Revelation 12:14 "Two Wings of a Great Eagle"


To what do you believe this verse of the Apocalypse refers?

I have read various commentaries and they seem to widely diverge. Some commentators relate it to the Exodus passage in which God related how he lifted Israel out of Egyptian slavery upon “eagle’s wings,” as a symbol of the divine election and saving Grace.

Others note that the “great eagle” is a symbol of Babylon in Ezekiel, thus signifying that the “world power” - the Roman Empire of St. John’s time - would eventually cease being a persecutor and come to the defence of Holy Mother Church, understanding it as alluding to the ultimate conversion of the Empire and the Gentiles to the Gospel. The “two wings” are interpreted by these commentators as signifying the Western and Eastern half of the Empire which would become Christendom.

St. Victorinus of Pettau (died 304 AD) a church father who wrote the earliest Latin commentary on the Book of Revelation, opined that the “two wings of the great eagle” were to be identified with the ‘Two Witnesses’ of the Last Days - Elijah and the other prophet (Enoch?). He wrote:

6. But the woman fled into the wilderness, and there were given to her two great eagle’s wings. The aid of the great eagle’s wings— to wit, the gift of prophets— was given to that Catholic Church, whence in the last times a hundred and forty-four thousands of men should believe in the preaching of Elias; but, moreover, he here says that the rest of the people should be found alive on the coming of the Lord. And the Lord says in the Gospel: Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; Luke 21:21 that is, as many as should be gathered together in Judea, let them go to that place which they have ready, and let them be supported there for three years and six months from the presence of the devil.

  1. Two great wings are the two prophets— Elias, and the prophet who shall be with him…

7-9. *There was a battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon warred, and his angels, and they prevailed not; nor was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast forth, that old serpent: he was cast forth into the earth. * This is the beginning of Antichrist; yet previously Elias must prophesy, and there must be times of peace. And afterwards, when the three years and six months are completed in the preaching of Elias, he also must be cast down from heaven, where up till that time he had had the power of ascending; and all the apostate angels, as well as Antichrist, must be roused up from hell


I have understood the Woman representing Israel, the Church and Mary (which has helped me perceive this beyond one point in history) and the symbolism of eagles wings as God’s protection.


I concur that the “Woman Adorned With the Sun” can be identified as Israel, the Church as the New Israel and Mary as the Mother of the Church.

Likely, the author of Revelation originally intended Israel but the Church Fathers interpreted the “Woman” overwhelmingly as the Church and the medieval theologians overwhelmingly saw her as the Blessed Virgin Mary.

So it would seem that the tradition of the Church makes room for each of these identifications as valid.

I am curious what you think of the idea that the “great eagle” represents Rome?

See, as an example:

Revelation 12:14. Αἱ δύο πτέρυγες) The Hebrew dual כְגָפַיִם does not always involve the number two: but it is used even in the description of four or six wings, Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6. Whence in the Septuagint כְגָפַיִם is never expressed by δύο πτέρυγες. Therefore in this passage it is said not without great significance, αἱ δύο πτέρυγες, those two wings. The great eagle itself is the Roman empire: the two wings, the power over the east and the west.—εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτῆς, into her place) This place[130] comprises very large regions, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Transilvania, etc., by the addition of which to the church, A. 965, and thenceforward, the Christian power reached, in a continuous tract, from the Eastern to the Western Empire

Usually this is related to the slightly later verse where the sacred author speaks of the “earth” coming to the aid of the “Woman”.

Of course, this interpretation is to read a kind of “futurist” interpretation into it (from St. John’s perspective in the first century, not ours) whereby the sacred author hoped that Rome - symbolised by the ensign of the ‘eagle’ - would eventually be converted to the Word of God and rally to the cause of the Church.

Also, what of the view espoused by St. Victorinus and some other Fathers that the “two wings” may be the ‘two witnesses’?


John Wesley, the Methodist founder, interpreted this passage as follows:;view=fulltext

A woman— The Emblem of the Church of Christ, as she is originally of Israel, tho’ built and enlarged on all Sides by the Addition of Heathen Converts…

V. 14.
And there was given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place—Eagles are the usual Symbols of great Potentates. So Ezekiel xvii. 3. by a great eagle means, the King of Babylon. Here the great Eagle is the Roman Empire: the two wings, the Eastern and Western Branches of it.


Rome certainly could symbolize the protection of God given its special relationship to the Sacraments, Apostolic succession and the Vicar of Christ.



…could this passage not be referring to a future Egypt state?

…after a long search for coat of arms Egypt adopted… yep the eagle!:

Official Coat of arms of Egypt, 1984–present. (

…if it is so, then does that not demonstrate what Yahweh God has stated in the OT?:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.

(Isaiah 46:10a)

Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!




D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 14. There were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle. By these two wings, some understand the love of God, and the fear of offending him; others, piety, prudence, &c. (Witham) — The Church, on account of the severe pressure of the persecution, obtained from the Almighty a special protection and assistance. (Pastorini)


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