“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.”
King James Version (KJV)
12:4 And his tail - His falsehood and subtilty. Draweth - As a train. The third part - A very large number. Of the stars of heaven - The Christians and their teachers, who before sat in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. And casteth them to the earth - Utterly deprives them of all those heavenly blessings. This is properly a part of the description of the dragon, who was not yet himself on earth, but in heaven: consequently, this casting them down was between the beginning of the seventh trumpet and the beginning of the third woe; or between the year 847 and the year 947; at which time pestilent doctrines, particularly that of the Manichees in the east, drew abundance of people from the truth. And the dragon stood before the woman, that when she had brought forth, he might devour the child - That he might hinder the kingdom of Christ from spreading abroad, as it does under this trumpet.
Re 12:4 And his tail drew a third part of the stars. This may indicate the great power of the dragon. Perhaps it has a more particular meaning. We have found under Re 8:7 9:18 that the old Roman world was divided into three parts, that the term "third part" was used of these divisions (also see topic 9706). In the early part of the fourth century, when the great triumph of Christianity over Paganism was about to be realized, the Roman world shows this division; in two parts toleration is shown; in the remaining "third part" there is the most bitter persecution, and finally the ruler of this part, Maximus, enters upon war with Constantine with the vow that if successful he will restore everywhere the old Pagan religion. This may be symbolized. And the dragon stood before the woman. This symbolizes an effort to destroy the saints, the seed of the woman, the children of the Church.