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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 13



Other Authors
Verse 1

He stood (εστατηestathē). First aorist passive indicative of ιστημιhistēmi (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 εστατηνestathēn (I stood) when it has to be connected with chapter Rev 13.

Upon the sand (επι την αμμονepi tēn ammon). The accusative case as in Revelation 7:1; Revelation 8:3, etc. ΑμμοςAmmos is an old word for sand, for innumerable multitude in Revelation 20:8.

Out of the sea (εκ της ταλασσηςek tēs thalassēs). 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” (διαδηματαdiadēmata) see Revelation 12:3, only ten here, not seven as there.

Names of blasphemy (ονοματα βλασπημιαςonomata blasphēmias). 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 τεοςtheos constantly applied to them.

Verse 2

Like unto a leopard (ομοιον παρδαλειhomoion pardalei). Associative-instrumental case of παρδαλιςpardalis old word for panther, leopard, here only in N.T. The leopard (λεο παρδleoως αρκουpard) was considered a cross between a panther and a lioness.

As the feet of a bear (αρκτοςhōs arkou). Old word, also spelled ως στομα λεοντοςarktos here only in N.T. From Daniel 7:4. No word in the Greek for “feet” before “bear.”

As the mouth of a lion (εδωκεν αυτωι ο δρακωνhōs stoma leontos). 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 (διδωμιedōken autōi ho drakōn). First aorist active indicative of αυτωιdidōmi (to give) and dative case autōi (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 (καιkai). No verb (ειδονeidon) in the old MSS., but clearly understood from Revelation 13:2.

As though it had been smitten (ως εσπαγμενηνhōs esphagmenēn). Perfect passive participle of σπαζωsphazō as in Revelation 5:6, accusative singular agreeing with μιανmian (one of the heads), object of ειδονeidon 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 (και η πληγη αυτου ετεραπευτηkai hē plēgē autou etherapeuthē). First aorist passive indicative of τεραπευωtherapeuō “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 Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:14 the beast himself receives a mortal wound.

Wondered after the beast (εταυμαστη οπισω του τηριουethaumasthē opisō tou thēriou). First aorist passive (deponent) indicative of ταυμαζωthaumazō to wonder at, to admire, as in Revelation 17:8. For this pregnant use of οπισωopisō 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 τωι δρακοντιprosekunēsan tōi drakonti). First aorist active indicative of προσκυνεωproskuneō with dative case δρακοντιdrakonti (from δρακωνdrakōn). They really worshipped Satan (the dragon) when “they worshipped the beast” (προσεκυνησαν τωι τηριωιprosekunēsan tōi thēriōi) 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 τωι τηριωιtis homoios tōi thēriōi̱). Associative-instrumental case after ομοιοςhomoios An echo, perhaps parody, of like language about God in Exodus 15:11; Psalm 35:10; Psalm 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? (και τις δυναται πολεμησαι μετ αυτουkai tis dunatai polemēsai met' autou̱). 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 (εδοτη αυτωιedothē autōi). First aorist passive indicative of διδωμιdidōmi to give, as in next line and Revelation 13:7. Perhaps a reference to εδωκενedōken (he gave) in 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 και βλασπημιαςlaloun megala kai blasphēmias). Present active participle of λαλεωlaleō agreeing with στομαstoma (nominative neuter singular and subject of εδοτηedothē). The words are like Daniel‘s description of the Little Horn (Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:25) and like the description of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. 1:24). Cf. 2 Peter 2:11.

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

Verse 6

For blasphemies (εις βλασπημιαςeis blasphēmias). “For the purpose of blasphemies.”

