His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
Jesus Christ revealed to the apostle John a vast panorama of history and the future through vivid visions and symbols. In Revelation 12:1 John sees a woman with 12 stars, reminiscent of Joseph’s vision referring to the 12 tribes of Israel (Genesis 37:9-11). This woman was chosen to bear the promised Child—the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; 22:18; Galatians 3:16).
Then John saw a horrible monster, a “great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 12:3). This dragon is revealed to be Satan in verse 9. This evil being had once been an angel serving at God’s throne, but he became corrupted with pride and rebelled against God, apparently taking a third of the angels with him (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-16). (Stars often symbolize angels, as in Job 38:7; Jude 13; and Revelation 1:20).
Satan’s attempts to destroy Jesus Christ are documented throughout the Gospels (Matthew 2:3-18; 4:1-11; Luke 22:3-6).
Even though Satan is revealed here as a fearsome evil dragon, he can still reflect the image of his former life as an angel of light, as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
See also the article “God vs. Satan.”