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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 13

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Christ and The Dragon. Chapters 1214. (Genesis 3:15)

This is the fourth parallel section, and we again return to the First Coming of Christ. “And I will place hostility between you and the woman and between your children [IDARO] and her children [IDARO]; he will crush your head, and you will strike at his heel.” [Genesis 3:15. Zamenhof]

Verse 1


Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. We learn from Revelation 17:0 that this beast is symbolic of anti-christian world powers [governments]. Ten horns: destructive power. Seven heads: universal authority and rule [in this world]. The crowned horns do not symbolize victory, but rather show that this “universal authority” has been arrogantly seized.

Verse 2


The beast I saw. Three well known animals are mentioned here: each symbolic of swiftness, crushing power, eagerness to destroy. The dragon gave the beast his own power. Those in nations and governments who persecute the church of Christ, receive their power and their motivation from the dragon, Satan. [Note that the same Roman government could serve both God and Satan. We see Rome symbolized in the “seven heads and ten horns.” Yet read what Paul says in Romans 13:1-7.]

Verse 3


But the fatal wound had healed. Remember this was directed to the believers in John’s day. The seven heads represent seven empires that follow each other in history (Revelation 17:10). [Old Babylon; Assyria; New Babylon; Medo-Persia; Macedonia; Rome; etc.] The beast symbolizes all anti-christian empires. The head that seemed to have been killed, but had healed, must mean that one of these empires which had been fiercely persecuting the church, had stopped doing this, but after a time, had started the persecution again. Rome fits this pattern. Emperor Nero nailed Christians to posts, poured oil on them and burned them as torches to amuse the mob. But in 68 A.D., Nero killed himself. For a few years, Rome was “dead” as a persecuting power. But then in the last years of the first century, Domitian began the persecution again (Revelation 1:9).

Verse 4


They worshiped the beast also. At the time when John lived, Roman Emperors demanded that people call them “Lord” and “Savior.” See notes on Revelation 13:15-16.

Verse 5


To have authority for 42 months. Satan works through the governments of this world throughout the entire Gospel Age. The governments seize power that belongs only to God, and they blaspheme God, heaven, and all God’s people. They are allowed to defeat God’s people [it seems that way, but see Revelation 11:9-13]. Every tribe, nation, language, and race will worship anti-christian government and place their trust in it. Compare Revelation 11:7.

Verse 8


Before the world was created. “God stands at the close of history and looks back on the future as though it had already happened!” He can know every choice which we will make, without interfering with our free will. Compare John 6:44-45; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

Verses 9-10


Whoever is meant to be. Persecution is part of God’s decree (Revelation 6:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 3:3). One who understands this will patiently bear his load, expecting to receive God’s blessing! When the world used the “sword” against the messianic community, God himself will avenge them.

Verse 11


Then I saw another beast. The beast from the sea is the Devil’s “hands.” This beast from the earth is the Devil’s “mind.” Like a lamb’s horns. This beast is the false prophet (Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20). Some have applied this specifically to the Roman church. This is a mistake. This second beast symbolizes all false religion and all false philosophy in every form during the entire Gospel Age. It is the Devil’s counterfeit of the “true Lamb of God.” It is not one individual, or one religion; but an attitude. [In the church of Christ itself, two different attitudes have struggled together since the very beginning. One “distorts” the Good News and leads away from God (see Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). The other points back to God’s perfection. Men such as the apostles opposed any distortion of the teachings of Christ, and pointed all to the “perfect law that sets men free” (James 1:25).]

Verse 12


It used the vast authority. A union of “church and state.” Anti-christian religion uses the power of anti-christian government. The Roman Empire and the heathen priest worked hand in hand to persecute the Christians.

Verse 13


It made fire come down. Tricks and false-miracles to “sell” people the State Religion. Also, since “fire” can symbolize the Holy Spirit, this can refer to what seem to be “outpourings of the Spirit.” The Devil does not mind people being religious, just as long as he can turn them away from God. See Matthew 24:24. To build an image. This is “emperor worship” in all its forms. Compare note on Revelation 2:13. Images [idols, fetishes] were actually made in honor of the Roman Emperor, and worshiped. Whoever refused to bow down to the Emperor’s fetish, or refused to say: “The emperor is Lord,” was killed. But this is symbolic of the new “corporate image” formed by the alliance of religion and government.

Verses 15-16


Allowed to breath life into the image. We see the “unholy alliance” of anti-christian religion and anti-christian government working together to make slaves out of people. When people can be fooled into believing their leader [emperor, dictator, chairman, king, etc.] is a “god,” they give themselves as willing slaves. The mark of the beast is the spirit of anti-christ (1 John 2:18-19) which shows itself in individuals by their “God-opposing, Christ-rejecting, persecuting attitude.” Contrast this with the “seal” placed on the forehead of the believer (Revelation 7:3), symbolic of the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5) which each one of the saved is to have. The believer has a seal, but the unbeliever has only a mark.

Verse 17


No one could buy or sell. See note on Revelation 2:20. Anti-christian powers discriminate against the believer who remains true to his Lord.

Verse 18


Its number is 666. Not having our system of numbers, the ancients wrote numbers using letters of their alphabet. But almost any name can be added up to “666,” if the letters are juggled enough. It may be that John intended this to represent the name of the Roman Emperor at that time. But since the number represents the beast’s name, it is symbolic. 7 is perfect, 6 is one less than perfection. The church of Christ could be represented by 777, since it is perfect. The number of the beast is 666, complete imperfection! Christ’s church does not terminate, but rises to Eternity to the “Feast in Heaven.” The beast and the false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Christ’s church CANNOT fail! The beast has failed already! [Christians must think of themselves as being in active rebellion against Satan and all who follow him. See Ephesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3-4; Philippians 2:12-16.]

In the last chapter, we saw Satan introduce two agents in his battle against God’s people. But he had already lost, even before he began. This chapter shows the TRIUMPH OF THE CHURCH!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 13". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/revelation-13.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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