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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 13

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Rev 13:1. It is very important that the reader take the time to read carefully the "general remarks" at the beginning of this book. He should note especially the information concerning the changes that took place in the Roman Empire due to its different state religions. A brief mention of them is all the space that can be used here, namely, Pagan Rome means the empire while its religion was the pagan or heathen. Papal Rome means when the state religion was the Papal or that under the pope. There is another item that should be stated in order to avoid confusion. The events that are described in the book of Revelation are not all given in the strict order of their occurrence. For instance, the present chapter opens with a vision of Pagan Rome which we know was before the days of Constantine. That means also that it was before the beginning of the Dark Ages of 1260 years. Yet we have already had a vision of that period even down to and including the Reformation of Luther, which is shown in chapter 11. This style of composition will be noticed in various places in this book, The vision will perhaps take the reader down the years through some important happenings, then go back many centuries and start all over again but with different symbols. The sea is a symbol of humanity because all governments are products of human formation. The beast that John saw in this verse is Pagan Rome. The seven heads are explained at chapter 12:3, referring to the literal or geographical fact that the city of Rome is situated upon seven hills. There is little or no importance attached to that except as a means of identification as to what city may be meant in the writings of some prophet or historian. If any political significance has been attached to the seven hills it would not affect the general plan of the book of Revelation. I believe that the Lord was concerned only with the outstanding subject of His church in its relation to both Pagan and Papal Rome, hence I have restricted my general considerations to that line. Ten horns. The Roman Empire was the fourth and last of the "four world empires" as they are familiarly termed. Its head was in the city of Rome and the emperor was the ultimate ruler of the entire government. However, the various nations were subdivided into smaller kingdoms with their own local administration under a king, whose authority was only one in name for he was subject to the head in the city of Rome. The ten horns symbolize the outstanding ones in the domain of the Empire. The names that I have are England, Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain. Name of blasphemy. All of these kings were under the control and influence of Pagan Rome which was in opposition to the authority of the Lord, hence their language would be that of blasphemy (evil speaking) against Him. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 1. THE Two BEASTS (Chapter 13) The vision of chapter twelve dramatized the enmity of the dragon for the woman--the church of Christ--and his determination in wrath to expand his war on the rest of the woman's seed to the whole of the Roman empire. It was for this reason that chapter thirteen begins with John's vision of the dragon placing himself on sands of the sea for the purpose of extending his war against the woman, whose seed was destined to destroy him, and in fury he had turned upon "the rest of her seed" in persecuting them to extinction. (1) The composite beast of the sea--Rev 13:1-2. 1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea--Rev 13:1. Until this stage of vision the dragon's activities had been confined to Palestine, but now a beast rises out of the sea as the instrument by which to implement and to execute his diabolical plans. He summoned aid from Rome. The beast had seven heads and ten horns, and was the symbol of the great power of Rome. The ten horns represented the ten divisions of the Roman empire, the emperor of which was seated on a throne situated on the seven hills of Rome, the universal symbol of the imperial city.

Verse 2

Rev 13:2. There are some distinctive characteristics between a leopard, bear and lion, but they all have in common that of fierce destructiveness. Such a symbolism would be appropriate to represent the attitude of Pagan Rome against Christianity. The dragon (Satan, chapter 12:9) gave him his power means the devil used his influence in favor of the beast of Rome. Satan has always been interested in supporting any institution that is an enemy of God. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 2. 2. Like a leopard . . . a bear . . . a lion--Rev 13:2. In moral and political character the emperor was featured as a composite monster after the likenesses of the ferocious beasts of prey, the leopard, the bear and the lion. The ten crowns, or diadems, on the ten horns symbolized the royalty and rank that belonged to the ten kings of the tributary kingdoms, and the great universal power of the ten-kingdom empire. In addition to the ten-crowned horns, upon the heads of the beast the name of blasphemy was inscribed. This is a fitting description of Nero Caesar, in whom "the Neronic anti-Christ was incarnated," who assumed divine names and prerogatives, and commanded the worship of the emperor. 3. The dragon gave him great power, and his seat and his authority--Rev 13:2. The world power of the Roman empire could not have been more accurately described. The visions are not symbolic of the city of Rome. There is no allusion to "the eternal city." The visions of Revelation were not a history of Rome, but within their symbols were included the graphic representations of the emperor and the empire. The Roman See--in Latin, a seat of power and authority-- was derived from the dragon, who gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. The dragon, therefore, was personified in the emperor of the Roman empire. Later, in verse 11, the second beast appeared on the land, as a satellite of the first beast, to execute his orders. The dragon gave the seat and the power and the authority to the first beast. The second beast of the land was said, in verse 4, to have worshipped the beast of the sea, The land beast represented the Palestinian persecutors, which were subordinate to the Roman emperor, having no authority, except as derived from him. The distinction between land and sea, in these designations of the two beasts, is simply that the land in the vision stood for Palestine, and the sea for Rome, separated from Palestine by the sea, and symbolized as universal in sway.