Against God (προς τον τεονpros ton theon). “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 ηνοιχενēnoixen is probably constative, for he repeated the blasphemies, though the phrase (ανοιγωanoigō to stoma, to open the mouth) is normally ingressive of the beginning of an utterance (Matthew 5:2; Acts 8:35). This verse explains Revelation 13:5. The Roman emperors blasphemously assumed divine names in public documents. They directed their blasphemy against heaven itself (“his tabernacle,” την σκηνην αυτουtēn skēnēn autou Revelation 7:15; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 21:3) and against “them that dwell in the heaven” (τους εν τωι ουρανωι σκηνουνταςtous en tōi ouranōi skēnountas), 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 (ποιησαι πολεμον μετα των αγιων και νικησαι αυτουςpoiēsai polemon meta tōn hagiōn kai nikēsai autous). This clause with two epexegetical first aorist active infinitives (πολεμησαιpolemēsai and νικησαιnikēsai) is omitted in A C P, but probably by ομοεοτελευτονhomoeoteleuton (like ending) because of the repetition of εδοτηedothē 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 αυτονproskunēsousin auton). Future active of προσκυνεωproskuneō with the accusative here as some MSS. in Revelation 13:4 (το τηριονto thērion), both constructions in this book.

Whose (ουαυτουhou- αυτουautou). Redundant use of genitive ουautou (his) with ωνhou (whose) as common in this book, and singular instead of plural παντεςhōn with antecedent ου γεγραπταιpantes (all, plural), thus calling attention to the responsibility of the individual in emperor-worship.

Hath not been written (γραπωou gegraptai). Perfect passive indicative of εν τωι βιβλιωι της ζωης του αρνιουgraphō permanent state, stands written.

In the book of life of the Lamb (του εσπαγμενουen tōi bibliōi tēs zōēs tou arniou). 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 (απο καταβολης κοσμουtou esphagmenou (for which see Revelation 5:6) απο καταβολης κοσμουapo katabolēs kosmou). For the phrase κοσμουapo katabolēs kosmou (not in the lxx) there are six other N.T. uses (Matthew 13:35 without προ καταβολης κοσμουkosmou Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 17:8), and for του εσπαγμενουpro katabolēs kosmou three (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). It is doubtful here whether it is to be taken with γεγραπταιtou esphagmenou (cf. 1 Peter 1:20) or with εσπαγμενουgegraptai as in Revelation 17:8. Either makes sense, and here the most natural use is with esphagmenou 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 (ει τις εχει ουςei tis echei ous). 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 (ει τις εις αιχμαλωσιανei tis eis aichmalōsian). Condition of first class, but with no copula (εστινestin) expressed. For αιχμαλωσιανaichmalōsian (from αιχμαλωτοςaichmalōtos 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 (ει τις εν μαχαιρηι αποκτενειei tis en machairēi apoktenei). First-class condition with future active of αποκτεινωapokteinō 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 (δει αυτον εν μαχαιρηι αποκταντηναιdei auton en machairēi apoktanthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of αποκτεινωapokteinō The inevitable conclusion (δειdei) of such conduct. The killer is killed.

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

Verse 11

Another beast (αλλο τηριονallo thērion). Like the first beast (Revelation 13:1), not a ετερον τηριονheteron thērion (a different beast).

Out of the earth (εκ της γηςek tēs gēs). Not “out of the sea” as the first (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 (ειχενeichen). Imperfect active of εχωechō Only two horns (not ten like the first, Revelation 13:1).

Like unto a lamb (ομοια αρνιωιhomoia arniōi). Usual construction. Only the two horns of a young lamb and without the ferocity of the other beast, but “he spake as a dragon” (ελαλει ως δρακωνelalei hōs drakōn). 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 (ποιειpoiei). Present active dramatic present of ποιεωpoieō In his sight (ενωπιον αυτουenōpion autou). 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 τηριον το πρωτονhina proskunēsousin to thērion to prōton). Sub-final clause with ιναhina after ποιειpoiei 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 προσκυνεωproskuneō as in Revelation 13:8. Here the death-stroke of one of the heads (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 και πυρ ποιηι εκ του ουρανου καταβαινεινhina kai pur poiēi ek tou ouranou katabainein). Purpose clause again with ιναhina and the present active subjunctive of ποιεωpoieō and the object infinitive of καταβαινωkatabainō after ποιειpoiei 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 (και πλαναιkai planāi). Present active (dramatic) indicative of πλαναωplanaō the very thing that Jesus had said would happen (Matthew 24:24, “So as to lead astray” ωστε πλανασταιhōste planāsthai 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 (ποιησαι εικονα τωι τηριωιpoiēsai eikona tōi thēriōi). Indirect command (this first aorist active infinitive of ποιεωpoieō) after λεγωνlegōn as in Acts 21:21, not indirect assertion. This “image” (εικωνeikōn 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 μαχαιρηςtēn plēgēn tēs machairēs). This language can refer to the death of Nero by his own sword.

