Revelation 12:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
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.

King James Bible
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Darby Bible Translation
and his tail draws the third part of the stars of the heaven; and he cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, in order that when she brought forth he might devour her child.

World English Bible
His tail drew one third of the stars of the sky, and threw them to the earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

Young's Literal Translation
and his tail doth draw the third of the stars of the heaven, and he did cast them to the earth; and the dragon did stand before the woman who is about to bring forth, that when she may bring forth, her child he may devour;

Revelation 12:4 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven - It is not unusual in Scripture, as Dr. Mitchell observes, to call the hindmost of an enemy the tail, as in Joshua 10:19 : Ye shall cut off the hindmost of them, which is literally in Hebrew, וזנבתם אותם "Ye shall cut off their tail." See also Deuteronomy 25:18. It is also observable that the word ουρα, in this verse, has been used by the Greeks in the same sense with the Hebrew word זנב already referred to. Thus ουρα στρατου, which we would translate the rear of an army, is literally the tail of an army. See the Thesaurus of Stephens, in loc. The tail of the dragon is therefore the heathen Roman power in its seventh or last form of government, viz., the imperial power; and is not, as Dr. Mitchell supposes, to be restricted to the last heathen Roman emperors. The heathen imperial power is said to draw the third part of the stars of heaven, by which has generally been understood that the Roman empire subjected the third part of the princes and potentates of the earth. But that this is not a correct statement of the fact is evident from the testimony of ancient history. The Roman empire was always considered and called the empire of the world by ancient writers. See Dionys. Halicar., Antiq. Romans lib. i., prope principium; Pitisci Lexicon Antiq. Roman., sub voc. imperium; Ovidii Fast., lib. ii. l. 683; Vegetius de Revelation Militari, lib. i. c. 1., etc., etc. And it is even so named in Scripture, for St. Luke, in the second chapter of his gospel, informs us that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that The Whole World should be taxed, by which is evidently meant the Roman empire. The whole mystery of this passage consists in the misapprehension of its symbolical language. In order therefore to understand it, the symbols here used must be examined. By heaven is meant the most eminent or ruling part of any nation. This is evident from the very nature of the symbol, for "heaven is God's throne;" they therefore who are advanced to the supreme authority in any state are very properly said to be taken up into heaven, because they are raised to this eminence by the favor of the Lord, and are ministers of his to do his pleasure. And the calamity which fell upon Nebuchadnezzar was to instruct him in this important truth, that the heavens do rule; that is, that all monarchs possess their kingdoms by Divine appointment, and that no man is raised to power by what is usually termed the chances of war, but that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men." The meaning of heaven being thus ascertained, it cannot be difficult to comprehend the meaning of earth, this being evidently its opposite, that is, every thing in subjection to the heaven or ruling part. Stars have already been shown to denote ministers of religion; and this is more fully evident from Revelation 1:16 of this book, where the seven stars which the Son of God holds in his right hand are explained to signify the seven angels (or messengers) of the seven Churches, by whom must be meant the seven pastors or ministers of these Churches. The resemblance of ministers to stars is very striking; for as the stars give light upon the earth, so are ministers the lights of the cause they advocate; and their position in heaven, the symbol of domination, very fitly betokens the spiritual authority of priests or ministers over their flocks. Hence, as the woman, or Christian Church, has upon her head a crown of twelve stars, which signifies that she is under the guidance of the twelve apostles, who are the twelve principal lights of the Christian world, so has the dragon also his stars or ministers. The stars therefore which the dragon draws with his tail must represent the whole body of pagan priests, who were the stars or lights of the heathen world. But in what sense can it be said that the heathen Roman empire, which ruled over the whole known world, only draws a third part of the stars of heaven? The answer is: The religious world in the time of St. John was divided into three grand branches, viz., the Christian world, the Jewish world, and the heathen and pagan world: consequently, as a dragon, a fabulous animal, is an emblem of a civil power supporting a religion founded in fable; it necessarily follows that the stars or ministers of the Jews and Christians cannot be numbered among those which he draws with his tail, as they were not the advocates of his idolatry, but were ministers of a religion founded by the God of heaven, and consequently formed no part of the pagan world, though they were in subjection in secular matters to the pagan Roman empire. The tail of the dragon therefore draweth after him the whole heathen world.

And did cast then to the earth - That is, reduced all the pagan priests under the Roman yoke. The words of the prophecy are very remarkable. It is said the tail of the dragon draweth, (for so συρει should be translated), but it is added, and Hath Cast then upon the earth, to show that at the time the Apocalypse was written the world was divided into the three grand religious divisions already referred to; but that the tail of the dragon, or the pagan Roman power under its last form of government, had brought the whole heathen world (which was a third part of the religious world in the apostolic age) into subjection previously to the communication of the Revelation to St. John. It is the dragon's tail that draws the third part of the stars of heaven, therefore it was during the dominion of his last form of government that Christianity was introduced into the world; for in the time of the six preceding draconic forms of government, the world was divided religiously into only two grand branches, Jews and Gentiles. That the sense in which the third part is here taken is the one intended in the prophecy is put beyond all controversy, when it is considered that this very division is made in the first and third verses, in which mention is made of the woman clothed with the sun - the Christian Church, the moon under her feet, or Jewish Church, and the dragon, or heathen power. Thus the heathen Imperial government is doubly represented, first, by one of the seven draconic heads, to show that it was one of those seven heathen forms of government which have been successively at the head of the Roman state; and secondly, by the dragon's tail, because it was the last of those seven. For a justification of this method of interpretation, see on the angel's double explanation of the heads of the beast, Revelation 17:9 (note), Revelation 17:10 (note), Revelation 17:16 (note).

And the dragon stood before the woman, etc. - Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine, abandoned the absurdities of paganism, and treated the Christians with great respect. This alarmed the pagan priests, whose interests were so closely connected with the continuance of the ancient superstitions, and who apprehended that to their great detriment the Christian religion would become daily more universal and triumphant throughout the empire. Under these anxious fears they moved Diocletian to persecute the Christians. Hence began what is termed the tenth and last general persecution, which was the most severe of all, and continued nearly ten years; (see Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History of the Third Century); and as it was the Divine pleasure that, at this time, a great deliverer should be raised up in behalf of his suffering people, the woman, or Christian Church, is very appropriately represented as overtaken with the pangs of labor, and ready to be delivered. Before the death of Constantius, the heathen party, aware that Constantine would follow the example of his father, who so much favored the Christians, beheld him with a watchful and malignant eye. Many were the snares that, according to Eusebius, were laid for him by Maximin and Galerius: he relates the frequent and dangerous enterprises to which they urged him, with the design that he might lose his life. When Galerius heard of the death of Constantius, and that he had appointed Constantine his successor, he was filled with the most ungovernable rage and indignation, notwithstanding he did not dare to take any steps contrary to the interest of Constantine. The dread of the armies of the west, which were mostly composed of Christians, was a sufficient check to all attempts of that kind. Thus the dragon, or heathen power, stood before the woman, or Christian Church, to devour her son, or deliverer, as soon as he was born. See Dr. Mitchell's Exposition of the Revelation, in loc.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

his tail.

Revelation 9:10,19 And they had tails like to scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months...

Daniel 8:9-12 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east...

of the.

Revelation 17:18 And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.

the dragon.

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

Exodus 1:16 And he said, When you do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them on the stools; if it be a son...

Matthew 2:3-16 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him...

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning...

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:

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 8:10
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them.

Matthew 2:16
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

Revelation 8:7
The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Revelation 8:8
The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood,

Revelation 8:9
a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:10
The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water--

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