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I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. The 12th chapter has shown the relentless hostility of the dragon, "the old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan," to the woman, a hostility that has manifested itself in changing forms. The last verse declares his purpose to make war on the seed of the woman. This chapter is intended to show the organized forms in which he has carried on this warfare. The apostle sees a beast, a wild savage beast, arising out of the sea. The restless ocean is a symbol of commotion.
Having seven heads and ten horns. The beast bears the old dragon mark (Rev 12:3) of seven heads and ten horns. It must therefore be some manifestation of the same power. Indeed, it is the dragon who has called the beast forth from the sea.
On his horns ten crowns. These crowns are diadems (Revision). They are the sign of royal authority. They represent ten kings or kingdoms (Rev 17:12). In the 12th chapter, the seven heads had the diadems; now the horns wear them. There is a reason for this that we shall see in the sequel.
And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. If these heads should arrogantly claim divine honors, not belonging to them, these would be names of blasphemy. These heads are said to be seven kings. Sometimes kings have claimed to be gods, as Alexander, who asserted that he was the son of Jupiter Ammon, and the Roman Emperors, who all claimed divine honors and required men to worship their statues and to offer them sacrifices.
And the beast . . . was like unto a leopard. It was a composite beast which united the characteristics of the beasts seen by Daniel in his vision (Dan 7:1-6). The animals combined are all cruel, terrible beasts of prey; a terror to man.
And the dragon gave him his power. That is, this beast was called forth to do the dragon's work, and acted by the dragon's authority.
I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death. The Greek says "slain." This deadly wound of the head was a deadly wound of the beast itself. See Rev 13:12. This wound was given by the sword; that is, by war. See Rev 13:14. It is in Rev 13:14 suggested that the beast was restored after the wound by the efforts of the second beast first named in Rev 13:11. The symbolism implies that a mortal wound was inflicted on the power represented by the beast; that when it was dead, or about to perish, its power was restored by the arts of the second beast.
All the world wondered after the beast. Gave it their wonder and admiration.
They worshiped the dragon. In following after and obeying the beast they really gave worship to the dragon which had given the beast his power. Their worship was, however, directed to the beast itself.
Who is like unto the beast? This language implies giving the beast superhuman honors. Similar language is often used of God. See Exo 15:11; Psa 113:5; Isa 40:18. The dragon, cast down, receives worship through the beast.
And there was given . . . a mouth speaking great things. He would make blasphemous claims. Daniel affirms the same of the beast seen in his vision (Dan 7:25).
Forty and two months. The same period named in in Rev 12:6, in Rev 11:2, in Rev 11:3, and in Dan 7:25. The period referred to here, when the beast shall prevail against the Church, is one of 1260 years. This is evidently the period of the world's dominion over the Church.
He opened his mouth in blasphemy. Three kinds of blasphemy are named: (1) against God; (2) against his tabernacle; (3) against those to whom God has opened his tabernacle. The first would be accomplished by usurping God's prerogatives; the second by maledictions upon the true Church, and the third by curses on the true worshipers.
It was given unto him. He had power to make war on the saints and to overcome them for a long period. Compare Rev 12:14-17. His dominion was also one that seemed universal, and he claimed rule over all kindreds . . . and nations.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him. All except the true and faithful saints, hidden in obscurity but known above and recorded in the book of life, shall give him homage.
If any man have an ear, let him hear. Let him give heed. The words to be heeded are in Rev 13:10.
If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goeth. The meaning is "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." "With what measure a man metes, it shall be measured to him again." If the beast and his adherents lead the saints captive, they shall finally be made captive; if they slay with the sword, so shall they be slain.
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. The assurance that God will, in the end, right all their wrongs gives them faith and patience.
I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth. John sees this second monster coming up out of the earth, a beast that has two horns like a lamb, and a voice like the voice of a dragon. There is a close connection existing between the ten-horned and the two-horned beast. The latter (1) exercises the power of the first beast before him, (2) causeth the earth to worship the first beast, (3) says to the earth that it should make an image of the first beast (Rev 13:14), (4) gives life unto the image of the first beast, and (5) causes those who will not worship the image to be slain (Rev 13:15). These statements show that there exists a close connection between the two, and that the last is the supporter and restorer of the first. We have found the first to be a symbolical representation of the temporal power of Rome. Most Protestant commentators see in the second beast the spiritual power of Rome, the power which gave life to, and built up, the temporal dominion of the Papacy. The Papal claims are two-fold, both of spiritual and temporal dominion. St. Peter with the sword and the keys is always represented as the symbol of the Papal power; the sword of temporal sway, and the keys of the kingdom. The Pope not only claims to be the vicar of Christ, but the rightful ruler of the kings of the earth, and in this capacity, in the days of his greatness, has made and deposed kings, and granted kingdoms.
