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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 13

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

A beast ; the symbol of a great evil and persecuting power.

Out of the sea ; out of the troubles, commotions, and revolutions of that period. Compare Daniel 7:2 .

Seven heads-ten horns-ten crowns ; it is a continuation of the same great persecuting power that has been described in the preceding chapter, but at a later age, and in another form. The horns now wear the crowns, not the heads, as before, chap Revelation 12:1 ; indicating that the power has been transferred to them. This beast is then identical with the fourth beast of Daniel’s vision, and represents the ten kingdoms that arose out of the ruins of the old Roman empire. See Daniel 7:24 .

The name of blasphemy ; showing his opposition to God and his Christ, and his arrogant assumption of the prerogatives that belong to them.

Verse 2

Leopard-bear-lion ; symbolic of his savage and cruel character, which unites in itself the properties of the three first beasts of Daniel’s vision. Daniel 7:4-6 .

The dragon gave him his power-seat-authority ; Satan, who had in past ages made use of pagan Rome as an instrument of persecuting God’s church, now transfers to him the same power and authority to be used against Christians.

Verse 3

One of his heads as it were wounded to death ; smitten with a mortal wound. Of the various interpretations proposed for this difficult passage, that seems most probable which refers it to the extinction of the old Roman empire under the imperial form in the latter part of the fifth century, and its revival again under Charlemagne, who was, at the close of the eighth century, crowned by the Roman pontiff as emperor of Rome under the title of Caesar and Augustus. See further in notes to verses Revelation 13:14-15 ; chapter Revelation 17:10-11 .

Wondered after the beast ; followed him with wonder and homage, as explained in the following verses. Persecutors, when overthrown in one form, often rise in another, and continue, under the instigation and by the aid of Satan, that accuser of the brethren and murderer from the beginning, to prosecute their work of death.

Verse 4

Worshipped the dragon ; by worshipping or paying divine honors to the beast, his agent in persecuting the saints.

Verse 5

Speaking great things and blasphemies ; usurping the prerogatives of God, and subjecting men’s consciences to his control. This beast exerts his power in connection with the second beast, verses Revelation 13:12-15 , and the two together usurp God’s place, and require men to pay to them divine honors. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:4 .

Forty and two months ; the same as twelve hundred and sixty days, chap Revelation 11:3 , and "a time, and times, and the dividing of time." Chap Revelation 12:14 ; Daniel 7:25 . These days are commonly understood as symbolical of so many years.

Verse 6

His tabernacle ; his people among whom he dwells.

Them that dwell in heaven ; by speaking of them in opposition to their true character, as if they aided in his cruel designs. The mouths which God has made are often opened in blasphemy against him, and the faculties which he has given and preserves, often employed in opposing his cause.

Verse 7

All kindreds-tongues , and nations ; showing the extent of his influence, reaching over a great portion of the world.

Verse 8

All ; the wicked, who inhabit the countries subject to his power, and who have no true religion. There is no security against embracing the most dangerous errors, and joining in the most abominable practices, except in that distinguishing grace of God which leads men to trust in the Redeemer, and in well-doing to commit the keeping of their souls to him.

Verse 9

Let him hear ; consider what is said, and receive the instruction which it is suited to impart; not go with the multitude after the beast, but continue, under all his persecutions, steadfast in the faith and practice of the gospel.

Verse 10

Shall go into captivity-killed with the sword ; the time would come when the persecutors would be destroyed. God would render vengeance to his enemies. Till then, his people, while active and persevering in duty, should wait with patience. When persecutors of God’s people have gone as far as he sees fit to suffer them, and have accomplished what he intended, he will turn his hand against them, and punish them according to their deserts. Jeremiah 25:9-14 ; Jeremiah 27:6-7 ; Jeremiah 50:1-19 .

Verse 11

Another beast ; representing an ecclesiastical power, pretended ministers of religion uniting with the civil power, described under the first beast, in persecuting the saints.

Out of the earth ; in a quiet, silent way; an exact description of the rise of the spiritual power of the papacy, which grew up stealthily and by degrees. This beast may be considered as including all the other kindred forms of ecclesiastical domination, which arose side by side with the papacy, and constitute with it one vast system of spiritual tyranny.

Like a lamb ; professing to be very mild, meek, and humble.

Spake as a dragon ; showing himself to be the opposite of what he professed to be.

Verse 12

Exerciseth-the power-and causeth the earth-to worship the first beast ; unites his ecclesiastical power with the civil power of the first beast in laboring to accomplish the same cruel, selfish, and wicked designs.

Verse 13

Doeth great wonders-maketh fire come down ; the probable meaning of these words is, that having, by his signs and lying wonders, deceived the multitude and gained control over them, he uses the power thus acquired to destroy, as if by fire from heaven, those who will not submit themselves to his usurped authority.

Verse 14

An image to the beast ; a living representative of his power. According to some, this image represents the succession of Roman pontiffs; but they are rather the representatives of the second beast. Others, therefore, understand the new succession of Roman emperors, referred to in the note to verse Revelation 13:3 , who were animated by the spirit of the papacy, and exerted their power in its interest.

Verse 15

Speak ; proclaim and send out his decrees, requiring all to bow to him; and if they will not, causing them to be put to death. Ecclesiastical and civil rulers have often been united in persecuting Christians, and endeavoring to force them to disobey God.

Verse 16

Causeth all ; compels them, under the penalty mentioned in the following verse.

To receive a mark ; a sign to distinguish them as his followers, and as acknowledging his authority.

Verse 17

That no man might buy or sell ; literally fulfilled in the history of the papal power, whose policy has been to place those who would not bow to it under an interdict, deprive them of the means of living, and thus starve them into compliance. Satan often acts as if he were the god of this world, and his subjects as if they had a right to govern it. If men will not submit to them, they treat them as worthy of death; thus usurping the prerogatives of Jehovah, and acting as if they were above him.

Verse 18

Here is wisdom ; wisdom is required, in order to determine to whom the above representations apply, and who is meant by them.

Let him that hath understanding ; of this matter.

Count the number ; of the name of the beast.

Six hundred threescore and six ; the letters which compose the Greek word Lateinos , signifying the Latin man, when used as numerals, make the number six hundred threescore and six. This is the case also with some other names. But in order to be sure that any one is the true name, it must, not only in this, but in other respects, answer the description given of the beast.

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 13". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/revelation-13.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
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