The Four Women of Revelation

By Elizabeth Prata offers an introductory paragraph regarding this highly symbolic yet also highly literal book. It, along with Genesis, are two of my favorite books of the bible.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to John by God “to show his servants what must soon take place.” This book is filled with mysteries about things to come. It is the final warning that the world will surely end and judgment will be certain. It gives us a tiny glimpse of heaven and all of the glories awaiting those who keep their robes white. Revelation takes us through the great tribulation with all its woes and the final fire that all unbelievers will face for eternity. The book reiterates the fall of Satan and the doom he and his angels are bound for. We are shown the duties of all creatures and angels of heaven and the promises of the saints that will live forever with Jesus in the New Jerusalem. Like John, we find it hard to describe what we read in the book of Revelation.

I have the MacArthur study Bible. I read the note for the verse 1-2, the woman with twelve stars. The note was interesting. It said there are four women mentioned in Revelation.

1. Jezebel. This woman represents the pagan church. This isn’t the actual queen Jezebel who once actually lived. (1 Kings, 2 Kings). This Jezebel mentioned in Revelation 2:20 was more likely a Jezebel type. She was a woman who actually was living and harming the church at Thyatira, but was called by Jesus “Jezebel.” This was not a compliment.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.

2. Woman clothed with the sun. This woman represents Israel.

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (Revelation 12:1-2)

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, c. 1805. By William Blake

MacArthur’s note reads:

Not an actual woman, but a symbolic representation of Israel, pictured in the OT as the wife of God. (Isa. 54:5-6; Jer. 3:6-8, 31:32; Ezek. 16:32; Hos 2:16). … That this woman does not represent the church is clear from the context. ‘clothed with the sun, …moon under her feet…twelve stars…Cf., Gen 37:9-11. Being clothed with the sun speaks of the glory, dignity, and exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved, and given a kingdom. The picture of the moon under her feet possibly describes God’s covenant relationship with Israel, since new moons were associated with worship (1 Chron 23:21; 2 Chron 2:4, 8:13; Ezra 3:5; Ps 81:3. The 12 stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

3. The Scarlet Woman. This woman represents the apostate church.

Colored version of the Whore of Babylon illustration from Martin Luther’s 1534 translation of the Bible

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Revelation 17:3-6).

The Bible note says,

Purple and scarlet…the colors of royalty, nobility and wealth. The woman is portrayed as a prostitute who has successfully plied her trade and become extremely wealthy. Adorned…Prostitutes often dress in fine clothes and precious stones to allure their victims. (cf. Prov 7:10). The religious harlot Babylon is no different, adorning herself to lure the nations into her grasp.

4. Wife of the Lamb This woman represents the true church.

[ The New Jerusalem ] Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:9-10)

14th century tapestry of New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem takes on the character of its inhabitants, the redeemed.

So you have heard of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse…now you know of the four women of Revelation! 🙂

Read Revelation. It promises a blessing for those who do! (Revelation 22:7). It also has another promise.

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13)


Further Reading:

Bible Introductions: Revelation

Book of Revelation: Bible Survey

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