Two horns like a lamb . . . spake like a dragon. There is a similitude like the Lamb of God; a counterfeit representation; but a voice like the old dragon of pagan Rome. Both features show themselves. It professes to be Christian power. Sometimes its servants do a really lamb-like work, but then again we hear the dragon's voice. It can hardly be necessary to state that symbolism could choose no language more appropriate to represent the harsh, arrogant utterances of Rome when she puts forth her power, or asserts her authority. Whoever has heard the harsh orders of the priest to his flock, has heard the dragon's voice. How appropriately this language describes the bulls of Popes, or the fulminations of anathemas and excommunications against their enemies!
He maketh the earth . . . to worship the first beast. The spiritual power of Rome is exercised before, or in the presence of, the temporal power. They have dwelt together, and it is the spiritual power that has made those that dwell upon the earth regard and pay homage to the temporal. If an earthly ruler refused to heed the mandates of the Pope, his subjects were absolved from allegiance and bidden to depose him. If they refused, the whole kingdom was laid under interdict, the churches were closed, religious rites were suspended, the dead were not buried in the consecrated grounds, and a superstitious population soon demands deliverance by submission. It was by the terrors of the spiritual power that the earth was brought into subjection to the imperial temporal sway of the Popes. The second beast has made men worship the first.
The second beast did great wonders, pretended to perform miracles, and thus "deceived them that dwell upon the earth." Rome has claimed the possession of miraculous power in all ages, and no fact in history is better established than that she has continually resorted to lying miracles.
And deceiveth . . . by reason of those miracles. The object of these false miracles was to rivet the chains of the spiritual dominion, so as to build up the temporal sway of the papacy. The dragon-lamb commanded men to make an image of the beast, and to offer it homage.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast. The image of the beast, of the old Pagan power, this eighth head, which is the beast and of the seven, is not a lifeless image. The arts of the dragon lamb gave it life. The spiritual power built up the temporal and gave it imperial and despotic dominion. It had power to slay all who would not worship it. The awful dragonnades in Southern France, the frightful work of the Inquisition, the merciless persecution in Holland, the scenes of blood and death caused by Rome in many lands, are the fulfillment.
He causeth all . . . to receive a mark. The mark of the beast is some stamp or sign, by which all its worshipers should be known. In ancient days slaves were sometimes branded, as cattle are in our own age. The brand or mark of the beast would be some indelible sign which would designate with certainty those who were subject to his authority. A mark in the hand is supposed by some to represent the practice, while a mark in the forehead indicates the profession of life. It is remarkable, however, that a mark on the forehead, the sign of the cross made with water, converts a person into a Roman Catholic, and without this mark none are regarded as heirs of salvation.
No man might buy or sell, etc. It has been common for Catholics to be forbidden to patronize those who were not loyal to the Pope. At least three councils are named, those of Tours, of Constance and the Lateran, which have expressly forbidden business intercourse with heretics.
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast. Rev 13:17 speaks of the name of the beast. It has, then, a name. It also speaks of the number of its name. Its name, then, is some number. We wish to discover its name, and if we can count the number, we will find its name. "The number of the beast," that is, the "number of its name" is the number of a man, and that number is six hundred and sixty-six. It is, then, plain that the number six hundred and sixty-six is the number of the name of the beast, and this is the man's name. Six hundred sixty-six is English. John did not write in English, hence those words in English will not give the word we seek. 666 are the Arab characters for the numbers, but they were unknown until many hundred years after John wrote, and hence afford no help. John wrote in the Greek language for readers who understood that tongue. The number is evidently, then, to be expressed in Greek characters. The Greeks did not express numbers by figures, but by letters, just as among the Romans, X stood for ten and C for one hundred. Six hundred and sixty-six could be expressed by spelling out the words in the Greek language, or by using the letters which were symbols for various quantities. Let us try the latter method: 30=L, 1=a, 300-t, 5=e, 10=i, 50=n, 70=o, 200=s. 666=Lateinos. And what is this name? The number of a man; the Greek method of spelling the name of Latinus, the reputed founder of the Latin race. The Romans were a Latin race and spoke the Latin language. The Romish Church is continually officially called the Latin Church, to distinguish it from the Greek Church, the other branch of the great ancient schism; the Catholic sacred books are written in the Latin tongue; the worship is conducted in every country in the Latin alone, and when a Catholic council convenes, all its conferences are conducted in the tongue of the ancient Latins. There is, then, a Latin Church, whose official and sacred speech is the Latin language, which has for its seat the ancient Latin capital. That Church is the great Apostate Church, upon whose head the names of blasphemy have been written, which has claimed universal dominion upon the earth, and has slain the saints of the Most High. Its name is the number of the beast, and that name, Lateinos, the name or number of a man, is 666. It does not destroy the force of this that these numerals and letters can be so combined as to spell out other names. This name is one that at once points to a power which has displayed every mark which is assigned to the beast.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Revelation 13". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29