Revelation 12 – The Pagan Roman Empire Beast
This Revelation Timeline Decoded Bible study focuses on the beast of Revelation 12, the pagan Roman Empire.
The first layer of the Revelation Timeline is the description of the three forms of the Roman beast, found in Revelation 12 and 13, that the Church of Christ has had to face through it’s history.
The Roman Empire > The Roman Catholic Church > The Jesuits of Rome
In it’s simplest form, the Apocalyptic vision describes the battle between the Satan-empowered Roman beast against Messiah and His Church.
As Messiah caused one form of the Roman beast to lose power, Satan caused the next form to rise up.
Revelation 12 describes the iron legs of the statue in Daniel 2, the dreadful beast of Daniel 7, the Roman Empire, which was dreadful and exceedingly strong.
So let’s go through our Messiah’s description of how His followers endured the Satan-empowered Roman Empire Beast, that is described in Revelation 12.
The context is the period of time from 95 A.D. – 476 A.D, from the time John wrote the Revelation until the last Roman Emperor.
Revelation 12:1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
Some say that this is the Jews, or Mary who gave birth to Messiah, but that explanation does not fit the context, as they did not flee to the wilderness for 1,260 years.
A woman in prophecy represents a group of set-apart ones, and this woman represents the Early Church of Christ.
Revelation 21:9 tell us that the pure woman, the Church of Christ, is the bride of Christ, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
The disobedient tribe of Judah was called a ‘harlot‘ because she disobeyed Elohim and worshiped pagan gods.
In Revelation 17, the woman who is drunk with the blood of the saints is the false Church, the Harlot Church, the Roman Catholic Church.
The Early Church is clothed with the Sun above all; with the righteousness of Christ;
As the moon receives its light from the sun to provide light in darkness, so the Church receives her light from the Son, which guides her path.
The twelve stars represent the 12 Apostles, who are the foundation of the church. “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:14
Revelation 12:2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
In harmony with many others, John Foxe, of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, interpreted “the Woman travailing” as “God’s true Church” (p. 464).
As first standing before the “woman,” who represented as the Fathers clearly saw the Christian Church, to devour her child as soon as it was born, and then warring against her, and her seed. (History Unveiling Prophecy, Henry Grattan Guinness)
The Early Church was birthed out of much pain, as all of the disciples but John died from a violent death. Stephen was stoned to death. Paul was stoned, beaten, whipped, etc.
The Roman Empire began killing Christians in the Coliseums, and it endured 10 persecution periods at the hands of the Romans, during which 10 million saints were killed.
Messiah set up His kingdom in the midst of the powerful Roman Empire, and it was painful and laborious.
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Daniel 2:44
Satan failed in his attempt to stop the promised Messiah, so he turned his wrath on the Early Church, to try to wipe it out.
The birthing of the Early Church was difficult as they were persecuted by the Jews and the Romans. They cried in pain as they were tortured and killed.
As you learned in the Revelation 2-3 Seven Church Eras study, they endured ten periods of persecution from the Roman Empire. The most intense was the last one, where Satan knew that the Roman Empire was collapsing, so he caused Emperor Diocletian to try to wipe out Christianity from 303-313 A.D.
Revelation 12:3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.
The figure of the dragon represents the Satan-empower pagan Roman Empire, whose armies used the symbol of the dragon on their ensigns.
As Daniel foretold, the Roman Empire was great and dreadful, as they conquered and crushed the nations; the red of course representing the bloodshed of war and persecution.
The seven heads represents the seven hills of Rome, to help John identify the enemy.
The 10 horns represent the 10 civil kingdoms which were created after the Roman Empire collapsed. This matches the description of the Roman beast in Daniel 7.
The 7 crowns matches up with the description in Revelation 17, which represented the seven forms of Roman government which occurred during their reign.
Revelation 12:4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
This isn’t talking about Satan being cast out of heaven with the fallen angels, as that had already taken place in Genesis.
Satan had empowered the Roman Empire, which accounted for 1/3rd of the known populated Earth. Stars in heaven represents their leadership structure over their vast domain.
Satan understands Bible prophecy and he knew that according to the 70th week of Daniel prophecy in Daniel 9, that Messiah would appear in 27 A.D. He knew that Messiah could not start His ministry until age 30, so He would be born around 3 B.C. So he took control of the Roman Empire, to control the area of Messiah’s prophesied birth, to try to eliminate Him.
Satan used the Roman Empire to try to stop the Messiah and when that failed, he used it to try to wipe out the Early Church.
Revelation 12:5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
The male Child is not Christ in the flesh, but rather His priesthood of followers, His Church.
The rod of iron is the Word of God, and this is telling us that the Early Church birthed the New Testament, which the Church has used to rule the nations.
Her child, the Early Church, was persecuted for their faith, and these martyrs were the first fruits of the Kingdom.
The Church era of Smyrna endured much persecution from the Roman Empire.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Revelation 6:9
This matches Revelation 12:11:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Revelation 12:6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
The 1,260 Years Of Great Tribulation study shows how this represents 1,260 years of persecution of the Church of Christ by the Roman Catholic Church, which reigned from 538-1798 A.D.
Revelation 12:7-8 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
This battle wasn’t fought in heavenly realm of the Father.
It was fought in the realm of what Earthy kingdoms Satan is allowed to have power over.
Satan had been in his glory in the powerful, vast Roman Empire, as they worshiped many pagan gods, which ultimately honored him.