Verse 3

Rev 13:3. There is much uncertainly among the commentators that I have consulted concerning the interpretation of this verse. The question is raised whether it means one of the ten horns, or that some part of the city was weakened, or that some one of the prominent emperors is meant. With such a state of variation among the able historians and commentators, I will offer only what I am sure will at least not conflict with the facts of history. In some way the government of Rome received a stroke that threatened to be fatal, until something was done that closed the breach and the threatened disaster was avoided. It must have been rather unusual for all the world wondered at the recovery from the wound. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 3. (2) The wounded head of the beast--Rev 13:3-4. 1. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast--13:3. The wound inflicted was not in one of the horns of the beast, which represented the satellite kingdoms, but in one of the heads--in the seat of the empire itself. This wound, which was nearly a death stroke to the empire, appears to be the result of the help the earth gave to the woman in the civil wars which had threatened the power of the empire, and which resulted in temporary victory for the woman, the church. But it was not for long. The wound was healed by the power of the emperor conquering the rebellions and bringing to an end the civil wars, and the power of the empire was augmented to such an extent that all the world wondered after the beast--the whole Roman world marvelled at the universal power of the empire.

Verse 4

Rev 13:4. They means the people of the world who worshipped the dragon (Satan) who gave his power to the beast (Pagan Rome). Worship is from a Greek word that means to do homage, not that any formal services were rendered. They worshipped the beast (Pagan Rome) which explains why they worshipped the dragon. They were admirers of the beast and naturally would feel kindly toward any being that would give him some support. With all this background in favor of the beast, they asked in the spirit of challenge who was able to make war with him. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 4. 2. They worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?-- Rev 13:4. From this a dual pagan worship resulted. They worshipped both dragon and beast--that is, they worshipped one in the other. Thus, it becomes even more evident that the near death stroke to the empire was caused by the uprisings, rebellions and civil wars. But the empire survived the stroke, because the wound was healed when the insurrections and rebellions were conquered. This victory of the empire produced the pagan idolatry for the dragon and the beast, personified in the Roman emperor--hence, the worship of the emperor.

