Who Is The Woman With The Crown?
"And a great portent 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 with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; 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, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days." (Revelation 12:1-6 RSV)
Old Testament Israel and The New Testament Church
Although the verses quoted above have often been interpreted as referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (which they obviously do, partially), they actually describe a much more complex symbolic woman who has existed for many thousands of years, from the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob right to the present. Revelation 12:1-6 portrays the life story of a figurative woman who was born as Old Testament Israel and who grew into adulthood as the New Testament church.
In the Old Testament, and in Prophecy, the woman was known as "The daughter of Jerusalem" and "The daughter of Zion" - Jerusalem and Zion being symbolic, and literal, of God's future rule on earth (see Who, What or Where Is Zion?). Israel lived much of the Old Testament era of her life "expecting" the Messiah:
"For you are a people holy to The Lord your God; The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 7:6 RSV)
"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of The Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for The Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you" (Isaiah 62:3-5 RSV)
"Behold, The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your salvation comes; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." And they shall be called The holy people, The redeemed of The Lord; and you shall be called sought out, a city not forsaken" (Isaiah 62:11-12 RSV)
"Therefore The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14 RSV)
At the time of the New Testament, adulthood was reached, her firstborn came, and the woman became the "Church of God." The twelve stars in her crown, earlier the twelve Israelite patriarchs, were transcended by the twelve apostles, as Jesus Christ made clear (see Fact Finder question below). The literal meaning of "church" is a gathering of those called, from the Greek word pronounced ek-klay-see-ah (see People or Place?) that now can include all people of all nations, everyone who turns to the only true God and obeys Him according to His Word (see The Border That Matters To God).
"I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18 RSV)
"Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son." (Acts 20:28 RSV)
"For as many of you as were baptized [see Baptism] into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:27-29 RSV)
Although, as stated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 16:18, nothing could totally overcome the woman, as described in the opening paragraph the true church has known great persecution during its years in the wilderness (i.e. the past, and present world, that is as brutally uncivilized now as it has ever been, see Who Still Rules The World Today?), a condition that will not end until The Return Of Jesus Christ. It will, in fact, intensify as Satan realizes his time is nearly up (see What Satan Fears Most); the persecution will come mainly at the behest of another symbolic woman, a great religious "harlot" as the Scriptures describe it, and her "daughters," that together claim to be the church, but which are in fact Satanic by deception:
"Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." (Hebrews 11:35-40 RSV)
"And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast [i.e. the Roman Catholic "Church" astride the Roman Empire - see Emperors and Popes] which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth's abominations."
"And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints [see What Is A Saint?] and the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her I marveled greatly."
"But the angel said to me, "Why marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition; and the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast, because it was and is not and is to come."
"This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to perdition."
"And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast [see Daniel's Statue and The Antichrist]. These are of one mind and give over their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:3-14 RSV)
Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ say that, in the Kingdom of God, the twelve apostles will have authority over the 12 tribes of Israel?