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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Blasphemy; Crown; Horn; Sea; Seven; Vision; Scofield Reference Index - Beast (the); Beast the; Roman; World-Empire; Thompson Chain Reference - Blasphemy-Profanity; Profanity; The Topic Concordance - Empires/world Powers; Name; War/weapons; Worship; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Horns;
The beast rising out of the sea with seven heads, ten horns,
and ten crowns, 1.
His description, power, blasphemy, cruelty, c., 2-10.
The beast coming out of the earth with two horns, deceiving the
world by is false miracles, and causing every one to receive
his mark in their right hand, 11-17.
His number, 666. 18.
NOTES ON CHAP. XIII., BY J. E. C.
Verse Revelation 13:1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea — Before we can proceed in the interpretation of this chapter, it will be highly necessary to ascertain the meaning of the prophetic symbol beast, as the want of a proper understanding of this term has probably been one reason why so many discordant hypotheses have been published to the world. In this investigation it is impossible to resort to a higher authority than Scripture, for the Holy Ghost is his own interpreter. What is therefore meant by the term beast in any one prophetic vision, the same species of thing must be represented by the term whenever it is used in a similar manner in any other part of the sacred oracles. Having therefore laid this foundation, the angel's interpretation of the last of Daniel's four beasts need only be produced, an account of which is given in the seventh chapter of this prophet. Daniel being very desirous to "know the truth of the fourth beast which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, and of the ten horns that were on his head," the angel thus interprets the vision: "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise," c. In this scripture it is plainly declared that the fourth beast should be the fourth kingdom upon earth consequently, the four beasts seen by Daniel are four kingdoms: hence the term beast is the prophetic symbol for a kingdom.
As to the nature of the kingdom which is represented by the term beast, we shall obtain no inconsiderable light in examining the most proper meaning of the original word חיה chaiyah. This Hebrew word is translated in the Septuagint by the Greek word θηριον, and both words signify what we term a wild beast and the latter is the one used by St. John in the Apocalypse. Taking up the Greek word θηριον in this sense, it is fully evident, if a power be represented in the prophetical writings under the notion of a wild beast, that the power so represented must partake of the nature of a wild beast. Hence an earthly belligerent power is evidently designed. And the comparison is peculiarly appropriate; for as several species of wild beasts carry on perpetual warfare with the animal world, so most governments, influenced by ambition, promote discord and depopulation. And, also, as the carnivorous wild beast acquires its strength and magnitude by preying upon the feebler animals; so most earthly monarchies are raised up by the sword, and derive their political consequence from the unsuccessful resistance to the contending nations. The kingdom of God, on the other hand, is represented as "a stone cut out of the mountain without hands;" and is never likened to a beast, because it is not raised up by the sword as all other secular powers are, but sanctifies the persons under its subjection; in which last particular it essentially differs from all other dominations.
This beast is said to rise up out of the sea, in which particular it corresponds with the four beasts of Daniel; the sea is therefore the symbol of a great multitude of nations, as has already been proved; and the meaning is, that every mighty empire is raised upon the ruins of a great number of nations, which it has successfully contended against and incorporated with its dominions. The sea, here, is doubtless the same against the inhabiters of which a wo was denounced, Revelation 12:12; for St. John was standing upon the sand of the sea when the vision changed from the woman and the dragon to that recorded in this chapter. It therefore follows that the kingdom or empire here represented by the beast, is that which sprung up out of the ruins of the WESTERN Roman empire.
Having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns — The beast here described is the Latin empire, which supported the Romish or Latin Church; for it has upon his horns ten crowns, i.e., is an empire composed of ten distinct monarchies in the interest of the Latin Church. See the heads and horns fully explained in the notes on Revelation 17:10; Revelation 17:12; Revelation 17:16.
As the phrases Latin Church, Latin empire, c., are not very generally understood at present, and will occur frequently in the course of the notes on this and the xviith chapter, it will not be improper here to explain them. During the period from the division of the Roman empire into those of the east and west, till the final dissolution of the western empire, the subjects of both empires were equally known by the name of Romans. Soon after this event the people of the west lost almost entirely the name of Romans, and were denominated after their respective kingdoms which were established upon the ruins of the western empire. But as the eastern empire escaped the ruin which fell upon the western, the subjects of the former still retained the name of Romans, and called their dominion η ρωμαικη βασιλεια, the Roman empire by which name this monarchy was known among them till its final dissolution in 1453, by Mohammed II., the Turkish sultan. But the subjects of the eastern emperor, ever since the time of Charlemagne or before, (and more particularly in the time of the crusades and subsequently,) called the western people, or those under the influence of the Romish Church, Latins, and their Church the Latin Church. And the western people, in return, denominated the eastern Church the Greek Church, and the members of it Greeks. Hence the division of the Christian Church into those of the Greek and Latin. For a confirmation of what has just been said the reader may consult the Byzantine writers, where he will find the appellations ρωμαιοι and λατινοι, Romans and Latins, used in the sense here mentioned in very numerous instances. The members of the Romish Church have not been named Latins by the Greeks alone; this term is also used in the public instruments drawn up by the general popish councils, as may be instanced in the following words, which form a part of a decree of the council of Basil, dated Sept. 26, 1437: Copiosissimam subventionem pro unione GRAECORUM cums LATINIS, "A very great convention for the union of the Greeks with the Latins." Even in the very papal bulls this appellation has been acknowledged, as may be seen in the edict of Pope Eugenius IV., dated Sept. 17, 1437, where in one place mention is made of Ecclesiae LATINORUM quaesita unio, "the desired union of the Church of the Latins;" and in another place we read, Nec superesse modum alium prosequendi operis tam pii, et servandi LATINAE ECCLESIAE honoris, "that no means might be left untried of prosecuting so pious a work, and of preserving the honour of the Latin Church." See Corps Diplomatique, tom. iii., pp. 32, 35. In a bull of the same pontiff, dated Sept., 1439, we have Sanctissima LATINORUM et GRAECORUM unio, "the most holy union of the Greeks with the Latins." See Bail's Summa Conciliorum, in loc. By the Latin empire is meant the whole of the powers which support the Latin Church.