Verse 5

Rev 13:5. There was given unto him. When something is given there must be a giver either directly or indirectly. The preceding verse tells of the people of the world worshipping the beast, and hence it is reasonable to conclude that this power or permission to speak blasphemies was his by common consent. These are the same kind of blasphemous words that are mentioned in verse 1. Continue forty and two months. We recognize this to be the same period that is elsewhere mentioned and that it is the Dark Ages. An apparent difficulty may present itself here. It is well known that the Dark Ages of 1260 years was the result of the union of church and state, at which time the apostate church was come to power. But our present verse is still under the time of Pagan Rome, and hence the period of the forty two months should not be started yet. It is one of the cases where God charges the fruits of a thing to that thing itself. Pagan Rome started the work of persecuting the Christians, and when the apostate church came into power it formed another beast (the Papal) which "retired from active service" the other beast. But the new beast just followed after the pattern set by the first one--"exerciseth all the power of the first beast" (verse 12). John was enabled to look ahead and see this conduct of the second beast, and hence laid the blame of the forty and two months at the door of the first beast, considering him as morally responsible for it, even though the apostasy did not actually get under way until the first beast was "taken out of the way" (2Th 2:7). Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 5. (3) The blasphemies of the beast--Rev 13:5-10. 1. And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies--Rev 13:5. With malignant satisfaction and gloating over the success of the conquests, the beast proclaimed an impious profanation against God-- to blaspheme his name. The emperor not only opposed God, or spake derogatorily of God, but he blasphemed--desecrated the name, Jehovah, which was held in the ultimate degree of reverence by the Hebrews: "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them"-- Exo 6:3. This was God's name--my name, the text says, and was indicative of the attributes of eternal and immutable self-existence: I AM THAT I AM--, Exo 3:14. It was this eternal and almighty name which was with arrogant imperial defiance blasphemed, assuming for himself the attributes and prerogatives of God and commanding the worship of the emperor by all the world. The Jehovah passage of Exo 6:3 is one of sublimity. It is God's own declaration of omnipotent majesty. Moses stood before Jehovah in awe, and all men should stand in His august presence now, and should so honor Him in prayer, "Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting." Such sublime attributes forbid the lately modern forms of praying in degraded terms of familiarity with God--addressing God as if He were man, as one would address a human father. It is being said that to employ Thee and Thou in prayer is archaic and obsolete, and the sophisticated approach to God is to fling you into the face of his Divine Presence. But thee and thou are not obsolete in sacred literature, in poetry and in music. Shall the worshipper be more reverent in song than in prayer? These very proper words of address are current in sacred use in our literature, and are entirely literary in reverent character, and to replace Thee and Thou with you in songs of praise to God would be degrading to the "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" that we sing in "making melody with the heart unto God"--and it is just that degrading to prayer. Try it on such songs as "My Faith Looks Up To Thee, Thou Lamb Of Calvary" and "How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art"--and feel the difference! And in the experiment, try reading the Lord's prayer of Joh 17:1-26 substituting the you for Thee and Thou--read it and wince! God is Jehovah, the great I AM, and to address Him in the common pronoun you is a degrading familiarity with God that is inexcusable. In prayer the reverent prostrated petitioner before His Throne should never talk down to God--prayer talks up to God. The Lord's command to call no man Father upon this earth prohibits addressing men as God, and it conversely forbids speaking to God as if He were man. The name Jehovah forbids familiarity. This humble writer could never bring himself to the point of addressing God in prayer in the common term you. "And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them." The descriptions by Paul, in 2Th 2:3-4, of the sacrilegious assumption of divine exaltation by the emperor for himself, parallels the visional representations of the same thing by John in Revelation. The Thessalonian passage refers to "that man of sin . . . the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." This passage as a reference to emperor Nero could not be made more obvious without actually calling his name; but for either Paul or John to mention the name of the living emperor in such connections would have accentuated the persecutions all over the empire--hence, the code language of these descriptions of verses 5 to 10. 2. And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months--Rev 13:5. Here is the third repetition of the thousand two hundred and threescore days of chapters eleven and twelve; and, as previously commented, it embraces the exact mathematical period from the date of Nero's order to Vespasion for the invasion of Judea to the fall of Jerusalem. This was the period of time assigned to the emperorbeast for the accomplishment of the destruction of Jerusalem and the obliteration of the Jewish state.

Verse 6

Rev 13:6. To blaspheme means to speak evil against that which is disliked. The leaders in Pagan Rome did not like the name of God nor the services of His tabernacle (the church), because He taught men they should not worship idols. Therefore they spoke against the divine institution that was on the earth, and against the beings in heaven who were servants of God. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 6. 3. To blaspheme his name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven--Rev 13:6. The emperor's blasphemies of the name of God were extended to "his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." The tabernacle was the original name for the temple, and indicated the aim of the emperor to destroy it. The phrase "them that dwell in heaven" referred to the Jewish authorities, and signified the emperor's purpose to bring to end the Jewish state.

Verse 7

Rev 13:7. Was given unto him has virtually the same meaning as a like phrase in verse 5. Also the Lord suffered these things to go on for the time being. Overcome them; this was true in two senses. He overpowered the faithful disciples with his ability to persecute them, even putting some of them to death. And he overcame some of them morally, such as were not steadfast in the faith. He also exercised a controlling influence over the lives of men in all kindreds, and tongues, and nations, because the Roman Empire was in power in all the so-called civilized world. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 6. 3. To blaspheme his name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven--Rev 13:6. The emperor's blasphemies of the name of God were extended to "his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." The tabernacle was the original name for the temple, and indicated the aim of the emperor to destroy it. The phrase "them that dwell in heaven" referred to the Jewish authorities, and signified the emperor's purpose to bring to end the Jewish state.

