Dialogue on the Woman of Revelation 12 (Mary?)

Dialogue on the Woman of Revelation 12 (Mary?) January 11, 2016
Madonna in Glory (c. 1670), by Carlo Dolci (1616-1686) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

This discussion was condensed from a combox on a friend’s Facebook page. Guy’s words will be in green; Brian’s in blue.

* * * * *

Guy Duininck I also don’t accept that the ark of the covenant is a type of Mary…….that is all far too presumptious [sic] for this careful student of Scripture. I also don’t accept that she is the woman in Revelation. . . . This [is] all speculation which then becomes a foundation for further argument.

That’s fascinating. Her son is described as “one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,” (12:5, RSV); so you deny that this is Jesus? If it isn’t Jesus, who is it? And if it is, then how can you deny that His mother is Mary? Catholics believe that there is a double application here to the Church and to Mary (a common phenomenon in Scripture). But to deny the application to Mary altogether runs into the exegetical absurdities that I note. 

Brian Sleeman  Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

12:1-6 The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother of believers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She was clothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining by union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was under her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light of the revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown of twelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelve apostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in pain to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of sinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a known emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for him on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the city built upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten kingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms of government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the stars in heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting and seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies, the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithful professors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations, and in whose right his members partake the same glory. This blessed offspring was protected of God.

But then I’ve seen interpretations that the passage refers to a succession of Christian Emperors.

Seems that deciphering Prophecy can be a difficult task – I wouldn’t be ready to my money on any of the interpretations yet.  

Hi Brian. Since Guy hasn’t answered my question about the woman in Revelation and Christ, maybe you will. It’s right above your last comment. Please do inform all of us who this “Son” is, and who his mother is. I’ll even help you with cross-reference clues:

Psalm 2:7-9 (RSV) I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.[8] Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. [9] You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Revelation 19:13-15 He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. [14] And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. [15] From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

Revelation 12:5 she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

I can cite Protestant commentators, too. Baptist A. T. Robertson (Word Pictures in the New Testament – six volumes), says of Rev. 12:5: “There is here, of course, direct reference to the birth of Jesus from Mary”. Eerdmans Bible Commentary likewise states: “the ‘catching up’ is sufficiently similar to the victorious ascension of Jesus to make plain its real meaning in this context.”
Jamieson, Fausset,and Brown Commentary states: “rod of iron . . . ch. 2:27; Psalm 2:9, which passages prove the Lord Jesus to be meant. Any interpretation which ignores this must be wrong.” It also notes the reference to the ascension.

Yet you guys can’t see that this is referring to Jesus; therefore, that an interpretation that the mother of Jesus in this passage is Mary, cannot be ruled out? It can have a double application to the Church as well, but if we’re talking about Jesus’ mother, that has to be Mary, because Jesus wasn’t born of the Church; He set up the Church.  

Well David, lets set some things straight – I DO NOT deny the virgin birth / immaculate conception of Christ (but that does not automatically make Mary sinless). There are OT references to the coming Messiah via virgin birth. Paul does not figure into anything to do with the acceptability of the process of Christs conception.

Yes, I have seen commentaries that say exactly what you are saying too. What I was trying to point out out is that not everyone agrees on the interpretations of ‘unfulfilled’ prophecy. So, if you want to go down that road – let’s maybe look at all the interpretations of Revelation that say that the Whore of Babylon is the RCC – I’m sure you can find many who do not hold this same view – but to go on ‘weight of numbers’, well that too is not scriptural. Majority vote is not the way God works.

The only Authority to be followed is what comes from God – you may believe that the RCC holds that authority – many don’t see that that is supported through scripture. Like I have pointed out – and as did Christ constantly throughout His ministry – traditions can be dangerous because they lead away from God and His Word (even when they do sound right and good and true – because they came from scripture, but with a twist) – Christ even said your traditions nullify the Word of God – how much more ‘stick to scripture’ do you need? Timothy is a classic – what was the traditions he was told to hold too? The instruction of the Law from his beginning (From his mother and Grandmother) i.e. don’t forsake the importance and need to uphold the Truth in all that you do – and the same in ministering to all. Continue to meet with fellow believers obey the sacraments (the ones prescribed in scripture). Where do all these ‘traditions’ stem from? The scriptures.

If you feel that your actions and approaches are correct and true, then that is between you and God – if your conscience is not pricked then maybe you are right or maybe you are blinded – it is not my place to determine. I for one see the dangers that Christ so readily despised and criticised in the Pharisees and Scribes (the ‘church’ of the OT if you will) and try to be conscious of discerning practices and traditions that may be following that poor example of the religious leaders of that time. 

