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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

Revelation 13

Verses 1-2

It may be this beast is a composite of the four beasts of Dan_7:1-28 . In which case, we could well say this beast is Daniel's terrible fourth beast and has parts of the other three because their dominion is prolonged in the life of the fourth. ( Dan_7:12 ) If that be the case, this beast is Rome, the fourth kingdom of Dan_2:1-49 ; Dan_7:1-28 . In the prophetic books, such a creature typified God-opposing forces. ( Isa_27:1 ; Eze_32:2 f) As in the case of the dragon ( Rev_12:3 ), the beast has seven heads and ten horns. The dragon had seven crowns on his heads, but the beast wears ten crowns on his horns and names that speak evil against God on his heads. The ten horns would indicate the great power he had and the seven heads his intelligence. The ten crowns, which are those like a ruler wears, show his authority. Instead of yielding to God, who actually ordains governments, this beast has turned to Satan for direction and the exercising of wicked power.

Verse 3

At the close of chapter 12, Satan had turned from trying to destroy the church and to the persecution of its individual members. Roman persecution was intense under Nero and went dormant for a time after his death. It was then revived and intensified under Domitian. It may be this is a picture of those events. Some suggest Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension to this throne stunned Rome until the church had time to gain strength. Coffman suggests the death of the Roman Empire came in 476 A. D. and it was revived and worshiped by the world in the form of the Roman Catholic church. There are almost as many theories as there are commentators. Suffice it to say, Satan's allies look all the more invisible because they can live through a death stroke.

Verse 4

Thus, the earth worshiped the beast as more powerful than any other.

Verses 5-6

The beast is very proud and speaks things against God. This will only last a short, or broken, period of time. ( Rev_11:2-3 ; Rev_12:6 ; Rev_12:14 ) He also speaks against the tabernacle of God, which would be the church, God's dwelling place. The sense of "them that dwell in heaven" may be found in referring to angels, or the members of the church whose citizenship is in heaven. ( Php_3:20 ; Eph_1:3 ; Eph_2:6 )

Verse 7

This power may have come from Satan, but only as God allowed. ( Job_1:6-12 ; Job_2:1-6 ; Rom_13:1 , Joh_19:10-11 ) Remembering the promises of earlier chapters ( Rev_2:7 ; Rev_2:10-11 ; Rev_2:17 ; Rev_2:29 ; Rev_3:6 ; Rev_3:13 ; Rev_3:22 ), we realize this overcoming was short lived and has only to do with this life. ( Rev_11:7 ; Rev_11:12 ; compare Mat_10:28 ) Satan and his forces will have control of people all over the world. ( Rev_5:9 ; Rev_7:9 ; Rev_11:9 )

Verse 8

Everyone, but Christians, worships the beast. God planned form the very beginning to send Jesus to die and redeem lost mankind. ( Eph_1:4-11 ; 1Pe_1:20 ; Act_2:23 ; Act_4:24 ) Those not written in his book would be those not redeemed.

Verse 9

This exhortation urges the same hearing and heeding as the letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3.

Verse 10

What a consolation it must have been to suffering Christians to know God was aware of their persecutions and would appropriately punish their persecutors. This would also warn against taking up the sword to avenge such persecutions. Christians patiently endure to the end knowing the One on the throne will judge all and set things right.

Verses 11-12

This second beast is identified as the false prophet in Rev_16:13 ; Rev_19:20 . He comes up out of the earth, which had swallowed up the flood the dragon cast out of his mouth. ( Rev_12:16 ) Like many false prophets, this one appeared to b a lamb, but spoke like the devil. ( Mat_7:15-20 ; 2Co_11:14-15 ) Through the use of the powers of the first beast, the second beast causes the world to worship the first. This may be a description of Emperor worship. This pagan priest thereby caused the head of the Roman Empire to be worshiped.

Verses 13-14

The two witnesses were given fire to devour those who would oppose them. ( Rev_11:5 ) The false prophet deceives the world with fire, making men believe he is equal to the witnesses. ( Mat_24:24 ; 2Th_2:8-12 ; 2Ti_3:13 ) He uses false miracles to cause the world to make images to the first beast and worship him. Prior to Domitian, all emperors were declared gods after their death. He had himself proclaimed a god while he lived and the priests enforces the worship.

Verse 15

Without the priests, there would have been no life in Emperor worship. They caused it to be carried out the world over and put to death those who refused to comply.

Verses 16-17

The mark symbolizes allegiance designating what Lord they followed. ( Rev_7:1-8 ) Christians, who would refuse such a mark, would find themselves excluded from society and be boycotted economically.

Verse 18

The numbers seven stood for something perfect or complete. Summers suggests six represented evil and three sixes together would stand for evil raised to the ultimate. Some would make much of the fact that John says it "is the number of a man." However, the original has no definite article in front of it. It is simply a human number as the measure of Rev_21:17 is a human measure.

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 13". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/revelation-13.html. 2014.