Verse 8

Rev 13:8. All . . . shall worship him except those whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb. In this passage the effect is named before the cause. These names were written in the book because they refused to worship the beast. It is another way of saying that the faithful servants of God refused to worship the Beast. Slain from the foundation of the world. The last word is from a Greek term that means the inhabitants of the earth, especially when they became a fixed order of intelligent beings composing a social world. Before that state of affairs came into existence, God saw the necessity for a plan of human redemption. Accordingly He devised one that was to be made effective through the sacrifice of his Son. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 8. 5. And all that dwell upon the face of the earth shall worship him--Rev. 13:8. In all the places of the nations (the symbolic meaning of the earth) within the empire the worship of the emperor prevailed under imperial edict--except, the faithful saints. It is declared that all "whose names are not written in the book of life" worshipped the emperor. But the saints who were "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10) did have their "names written in the book of life of the Lamb"; and they resisted the imperial decree, but suffered tribulation rather than worship the beast. The reference made to the names not written in the book of the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world," has been misused to support the doctrine of election and reprobation-- the elect and non-elect. But the contextual meaning is twofold: first, that God's plan from the beginning included the slain Lamb, as all of the altars and types of the old dispensation symbolized; second, that from the beginning God has cataloged in heaven a registry of the faithful names from the first patriarchal servant of the old dispensations to the last suffering saint in the church of the Lamb.

Verse 9

Rev 13:9. This language is a solemn call upon all to give profound attention. The things having been said and that are still to be said are of great importance to all mankind. Rev 13:10. He that leadeth . . . shall go, etc. The verse is a statement of principle that is true in whatever domain of human activity it is considered. It is the rule of moral law and it is also true on the basis of cause and effect. It is the rule that Paul has in mind where he says, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" (Gal 6:7). Here is the patience and faith of the saints. This means that when all these commotions are taking place under the wicked powers of the world, the saints (Christians) will have an opportunity of proving their faith and patience by remaining steadfast and true to the Lord. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verses 9-10. 6. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints.--Rev 13:10. After the declaration concerning the eternal plan of the ages, verse nine added: "If any man have an ear, let him hear." This was a note calling solemn attention to the divine pronouncement of verse ten. This significant statement was both a note of warning and a word of consolation: first, a warning that retribution would be administered to the persecutors who incarcerated in prison and killed with the sword the saints-they would suffer the vengeance of God, and experience the same evils which they inflicted on his church; it was the admonition to all of the churches that all who exercised the patience and faith, though they faced captivity and sword during the period of the dragon's rage, would ultimately have the reward-that promise which permeates the Revelation from John's signatory on Patmos, "your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," to the last note of comfort in the apocalypse, "He that testifieth these things saith, surely I come quickly." Herein was "the patience and comfort of the saints," pausing for decision at the very threshold of prison and sword. In these words of the vision John called all the saints in the empire to courage and resignation in the face of imperial violence.

