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the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Revelation 13

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

He stood (εσταθη). First aorist passive indicative of ιστημ (intransitive), as in Revelation 8:3. "He stopped" on his way to war with the rest of the woman's seed. P Q read here εσταθην (I stood) when it has to be connected with chapter Revelation 13:13.

Upon the sand (επ την αμμον). The accusative case as in Revelation 7:1; Revelation 8:3, etc. Αμμος is an old word for sand, for innumerable multitude in Revelation 20:8.

Out of the sea (εκ της θαλασσης). See Revelation 11:7 for "the beast coming up out of the abyss." The imagery comes from Daniel 7:3. See also Revelation 17:8. This "wild beast from the sea," as in Daniel 7:17; Daniel 7:23, is a vast empire used in the interest of brute force. This beast, like the dragon (Revelation 12:3), has ten horns and seven heads, but the horns are crowned, not the heads. The Roman Empire seems to be meant here (Revelation 17:9; Revelation 17:12). On "diadems" (διαδηματα) see Revelation 12:3, only ten here, not seven as there.

Names of blasphemy (ονοματα βλασφημιας). See Revelation 17:3 for this same phrase. The meaning is made plain by the blasphemous titles assumed by the Roman emperors in the first and second centuries, as shown by the inscriptions in Ephesus, which have θεος constantly applied to them.

Verse 2

Like unto a leopard (ομοιον παρδαλε). Associative-instrumental case of παρδαλις, old word for panther, leopard, here only in N.T. The leopard (λεο, παρδ) was considered a cross between a panther and a lioness.

As the feet of a bear (ως αρκου). Old word, also spelled αρκτος, here only in N.T. From Daniel 7:4. No word in the Greek for "feet" before "bear."

As the mouth of a lion (ως στομα λεοντος). From Daniel 7:4. This beast combines features of the first three beasts in Daniel 7:2. The strength and brutality of the Babylonian, Median, and Persian empires appeared in the Roman Empire. The catlike vigilance of the leopard, the slow and crushing power of the bear, and the roar of the lion were all familiar features to the shepherds in Palestine (Swete).

The dragon gave him (εδωκεν αυτω ο δρακων). First aorist active indicative of διδωμ (to give) and dative case αυτω (the beast). The dragon works through this beast. The beast is simply Satan's agent. Satan claimed this power to Christ (Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6) and Christ called Satan the prince of this world (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). So the war is on.

Verse 3

And I saw (κα). No verb (ειδον) in the old MSS., but clearly understood from verse Revelation 13:2.

As though it had been smitten (ως εσφαγμενην). Perfect passive participle of σφαζω, as in Revelation 5:6, accusative singular agreeing with μιαν (one of the heads), object of ειδον understood, "as though slain" (so the word means in seven other instances in the book). There is a reference to the death and new life of the Lamb in Revelation 5:6.

And his death-stroke was healed (κα η πληγη αυτου εθεραπευθη). First aorist passive indicative of θεραπευω. "The stroke of death" (that led to death). Apparently refers to the death of Nero in June 68 A.D. by his own hand. But after his death pretenders arose claiming to be Nero redivivus even as late as 89 (Tacitus, Hist. i. 78, ii. 8, etc.). John seems to regard Domitian as Nero over again in the persecutions carried on by him. The distinction is not always preserved between the beast (Roman Empire) and the seven heads (emperors), but in Revelation 17:10 the beast survives the loss of five heads. Here it is the death-stroke of one head, while in verses Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:14 the beast himself receives a mortal wound.

Wondered after the beast (εθαυμασθη οπισω του θηριου). First aorist passive (deponent) indicative of θαυμαζω, to wonder at, to admire, as in Revelation 17:8. For this pregnant use of οπισω see John 12:9; Acts 5:37; Acts 20:30; 1 Timothy 5:15. "All the earth wondered at and followed after the beast," that is Antichrist as represented by Domitian as Nero redivivus. But Charles champions the view that Caligula, not Nero, is the head that received the death-stroke and recovered and set up statues of himself for worship, even trying to do it in Jerusalem.

Verse 4

They worshipped the dragon (προσεκυνησαν τω δρακοντ). First aorist active indicative of προσκυνεω, with dative case δρακοντ (from δρακων). They really worshipped Satan (the dragon) when "they worshipped the beast" (προσεκυνησαν τω θηριω) or any one of the heads (like Caligula, Nero, Domitian) of the beast. The beast is merely the tool of the devil for worship. Recall the fact that the devil even proposed that Jesus worship him. Emperor-worship, like all idolatry, was devil-worship. The same thing is true today about self-worship (humanism or any other form of it).