And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. — ονουα βλασφημιας A name of blasphemy. This has been variously understood. Jerome and Prosper give it as their opinion that the name of blasphemy consists in the appellation urbs aeterna, eternal city, applied to Rome; and modern commentators refer it to the idolatrous worship of the Romans and papists. Before we attempt to ascertain the meaning of this passage, it must be first defined what the Holy Spirit means by a name of blasphemy. Blasphemy, in Scripture, signifies impious speaking when applied to GOD, and injurious speaking when directed against our neighbour. A name of blasphemy is the prostitution of a sacred name to an unholy purpose. This is evident from the 9th verse of the second chapter of the Apocalypse, Revelation 2:9, where God says, "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." These wicked men, by calling themselves Jews, blasphemed the name, i.e., used it in an injurious sense; for he ONLY is a Jew who is one inwardly. Hence the term Jews applied to the synagogue of Satan is a name of blasphemy, i.e. a sacred name blasphemed. A name of blasphemy, or a blasphemous appellation, is said to be upon all the seven heads of the beast. To determine what this name is, the meaning of the seven heads in this place must be ascertained. If the reader refer to the notes on Revelation 17:9-11, he will find that the heads are explained to have a double meaning, viz., that they signify the seven electorates of the German empire, and also seven forms of Latin government. As this is the first place in which the heads of the beast are mentioned with any description, it is reasonable to expect that that signification of the heads which is first in order in the angel's interpretation, Revelation 17:9, must be what is here intended. This is, "the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth;" the name of blasphemy will consequently be found upon the seven electorates of Germany. This, therefore, can be no other than that which was common, not only to the electorates but also to the whole empire of Germany, or that well known one of SACRUM Imperium Romanum, "The SACRED (or HOLY) Roman Empire." Here is a sacred appellation blasphemed by its application to the principal power of the beast. No kingdom can properly be called holy but that of Jesus; therefore it would be blasphemy to unite this epithet with any other power. But it must be horridly blasphemous to apply it to the German empire, the grand supporter of antichrist from his very rise to temporal authority. Can that empire be holy which has killed the saints, which has professed and supported with all its might an idolatrous system of worship? It is impossible. Therefore its assumption of sacred or holy (which appellation was originally given to the empire from its being the main support of what is termed the holy catholic Church, the emperor being styled, on this account, Christ's temporal vicar upon earth: see Caesarini Furstenerii Tractatus De Suprematu Principum Germaniae, cc. 31, 32) is, in the highest sense the word can be taken, a name of blasphemy. The name of blasphemy is very properly said to be upon the seven heads of the beast, or seven electorates of the German empire, because the electors are styled SACRI Imperii Principes Electores, Princes, Electors of the Holy Empire; SACRI Romani Imperii Electores, Electors of the Holy Roman Empire.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-13.html. 1832.
Beast from the sea (13:1-10)
Like the dragon of Chapter 12, the beast that arises out of the sea has seven heads and ten horns. If the dragon symbolizes Satan, the opponent of God in the spirit world, the beast out of the sea probably symbolizes the opponent of God in the world of humankind. As God took human form in Jesus Christ, so Satan takes human form in one called the antichrist (GNB: enemy of Christ), or man of lawlessness (GNB: wicked one). He combines cunning, strength, cruelty and ferocity (13:1-2).
Though always in the world, the spirit of antichrist expresses itself in different ways in various people, eras and systems (1 John 2:18). In John’s time it expressed itself in the Roman Empire, but its fullest expression will be in the days immediately before Christ’s return (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10).
The antichrist tries to imitate Christ by giving an appearance of death followed by resurrection. He appears to lose his power, only to regain it and do greater and more horrible evil. People in general are impressed with his show of power and believe that none, not even God, can fight against him. They are overcome with a sense of awe, and gladly give their allegiance to the antichrist and his master, Satan (3-4; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4,2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Suffering Christians are encouraged to endure by the news that God has set a limit to the time of the antichrist’s rule. But while he rules he curses God and demands that people worship him instead. All people give him homage except the Christians, and these he mercilessly attacks (5-8). Christians are given a special reminder that it is useless to resist when they are about to be captured or killed. They cannot establish God’s kingdom in the world by force (9-10).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/revelation-13.html. 2005.
This chapter has the two visions of the two remarkable beasts which rose out of the sea and out of the earth as allies and helpers of the dragon Satan. "He stood upon the sand of the sea" (Revelation 13:1) suggests the summoning of these beasts by Satan to aid his war against the saints of God; but it is incorrect to suppose that Satan, in any sense, either created or produced these monsters, called by Moffatt, "polycephalous brutes." He simply encouraged and organized the emerging tendency of a human creation in rebellion against God.
The beast out of the sea symbolically represents the great earthly governments which repeatedly in human history have exalted themselves against God and against his people (Revelation 13:1-10); and the beast out of the earth represents false, blasphemous religion reaching from the shadows of Eden to the end of time (Revelation 13:11-18). Before beginning our exegesis of the chapter, it will be appropriate to give the reasons that underlie the interpretations presented.
THE BEAST OUT OF THE SEA
This beast is perverted government used by Satan as an instrument against God's people, especially the seven great universal dominions in which the saints of God were persecuted. Despite the certainty with which so many identify this beast as the Roman Empire, we are certain that much more is meant, While true enough that this beast was indeed the Roman Empire at the time John wrote, the mention of the "seven heads" indicates a wider meaning. Some have viewed these as seven Roman emperors; but the fatal objection to this is that, "It was not merely one of the heads that was slain, but the beast himself received the mortal wound (Revelation 13:3,12,14)." There were a hundred emperors, but only seven heads. The notion of Moffatt and others to the effect that the mortal wound of this beast was, "Nero's death with the bloody interregnum after it (a wound to the state)!" is totally inadequate. Nero's death was not fatal to anything except himself. It certainly was not a mortal wound of the Roman Empire, but a blessing! The empire was not harmed at all by his death, but benefited. The true identity of the beast which recovered from the fatal wound is discovered in two considerations: (1) the connection of the prophecy with Daniel 7, and (2) the identity of the seven heads.
(1) Regarding Daniel 7, Daniel's vision of the four beasts like a lion, a leopard, a bear, and then another "diverse from the others" (Daniel 7:4-7) must be interpreted as four successive world governments, such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. John's vision here is of a beast who is a composite of those in Daniel, requiring the conclusion that a great, continuous world government is meant, exercising an authority stretching over a period of centuries, with hundreds of rulers and emperors. To limit these visions in Revelation to a bare sixty-five years of European history is to ignore the cosmic dimensions of this prophecy. Of course, this is to be expected of those who deny any cosmic dimensions and repudiate any conception of predictive prophecy in the New Testament.
This writer believes that we are here studying a divine book, that it is inspired, and that every word of it is God's truth. To this point in our interpretation of Revelation, we have refrained from citing historical fulfillments of earlier portions of the prophecy, despite the fact of there having been many such fulfillments; but this plain and undeniable connection with Daniel's prophecy of the setting up of God's everlasting kingdom in "the days of those kings" (the days of the Roman kings) (Daniel 2:44); that is, during the time of the fourth great world empire, requires the discernment that future history is emphatically prophesied in this chapter. Nor does this rob the chapter of its relevance to the generation first addressed by the apostle. They were living in the days of Daniel's fourth beast, that of the Roman Empire; and "the mystery of iniquity" (2 Thessalonians 2:7) which would ultimately culminate in the second beast (the one out of the earth) was already working.
(2) The identity of the "seven heads." Regarding this, Pieters has an extensive study of various views of their identity:
The seven forms of government under which Rome existed; however, there were only six of these!
Seven prominent emperors of Rome during the latter part of the first century B.C. and the first part of the first century A.D. Of course, there is no agreement whatever on which seven!
The seven heads are to be understood not numerically, but symbolically. "Rome must have its full complement of kings" (the view of Beckwith).
The seven heads are seven world-kingdoms hostile to God and to his people, namely, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and a seventh to arise at a future time after Revelation was written.
