542. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, that after she had brought forth, he might devour her offspring, signifies that they who are meant by "the dragon" will endeavor to extinguish the doctrine of the New Church in its first origin. Who they are that are meant by "the dragon" may be seen above (n. 537); that by "the woman" is signified the New Church (n. 533); that by "bringing forth" is signified to receive the goods and truths of doctrine from the Word (n. 535); that by "the offspring" which she brought forth is signified the doctrine of the New Church, will be seen in the next article. "To devour" signifies to extinguish, because by "the offspring" is signified doctrine; and when "to devour" is said in relation to the offspring, to extinguish is said in relation to doctrine. The reason why this was the case in its first origin, is because it is said, that "the dragon" stood before the woman, to devour her offspring after she had brought forth.