Who is like unto the beast? (τις ομοιος τω θηριωι;). Associative-instrumental case after ομοιος. An echo, perhaps parody, of like language about God in Exodus 15:11; Psalms 35:10; Psalms 113:5. "The worship of such a monster as Nero was indeed a travesty of the worship of God" (Swete).

And who is able to war with him? (κα τις δυνατα πολεμησα μετ' αυτου;). Worship of the devil and the devil's agent is justified purely on the ground of brute force. It is the doctrine of Nietzsche that might makes right.

Verse 5

There was given to him (εδοθη αυτω). First aorist passive indicative of διδωμ, to give, as in next line and verse Revelation 13:7. Perhaps a reference to εδωκεν (he gave) in verse Revelation 13:4, where the dragon (Satan) gave the beast his power. The ultimate source of power is God, but the reference seems to be Satan here.

Speaking great things and blasphemies (λαλουν μεγαλα κα βλασφημιας). Present active participle of λαλεω, agreeing with στομα (nominative neuter singular and subject of εδοθη). The words are like Daniel's description of the Little Horn (Revelation 7:8; Revelation 7:20; Revelation 7:25) and like the description of Antiochus Epiphanes (I Macc. 1:24). Cf. 2 Peter 2:11.

To continue (ποιησα). First aorist active infinitive (epexegetic use) of ποιεω, either in the sense of working (signs), as in Daniel 8:12-14, with the accusative of duration of time (μηνας months), or more likely in the sense of doing time, with μηνας as the direct object as in Matthew 20:12; Acts 20:3; James 4:13.

Verse 6

For blasphemies (εις βλασφημιας). "For the purpose of blasphemies."

Against God (προς τον θεον). "Face to face with God" in sheer defiance, like Milton's picture of Satan in Paradise Lost. See Daniel 7:25; Daniel 8:10. The aorist ηνοιξεν is probably constative, for he repeated the blasphemies, though the phrase (ανοιγω to stoma, to open the mouth) is normally ingressive of the beginning of an utterance (Matthew 5:2; Acts 8:35). This verse explains verse Revelation 13:5. The Roman emperors blasphemously assumed divine names in public documents. They directed their blasphemy against heaven itself ("his tabernacle," την σκηνην αυτου, Revelation 7:15; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 21:3) and against "them that dwell in the heaven" (τους εν τω ουρανω σκηνουντας), the same phrase of Revelation 12:12 (either angels or the redeemed or both).

Verse 7

To make war with the saints and to overcome them (ποιησα πολεμον μετα των αγιων κα νικησα αυτους). This clause with two epexegetical first aorist active infinitives (πολεμησα and νικησα) is omitted in A C P, but probably by ομοεοτελευτον (like ending) because of the repetition of εδοθη. The words seem to come from Daniel 7:21; Daniel 7:23. There was no escape from the beast's rule in the Mediterranean world. See Revelation 5:9 for the phrases here used, there for praise to the Lamb.

Verse 8

Shall worship him (προσκυνησουσιν αυτον). Future active of προσκυνεω with the accusative here as some MSS. in Revelation 13:4 (το θηριον), both constructions in this book.

Whose (ου--αυτου). Redundant use of genitive αυτου (his) with ου (whose) as common in this book, and singular instead of plural ων with antecedent παντες (all, plural), thus calling attention to the responsibility of the individual in emperor-worship.

Hath not been written (ου γεγραπτα). Perfect passive indicative of γραφω, permanent state, stands written.

In the book of life of the Lamb (εν τω βιβλιω της ζωης του αρνιου). See Revelation 3:5 for this phrase and the O.T. references. It occurs again in Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27. "Here and in Revelation 21:27, the Divine Register is represented as belonging to 'the Lamb that was slain'" (Swete).

That hath been slain from the foundation of the world (του εσφαγμενου (for which see Revelation 5:6) απο καταβολης κοσμου). For the phrase απο καταβολης κοσμου (not in the LXX) there are six other N.T. uses (Matthew 13:35 without κοσμου; Revelation 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 17:8), and for προ καταβολης κοσμου three (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). It is doubtful here whether it is to be taken with του εσφαγμενου (cf. 1 Peter 1:20) or with γεγραπτα as in Revelation 17:8. Either makes sense, and here the most natural use is with εσφαγμενου. At any rate the death of Christ lies in the purpose of God, as in John 3:16.

Verse 9

If any one hath an ear (ε τις εχε ους). Condition of first class, repetition of the saying in Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:29, etc.