Pieters referred to this as "a jumble of confusion," but reluctantly accepted the view (stated last, above) that, "the heads represent the great world empires of which five were past and the sixth was flourishing when the book was written." Exactly the same conclusion has been reached by this writer, but with enthusiasm and confidence. No other explanation ever offered fits the prophecy so exactly and circumstantially as does this one. These seven world empires are indeed what is symbolized by the seven heads. Like practically everything else in Revelation, the seven heads are symbolical; and the interpretation of them here does not rule out the possibility that at some future time another world empire could develop; but significantly only seven have appeared in the entire history of the world up to the present time, a fact that certainly supports the view we have accepted.
"The ten horns" specifically identified later as ten future kingdoms (Revelation 17:12) represent this sea-beast in his final phase, not any longer as a worldwide empire, but as many multiple states (the ten is symbolical), none of them able to wield universal authority like the "seven heads," but still exercising great authority and power to persecute and destroy God's people. These are called the eighth head (Revelation 17:11). Nations like Russia and China today are just as much a part of this beast as was Nebuchadnezzar when he commanded all people to fall down and worship a golden image of himself (Daniel 3:5,6). An essential element in the personality of this beast is humanism, man worshipping himself.
THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH
In a word this beast is false religion opposed to God and persecuting God's people. The widespread willingness of scholars to identify this beast as the pagan priesthood of the "emperor cult" is apparent in almost every commentary one may pick up; but such a limited view does not fill the bill at all and cannot possibly be the correct interpretation. "This beast, called also the false prophet (Revelation 16:13; 19:20), symbolizes false religion and false philosophy in whichever form these appear throughout the entire dispensation." This is surely correct; and views like that of Barclay who limited it to "the organization of Caesar worship" are much too restricted, as are also those interpretations that would make this beast "self-deceit," "the proconsul sent yearly by the emperor to govern the province," etc. All such interpretations are focused upon details that in the large view are unimportant. "This vision represents a great movement already in progress"; it represents the "capture of organized religion to help promote the aims of the first beast"; "it includes the papacy (2 Thessalonians 2), but does not portray it separately but combined with all forms of a similar nature in the whole world." We shall deal with the papal aspect of this beast later.
Especially important is the fact of this beast's period of operation being "forty and two months," which without any doubt whatever means "the entire Christian dispensation." This was the period of the first beast's operation (the sea-beast); and the operation of the land-beast is coextensive with that of the first. Thus it is no isolated or provincial event which could be signified. No. These two beasts, both instruments of Satan, are the two great enemies of God's people throughout history; namely, (1) the wicked, perverted government, and (2) false or apostate religion. Neither the world nor the church will ever be through with either one of these beasts until the end of time.
THE MORTAL WOUND THAT DID NOT KILL
In order to interpret this chapter, the question of the healed "death-stroke" (Revelation 13:3) is crucial. Scholars have misunderstood it as follows:
The assassination of Julius Caesar.
The illness of Caligula.
The prohibition of paganism by Theodosius.
The coming of Christ.
The Christianizing of the Roman Empire.
The rebellion of Galba, Otho and Vitellius.
The battle of Waterloo. The forerunner of the magazine Christian Herald published a book on this in 1860!
The actual death of the Antichrist and his subsequent resurrection from the dead (!) near the end of time!
Nero himself, the suicide who was raised from the dead (!) in a myth! This infamous "Nero redivivus" interpretation is parroted by so many scholars that it would be tedious to mention them; but of all the alleged interpretations of this question, this is the most worthless of all of them. In the first place, no such myth ever existed, except in the minds of imaginative scholars. Zahn was certain that when Revelation was written, no such superstition was in existence even if Revelation was written in 95 A.D.! Furthermore, as Pieters said, such an interpretation is "wholly incompatible with any believing acceptance of the book as a genuine prophecy; for the things foretold, if this interpretation is accepted, did not take place."
The persecuting policy of Nero revived by Domitian.
What is the actual meaning of the mortal wound that did not kill?This part of the symbol was fulfilled when the barbarian hordes from the north swept down upon Rome, and the empire came to an end in 476 A.D .... This ended the western part of the pagan empire. The imperial government received its death-blow.
But that death-stroke was healed. It did not mean the end of Roman persecutions of God's people. Where the first beast left off, the second took over. The old pagan empire was revived in a Christianized form, "The Holy Roman Empire"; and all of the arrogance, hatred, and persecution of the first beast was restored. The fatal wound was healed. The sixth head of the sea-beast (Rome) was fatally wounded; but the worldwide government continued as a religious power. Without this religious phenomenon, Roman authority would have perished as totally as did that of Nineveh and Tyre, or Assyria and Babylon. That religious power, of course, was the apostate form of Christianity known as the Roman Catholic Church. One thing should be particularly noted: there has been no other worldwide authority in the history of the world which might logically be called a seventh head of the sea-beast.
This brings us to consider the essentially Christian nature of this second beast, the pseudo-Christian nature of it. This beast was no mere "committee set up in the Asia Minor to enforce emperor worship," nor "a proconsul sent out every year" for the same purpose, nor a provincial council made up of local pagan priests; but, "It was an institution devoted to the empire on its religious side." Its operations bore a genuine resemblance to Christianity, as attested by the lamb's horns that crowned it. The essential nature of it manifested all the outward appearance of Christianity; its function was primarily that of conducting worship; "And this priestly role identifies the second beast as a religious power." In John's day, of course, the pagan priesthood were a manifestation of this beast; but several things forbid our accepting the priests of paganism as the principal identity. In the first place, where were their "lamb's horns," their outward resemblance of true Christianity? Furthermore, the pagan priesthood perished before the sixth head (Rome) was mortally wounded in 476 A.D. The whole structure of paganism had already collapsed before Rome received the death-stroke, the Edict of Theodosius having previously closed all pagan temples throughout the empire in 389 A.D. The pagan religions were not visibly present when the empire received the death-stroke; but this second beast was present in the form of the apostate Medieval Church, which restored all the old forms of the state, crowned Charlemagne as the head of it, and by religious devices continued to exercise worldwide authority and dominion. These historical facts are clearly foreshadowed in Revelation 13. This "second beast," the land-beast, is not "The Antichrist," nor "the lawless one" (2 Thessalonians 2), but that worldwide, religious ally of wicked human government used repeatedly to persecute and destroy God's people, as, for example, in the Spanish Inquisition.
THE GREAT APOSTASY
The great apostasy foretold in the New Testament must be viewed as a significant manifestation of the entity symbolized by this second beast, an apostasy by no means limited to the papacy, but certainly inclusive of it. Measuring a chapter as, on the average, about twenty verses, there are at least seven whole chapters of the New Testament devoted to that phenomenon called the apostasy; and, if Revelation is the kind of book it is devoutly believed to be by this writer, there is no way for that apostasy to have been omitted from its pages. Where are the eyes of those scholars who can write a whole commentary on Revelation and never even mention it? What kind of astigmatism can be blind to the plainest references to it, and what kind of deafness is it that cannot hear the thunder of these middle chapters of Revelation? When we speak of the apostate church, we are not speaking of the devoted millions who are deceived within her ranks, nor of the countless faithful souls within her who may be doing their best to follow Christ. The apostasy is not The Catholic Church, but the religious apparatus which controls and exploits it, the secular state which the hierarchy created and controls, and the worldwide organization by which their tyranny and control are enforced. That is the apostasy, at least a significant part of it, but not the whole of it. A mere glance at what that religious apparatus has done historically should convince any thoughtful person that an apostasy of incredible dimensions did indeed overtake the historical church. Of what does that apostasy consist?
