“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:”
King James Version (KJV)
12:1 And a great sign was seen in heaven - Not only by St. John, but many heavenly spectators represented in the vision. A sign means something that has an uncommon appearance, and from which we infer that some unusual thing will follow. A woman - The emblem of the church of Christ, as she is originally of Israel, though built and enlarged on all sides by the addition of heathen converts; and as she will hereafter appear, when all her natural branches are again grafted in. She is at present on earth; and yet, with regard to her union with Christ, may be said to be in heaven, #Eph 2:6|. Accordingly, she is described as both assaulted and defended in heaven, verses 4, 7. #Rev 12:4|,7 Clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars - These figurative expressions must he so interpreted as to preserve a due proportion between them. So, in Joseph's dream, the sun betokened his father; the moon, his mother; the stars, their children. There may be some such resemblance here; and as the prophecy points out the power over all nations, perhaps the sun may betoken the Christian world; the moon, the Mahometans, who also carry the moon in their ensigns; and the crown of twelve stars, the twelve tribes of Israel; which are smaller than the sun and moon. The whole of this chapter answers the state of the church from the ninth century to this time.
Re 12:1 The Visions of the Church SUMMARY OF REVELATION 12: The Vision in Heaven. The Woman Clothed with the Sun. Her Offspring. The Great Red Dragon. The Conflict in Heaven. The War on the Woman's Seed. Her Seed Caught Up. Her Flight into the Wilderness. The Flood Cast by the Dragon. The Earth Helping the Woman. A woman. A woman is used as a symbol many times in the Scriptures. "Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh" (Isa 62:11). Here the reference is to the Church. Again Paul says, "We are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free" (Ga 4:31). All are agreed that here the free woman represents the Church. Again, John sees the New Jerusalem descending adorned as a bride to meet her husband (Re 21:2). The bride, the Lamb's wife, here and in Re 21:9, indeed in every place spoken of, is the Church. Once more: Paul speaks of Jerusalem, the mother of us all, alluding again to the Church (Ga 4:26). This symbol, then, is a common one to represent the Church, and we are justified in declaring that to be its meaning in this passage. Clothed with the sun. The fact that she is clothed with the sun symbolizes the fact that the true Church shines with the light of the sun of righteousness. And the moon under her feet represents the Old Testament, or old dispensation, which shone by a reflected right and is subordinate to the New Covenant of the Church. And upon her head a crown of twelve stars is explained by the twelve apostles, lights of the Church and a grown of glory to it.