Verse 11

Rev 13:11. The word earth like sea in verse 1 is used figuratively, referring to the people of the world because all governments on earth must be composed of human beings. Another beast is Papal Rome or the apostate church in connection with the state A few words of explanation of the term "pope" which means "universal father" according to the members of the apostate church. They regard the pope as their father or papa. When the letter 1 is added we have papal, making it an adjective meaning "of the pope." After Constantine adopted the religion professed by the bishop of the church (who later assumed the title of pope), the whole institution was thereafter known as Papal Rome. The beast of this verse had two horns which refers to the two parts of the empire, namely, church and state. Spake as a dragon. The apostate institution made the profession of Christianity but its decrees and communications to the people were prompted by the dragon (Satan). This is what Paul predicts in 2Th 2:9 where he describes the pope as follows: "Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders." Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 11. (4) The subordinate beast of the land--Rev 13:11-18. 1. And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon"--Rev 13:11. The environment of these visions is not in accord and cannot be forced into harmony with the labored effort to identify the second beast with religious Rome, the papacy or the Latin church. The beast symbol in the apocalypses of the Old Testament, as well as in Revelation, has stood for organized political world-power. The development of the Roman papacy was too distant--too far away--to fit into a context of such immediate character. There was constant emphasis on nearness, immediacy and shortness of time. The attempt to make the announcement of Jesus in Mar 1:14-15 that "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" refer to a yet future time could be no more inconsistent than to make "the time is at hand" in Rev 1:3 encompass the "dark ages" and the end of time. When Peter said to the dispersed members of the church "the end of all things is at hand" (1Pe 4:7) , he referred to the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish state as being near--it was impending. When Paul said to Timothy (2Ti 4:6) "the time of my departure is at hand" he meant that his decease was near. It does not aid the argument to assert that the statement of John in Revelation means the beginning of these events for John did not say these things must begin--he said, must shortly come to pass--and the time for them to come to pass was at hand. Premillennialists in the church attempt the same evasion by admitting that the kingdom announced by John and Jesus was "at hand" and that it began on Pentecost, but claiming that its ultimate growth would be in the millennial reign of Christ on the earth. For some who are opposed to the millennial contention to fall into the same method of argumentation is but to help the cause of millennial heresy. In neither case can the expression at hand be stretched beyond immediate points of the two declarations--the immediate events. John was no more entranced to write the history of the Latin church and the Dark Ages than he was inspired to prophesy the discovery of the North American continent, the organization of the United States, the formation of Southern Confederacy or the existence of the United Nations! The historical events of far distant future whether the papacy, the pope, Martin Luther or Alexander Campbell are all outside the scope of Revelation. And we need not go outside the provincial governments of Judea and the Palestinian representatives of the Roman emperor to identify the second beast--the beast of the land--and find the fulfillment of the visions concerning him. Verse eleven states that this second beast came up out of earth, or the land--from whence he received the designation the beast of the land. Because the events surrounded Jerusalem and the Jewish state; and the land in this vision meant the land of Palestine--especially Judea--and beast is the symbol of the Jewish persecutors in Palestine. That this second beast of the land was a satellite of the first beast of the sea is seen in the statements that he caused the earth--the people of Palestine--to worship the sea beast, and this second beast derived the only exercise of his authority from the first beast, and worshipped him. The first beast, of the sea, was the Roman empire, personified in the emperor; the second beast, of the land, was personified in the ruling persecutors of Palestine, who were the instruments of the Roman emperor to execute his authority and power. This is further symbolized in the fact that this second beast had horns like a lamb but spake as a dragon--deceiving them that that dwell on the earth to worship the image of the emperor. There is nothing in these descriptions to fit the much later emergence of the papacy and its popes. The beasts represent the world-power of Rome. The beast from the sea was the emperor; and the beast of the land was the subordinate rulers of Palestine, exercising delegated power, as the emperor's representatives. Verse 11:===> He was from the earth, or land, not from the sea--denoting the local persecutors of Palestine. He was a false prophet visualized as a lamb in appearance, but speaking as the dragon. The two horns of the lamb represented two notorious rulers which Josephus mentioned (in Antiquities, Book XX 11, 1; and Wars, Book II, Chapters 14-15) as being sent by Nero, the emperor, into Palestine as his representatives. This beast appeared as guileless as a lamb, but as a false prophet he possessed the infernal spirit of the sea-beast, and deceived the land--the people of Palestine--into the worship of the sea beast, the emperor.

Verse 12

Rev 13:12. Exerciseth all the power of the first beast is commented upon in the remarks at verse 5. Causeth . . . to worship the first beast. Papal Rome was composed of church and state, and the two parts of that institution supported each other. The pope instructed his subjects that they must obey the orders of the state in all matters of conduct, even including their religious activities. Whose deadly wound was healed. (See the comments at verse 3.) The pope had a grateful remembrance of that episode in the affairs of state. Had the wound not been healed and the state had gone down, he would not then have the powerful support of the government to back him up in his wicked control over the lives of his people. So it is not strange that he directed them to worship that beast. That could not mean any formal ceremonies, the beast was not in existence in reality any way. It means for them to pay homage to the memory of the beast. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 12. 2. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed--Rev 13:12. The salient points in the description of the land beast in verses eleven through eighteen, verse by verse, may be outlined in brief as follows: Verse 11: He was from the earth, or land, not from the sea--denoting the local persecutors of Palestine. He was a false prophet visualized as a lamb in appearance, but speaking as the dragon. The two horns of the lamb represented two notorious rulers which Josephus mentioned (in Antiquities, Book XX 11, 1; and Wars, Book II, Chapters 14-15) as being sent by Nero, the emperor, into Palestine as his representatives. This beast appeared as guileless as a lamb, but as a false prophet he possessed the infernal spirit of the sea-beast, and deceived the land--the people of Palestine--into the worship of the sea beast, the emperor. Verse 12: He was a mere satellite of the sea beast, whose wound of rebellion and civil war within the tenkingdom empire was healed by the sheer power of force. This power brought all kingdoms and provinces under submission to the Roman head. The second beast as a servile and menial instrument of the first beast, enforced his will, exercising an authority not his own, but was derived solely from the superior beast number one, the Roman emperor. In this subservience the land beast in obedience to sea beast, "causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast"--the emperor. The earth referred to the provincial governments; and them that dwell therein had reference to the people who were under their political rule. The grievous blow inflicted on the empire by civil wars was referred to as a deadly wound on the sea-beast which had been healed by his conquering power; and this brought the kings, governors, and people into submission to worship the emperor. [Continue to comments on next verses for the rest of the descriptions]

