinguished:

(a) for its vast size;

(b) that it had something like a beard or dew-lap;

(c) that it had three rows of teeth;

(d) that its color was black, red, yellow, or ashy;

(e) that it had a wide mouth;

(f) that in its breathing it not only drew in the air, but also birds that were flying over it; and,

(g) that its hiss was terrible.

Occasionally, also, feet and wings were attributed to the dragon, and sometimes a lofty crest. The dragon, according to Bochart, was supposed to inhabit waste places and solitudes (compare the notes on Isaiah 13:22), and it became, therefore, an object of great terror. It is probable that the original of this was a huge serpent, and that all the other circumstances were added by the imagination. The prevailing ideas in regard to it, however, should be borne in mind, in order to see the force and propriety of the use of the word by John. Two special characteristics are stated by John in the general description of the dragon: one is, its red color; the other, that it was great. In regard to the former, as above mentioned, the dragon was supposed to be black, red, yellow, or ashy. See the authorities referred to in Bochart, ut sup., pp. 435, 436. There was doubtless a reason why the one seen by John should be represented as red. As to the other characteristic - great - the idea is that it was a huge monster, and this would properly refer to some mighty, terrible power which would be properly symbolized by such a monster.

Having seven heads - It was not unusual to attribute many heads to monsters, especially to fabulous monsters, and these greatly increased the terror of the animal. "Thus Cerberus usually has three heads assigned to him; but Hesiod (Theog. 312) assigns him fifty, and Horace (Ode II. 13, 34) one hundred. So the Hydra of the Lake Lerna, killed by Hercules, had fifty heads (Virgil, Aen. vi. 576); and in Kiddushim, fol. 29, 2, rabbi Achse is said to have seen a demon like a dragon with seven heads" (Prof. Stuart, in loco). The seven heads would somehow denote power, or seats of power. Such a number of heads increase the terribleness, and, as it were, the vitality of the monster. What is here represented would be as terrible and formidable as such a monster; or such a monster would appropriately represent what was designed to be symbolized here. The number seven may be used here "as a perfect number," or merely to heighten the terror of the image; but it is more natural to suppose that there would be something in what is here represented which would lay the foundation for the use of this number. There would be something either in the origin of the power; or in the union of various powers now combined in the one represented by the dragon; or in the seat of the power, which this would properly symbolize. Compare the notes on Daniel 7:6.

And ten horns - Emblems of power, denoting that, in some respects, there were ten powers combined in this one. See the notes on Daniel 7:7-8, Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:24. There can be little doubt that John had those passages of Daniel in his eye, and perhaps as little that the reference is to the same thing. The meaning is, that, in some respects, there would be a tenfold origin or division of the power represented by the dragon.

And seven crowns upon his heads - Greek, "diadems." See the notes on Revelation 9:7. There is a reference here to some kingly power, and doubtless John had some kingdom or sovereignty in his eye that would be properly symbolized in this manner. The method in which these heads and horns were arranged on the dragon is not stated, and is not material. All that is necessary in the explanation is, that there was something in the power referred to that would be properly represented by the seven heads, and something by the ten horns.

In the application of this, it will be necessary to inquire what was properly symbolized by these representations, and to refer again to these particulars with this view:

continued...

Revelation 12:3 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Snares of Satan
The great controversy between Christ and Satan, that has been carried forward for nearly six thousand years, is soon to close; and the wicked one redoubles his efforts to defeat the work of Christ in man's behalf and to fasten souls in his snares. To hold the people in darkness and impenitence till the Saviour's mediation is ended, and there is no longer a sacrifice for sin, is the object which he seeks to accomplish. When there is no special effort made to resist his power, when indifference prevails
Ellen Gould White—The Great Controversy

The Glory of Jesus and Mary.
Before entering upon the contemplation of the excellent glory which surrounds the blessed in heaven, we must endeavor to form a correct idea of God's grace, which enabled them to perform the great and noble actions we are now to consider. They were all, except Jesus and Mary, conceived in sin, and, therefore, subject to the same temptations that daily assail us. They never could have triumphed and reached the supernatural glory which now surrounds them, had they been left to their own natural strength,
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven

The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate,
CLEARLY EXPLAINED, AND LARGELY IMPROVED, FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BELIEVERS. 1 John 2:1--"And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." By JOHN BUNYAN, Author of "The Pilgrim's Progress." London: Printed for Dorman Newman, at the King's Arms, in the Poultry, 1689. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This is one of the most interesting of Bunyan's treatises, to edit which required the Bible at my right hand, and a law dictionary on my left. It was very frequently republished;
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Time of Trouble
"At that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book." Daniel 12:1. When the third angel's message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received "the latter
Ellen Gould White—The Great Controversy

Cross References
Isaiah 27:1
In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.

Daniel 7:7
"After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

Daniel 7:20
and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates.

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

Revelation 12:4
And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

Revelation 12:7
And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,

Revelation 12:9
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

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