Verse 10

If any man is for captivity (ε τις εις αιχμαλωσιαν). Condition of first class, but with no copula (εστιν) expressed. For αιχμαλωσιαν (from αιχμαλωτος captive) see Ephesians 4:8, only other N.T. example. Apparently John means this as a warning to the Christians not to resist force with force, but to accept captivity as he had done as a means of grace. Cf. Jeremiah 15:2. The text is not certain, however.

If any man shall kill with the sword (ε τις εν μαχαιρη αποκτενε). First-class condition with future active of αποκτεινω, not future passive, for it is a picture of the persecutor drawn here like that by Jesus in Matthew 26:52.

Must he be killed (δε αυτον εν μαχαιρη αποκτανθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive of αποκτεινω. The inevitable conclusion (δε) of such conduct. The killer is killed.

Here (ωδε). In this attitude of submission to the inevitable. For ωδε see Revelation 13:18; Revelation 14:12; Revelation 17:9. "Faith" (πιστις) here is more like faithfulness, fidelity.

Verse 11

Another beast (αλλο θηριον). Like the first beast (verse Revelation 13:1), not a ετερον θηριον (a different beast).

Out of the earth (εκ της γης). Not "out of the sea" as the first (verse Revelation 13:1), perhaps locating him in Asia Minor without world-wide scope, but plainly the agent of the first beast and so of the dragon.

He had (ειχεν). Imperfect active of εχω. Only two horns (not ten like the first, verse Revelation 13:1).

Like unto a lamb (ομοια αρνιω). Usual construction. Only the two horns of a young lamb and without the ferocity of the other beast, but "he spake as a dragon" (ελαλε ως δρακων). Gunkel and Charles confess their inability to make anything out of this item. But Swete thinks that he had the roar of a dragon with all the looks of a lamb (weakness and innocence). Cf. the wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15).

Verse 12

He exerciseth (ποιε). Present active dramatic present of ποιεω. In his sight (ενωπιον αυτου). In the eye of the first beast who gets his authority from the dragon (Revelation 13:2). The second beast carries on the succession of authority from the dragon and the first beast. It has been a common Protestant interpretation since the Reformation of Luther to see in the first beast Pagan Rome and in the second beast Papal Rome. There is undoubted verisimilitude in this interpretation, but it is more than doubtful if any such view comes within the horizon of the imagery here. Ramsay takes the first beast to be the power of imperial Rome and the second beast to be the provincial power which imitated Rome in the persecutions.

To worship the first beast (ινα προσκυνησουσιν το θηριον το πρωτον). Sub-final clause with ινα after ποιε seen in John 11:37; Colossians 4:16; Revelation 3:9, usually with the subjunctive, but here with the future indicative as in Revelation 3:9. Note the accusative after προσκυνεω as in verse Revelation 13:8. Here the death-stroke of one of the heads (verse Revelation 13:3) is ascribed to the beast. Clearly the delegated authority of the provincial priests of the emperor-worship is rigorously enforced, if this is the correct interpretation.

Verse 13

That he should even make fire come down out of heaven (ινα κα πυρ ποιη εκ του ουρανου καταβαινειν). Purpose clause again with ινα and the present active subjunctive of ποιεω and the object infinitive of καταβαινω after ποιε. Christ promised great signs to the disciples (John 14:12), but he also warned them against false prophets and false christs with their signs and wonders (Mark 13:22). So also Paul had pictured the power of the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Elijah had called down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10) and James and John had once even urged Jesus to do this miracle (Luke 9:54).

Verse 14

And he deceiveth (κα πλανα). Present active (dramatic) indicative of πλαναω, the very thing that Jesus had said would happen (Matthew 24:24, "So as to lead astray" ωστε πλανασθα, the word used here, if possible the very elect). It is a constant cause for wonder, the gullibility of the public at the hands of new charlatans who continually bob up with their pipe-dreams.

That they should make an image to the beast (ποιησα εικονα τω θηριω). Indirect command (this first aorist active infinitive of ποιεω) after λεγων as in Acts 21:21, not indirect assertion. This "image" (εικων, for which word see Matthew 22:20; Colossians 1:15) of the emperor could be his head upon a coin (Mark 12:16), an imago painted or woven upon a standard, a bust in metal or stone, a statue, anything that people could be asked to bow down before and worship. This test the priests in the provinces pressed as it was done in Rome itself. The phrase "the image of the beast," occurs ten times in this book (Revelation 13:14; Revelation 13:15 ter; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4). Emperor-worship is the issue and that involves worship of the devil.

The stroke of the sword (την πληγην της μαχαιρης). This language can refer to the death of Nero by his own sword.

