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Many ancient stories describe a dragon-like monster of death lurking in the deep, dark sea. In these tales, both the dragon and the sea represent a spiritual darkness that threatens to drag creation back into chaos. The biblical authors used this symbolism that would have been familiar to ancient people groups, which is why dragons are found all throughout the Bible—seriously! Let’s explore the theme of the dragon in the Bible and see how God will defeat this chaotic force.

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Chaos Dragon

Key Passages for the Dragon Theme

  • Genesis 1:20-21
  • Genesis 3:1-19
  • Isaiah 51:9-11
  • Ezekiel 29:1-4
  • Daniel 7:1-14
  • Matthew 4:1-11
  • Romans 12:17-21

How the Bible Uses Dragon Imagery

On the first page of the Bible, God brings order to creation by separating the dry land from the chaotic sea, where he contains the sea dragon.

This monster is connected to the dragon-like snake that appears to Adam and Eve in the garden, the spiritual darkness luring humans into chaos.

The biblical authors develop this picture of a chaotic monster throughout Scripture, using dragon imagery to describe violent human kings, like the Pharaoh who enslaved and murdered ancient Israelites. And Goliath is depicted as a scaly, snakey giant.

In these portraits of human evil, we can see that the sea dragon is wreaking havoc on creation, and it needs to be defeated. And perhaps even more sinister is that the power of the dragon can be strangely appealing to humans. Even the would-be dragon slayer can be lured into using the dragon’s power to become the dragon himself. This is exactly what happened to King David.

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Dragon Empires and the Son of Man

In the biblical story, we see not just individual rulers but entire empires become like dragons. The prophet Daniel has a dream about four monstrous beasts rising out of the sea. They represent violent kingdoms in league with dark spiritual powers.

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A new character then appears in Daniel’s vision, rising up from the land to sit on God’s throne and destroy the monsters. So who is this dragon slayer? Daniel calls him “one like a son of Man."

Jesus Confronts the Dragon

As Jesus begins his public ministry, he echoes the book of Daniel when he calls himself the “Son of Man."

 And the gospel authors show Jesus confronting the dragon when he walks over the stormy sea, overcomes the tempter in the wilderness, and confronts death and sickness in others. Even when the power of the dragon is at its greatest, Jesus doesn’t back down.

Jesus also resists the dragon in surprising ways. He surrenders his life and willingly enters the belly of the beast, and the dragon slayer is slain by the dragon.

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How to Overcome the Dragon

The dragon’s “victory” is not the end of the story. Jesus trusts in God’s power to create new life on the other side of death, and after being killed he resurrects into transformed life. 

As his followers, we are invited to confront the dragon with that same strong trust and resist the temptation to become the dragon. God is battling the dragon here and now and will one day defeat the dragon for good. In the meantime, we don’t need to fear the dragon. We can overcome it like Jesus with courageous acts of generous love.

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The Big Idea

In the Bible, dragons represent rebellious spiritual beings and the violent humans and empires in league with them. Jesus ultimately overcomes the dragon with a courageous act of generous love, and he invites his followers to do the same.

Reflection Questions

  • In the Bible, why is it challenging for humans to slay the dragon? What risks are involved?
  • What are some of the ways that Jesus confronted the “dragon” in his ministry?
  • How does Jesus ultimately defeat the “dragon”? How can we follow his example?
  • Take time to reflect on other themes, questions, or key takeaways from what you learned about the biblical theme of the chaos dragon.
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