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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Revelation 13



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Questions For Revelation Chapter Thirteen

1.Where did John .tand?

2.What did he see rise out of the sea?

3.How many heads and horns?

4.What were upon the horns?

5.Tell what he saw on the heads.

6.To what was the beast like?

7.Describe his feet.

8.And his mouth.

9.What were given to him?

10.What happened to one of the heads?

11.Ten what then was done to this.

12.How did this affect the world?

13.What was worshipped?

14. To what did it give power?

15.What else did they worship?

16.Ten what they ascribed to the beast.

17.What was given to him?

18.State another thing given to him.

19.How long was he to continue?

20.For what purpose did he open his mouth?

21.Against what did he blaspheme?

22.What was given to him?

23.With what result?

24. Over whom was power given to him?

25. How were the people of earth to treat him?

26. State the exceptions to this.

27. When was the Lamb slain?

28.Who is commanded to hear?

29.Who must go into captivity?

30.And who must be killed?

31.Tell who possessed patience and faith.

32.What did John now behold?

33.From where did it come?

34.In what was it like a lamb?

35.How did it speak?

36.What power did it exercise?

37.What did it cause the earth to do?

38."L"ell what had been done for this beast.

39.State what he does.

40.Who saw these wonders?

41.Who were deceived?

42.By what were they deceived?

43.What was said to the people of the earth?

44.Tell what had wounded this beast.

45.To what could he give life?

46.This enabled the image to do what?

47.Whom would he cause to be killed?

48.What did he cause to be received?

49.Tell what classes were thus marked.

50.What restraint did this place on them?

51.Who were exempt from this restraint?

52.What is the number of the beast?

Verse 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 of1260 years. Yet we have already had a vision of that period even down to and including the Reformation of Luther, which is shown in chapter11. 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 Revelation 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.

Verse 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, Revelation 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.

Verse 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 otter 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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 tospeak blasphemies was his by common consent. These are the same kind of blasphemous words that are mentioned in verse1. 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 of1260 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" (verse12). 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" ( 2 Thessalonians 2:7).

Verse 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 leings in heaven who were servants of od-

Verse 7

Was given unto him has virtually the same meaning as a like phrase in verse5. 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 Song of Solomon -called civilized world.

Verse 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.

Verse 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,

Verse 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" ( Galatians 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 ifomaining steadfast and true to the Lord..

Verse 11

The word earth like sea in verse1is 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 letter1is 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. Spoke as one 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 2 Thessalonians 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."

Verse 12

Exerciseth all the power of the first beast is commented upon in the remarks at verse5. 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 verse3.) 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.

Verse 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.)

Verse 14

And deceiveth them is the key to the preceding verse. Paul has the same subject in mind in 2 Thessalonians 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.

Verse 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 havethe 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.

Verse 16

Mark is from cnnmomn, 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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 Isaiah 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 cnxs 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.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 13:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

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