Verse 13

Rev 13:13. This verse Is a statement of the false claims of the church of Rome, not that it actually performed the wonders mentioned. (See next verse.) Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 13. Verse 13: He performed visional pseudo-signs, which were not actual, in order to deceive, such as Jesus foretold (Mat 24:24) would precede the destruction of Jerusalem; and such as Paul described (2Th 2:3-9) as characteristic of the pretensions of "the man of sin and son of perdition." The wonders were merely the magical machinations of the Roman emperor-beast to deceive. Josephus relates that two representatives of Nero, by the names of Albinus and Gessius Florus, in this very period, were sent into the land, and being notorious for wickedness they made pompous ostentations before the people. (Antiquities, Book XX, II, I) These are facts recorded by the eye-witness historian on the scene of things; and there could be no more fitting fulfillment of the two horns of this beast.

Verse 14

Rev 13:14. And deceiveth them is the key to the preceding verse. Paul has the same subject in mind in 2Th 2:9 where he calls it "signs and lying wonders." Bible students know that since the days of the apostles, no man has been able to perform any supernatural acts. The word miracle means generally anything wonderful or out of the ordinary. He . . . do . . . in the sight of the beast means the pope performed the deceptive tricks with the leaders of state looking on and approving. Make means to "form or fashion," and image means an imitation or repetition. The pope required his people to imitate the characteristics of the first beast in his opposition to the worship of the true God. We should not lose sight of the dependence the pope felt he had upon the support of the secular power. That is why the church of Rome would have church and state united today if it could. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 14. Verse 14: He was identified with the false prophet by his utterance of pseudo-prophecy, of which deceptions Jesus also warned (Mat 24:11) as a portent of the destruction of Jerusalem; and which Paul (2Th 2:9-12) declared would characterize that wicked (one) . . . "whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness . . . that they should believe a lie." The events prior and posterior to the fall of Jerusalem are so consonant with the anticipations of Jesus (Mat 24:1-51) and of Paul (2Th 2:1-17) that it is utterly unimaginative to gaze into the future centuries for successively occurring events in both secular and ecclesiastical history to fulfill them. The only apparent explanation for it is that the theories of historical theology require it, and they have been taken for granted so long as to have become so fixed in the thinking that they have been accepted as factual. No events of the future can be created or can occur to harmonize more compatibly with these scriptural apocalypses and apostolic descriptions of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the demolition of the temple, the downfall of Judaism and the end of the Jewish state. Added to the biblical facts, the histories of Josephus, Pliny, Eusebius and other annals of the times and the near times, verify them.

Verse 15

Rev 13:15. The image of the beast is something that is a figure or is like it. The predominating characteristic of Pagan Rome with regard to her treatment of Christianity, was her persecution of the disciples and even to the extent of slaying the true worshipers of God. Therefore any person or group of persons that imitated that character would have the support of Papal Rome, and in that sense would receive life therefrom. The closing words of this verse verify the above statement by saying that those who would not worship (pay homage to and show respect) should be killed. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 15. Verse 15: The second beast created a life image of the superior beast, and exercised the power given to him to command its worship. In verse 14, it is stated that this was made possible by the prestige of the sea-beast from "the wound by a sword" but "did live"--that is, the display of the power of the empire in subduing in war the rebellious provinces, brought to the emperor an idolatrous worship, which the land-beast (the emperor's representative in Palestine) promoted, and in which he participated; and he commanded the Christians who would not worship the emperor to be banished or slain--which introduced the martyrdom of the saints.