And lived (κα εζησεν). "And he came to life" (ingressive first aorist active indicative of ζαω). Perhaps a reference to Domitian as a second Nero in his persecution of Christians.

Verse 15

To give breath to it (δουνα πνευμα αυτη). This second beast, probably a system like the first (not a mere person), was endowed with the power to work magical tricks, as was true of Simon Magus and Apollonius of Tyana and many workers of legerdemain since. Πνευμα here has its original meaning of breath or wind like πνευμα ζωης (breath of life) in Revelation 11:11.

Even to the image (τη εικον). No "even" in the Greek, just apposition with αυτη (her).

That should both speak and cause (ινα κα λαληση κα ποιηση). Final clause with ινα and the first aorist active subjunctive of λαλεω and ποιεω. Ventriloquism like that in Acts 16:16.

That should be killed (ινα αποκτανθωσιν). Sub-final clause with ινα and the first aorist passive subjunctive of αποκτεινω, after ποιηση, as in verse Revelation 13:12 (future indicative).

As many as should not worship (οσο εαν μη προσκυνησωσιν). Indefinite relative clause with modal εαν (= αν) and the first aorist active subjunctive of προσκυνεω with the accusative την εικονα (some MSS. the dative). Note the triple use of "the image of the beast" in this sentence. "That refusal to worship the image of the emperor carried with it capital punishment in Trajan's time is clear from Pliny's letter to Trajan (X. 96)" (Charles).

Verse 16

He causeth all (same use of ποιεω as in Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:15). Note article here with each class (the small and the great, etc.).

That there be given them (ινα δωσιν αυτοις). Same use of ινα after ποιεω as in Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:15, only here with indefinite plural δωσιν (second aorist active subjunctive), "that they give themselves," as in Revelation 10:11; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 16:15.

A mark (χαραγμα). Old word from χαρασσω, to engrave, in Acts 17:29 of idolatrous images, but in Rev. (Revelation 13:16; Revelation 13:17; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4) of the brand of the beast on the right hand or on the forehead or on both. Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 240ff.) shows that in the papyri official business documents often have the name and image of the emperor, with the date as the official stamp or seal and with χαραγμα as the name of this seal. Animals and slaves were often branded with the owner's name, as Paul (Galatians 6:17) bore the stigmata of Christ. Ptolemy Philadelphus compelled some Alexandrian Jews to receive the mark of Dionysus as his devotees (III Macc. 3:29). The servants of God receive on their foreheads the stamp of the divine seal (Revelation 7:3). Charles is certain that John gets his metaphor from the τεφιλλιν (phylacteries) which the Jew wore on his left hand and on his forehead. At any rate, this "mark of the beast" was necessary for life and all social and business relations. On the right hand, that is in plain sight.

Upon their forehead (επ το μετωπον αυτων). Accusative with επ, though genitive just before with χειρος (hand). See already Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4 (genitive επ των μετωπων). Only in the Apocalypse in N.T.

Verse 17

That no man should be able to buy or to sell (ινα μη τις δυνητα αγορασα η πωλησα). Final clause with ινα and present middle subjunctive of δυναμα with aorist active infinitives. This is a regular boycott (Ramsay, Seven Letters, p. 106f.) against all not worshippers of the emperor.

Save (ε μη). "If not," "except."

Even the name (το ονομα). No "even," just apposition with χαραγμα (the mark).

Or the number (η τον αριθμον). The stamp (the mark) may bear either the name or the number of the beast. The name and the number are one and the same. They could write the name in numerals, for numbers were given by letters. Swete suggests that it was "according to a sort of γεματρια known to the Apocalyptist and his Asian readers, but not generally intelligible."

Verse 18

Here is wisdom (ωδε η σοφια). The puzzle that follows as in Revelation 17:9. See Ephesians 1:17 for "a spirit of wisdom and of understanding."

He that understands (ο εχων νουν). "The one having intelligence" in such matters. Cf. the adverb νουνεχως (discreetly) in Mark 12:34.

Let him count (ψηφισατω). First active imperative of ψηφιζω, old verb (from ψηφος pebble), to count, in N.T. only here and Luke 14:28.

The number of a man (αριθμος ανθρωπου). "A man's number." But what man and what name?

Six hundred and sixty-six (εξακοσιο εξηκοντα εξ). Unfortunately some MSS. here read 616 instead of 666. All sorts of solutions are offered for this conundrum. Charles is satisfied with the Hebrew letters for Nero Caesar, which give 666, and with the Latin form of Nero (without the final n), which makes 616. Surely this is ingenious and it may be correct. But who can really tell?

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/revelation-13.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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