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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 13

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

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Verses 1-18

Revelation 13:1-3

Louis Napoleon was a symbol and creature of his time, which divided with him the crime of the coup d'éat. He had his day, and paid his debt at the end of it to the retributory powers. But while his day lasted, and he seemed to thrive, he was an ugly object in the eyes of those who believed in some sort of providence.


'The same day,' writes Carlyle in his account of the French orgies in 1793, 'while this brave Carmagnoledance has hardly jigged itself out, there arrive Procureur Chaumette and Municipals and Departmentals, and with them the strangest freightage: a New Religion! Demoiselle Candeille of the opera, a woman fair to look upon, when well rouged; she, borne on palanquin shoulder-high, with red woollen nightcap, in azure mantle, garlanded with oak, holding in her hand the Pike of the Jupiter- Peuple , sails in, heralded by white young women girt in tricolor. Let the world consider it! This, O National Convention, wonder of the Universe, is our New Divinity; Goddess of Reason, worthy, and alone worthy, of revering. Her henceforth we adore. Nay, were it too much to ask of our august National Representation that it also went with us to the ci-devant Cathedral called of Notre-Dame, and executed a few strophes in worship of her?... Other mysteries, seemingly of a Cabiric or Paphian character, we leave under the Veil, which appropriately stretches itself "along the pillars of the aisles" not to be lifted aside by the hand of History.'

References. XIII. 1, 2. F. T. Bassett, Things that Must Be, p. 1. XIII. 2, 5, 6. H. Edwards, Penny Pulpit, No. 1499, p. 129.

Revelation 13:3

Malmesbury gives us the beginning of the marriage story; how the prince reeled into chapel to be married; how he hiccuped out his vows of fidelity you know how he kept them; how he pursued the woman whom he had married; to what a state he brought her; with what blows he struck her; with what malignity he pursued her; what his treatment of his daughter was; and what his own life. He the first gentleman in Europe! There is no stronger satire on the proud English society of that day, than that they admired George.

Thackeray, on 'George the Fourth'.

Revelation 13:4

There is as great vice in praising, and as frequent, as in detracting.

Ben Jonson.

There never was a mean and abject mind that did not admire an intrepid and dexterous villain.


Reference. XIII. 6-8. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 103.

Revelation 13:8

On a certain time, as I was walking in the fields, the Lord said unto me: Thy name is written in the Lamb's book of life, which was before the foundation of the world. And as the Lord spake it, I believed, and saw it in the new birth.

Fox's Journal.

References. XIII. 8. Expositor (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 277; ibid. vol. v. p. 416.

Revelation 13:10

He was an absolute sepulchre in the swallowing of oppression and ill-usage. It vanished in him. There was no echo of complaint, no murmur of resentment from the hollows of that soul. The blows that fell upon him resounded not, and no one but God remembered them.

George Macdonald, in Robert Falconer.

Compare, for the idea of impatience and irritation as fatal to character, the description of the French put by Lord Lytton, in My Novel, into the mouth of Mr. Caxton. 'Sir, their whole political history, since the great meeting of the Tiers Etat, has been the history of men who would rather go to the devil than be bitten by a flea. It is the record of human impatience, that seeks to force time, and expects to grow forests from the spawn of a mushroom.'

As Dr. Birkbeck Hill rightly observes of Gibbon: 'After the long war that he had waged against the stifling of truth by the Church of Rome, his fall was deep indeed, when, under the terror inspired by the French Revolution, he urged some Portuguese gentlemen not to give up, at such a crisis, the Inquisition'.

Contrast Dr. Johnson's theory, in his well-known note to the first scene of 'Henry the Fourth' (first part): 'The lawfulness and justice of the holy ware have been much disputed, but perhaps here is a principle on which the question may be easily determined. If it be part of the religion of the Mahommedans to extirpate by the sword all other religions, it is, by the law of self-defence, lawful for men of every other religion, and for Christians among others, to make war upon Mahommedans, simply as Mahommedans, as men obliged by their own principles to make war upon Christians, and only lying in wait till opportunity shall promise them success.'

The Beast with Lamb's Horns

Revelation 13:11

I am not at present concerned with the precise recognition of this beast. I only want to lay hold of this predominant fact: the beast wore some characteristics that are suggestive of Him that sitteth on the Throne. But here I am told that the deceiver has some of the Redeemer's characteristics! He is a beast, but with 'horns like a lamb'. The beast mimics the Lamb. Let us consider this nefarious ministry of mimicry.

I. The Devil makes us trifle with moral destiny. 'The serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die'. Sin does not spell death! Is the deceptiveness effective? Let us consult our hearts. We are deluded by the horns, and we become the victims of the beast.

II. And the Devil assumes the colour of the general surroundings. He hides himself in the common standards.

III. And the Devil allures us by aesthetic appeals. The Devil can besiege the senses and captivate by the pleasurable sensations.

IV. And the Devil deludes us by the mirage of material satisfaction. He disguises the dry desert, and it bewitches us as an apparent land of springs. He makes us thirst and haste, and, lo! we discover sand! 'He showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.' How fascinating, and yet how delusive!

J. H. Jowett, The British Congregationalist, p. 118.

References. XIII. 11. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iv. p. 326. XIII. 12. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 361. XIII. 13. Ibid. vol. viii. p. 183. XIII. 14. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. vii. p. 412. XIII. 16. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 286. XIII. 18. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 394. XIV. 1-3. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 110. XIV. 2, 4, 6__J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 64.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 13". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/revelation-13.html. 1910.
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