Verse 16

Rev 13:16. Mark is from CHARAGMA, which Thayer defines, "a stamp, an imprinted mark," then explains it to mean, "of the mark stamped on the forehead or the right hand as a badge of the follower of Antichrist." Of course the branding which John saw was symbolical of something that would not be seen with natural eyes. The invisible fact concerning those who imitated the beast was their guilt. God could see it and the detectives of the pope had some way of recognizing it. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 16. Verse 16: He compelled the people of all stations small and great, rich and poor, free and bond to submit to the edict of emperor-worship--which symbolized the mark of the beast. This visional mark was an evil emblem of submission to emperor-worship. It was the stigmatic badge of the beast stamped in their right hand, or in their forehead, signifying a binding oath of loyalty. All who conformed to the imperial orders received the mark of the beast, personified in the Roman emperor--the Neronic anti- Christ.

Verse 17

Rev 13:17. The pope restricted the privileges and rights of all who would not submit to his dictation. If a man gave evidence of having the mark (the stain of guilt), and who had (knew and endorsed) the number of his name was given permission to proceed with his own interests. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 17. Verse 17: He compelled all the subjects of the provinces to bear the mark of the beast by an economic warfare, that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or name of the beast, or the number of his name --the enforcement of a maniacally rigorous interdict, an imperial boycott that would make life impossible for all who refused to wear the stigmatic name of the demonic emperor. By such means the provincial procurators forced all of their subjects into abject submission to the imperial edict of emperor-worship, which was the mark or badge of the Satanic beast-the emperor. Thus the mark of the beast simply meant to yield and bow to the edicts of the Roman emperor to worship his image.