1. They placed a human being on a pedestal of authority above all Christians, receiving him as "the head of the church" instead of Christ.
2. This so-called "pope's" word is honored even in its contradiction of what Jesus Christ said.
3. They took the word of God away from the human race and burned the men who dared to translate it for the common people, as witness the ashes of Tyndale and Huss.
4. They took the wine of the communion away from all Christians and drank it up themselves.
5. They tortured, tormented, burned, destroyed, and consigned to hell countless saints of God throughout the whole Medieval period, during which they alone had a copy of the sacred Scriptures. The Spanish Inquisition is the only example of this that needs to be cited; and, significantly, the principal architect of that diabolical apparatus is still revered as a saint in the apostate church.
6. They corrupted Christianity by the consecration of sacred images, the introduction of Mariolatry, and the acceptance of so-called saints (dead Christians) as mediators between God and man, thus denying the true office of Christ our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5).
7. They invented the evil doctrine of purgatory, the greatest fund-raising system ever devised.
8. They sold for money the right to commit sin, in that notorious sale of indulgences that financed the Crusades and many of their cathedrals.
9. They condemned and executed the great translators of the word of God who dared to challenge their wicked usurpation of power.
10. They forbid to marry and command to abstain from meats, specific actions associated with the apostasy (1 Timothy 4:3).
11. They perverted and changed the ordinance of Christian baptism.
12. They invented so-called "sacraments" for the purpose of solidifying their control over people's lives; but of the "seven," only two of them have Greek names, effectively divorcing the other five from any connection whatever with true Christianity (They are not in the Greek New Testament).
13. They have courted the favor of earthly governments and maintained a relationship with them described in Revelation 17 as "committing fornication" with them; and this is going on now.
14. They have arrogated to themselves alone the right of determination of who is or is not saved, and have ruthlessly enforced their decisions beyond the gates of cemeteries all over the world. Try to find the grave of a dead Protestant in Rome!
15. They have brazenly claimed the right to forgive sins, require penance, and grant absolution. Satan himself has as much right!
The above is only a very small list of a much greater one showing how extensive an apostasy actually occurred in the historical church, and which is so dramatically foretold in the symbolism of this second beast. What is to be thought of the "Christian scholars" who are either ignorant of this, or who do not have the guts to mention it? Again, we deny any vindictive or unchristian hatred of Catholicism. See our article extolling the virtues of "The Great Whore" in Revelation 18. Dear members of this writer's family are members of the Catholic Church, as well as many precious and devoted friends; but, in this work, we are endeavoring to present the teachings of the sacred New Testament; and the word of the Lord leaves no doubt whatever with regard to the apostasy of the hierarchical apparatus which misdirected the historical church. Other characteristics of it will be mentioned in the notes on the text of the chapter, below.
THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE STATE
This view in Revelation of great world-governments full of blasphemy, utterly opposed to God and Christ, persecuting and destroying God's people, etc., is misunderstood by some scholars as a contradiction of the views of Paul and Peter (Rom. 13:1-7,1 Peter 2:13-16); but it is clear from Revelation 13:10 that John's views were fully in harmony with theirs. Rist stated the erroneous view thus:For Paul, the empire and its rulers were inherently good ... under the direct control of God, not Satan ... However, for John, there is nothing good about either the empire or the emperors. The rulers are not ordained of God, but are the agents of Satan himself.
Such a view is based upon an inadequate understanding of what all the apostles taught. For a discussion of "The Christian and the State" from the Pauline viewpoint, see my Commentary on Romans, pp. 447-449. There are two kinds of states; and, besides that, the same principles of submission are enjoined upon Christians with reference to both kinds, as plainly indicated in Revelation 13:10 where John implied the very fullest consonance with all that Paul and Peter wrote. Despite the satanic alliance between wicked states and Satan, such alliances exist clearly and only under the terms of God's permissive will. What else could be the meaning of the recurring expression "and there was given unto him" (Revelation 13:5), "and it was given to him" (Revelation 13:7), "it was given to him" (Revelation 13:14), "and it was given to him" (Revelation 13:15), etc.? No, John did not teach that Satan is truly in control. We now turn our attention to the text of the chapter.
 James Moffatt, Expositor's Greek New Testament, Vol. V (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 429.
 George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), p. 179.
 James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 430.
 Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 214ff.
 Ibid., p. 218.
 William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956), p. 179.
 William Barclay, The Revelation of John (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 89.
 A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 334.
 J. W. Roberts, The Revelation of John (Austin, Texas: The R. B. Sweet Company, 1974), p. 112.
 Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), p. 410.
 George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 183.
 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John's Revelation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 389.
 R. H. Charles, Revelation of St. John, Vol. I, International Critical Commentary (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920), p. 349.
 Carl August Auberlen, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation of St. John, Viewed in their Mutual Relation (Andover: W. F. Draper, 1857), pp. 298,304.
 R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 394.
 Albertus Pieters, op. cit., p. 220.
 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1900), Vol. II, p. 452.
 Albertus Pieters, op. cit., p. 223.
 John T. Hinds, A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 191.
 Ray Summers, Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville: The Broadman Press, 1961), p. 171.
 J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 112.
 G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 171.
 James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 432.
 Robert H. Mounce, Commentary on the New Testament Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p. 259.
 Martin Rist, The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. XII (New York-Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 461.
And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. (Revelation 13:1)
A beast coming up out of the sea ... We reject the futurist interpretation that, "We are now in the time of the end." In this vision the true meaning of the persecuting Roman power was revealed for the information and encouragement of the suffering saints of John's day, and not merely for their benefit, but for ours also, and for those of all times and places to come. This beast is always ready and waiting to be summoned as an ally of the devil whenever times and circumstances permit it.
The sea ... "Both the sea and the earth here (in this chapter) are expressions equivalent to the whole world." Earle pointed out the diverse explanations of the beasts in this chapter thus:Preterists say they are the Roman power (the empire), and the pagan priesthood supporting emperor worship, particularly in the province of Asia.
Historicists find here the Roman empire and the Roman Catholic church (the papacy).
Futurists identify the first beast as Antichrist, and the second as the false prophet.
Our own interpretation is not like any of these. See discussion under the chapter heading, above.
Having ten horns and seven heads ... These seven heads are the symbols of seven great world empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and another future from the time when John wrote. "The symbolism is analogous to that of Daniel 7, where we find the key to the interpretation. The seven heads are symbols of universal dominion, and the horns are the type of power." The horns also represent the multiple kingdoms that succeed the fatal wounding of the sixth head. See under Revelation 17:12ff.
And upon his heads the names of blasphemy ... The universal dominions indicated here ascribed all honor and glory to themselves, as when Nebuchadnezzar required all people to worship a golden image of himself (Daniel 3:4,5), and as when Roman Caesars required their subjects to burn incense to Caesar's image, or address them as "Lord and God." "This beast is a symbol of idolized power." The identity of this beast is extensive, occupying a major portion of all world history; but the phase of the beast's operation in view here concerned the persecuting power of the Roman empire. The blasphemous titles of the Roman emperor were exhibited everywhere, in the pagan temples, in the coinage, at the imperial court, everywhere. Despite the particular phase in view here, "This sea-born beast symbolizes the persecuting power of Satan embodied in all the nations and governments of the world throughout history." "It is co-terminus with the whole earth." "Like the other chaotic forces of evil, it is thrown up by the cosmic deep (Daniel 7:2)."
