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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Revelation 13

 

 

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Verse 1

1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

Ver. 1. And I stood] Where I might best see the beast that came out of the sea.

I saw a beast] The Church, flying into the wilderness from the dragon, falls upon this beast, which is nothing better than the dragon under a better shape. Sic aliud ex alio malum. This beast is that Antichrist of Rome.

Rise up] Not all at once, but by degrees.

Out of the sea] Out of the bottomless pit, Revelation 11:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:9.

Having seven heads] To plot.

And ten horns] To push. Craft and cruelty go always together in the Church’s enemies. The asp never wanders alone; and those birds of prey go not without their mates, Isaiah 34:16.

And upon his horns] The kings that are the pope’s vassals. See Revelation 17:11. These are the props of his power.

The name of blasphemy] This is his true name; his pretensed name is mystery.


Verse 2

2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Ver. 2. Like unto a leopard] Which is the female among the panthers, the property whereof is, as Pliny telleth us, with her sweet smell to allure the beasts unto her, hiding her terrible head, till she hath them within her reach, and then teareth them in pieces. Just so dealeth Rome with her unhappy proselytes. The Papacy is an alluring, tempting, bewitching religion. No sin past, but the pope can pardon it; none to come, but he can dispense with it, Etiamsi per impossibile, matrem Dei quis vitiasset, said Tecelius.

As the feet of a bear] Which stands firm on her hinder feet, and fights with her fore feet; so doth the Papacy with its canons, decrees, traditions, &c.

As the mouth of a lion] Wide, ravenous, roaring, and insatiable.

And the dragon gave him his power] This bargain was offered to Christ, Matthew 4:8-10, but he would none of it. The bramble in Jotham’s parable thought it a goodly thing to reign; so did not the vine and fig tree.


Verse 3

3 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.

Ver. 3. One of his heads as it were wounded] Either by the invasion of the Goths; or by that fatal schism in the Church of Rome, A.D. 1378, when there sat three popes at once for 40 years together: or by the falling away of the Protestants from the Popedom, from the days of Wycliffe, John Huss, the Waldenses, Luther, to this present. Bellarmine bewails the business, that ever since we began to count and call the pope Antichrist, his kingdom hath greatly decreased. (Lib. iii. de Papa Rom. cap. 21.) And Cotton the Jesuit confesses, that the authority of the pope is incomparably less than it was; and that now the Christian Church is but adminutive.

And his deadly wound was healed] By that false prophet, Revelation 13:11, that is, by the Sorbonists, Jesuits, Trent fathers, and other Popish surgeons. The Jesuits give out that the devil sent out Luther, and God raised up them to resist him; but great is the truth, and will prevail, when all falsehood shall fall to the ground. It is but a palliate cure we here read of.

And all the world] sc. Of Roman Catholics.

Wondered] Or had wondered till the beast was wounded.


Verse 4

4 And 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?

Ver. 4. And they worshipped] Admiration bred adoration. Idolatrous Papists are worshippers of the devil; whom though in word they defy, yet in deed they deify.

Who is like unto the beast?] Papa potest omnia, quae Christus potest, saith Hostiensis; The pope can do whatsoever Christ can do; yea, and more too, it should seem by these wise wonderers: for who is like unto the beast? say they. Papa est plus quam Deus, saith Francis Zabarel; The pope is more than a God. And why? for of wrong he can make right, of vice, virtue, of nothing, something, saith Bellarmine. (De Pap. Rom. lib. iv.) Mosconius cannot be content to derive papa from papae, the interjection of admiring, because he is stupor mundi, the world’s wonderment (that ye may know him to be the beast here mentioned), but he must style him the King of kings and Lord of lords, having ruledom over all rational creatures, Dulia adorandus. (De Majestat. Militant. Ecclesiastes 1:1)


Verse 5

5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

Ver. 5. And there was given unto him] As once was to Antiochus, that little antichrist, Daniel 7:25. What cracks the pope makes of his unlimited power and prerogatives; who knows not? what blasphemies he belcheth out of the fable of Christ, of eating his pork, Al despito di Die, in despite of God; of suffering himself to be styled "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world," as Pope Martin IV did; of drinking a health to the devil, as another of them did, who hath not heard? Baronius, in the year 964, reckoning up certain of the popes, calleth them monsters, an abomination of desolation in God’s temple, &c. Cardinal Benno saith of Pope Hildebrand, that he was a blasphemer, a murderer, a whore master, a necromancer, a heretic, and all that is naught. The Church of Rome (saith another of their own writers) had deserved now for a long time no better of God than to be ruled by reprobates. Marcellus II, pope of Rome, said, that he could not see how any pope could be saved. (Jac. Revius, p. 275.)

Forty and two months] Here Mr Brightman calculates and pitches the ruin of Antichrist upon the year 1686, or thereabouts.


Verse 6

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

Ver. 6. In blasphemy against God] As when Pope Leo I and (after him) Nicholas III affirmed, that Peter their predecessor was taken into fellowship with the blessed Trinity, as one with them. See Revelation 13:5.