Verse 18

Rev 13:18. The number of the beast and the number of a man are declared to be the same. Also according to the preceding verse these phrases are both equivalent to the number of his name. John tells us the number of his name which is 666, but he does not tell us what the name is. Remember the beast now being cited is the first one or Pagan Rome. Well, the government is not what has this number, for John says it is the number of a man. So we need to find a man who was outstanding at the head of Pagan Rome the letters of whose name will give us the number (numerical values being indicated with letters in those times). In the Greek it is CHXS and Thayer gives us the following comments on the term. "A mystical number the meaning of which is clear when it is written in Hebrew letters . . . i. e., Nero Caesar." The question might arise why this particular one of the Caesars or Roman Emperors was selected for the symbol. The reason is that he was one of the most notorious and infamous of the emperors. He was the 'one who had Paul slain and his inhuman treatment of Christians set the pattern after which other rulers followed in their opposition to the true church. Comments by Foy E. Wallace Verse 18. (5) The mystic number of the beast--Rev 13:18. "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man, and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." The fact that the mystic number was assigned to the first beast, or sea-beast, shows that the second beast, or land-beast, had no independent power or authority, but was the minion of the emperor. This land-beast, as previously indicated, represented the Jewish persecutors in Jerusalem and Judea, but performed no official acts without the consent, permission and authority of the sea-beast, the Roman emperor. The introduction to verse 18, Here is wisdom, points to the cryptic character of the following statement, let him that understandeth count the number of the beast--that being the code number of six hundred sixty six. It is a basic truth that the book of Revelation was written in code, on the same principle that the army communicates messages in code intended only for the military personnel, but to be withheld from the public. For the same purpose the contents of Revelation were composed in code for the vital information and concealed instruction to the churches facing the impending persecutions; but to be withheld from the pagan Roman world. There were in all of the churches the spiritually endowed teachers, who possessed the "spiritual gifts" of the inspiration era, as recorded in chapters twelve and thirteen of First Corinthians. In the catalog of such gifts were listed the special endowments of "wisdom," "discernment," and "understanding." This agrees with the words of the text, here is wisdom, and let him that hath understanding count the number. These supernaturally endowed teachers in the churches could certainly decipher the cryptogram. It has been established that the beast was the Roman empire, personified in the living emperor. It is so evident as to be patent that to mention the name of the living emperor in these connections would have been disastrous to the church--it would have precipitated a premature onslaught against Christians which could have resulted in their complete obliteration in every part of the Roman empire. A cryptogram is a writing in ciphers, or secret letters, with symbolic figures and representations having a hidden significance. Cryptography is the art of writing in secret characters. A cryptographer is one who has mastered the skill of deciphering or decoding the mystic letters. The prophets and teachers in the New Testament churches were not professional cryptographers, but being the recipients of "spiritual gifts" by apostolic impartation, they possessed inspired powers to discern that which the ordinary mind could not discover. It is not without reason that 1Co 12:8 and 1Co 13:2 would include the necessary power to decipher the code of Rev 13:18 to the members of the churches involved in these calamitous developments and trying experiences, which were so immediately present with them, but so remotely past to us. There have been almost a legion of names in many different languages that have been deciphered in the efforts to find solution for Code 666, ranging from the merest conjecture to a frantic religious fanaticism that borders on lunacy. The names of ancient political war lords, medieval papal pontiffs, together with nineteenth and twentieth century dictators, have been juggled to yield the sum 666. But a far-fetched and fantastic solution is neither satisfying nor sufficient. It must be relevant to the text and the context. There is such a solution in the official appellation of Nero Caesar. The designation of this emperor as yielding the 666 code is actually found in the rabbinical writings. Inasmuch as John was writing for the information and instruction of Hebrew Christians, it is appropriate and expediential that the code name for the Roman beast should be hidden in Hebrew ciphers, thus less likely to be discovered by the pagan authorities into whose hands the Revelation might come; and whereas the Roman empire was the beast of verses 1-8, the numerical name must of contextual necessity designate the one in whom the empire was personified. No name could be more conclusive and decisive than that of Nero Caesar--the ruling emperor. The Hebrew tongue was employed in Rev 16:16 in the symbol of Armageddon, and for less reason than justifies Hebrew ciphers in this case. In Rev 17:11 the beast was visualized as the sixth ruling emperor in succession from Julius Caesar. Though Julius was the head of the Republic, before the empire was actually formed, nevertheless the Republic merged into the empire; and it was from Julius Caesar, the first of the imperial rulers of Rome, that the title Caesar passed to his successors. Josephus mentions Julius as the first in the line of Caesars. The eminent Philip Schaff, in his Bible Dictionary, records that the imperial title descended from Julius Caesar. The original Speaker's Bible Commentary, published by the order of the English Parliament, states that Professor Bryce, of Oxford, had justly placed Julius Caesar, from whom the name Caesar passed on to his successors, as first of the imperial rulers of Rome. These and many other ancient and modern historians and scholars count the imperial rulers from Julius Caesar. This fact has a decisive bearing on the pre-destruction-of-Jerusalem chronology of Revelation. It is a rather strange process that would omit the original Caesar in order to qualify another than Nero for the ruling emperor when Revelation was composed. The line of the first six Caesars was as follows: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. The sixth emperor, according to chapter seventeen, was ruling--and he was Nero, as will be later propounded. It is so signified as to be conclusive that the Hebrew consonants in the official name Nero Caesar form the exact numerical figure of six hundred sixty six. It is also factual that Irenaeus in the early second century mentioned this solution to the numerical appellation. He further mentioned that some of the old manuscripts computed the number to be six hundred sixteen, and a current abbreviated form of writing the name of Nero among the Hebrews formed exactly that figure--six hundred sixteen. These facts are but further proof that it was the common understanding among the Hebrews that Nero was the intended character. The proof of the numerical meaning of the Hebrew letters is available in the Hebrew alphabet, and they are not difficult to decipher. In the order of the official title of Nero Caesar it would be as follows numerically: 50-200-6-50- 100-60-200 = 666. The International Critical Commentary on Revelation states, along with other scholars quoted, that the solution is to be found in Hebrew, not in Greek, and that Nero Caesar is the man of the number. There could have been no way more effective or plausible for John to withhold the meaning of this code from the public, but also to bring it within the perception of the oppressed churches, than to conceal it in their native Hebrew, to be deciphered by the spiritual discerners in the churches, who were evidently signified in verse 18: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast and here is wisdom--that is, the answer to the mystic number is in the imparted wisdom of the spiritually gifted prophets and teachers in the churches. So in the search for a figurative beast to fit the symbolic numerical name--why skip that old Roman beast! He was there in the midst of it all, and he is relevant to the text and context. To ignore that period and assign these events to the future, is the same mistake committed by the modern pseudo-prophets, who gather an armful of Old Testament prophecies, skip the New Testament fulfillment completely, and assign the prophecies by sheer assertion to a future fulfillment. Essentially the same process is employed, inadvertently and unintentionally when the symbols of Revelation are assigned to future centuries. There could be no more natural application of this symbolic number than the name of the Roman emperor, and the most exacting analyst could not demand a more fitting solution. But the historical "dark ages" interpretation is not only unconvincing, it is lacking in relevancy and coherency, and is anachronistic.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 13". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/revelation-13.html. 1952.
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