 George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 176.
 R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 390.
 Ralph Earle, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1967), p. 578.
 A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 330.
 Frank L. Cox, Revelation in 26 Lessons (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1956), p. 85.
 William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 176.
 Charles H. Roberson, Studies in Revelation (Tyler, Texas: P. D. Wilmeth, P.O. Box 3305,1957), p. 92.
 F. F. Bruce, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 652.Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea - The sand upon the shore of the sea. That is, he seemed to stand there, and then had a vision of a beast rising out of the waters. The reason of this representation may, perhaps, have been that among the ancients the sea was regarded as the appropriate place for the origin of huge and terrible monsters (Prof. Stuart, in loco). This vision strongly resembles that in Daniel 7:2 ff, where the prophet saw four beasts coming up in succession from the sea. See the notes on that place. In Daniel, the four winds of heaven are described as striving upon the great sea Dan 13:2, and the agitated ocean represents the nations in commotion, or in a state of disorder and anarchy, and the four beasts represent four successive kingdoms that would spring up. See the notes on Daniel 7:2. In the passage before us, John indeed describes no storm or tempest; but the sea itself, as compared with the land (see the notes on Revelation 13:11), represents an agitated or unsettled state of things, and we should naturally. look for that in the rise of the power here referred to. If the reference be to the civil or secular Roman power that has always appeared in connection with the papacy, and that has always followed its designs, then it is true that it rose amidst the agitations of the world, and from a state of commotion that might well be represented by the restless ocean. The sea in either case naturally describes a nation or people, for this image is frequently so employed in the Scriptures. Compare, as above, Daniel 7:2, and Psalms 65:7; Jeremiah 51:42; Isaiah 60:5; Revelation 10:2. The natural idea, therefore, in this passage, would be that the power that was represented by the “beast” would spring up among the nations, when restless or unsettled, like the waves of the ocean.
And saw a beast - Daniel saw four in succession Daniel 7:3-7, all different, yet succeeding each other; John saw two in succession, yet strongly resembling each other, Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11. On the general meaning of the word “beast” - θηρίον thērion - see the notes on Revelation 11:7. The beast here is evidently a symbol of some power or kingdom that would arise in future times. See the notes on Daniel 7:3.
Having seven heads - So also the dragon is represented in Revelation 12:3. See the notes on that passage. The representation there is of Satan, as the source of all the power lodged in the two beasts that John subsequently saw. In Revelation 17:9, referring substantially to the same vision, it is said that “the seven heads are seven mountains”; and there can be no difficulty, therefore, in referring this to the seven hills on which the city of Rome was built (compare the notes on Revelation 12:3), and consequently this must be regarded as designed, in some way, to be a representation of Rome.
And ten horns - See this also explained in the notes on Revelation 12:3; compare also the more extended illustration in the notes on Daniel 7:25, following The reference here is to Rome, or the one Roman power, contemplated as made up of ten subordinate kingdoms, and therefore subsequently to the invasion of the Northern hordes, and to the time when the papacy was about to rise. Compare Revelation 17:12; “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings (marg. “kingdoms”), which have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power as kings with the beast.” For a full illustration of this, see the copious notes at the close of the seventh chapter of Daniel.
And upon his horns ten crowns - Greek, “ten diadems.” See the notes on Revelation 12:3. These indicated dominion or authority. In Revelation 12:3, the “dragon is represented as having seven diadems on his head”; here, the beast is represented as having ten. The dragon there represents the Roman domination, as such, the seven-hilled, or seven-headed power, and, therefore, properly described as having seven diadems; the beast here represents the Roman power, as now broken up into the ten dominations which sprung up (see the notes on Daniel as above) from the one original Roman power, and that became henceforward the supporters of the papacy, and, therefore, properly represented here as having ten diadems.
And upon his heads the name of blasphemy - That is, the whole power was blasphemous in its claims and pretensions. The word “blasphemy” here seems to be used in the sense that titles and attributes were claimed by it which belonged only to God. On the meaning of the word “blasphemy,” see the notes on Matthew 9:3; Matthew 26:65. The meaning here is, that each one of these heads appeared to have a frontlet, with an inscription that was blasphemous, or that ascribed some attribute to this power that properly belonged to God; and that the whole power thus assumed was in derogation of the attributes and claims of God. In regard to the propriety of this description considered as applicable to the papacy, see the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
These files are public domain.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-13.html. 1870.
I stood upon the sand of the sea ( Revelation 13:1 ),
Probably the Mediterranean Sea.
and I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads, ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy ( Revelation 13:1 ).
The sea represents, of course, the multitudes of people, the Mediterranean Sea, the multitudes of people that live around the Mediterranean Sea. And out of it he sees this hydro-headed beast with seven heads and ten horns. We are told in the book of Revelation that the seven heads are the seven mountains upon which the beast sits. The ten horns are ten kings.
Daniel, as he also describes the beast that he cannot really describe, non-descriptive type of a beast, it had ten horns. And again the Lord told Daniel that the ten horns were the ten kings that were going to give power to the beast.
So, there is going to arise upon the earth a ten-nation federation, ten kingdoms federating together. Daniel two and the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation by Daniel, "and there shall arise," Daniel said, "the eleventh which shall destroy three speaking blasphemous things, he will take control, take power." So, the rise of the beast, the antichrist, the one who is going to rise to take over the control of the earth, speaking, as Paul said, blasphemous things against God. Daniel makes reference of his blasphemies. "He shall speak great words," he said, "against the most High and shall wear out the saints of the most High."
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were like a bear, and his mouth was the mouth of a lion: and the dragon [who of course is Satan] gave him his power, his throne, and great authority ( Revelation 13:2 ).
Now, where is Satan's throne? It is on this earth. We say the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and all they that dwell therein. That is prophetic. The earth right now is under Satan's control. This is his place of dominion. He rules. Jesus came to redeem the world back to God. Satan took Him into a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said, "All of these will I give unto you and the glory of them, if you will bow down, and worship me, for they are mine, and I can give them to whomever I will"( Luke 4:5-6 ).
Now, the fact that they are still Satan's is demonstrated by the fact that the antichrist, which is yet future, receives from Him his authority, his power, and his throne. And so Satan is going to invest in a man, all of his power, and all of his authority. It will be Satan incarnate.
And I saw one of the heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast ( Revelation 13:3 ).
Now, we are told a little further down verse fourteen, that the false prophet comes and says to the people who dwell upon the earth that they should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword and did live. This man will be a world leader. There will be an assassination attempt, apparently successful, but he miraculously survives the deadly wounds. Though, according to Zechariah, it will probably leave him blinded in his right eye and without the use of his right arm. Yet the very fact that he survives this assassination attempt causes the world to marvel and it brings him immediately into a prominent position in the minds of so many people, because it is by a definite miracle that this man survives. "One of his heads were wounded to death, but the deadly wound was healed."
