by Matt Slick
Rev. 12:1-2 says, “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.”
Many Roman Catholics believe that Mary has an exalted position in heaven. Though Roman Catholic theology has not declared that Mary is divine, they are slowly inching toward that position. Please consider some of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church regarding her.
- Mary is the Queen over all things: "Queen over all things" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 966).
- Entrust our cares to Mary: "Holy Mary, Mother of God . . . we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: 'Let it be to me according to your word.' [Lk 1:38] By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: 'Thy will be done,' (CCC 2677).
- Mary is Advocate, Helper, Mediatrix. “ . . . the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.'" (CCC 969).
- Mary Delivers our souls from death: By Mary's prayers, she delivers souls from death (CCC par. 966).
- Mary brings us the gifts of Eternal Salvation: Mary, " . . . by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . (CCC par. 969).
- Mary is worshipped: " . . . when she [Mary] is the subject of preaching and worship she prompts the faithful to come to her Son . . . " (Vatican Council II, p. 420).
- Mary sits at the right hand of Christ: " . . . she is the supreme Minister of the distribution of graces. Jesus "sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high" (Hebrews i. b.). Mary sitteth at the right hand of her Son . . . " (Pope Pius X, 1835-1914, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, 14).
As you can see, the Roman Catholic Church has exalted Mary to an incredibly high level. So, it is not surprising to find that Catholics would look at Revelation 12:1-2 and interpret “the woman clothed with the sun” as being a reference to Mary. Is this position correct? No, it is not.
If you notice the text in verse 2 it says that she was “with child and she cried out being in labor and in pain.” This is a problem because according to the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, Mary did not inherit Original Sin.
- CCC 491, “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”
If you’re not familiar with the concept of Original Sin, it is “the hereditary fallen nature and moral corruption that is passed down from Adam to his descendants.”1 Sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12). He is the first man who committed sin, and that sin is reckoned to all people (1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18). This means that all descendants of Adam are under the effects of original sin. Part of the curse of the Fall that caused Original Sin is spoken of by God in Genesis 3.
- Gen. 3:16, "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children. Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.'”
Notice that part of the curse is pain in childbirth. This is why women suffer during the birth process. So, when we look back to the text of Revelation 12:1-2, we see that the woman clothed with the sun is suffering birth pain. Since the Roman Catholic position is that Mary could not be suffering birth pain (because of her Immaculate Conception and no Original Sin), then these verses cannot be about Mary.
- 1. http://carm.org/questions/about-doctrine/what-original-sin