I search in vain for any answers to my arguments in your reply. Lots of non sequiturs, miscomprehension of the nature of my arguments, and you’re all over the ballpark (anything and everywhere except replying directly to me): the fabled Protestant “101 objections [to Catholicism]” routine. But like a lawyer who is stuck with a bad case, if you have no rational arguments and facts to bring to bear, you throw up whatever you can to obfuscate, and hope no one (in the lawyer’s case, juries) notices what you are doing.

I don’t think most Protestants who do this are even aware that they are doing it, because all they are focusing on is opposing Mary and any other distinctive Catholic teaching at all costs, no matter what Scripture has to say on the matter. 

So what did I not answer Dave? – Yes I have seen interpretations of Revelation that say that passage refers to Christ – and if you want then to draw the conclusion that the woman, by definition MUST be Mary (even though Christ existed before her). Yes, as I said, I’ve seen it. I also stated earlier that I wouldn’t put my money on ANY of the interpretations to date (not because I specifically disagree with them) – so it’s not that I don’t answer your questions – it’s that you don’t like my answers perhaps?

Did I not agree with the immaculate conception?

Please point out what I did not answer? From what I can see I gave you the most honest response I can – I acknowledged that there are interpretations (apparently based on scripture) that support your argument – and yet there are others (also apparently based on scripture) that don’t. I’m not particularly interested in getting caught up in ‘what Revelation might mean’ – I take it basically as thus, that it is the Revelation from Christ to show that He has returned to Heaven, is in Authority and that He is moving to the time of His return. Wasting time looking for the ‘indicators’ and ‘signs’ may be of interest and benefit to others, but not to me – too many ‘false’ conclusions have been drawn from this book. 

Thanks for your reply. Very instructive . . . 

‎I DO NOT deny the virgin birth / immaculate conception of Christ . . . Did I not agree with the immaculate conception?

The only (huge) problem is that you don’t understand that the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, not Christ. She was “immaculate” at the moment of her conception by a special act of grace by God, removing original sin from her soul. It helps discussion quite a bit to get the basic definitions of the things being disputed, correct.

OK, how do ‘we’ determine . . . that the immaculate was not that she conceived with out intercourse? 

Again, you are thoroughly confused. That has nothing to do with the immaculate conception; that is the Virgin Birth. The immaculate conception is a development of the notion that Mary was without sin, and was the second Eve (very prominent in the Church Fathers). If you believe she was without sin, then upon reflection it was thought by the Church that she was also freed from original sin, by God’s grace. That takes it back to conception because that is when the soul is created directly by God, and where original sin is transmitted, since the fall of Adam and Eve. 

The argument from biblical analogy that I made for the immaculate conception noted Isaiah being called from the womb (Is 49:1, 5); also Jeremiah (Jer 1:5). John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk 1:15). Paul was called and set apart “even before I was born” (Gal 1:15). Being the Mother of God is a far greater role in the scheme of things than being a prophet or apostle; hence by analogy, we believe God especially sanctified Mary for her profound task: making her as Eve was before the fall and giving her extra grace (Lk 1:28).

It also seems possible to me that if Mary was not of the nature of man (by having no original sin), then Christ was not then from the seed of the woman – who was a ‘product’ of man.
This is another basic category error. Man does not have a “sin nature.” That is heresy and not NT teaching. Man’s nature is a thing that is distinct from original sin. It is not intrinsic to being human, that we have to be fallen. Hence, Jesus had a human nature as well as a divine nature, but both were without sin. Mary was a human being, yet without sin, just as Adam and Eve were human beings without sin, before the fall.
Dave, I get what your saying about immaculate conception (now) – seems a bit far fetched to me at this point. I can’t readily refute what you say, nor do I see anything to support it – I can’t see how those references you’ve listed actually make the case, so I’ll stick with “I don’t know” and accept that Mary was a very special person in the process of Gods plans and that Christ was born, to her a Virgin, as part of the fulfillment of prophecy.
Earlier in the discussion, Brian denied the doctrine of original sin, which is rank heresy:

It is true that Mary did not contract the guilt of Adam’s original sin, because nobody has. . . . Guilt simply is not inherited. The child does not bear the iniquity of the parent (Ezekiel 18:20). Human beings go astray; they are not born that way (cf. Isaiah 53:6). One is spiritually dead because of his personal sin (Ephesians 2:1), not due to the sin of others.

It is true that we aren’t responsible for the actual sins of others (I’ve written about that too). But original sin has to do with the entire human race falling, since we were “in” Adam. See my paper: Biblical Evidence for Original Sin.

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