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast ( Revelation 13:4 ):
Satan worship. Oh, people wouldn't worship Satan. That is ridiculous. We used to think that, didn't we? Now, they have the Satanic Church and people are consciously, knowingly worshipping Satan. And here they worship the dragon through his incarnated person the antichrist.
and they say, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? ( Revelation 13:4 )
He will have tremendous power, tremendous authority. He will subdue three probably of the most powerful kingdoms to take over the rule. He will put to death the two witnesses who have up to this point been invincible.
We remember last week, in chapter eleven, the two witnesses; whoever tried to hurt them, they would call fire down from heaven and consume them. And they had been invincible up to this point and the beast destroys them. He puts them to death. And so the world will marvel at this man's power and they will say, "who can make war with him?
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies ( Revelation 13:5 );
Again this is mentioned by Daniel both in chapter seven and chapter eleven.
and power was given unto him to continue [for three and a half years] forty-two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle [that is His dwelling place], and them that dwell in heaven ( Revelation 13:5-6 ).
Now, this man is a man of open blasphemy. Again, Paul makes mention of that in second Thessalonians two, as Paul talks about the man of sin, the son of perdition. So, he opposes and exalts himself against all that is called god, that is worshipped, so that he is god and sits in the temple calling himself God and declaring himself to be God, speaking blasphemies against God.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all the families, tongues, and nations ( Revelation 13:7 ).
Now, this war with the saints and overcomes them also is predicted in Daniel. He makes war with the saints, Daniel says, and prevails against them. These saints could not be the church of Jesus Christ. When Jesus announced to Peter his church, he said, "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." There is no way that Satan can prevail against the church of Jesus Christ.
But these are the people who have received Christ during this final seven-year period after the church has been taken out. As a result of the witness of those two witnesses, or the witness of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, these people have received Jesus Christ as Lord. They have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord. But "he will make war against them and prevail them". He has power to put to death and he will put to death those that believe in Jesus Christ. But being martyred is preferable to submitting to his authority or worshipping him, because we will find out in the next chapter that if anybody worships him they lose any chance of salvation forever.
And so John tells us here of the reign over all of the families of the earth, the tongues, and the nations.
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 ( Revelation 13:8 ).
So, there is interestingly enough a book of life. And Moses made mention of this when he was praying to God and interceding for the nation of Israel. "God forgive and if not them," he said, "I pray you will blot my name out of your book of remembrances" ( Exodus 32:32 ).
The book of life is mentioned again here in the book of Revelation. Paul makes mention of it. And Paul tells us that our names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. Now, here is the book of life of the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.
Now, there is a teaching that I feel borders on blasphemy of the character of God that declares the limited knowledge of God. In other words, it would deny that God is omniscient, that He knows all things. And this teaching basically declares that Adam disappointed God and took him by surprise when Adam sinned. That then the plan of redemption was inaugurated. Now that Adam blows it, what are we going to do? And then the redemption plan was then devised. But here the plan of redemption we are told existed before the foundation of the world, before man was ever created. God knew.
Why would God create man if He knew that man was going to blow it? Because God desired fellowship. God desired meaningful fellowship with man. It's a big universe. You could get awfully lonely in the universe. But to have true friends, to have a meaningful relationship with them there has got to be this freedom.
God could create robots. The worship of a robot would be meaningless. The robot says, "I love you," but how do you know? It is all programmed into his computer. You could also program into the computer "I hate you." Again it wouldn't do too much to you. You wouldn't go home all devastated because the robot said, "I hate you". You know it is just a robot. It doesn't have a will of its own. It is only spitting out what has been programmed into it. God could have made us that way like little robots spitting out what is programmed in, but you really would not have a meaningful relationship. You will never develop a meaningful relationship with a robot. You may have a more meaningful relationship with your dog than you will a robot, because your dog can disobey you at times too. He has the will. You usually make him submit to your will, but he has a will of his own. So you can develop a relationship of sorts with a dog, but you will never be able to develop a relationship with a robot.
So, God made us with our free wills in order that my relationship with Him might be meaningful. I don't have to relate to God. I can blaspheme God, if I want. I can turn my back on God, if I want. And because there is that capacity, and because my relationship with God is something that is volitional on my part, I want to relate to Him. I desire and long for this relationship. I love Him and my declaration of such is meaningful then, because it is the expression of my will. You see, I don't have to; I am not forced to.
So from the foundation of the world, God knew that man was going to sin. God was ready to redeem man using really a strong incentive for man to come to God declaring God's love to man. I mean, how could God show you that He loves you more than by sending His Son to die in your place? "Greater love," Jesus said, "is no man than this, that a man will lay down his life for his friends" ( John 15:13 ). The supreme sacrifice showing supreme love.
No man can ever doubt God's love who looks at the cross. And it is interesting that God never seeks to prove His love for you apart from the cross. There is not one scripture where God tries to prove His love for you except those that relate to the cross. "God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son as the propitiation for our sins"( 1 John 4:10 ). "For God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly"( Romans 5:8 ). And God giving His Son to you is the only way by which God has ever sought to prove that He loves you.
Sometimes in our relationships, as peril as they often are, we say prove that you love me? Want do you want? Sees Candy, or at Calvary, Helen Grace Candy. Prove that you love me. Well, if you would say to God, "prove that you love me?" He would just point to the cross. There is the proof. It is the only proof that you will ever need. Jesus died for your sins, and that was a part of God's plan from the foundation of the world. Now, because He knows all things, that is, when He wrote your name in that book, knowing my response to His love and grace, my name was written in the book of Life from the foundation of the world.
Now, some have suggested that God has written everybody's name in, but then those who refuse to receive the grace of God, their names are blotted out. I don't know, but here we are told that "those that dwell upon the earth whose names were not written"; so it sort of contradicts that concept that everybody's name was written, whose names were not written, or are not written in the book of life, slain from the foundation of the world.
If any man have an ear, let him hear ( Revelation 13:9 ).
Whenever the Lord has had something quite important to say, He usually throws in, "He that hath an ear to, let him hear".
He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity ( Revelation 13:10 ):
Now, the antichrist is making war against the saints taking them captive, destroying them; but they that live by the sword will die by the sword. Those that take those believers into captivity will themselves soon be taken into captivity.
he that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints ( Revelation 13:10 ).
So, it is a word of encouragement to the saints who are going to be experiencing this horrible persecution from the antichrist.
And I beheld another beast [the false prophet] coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb ( Revelation 13:11 ),
In other words, he looked like a lamb.
and he spoke as a dragon ( Revelation 13:11 ),
Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who will come to you in sheep's clothing" ( Matthew 7:15 ). The one thing about false prophets is they never look like a false prophet. Satan never looks like the characters of Satan. He does not have horns, a forked tail and a pitchfork in his hand and he doesn't wear red leotards. He would like you to think that he did. He would like you to think that he is some grotesque-looking character that would scare the wits out of you, if you saw him. He would like you to think that, because that way he can go around cleverly disguised as an angel of light, beautiful, speaking such soothing words to the flesh. "Why don't you just go ahead and enjoy yourself. Drink of pleasure till it is full." And you would say, "Oh, that can't be Satan. That is so charming, and so enticing. Satan is ugly. I don't see any pitchfork." And that is why he's able to deceive.