As the Lord caused the Roman Empire to collapse during the seal judgments, Satan lost his power over the Roman Empire.
Revelation 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
The whole world in prophecy is the Roman Empire, whom Satan had deceived into worshiping pagan gods. Now he was being kicked out of the Roman Empire, as it collapsed.
Messiah’s proclamation in Luke 10:17-18 tell us that Satan symbolically lost power in the heavenly realm when demons were cast out by the disciples.
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.“
Angels in prophecy can mean earthly leaders, which in this case would have been the leaders of the vast Roman Empire, who also lost power.
To commemorate this time, Emperor Constantine caused medals to be struck representing that event under the semblance of a dragon precipitated into the abyss.
In the Epistle to Eusebius and other bishops concerning the re-edifying and repairing of churches, Roman Emperor Constantine said that “liberty now restored, and ‘that dragon’ being removed from the administration of public affairs by the providence of the Great God, and by my ministry, I esteem the great power of God to have been made manifest, even to all.” (Eusebius, “Life of Constantine,” 6, II, Ch. 46; Socrates, Hist. Eccles., I, Ch. 9; Theodoret, 6, I, Ch. 16)
The Emperor Constantine, says Eusebius, “caused to be painted on a lofty tablet, and set up in front of the portico of his palace, so as to be visible to all, a representation of the salutary sign placed above his head; and below it that hateful and savage adversary of mankind, who by means of tyranny of the ungodly, had wasted the Church of God, falling headlong, under the form of a dragon, to the abyss of destruction. For the sacred oracles in the books of God’s prophets have described him as a dragon and a crooked serpent, and for this reason the Emperor there publicly displayed a painted resemblance of the dragon beneath his own and his children’s feet, stricken through with a dart, and cast headlong into the depths of the sea.” (Eusebius, “Life of Constantine,” Book III, Ch. III)
Revelation 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”
Messiah had setup His kingdom during the powerful reign of the Satan-empowered Roman Empire.
Satan tried to wipe out the Early Church, causing the Roman Empire to kill 10 million saints, but the Kingdom of Christ grew stronger.
Now the powerful kingdom of Satan, the pagan Roman Empire, had been cast down during the seal judgments, which caused it to collapse internally; and the trumpet judgments, which caused army after army to attack it, so that the last Western Roman Emperor was removed in 476 A.D.
After a fierce battle with many saint’s blood shed, Messiah’s kingdom was prevailing over Satan’s Roman Empire, and the heavens erupt in praise!
For the millions of martyrs who had been accused by the Satanic Roman Empire and killed by them, this was cause for celebration, as the power of Christ caused Satan to lose his power over the dreadful and terrible Roman beast.
The victory is celebrated by a song of praise in which the great event is regarded as a signal triumph of the Kingdom of God. “Now is come salvation and strength, and the Kingdom of God, and the power of His Christ.”
The victors are declared to have “overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony”; not by sword and spear, as in mere carnal conflict, but by moral, spiritual and Christian weapons.
Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
The victors are declared to have “overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony“.
They did not use swords, as in a physical conflict. Instead they put on the armor of God described in Ephesians 6:11-18
The martyrs who were killed by the Roman Empire did not deny their Lord to preserve their lives, rather they honored their Lord with the words of their testimony before the Romans.
Revelation 12:12-13 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.”
When Satan was cast out of the Roman Empire, he was full of wrath, so he caused other people groups to persecute the Church of Christ.
Revelation 12:14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
The time and times and half a time represents the upcoming 1,260 year period from 538-1798 A.D., when the sea beast of Revelation 13 reigned.
The Lord caused a people group called the Vaudois to take the Word of God to the Piedmont Valley of the Alps, at the northwest corner of Italy, east of France.
There they were fed by the Word of God, which the Lord had them preserve. The ‘wilderness’ which protected them was the remote area of the Alps, which served to protect them during the upcoming 1,260 years of Great Tribulation from the Sea Beast of Revelation, the Roman Catholic Church.
Revelation 12:15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.
Water in prophecy represents people, so this represents Satan sending many people to kill Christians.
He did that through the next phase of the Roman beast, the Roman Catholic Church, which sent many armies to persecute the saints.
Revelation 12:16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
The Church of Christ fled away from the persecutions in Rome and was protected in remote areas, where they preached the Gospel, causing the Kingdom to advance.
Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Satan would cause the Roman Catholic Church to relentlessly seek to eliminate the Word of God and the people who had it.
Church Father Quotes:
Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea, was a Roman historian, exegete, and Christian polemicist of Greek descent, in the 4th century.
He applied the symbolic prefigurations of the Apoc to the changed events of the period; the casting down of the seven-headed dragon from its high and ruling position represented in the twelfth chapter seemed to him to agree in a marvelous manner with the dejection of Paganism, and of the Pagan Emperors, which had just taken place, from the supremacy which they had for ages exercised in the Roman World.*
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible – Revelation 12
Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible – Revelation 12
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible – Revelation 12
Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible – Revelation 12
Robert Carignola’s book “The Present Reign Of Jesus Christ”
Charles A. Jenning’s book “The Book Of Revelation: From An Israelite And Historicist Interpretation“
Henry Grattan Guinness book “Romanism and the Reformation: From the Standpoint of Prophecy“
* Henry Grattan Guinness book “History Unveiling Prophecy“
Next Revelation Timeline Decoded Bible Study: 1,260 Years Of Great Tribulation