The Interpretation of the Signs (12:7-17)

The gaps and abrupt changes in verses 1-6 are explained in part by the rest of the chapter. Verses 7-18 look like a doublet of these opening verses, as if John were drawing on two different accounts of the same vision. Whether he is or not, he seems to be using the second account to interpret and clarify the first. It is as if John had asked God (or an angel) the meaning of what he had just seen in verses 1-6 and received verses 7-18 as an answer. Yet as we noticed earlier (see 7:13-14), John never in all his visions asks God questions. In some instances an angel answers without being asked, but now there is no angel to do the explaining, and John himself assumes the interpreter's role. In verses 7-9 he elaborates and clarifies his description of the dragon, which is reinforced in verses 10-12 by a voice he hears in heaven. In verses 13-16 he expands similarly on the dragon's conflict with the woman. Verses 17-18 mark a transition to a further stage in the vision.

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