And lived (και εζησενkai ezēsen). “And he came to life” (ingressive first aorist active indicative of ζαωzaō). Perhaps a reference to Domitian as a second Nero in his persecution of Christians.

Verse 15

To give breath to it (δουναι πνευμα αυτηιdounai pneuma autēi). 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. ΠνευμαPneuma here has its original meaning of breath or wind like πνευμα ζωηςpneuma zōēs (breath of life) in Revelation 11:11.

Even to the image (τηι εικονιtēi eikoni). No “even” in the Greek, just apposition with αυτηιautēi (her).

That should both speak and cause (ινα και λαλησηι και ποιησηιhina kai lalēsēi kai poiēsēi). Final clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of λαλεωlaleō and ποιεωpoieō Ventriloquism like that in Acts 16:16.

That should be killed (ινα αποκταντωσινhina apoktanthōsin). Sub-final clause with ιναhina and the first aorist passive subjunctive of αποκτεινωapokteinō after ποιησηιpoiēsēi as in Revelation 13:12 (future indicative).

As many as should not worship (οσοι εαν μη προσκυνησωσινhosoi ean mē proskunēsōsin). Indefinite relative clause with modal εανean (= ανan) and the first aorist active subjunctive of προσκυνεωproskuneō with the accusative την εικοναtēn eikona (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 ποιεωpoieō 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 αυτοιςhina dōsin autois). Same use of ιναhina after ποιεωpoieō as in Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:15, only here with indefinite plural δωσινdōsin (second aorist active subjunctive), “that they give themselves,” as in Revelation 10:11; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 16:15.

A mark (χαραγμαcharagma). Old word from χαρασσωcharassō 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 χαραγμαcharagma 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 (3 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 τεπιλλινtephillin (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 (επι το μετωπον αυτωνepi to metōpon autōn). Accusative with επιepi though genitive just before with χειροςcheiros (hand). See note on Revelation 7:3 and note on Revelation 9:4 (genitive επι των μετωπωνepi tōn metōpōn). Only in the Apocalypse in N.T.

Verse 17

That no man should be able to buy or to sell (ινα μη τις δυνηται αγορασαι η πωλησαιhina mē tis dunētai agorasai ē pōlēsai). Final clause with ιναhina and present middle subjunctive of δυναμαιdunamai with aorist active infinitives. This is a regular boycott (Ramsay, Seven Letters, p. 106f.) against all not worshippers of the emperor.

Save (ει μηei mē). “If not,” “except.”

Even the name (το ονομαto onoma). No “even,” just apposition with χαραγμαcharagma (the mark).

Or the number (η τον αριτμονē ton arithmon). 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 γεματριαgematria known to the Apocalyptist and his Asian readers, but not generally intelligible.”

Verse 18

Here is wisdom (ωδε η σοπιαhōde hē sophia). 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 νουνho echōn noun). “The one having intelligence” in such matters. Cf. the adverb νουνεχωςnounechōs (discreetly) in Mark 12:34.

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

The number of a man (αριτμος αντρωπουarithmos anthrōpou). “A man‘s number.” But what man and what name?

Six hundred and sixty-six (εχακοσιοι εχηκοντα εχhexakosioi hexēkonta hex). 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?


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 13:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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