So the false prophet has horns like a lamb, but listen to what he says.
And he exercises all the power of the first beast which were before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed ( Revelation 13:12 ).
So, several times there is the mention of this deadly wound being healed. And it is really sort of the rallying point by which the false prophet draws the people to worship the beast.
And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of man ( Revelation 13:13 ).
Now, you remember the two witnesses were doing this. They were bringing down fire from heaven. Now, he duplicates it.
You remember in the case of Moses going before the Pharaoh how that the magicians in Pharaoh's court were able to duplicate to a point the miraculous things that Moses was doing. Moses threw down his rod on the floor and it became a serpent. They threw down their rods and they became serpents too; that duplication of godly miracles.
Now Satan is able to counterfeit many of the things of God. He can't counterfeit all of them, but he can counterfeit many of the things of God, and does counterfeit many of the things of God. And here is a counterfeit, the two witnesses calling down fire from heaven. Now, this fellow comes along and he calls down fire from heaven in the sight of men.
And deceives 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 of them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image of the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live ( Revelation 13:14 ).
Now again in second Thessalonians you have parallel-type of passages in chapter two as the antichrist is described, he is called "whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause"( 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ). What cause? Because people didn't love the truth, the truth of God. Jesus said I am the truth and the life, but people don't love the truth. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they would believe a lie: that they might be damned to believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness"(2 Thessalonians 2:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ).
So, God is going to give them a strong delusion that they might believe. In the Greek it is a definite article, "the lie", the big lie of Satan, the antichrist, the false prophet. So, he deceives them. You don't want to believe the truth. God gives them over to delusion. God allows them to be deceived.
You know I am amazed at the things that people believe who have rejected Jesus Christ. When you reject the knowledge of the truth in Christ, you are a prey to all kinds of stupidity. I am amazed at the foolish things that people do who reject the truth of Jesus Christ. They wear white robes standing on street corners, shaving their heads and working finger symbols, doing their little chantings, doing the mantras, and doing their "ums". Watching the people up in Oregon as they are worshipping their guru, seeing the outlandish things that he is leading them to do, as they have mass hysteria, heavy breathing calisthenics followed by uncontrolled screaming. What a prey man becomes when he rejects the truth. You don't want to be wise and receive the grace of God then be stupid. And people believe and do the most stupid things who have rejected the truth of God.
I am amazed at many of these college professors who pretend towards superior intelligence of some of the weird things that they do of supposedly intelligent men. But because they did not love the truth, God gives them over to a strong delusion. They soon believe a lie.
Several years ago I was invited to come to a meeting of the supposed Intelligencia of Orange County. There were a bunch of college professors and doctors who were supposed to be the cream of the Intelligencia. And I was brought as a specimen of ignorance so they could play games and be amused by the fact that I actually believed in a living God who created the heavens and the earth. So, I was brought in for their amusement that they could eat me up. And as I sat there during their preliminaries, and this one sort of leader of the group of superior intelligence sat on the floor in the lotus position and began to tell me of all of his accomplishments and all of his intelligence and everything else. I felt sorry. He was so wise, yet so deceived and so foolish.
Finally after a period of time, they said, "Well, what do you have to bring to us tonight?"
Because they told me how that they had had LSD sessions, these very intelligent people, they called themselves "seekers". They were seeking truth, and they had had LSD, they had Cocaine and everything. After all of your seekers, you can excuse anything that you want to do seeking truth. The one sitting in the lotus position declared that he was a Buddhist priest. He had studied Buddhism under him.
I said, "Well, you have obviously searched through everything, but the fact that you call yourselves 'seekers', you obviously are still searching." I said, "Maybe in all of your searching you have overlooked something that you have already searched through." I said, "Why don't we start with the basics. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." One of the men interrupted me immediately and said, "Now, when you say God, are you talking about an anthropomorphic concept of God?"
And then some other guy started challenging him and they got in this big rhubarb. And as they were in this big rhubarb, I bowed my head and I started praying. I said, "God if you get me out of this place I promise I will never come again. I have been neglecting my wife. I haven't spent enough evenings at home with her. Lord, forgive me. I am sorry. I should be home tonight with my wife and my family. My kids, they need me, Lord, and here I am in this mess. God, get me out of this mess, or do something." Because I knew that there was no way I was going to get anywhere and I didn't need the hassle.
So finally some lady there said, "Will you guys shut-up. We hear you all the time. Every week we hear you guys going through the same inane arguments. Now, we have invited this fellow to speak to us; the least we can do is listen." So they apologized and said, "Okay, you have the floor." And I looked at them and I said, "My soul and spirit are at complete rest. I am completely satisfied." Hey, they all sat up on the edge of their seats and they started listening extremely attentively, because that is something none of them could say. With all of their arguments, with all of their intelligence, with all of their background, none of them could say, "my soul and spirit are at rest. I am satisfied." And the Lord allowed me to share for about an hour the richness and the fullness that can be experienced in Jesus Christ. And then the Lord got me out of there.
But in the succeeding weeks I had several of them call and come in and receive Jesus Christ. Because there is only one way that a man can find rest and peace, that is in and through Jesus. And you may search the world over and you may have all kinds of bizarre experiences, but you will never have rest until you have Him. But those who refuse the truth are open for deception.
So, he comes with deceiving wonders and they make this image.
And then they have power to give life to the image of the beast ( Revelation 13:15 ),
Now, there is a lot of talk lately by some of the far-out physicists of creating a computer that can be biologically connected to certain types of organisms and will have life in itself. And this bio-kind of a computer has had several articles written on it. There is a research group in Canada that is working on such a thing. It is sort of a computer that will be able to think on its own kind of an idea; one that you can't turn off. And they say that this is the next step in the evolutionary process. It will be higher than man and will be able to rule man and give us the answers to life and its problems and so forth, because they can create it with so much more intelligence than man. That's the talk of the far-out physicists.
Interestingly enough, they are going to make an image of the antichrist and put it in the Holy of Holies of the rebuilt temple and then they are going to give life to it. Now, this is the ultimate blasphemy. This is the abomination, which will cause the desolation or the Great Tribulation. This is the final straw. At this point the wrath and the fury of God will be poured out upon the earth. And the earth will go through a time of great tribulation such as it has never seen before or will ever see again. When the antichrist comes to the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaims himself to be God and stands in the Holy of Holies, the Holy place, and announcing himself as God, that is the ultimate blasphemy. They set up this image in the temple and they give power to it.
that it should both speak and have life, and they caused that as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed ( Revelation 13:15 ).
You have sort of a historic kind of a picture when Nebuchadnezzar, you remember, made the golden image and set it in the plains of Dura and caused everyone to bow down and worship it, in order that if anyone should refuse to worship it that they should be cast alive into the burning fiery furnace. Now the image that he made was making a statement.