And his tabernacle] Christ’s humanity, {John 1:14; John 2:19} this he blasphemeth, by transubstantiating a crust into Christ. Or, the Church of Christ, which he counteth and calleth the synagogue of Satan.

And them that dwelt in heaven] The glorified saints, whom either he despiteth with obtruded honours, such as they acknowledge not; or else barks and rails at incessantly as arch-devils, detestable heretics, common pests, &c., as Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, whose very name he hath commanded to be razed out of all books, wheresoever any man meets with it, Ubicunque invenitur nomen Calvini, deleatur. (Ind. Expur.)


Verse 7

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Ver. 7. To make war with the saints] As he did with the Albigenses, publishing his Crusades against them, as if they had been Saracens, and destroying ten hundred thousand of them in France only, if Perionias may be believed. Not to speak of the many thousands since slain in battle by the pope’s champions in Germany, France, Ireland, and now also in England; besides those many more that have died for religion by the bloody Inquisition, by the hands of the hangman, 3600 in the Low Countries by the command of the Duke of Alva, 800 here in Queen Mary’s days, &c. The beast hath even made himself drunk with the blood of the saints.

And to overcome them] So it seemed, but so it was not. See Revelation 12:11. The saints never more prevail and triumph than when it seems otherwise. Of them the enemies may say, as the Persians did once of the Athenians at the field of Marathon (Stobaeus),

βαλλομεν, ου πιπτουσι, τιτρωσκομεν, ου φοβεονται.

We fell them, yet they fall not; thrust them through,

They feel no mischief, but are well enough.

Over all kindreds and tongues] Here the Holy Ghost points to the Popish Catholicism. The Jesuits will still needsly have the Roman Church to be the Catholic Church, though so many kindreds, tongues, and nations have utterly disclaimed it. Herein they are like that mad fellow Thrasilaus in Horace, who laid claim to all the ships that came into the harbour at Athens, though he had no right to the least boat there.


Verse 8

8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Ver. 8. Whose names are not written] He then that lives and dies a Papist cannot be saved.

Slain from the foundation] sc. 1. In God’s purpose; 2. In his promise; 3. In the faith of his people; 4. In the sacrifices; 5. In the martyrs; the first that ever died, died for religion. Christ undertook to pay our debt in the fulness of time; and hence we were enlarged. A man may let a prisoner loose, upon a promise to pay the debt a year after.


Verse 9

9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

Ver. 9. If any man have an ear] q.d. Let all that have souls to save, beware of this beast; for is it nothing to lose an immortal soul? to purchase an everliving death? Purus putus Papista non potest servari. Confer Revelation 19:21. It is confessed by all, that a learned English apostate Papist cannot be saved.


Verse 10

10 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 the faith of the saints.

Ver. 10. He that leadeth into captivity] q.d. Be of good cheer; Antichrist shall one day meet with his match, drink as he brewed, be paid in his own coin, filled with his own ways, have blood again to drink, for he is worthy. See Isaiah 33:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

Here is the patience] q.d. Here is matter for the trial exercise and increase of the saints’ graces. Hard weather tries what health. The walnut tree is most fruitful when most beaten. Or, here is support for the saints, and that which may well make them to hold out faith and patience.


Verse 11

11 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.

Ver. 11. And I beheld another beast] Another in shape, but the same in substance with the former. For here Antichrist appears not as an emperor, but as an impostor. That these two are both one, see Revelation 17:11; Revelation 19:20.

Coming up out of the earth] Set up by earthly men and earthly means, of base beginning, Gigas quasi νηγενης. Ego supernas, vos infernates estis, saith our Saviour to the Jews, "I am from above, ye are from beneath;" ye are earth sprung, as so many mushrooms, John 8:23.

And he had two horns] Two horns in his mitre, two keys in his hand, two swords borne before him, a twofold pretended power, secular and sacred, as king and priest, in the Lamb’s stead, whose ape he is.

Spake as a dragon] That is, saith Diodatus, he used an absolute command over consciences, raised himself through devilish pride and execrable boasting, Revelation 18:7. Or thus; though he hath two horns like the Lamb, that is, professeth the meekness and innocence of Christ, yet he speaks like the dragon, which is to be understood partly of his blasphemies, partly of his diabolical doctrines, partly of hellish courses thundered out against true professors, and partly of his great promises to those that adore him. (Downh. of Antich.)


Verse 12

12 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.

Ver. 12. And he exerciseth] The power of speaking blasphemies, of waging wars, of ruling over kindreds, tongues, and nations, &c., notwithstanding his wounded head, which is after a sort cured by the sedulity and subtilty of the Jesuits, and other the pope’s emissaries. The first beast, saith Forbes, is the kingdom of Rome under the Pontificality; the second beast is the Pontificality wonderfully quickening the wounded beast to that estate; both are one and the same, except in consideration, as I have said.


Verse 13

13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

Ver. 13. And he doth great wonders] By his art of magic; for true miracles he can do none, nor his master the dragon to help him. Hence they are called lying wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, sorceries, Revelation 18:23, and impostures here, Revelation 13:14.

So that he maketh fire] As another Elias. This the pope doth daily by his excommunications, casting firebrands, as it were, from on high at those that slight him; and moreover he telleth us of some, that for withstanding his edicts were thunderstruck to death. (Aventin. Annal.)


Verse 14

14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Ver. 14. That they should make an image] An emperor, saith Aretius, an image of him at least, chosen indeed by the seven electors of Germany, but confirmed by the pope; who therefore is said to give life to the image of the beast, whereby he both speaketh and acteth, Revelation 13:15. For if the pope confirm not the new elect, he is no emperor.


Verse 15

15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

Ver. 15. Should be killed] What slaughters Charles V made at Magdeburg and elsewhere by the pope’s appointment, and what bloody work hath been done in Germany now for this twenty-eight years, or thereabouts, by the now emperor and his father, against the Protestant party, I need not here to relate.


Verse 16

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

Ver. 16. All both small and great] Emperor and else. The pope having by his nephew persuaded the king of Bohemia, Maximilian (afterwards emperor), to be a good Catholic, with many promises of honours and profits, intimating the succession of the empire, which else he should hardly obtain, was answered by the king, that he thanked his Holiness, but that his soul’s health was more dear to him than all the things in the world. Which answer they said in Rome was a Lutheran form of speech, and signified an alienation from that See; and they began to discourse what would happen after the old emperor’s death. (Hist. of the Coun. Trent, p. 418.)

To receive a mark] The Popish clergy say, that in their ordination they receive an indelible character. They may choose whether they will have it in their foreheads (where it cannot be hid) or in their right hands, where they may either hide it or show it as they think good. {See Trapp on "Revelation 7:3"} The mark common to all the Popish rabble is, St Peter’s keys branching out itself in every antichristian doctrine and idolatrous practice. I can never sufficiently admire (saith Mr Heyrick) the speech of blessed Luther, who though he was very earnest to have the communion administered in both kinds contrary to the doctrine and custom of Rome, yet he professeth, If the pope, as pope, commanded him to receive in both kinds, he would but receive in one kind. It is a general rule among the best, that what the pope commands, as pope, though it be good or indifferent, as to pray, read, lift up an eye, hand, to wear black or white, &c., it is a receiving of the mark of the beast, &c. (Mr Heyrick’s Serm., p. 108.)


Verse 17

17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Ver. 17. Might buy or sell] As at Rome, oaths, laws, vows, are soluble, and all things else are saleable. Romoe omnia venalia.

" Vendit Alexander cruces, altaria, Christum:

Vendere iure potest: emerat ills prius."

"The pope sells crosses, altars, Christ, and all:

Well he may sell, for he bought them at the stall."

Also it is well known that the pope flatly forbids trade and traffic with all whom he hath excommunicated, as he did with the Albigenses in the Lateran Council, and as he did with one Tooly in Queen Mary’s days, who being hanged for felony, and defying the pope, was (after his death) suspended and excomunicated, that no man should eat or drink, buy or sell with him, bid him good morrow. (Acts and Mon.)

Or the name of the beast] To be called a Roman Catholic, which is better esteemed among Papists than the name of a Christian. It is notoriously known, saith Dr Fulke, that the most honourable name of Christian is in Italy and at Rome a name of reproach, and usually abused to signify a fool or a dolt. (Armor. in Acts xi. sec. 4.)

Or the number of his name] That keep somewhat more aloof, and yet privily comply with Papists, and drive the same design with them, though more slyly and covertly, and to themselves perhaps unperceivedly. What is the reason the pope will not dispense in Spain or Italy, if a Papist marry a Protestant, yet here he will; but because such Protestants receive the number of his name, and will soon be drawn to him?


Verse 18

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.

Ver. 18. Here is wisdom] That is, work for wisdom, as Revelation 13:10. Here is "the patience and faith of saints."

It is the number of a man] Such as a man, by search, may find out, if he have his wits about him, as we say. Others sense it thus, the whole number of the beast, whatsoever is numbered to belong unto him, is but the number of a man; human inventions and will-wisdom. Men will have it so, and this is the sum of all Popish religion. Or it is called the "number of a man," because men do number. (Mr Cotton.) The philosopher affirms that man is therefore the wisest of creatures because he alone can number, Bruta non numerant. This is an essential difference.

Six hundred threescore and six] Among the many conjectures, that of λατεινος seems to me most probable, as most ancient and authentic. The year of Rome’s ruin is by some held to be 1666. It is plain, saith one, Satan shall be tied up 1000 years; 666 is the number of the beast; Antichrist shall so long reign; these two together make the just number. {a} Luther observeth, that about the year 666, the pope assumed to be αντπευθυνος, uncontrollable. Others observe, that Phocas (that adulterous assassin), Boniface the purchaser of supremacy, and Mahomet the grand impostor, brake forth together about the same time, to the great devastation and hazarding of all Christendom.

{a} Bernardus asseverat Antichristum futurum meridianum daemonem quia a meridie erit, et ibi sedebit. In Cant. ser. 33.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 13:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-13.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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