Nebuchadnezzar had had a troubling dream that Daniel had interpreted. It was a great image. It had a head of gold, chest of silver, stomach of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay with ten toes. This dream interpreted was the image where the nations that would rule the world headed by Babylon, the head of gold, which was to be replaced by the Medo-Persian Empire, the chest of silver, which would be replaced by the Grecian Empire, the stomach of brass, which would be destroyed by the Roman Empire, the legs of iron, and the final world governing empire a relationship to the Roman Empire, ten nations, the ten toes federated together. And during the time of the reign of these ten kings, the Lord of glory would come and establish His kingdom that would never end.
Now, Nebuchadnezzar was making a statement with this image. Why? Because he made it all of gold. "Though, O Nebuchadnezzar, are the head of gold, God has given you a kingdom to reign over the earth and all, but you are going to be replaced"( Daniel 2:38 ). He is saying I am not going to be replaced. Babylon will last forever. It was a statement. And people were ordered to pay obeisance to that statement, to acknowledge that Babylon would be eternal. It would not be destroyed. It would not be overthrown. It was a statement of contradiction to God's word that declared that Babylon would be overthrown. It was a statement of rebellion against God. And people were commanded to agree to that statement by bowing down and worshipping the image. And you have that same counterpart to this image being set up and everyone being ordered to worship this image and being put to death if they refused to worship the image.
You remember that shortly after that he went insane and spent seven seasons in insanity until what? Until he acknowledged that God did rule over the kingdoms of man and would set on the thrones those who He would. His little statement of blasphemy against God was finally changed.
And he caused everyone, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their forehead ( Revelation 13:16 ):
Now, in France they have developed and have already trial-marketed a Smart card. A Smart card looks much like your Visa card or Mastercharge with the exception that the Smart card has implanted in it a little computer chip that keeps track of your account and if you try to use that card and you are above your limit it just won't work. Your card knows just what your limits are. It keeps a constant monitoring of your account and you can't go over your limits with this Smart card.
Now, the Bank of America and Citibank of New York are extremely interested in looking into this Smart card and they are thinking about this same thing for our use in Visa and Mastercard. In fact, there is an article in today's paper on that. It was in the Santa Ana Register on the Smart card. According to the article the banks are extremely interested and encouraging people away from writing checks. They are getting buried in paper and they want you to start using Smart cards.
Now, there is of course already talk about the implanting of computer chips under the skin on a person's hand for a positive identification. It is the same kind of a thing as the Smart card. It would be the same kind of computer chip implanted under the skin of your hand, and it would do the same thing. It would keep track of your account so you could never overdraw. It could replace money completely. The computers could keep the whole accounting. The chip would establish your limits and you would do all your buying and selling with the mark that is in your right hand.
He causes all both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond to receive a mark in their right hand or in their forehead. This technology exists today. These Smart cards are in use and they are going to test market them in several of the cities of the United States. They have already been test-marketed in France and have been successful to a point. There is still a few problems, but it has eliminated a lot of the shenanigans that take place with credit cards.
Do any of you have the new Pacific Security card? The one with the holograph of the dove on it. What are the last three numbers in that Security Card? Take a look. The numbers that appear right over the holograph of the dove. One of our pastors has one with 666. He is afraid to use it. I was curious as to whether all of them had 666, but evidently not. That is interesting. They have the holograph of a dove in the card. It is a very beautiful card. But suffice to say, technology does exist already to establish a monetary system that is based upon buying and selling with cards or identities such as a computer chip. This will be inaugurated by the false prophet.
And no man will be able to buy or sell, unless he has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred and sixty-six ( Revelation 13:17-18 ).
Now the number of man in scripture is "six". You're aware with Biblical numerics that each number has a significance. The number seven is the number of completeness. The number six is short of completeness, incomplete man. The number twelve is the number of human government, and number thirteen is the number for Satan. And in Hebrew and Greek it is more meaningful than in English, because in the Hebrew and Greek they also count with their alphabet. In other words the alpha, beta, gamma, delta is one, two, three, four as well as your A, B, C, D. And aleph, bet, gimel, daleth is the same in Hebrew, the one, two, three, four. It is your A, B, C, D also, but it is also the numeric so that every Greek letter has a numeric equivalent.
So, you can do fun things with Greek words, such as you can total up the numeric equivalence of a Greek word, or you can total up the numerics in it. And interestingly enough, the number eight, being the number for Jesus, it is the number for new beginnings. Seven is the complete number. Seven notes in a scale, seven days in a week, so that the eighth becomes the new beginning.
When you come to the eighth day, you have a new week. You come to the eighth note; you have a new scale. So eight is the number of new beginnings. Significantly, it is the number of Jesus. He is a new beginning. And you total up in Greek the letters that spell Jesus and you have the number 888. And every name for Jesus, if you total up the letters, it is always divisible by eight. If you total up the letters in all of the names for Satan in Greek, they are divisible by thirteen. So, there is a lot of interesting games that they can play with these numerics, because there are the numeric values there.
So, there are a lot of things that you could probably figure out that are spoken cryptically in the Bible if you would follow through on this numbers program. In fact, Chuck Missler is trying to set up his computer to do this, to find what cryptic messages might exist in the Bible by setting his computer to discover these numeric patterns that exist.
Now, here is the mind that has wisdom. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number. It is the number of a man, and the number is 666. It is probably the total numeric value of the man's name, 666.
Now as we get to the seventeenth chapter, I will give you another clue. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/revelation-13.html. 2014.
The dragon stood on the seashore watching a beast come out of the sea, in John’s vision (cf. Daniel 7:2-3; Daniel 7:7-8; Daniel 7:19-27; Job 40-41). The AV and NKJV rendering "I stood" does not have as good textual support, I believe, as the NASB and NIV "he stood."
". . . people in Asia minor thought of whatever came ’from the sea’ as foreign and whatever came from the land as native. That is, one of the initial expressions of the first beast was Rome, whose governors repeatedly came by sea to Ephesus. Roman ships literally seemed to be rising out of the sea as they appeared on the horizon off the coast of Asia Minor." [Note: Beale, p. 682.]
The implication is that the dragon summoned the beast out of the sea. [Note: Robertson, 6:397; Johnson, p. 523; Mounce, p. 248.] Evidently this was part of his plan to destroy the rest of the woman’s offspring (Revelation 12:17).
"The Sea is an apt symbol of the agitated surface of unregenerate humanity (cf. Isa. lvii. 20), and especially of the seething cauldron of national and social life, out of which the great historical movements of the world arise; cf. Isa. xvii. 12 . . ." [Note: Swete, p. 161.]
"Without exception the imagery of the sea monster is used throughout the OT to represent evil kingdoms who persecute God’s people . . ." [Note: Beale, p. 683.]
When the dragon was in position, John saw a new scene in his vision ("I saw," Gr. eidon). The sea may represent the mass of humanity (cf. Revelation 17:15; Daniel 7:2-3). However this interpretation cannot explain the sands of the seashore or the origin of the beast from the earth (Revelation 13:11). A literal sea is impossible since this beast is a person, as we shall see. The ancient world often associated evil with the sea and used the sea as a figure for the abyss (cf. Job 26:12-13; Psalms 74:13-14; Psalms 87:4; Psalms 89:9-10; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9-10; Isaiah 57:20; Daniel 7:3; Romans 10:7). [Note: Swete, p. 158; Mounce, pp. 249-50; Morris, p. 165.] This figurative use of the sea seems best since elsewhere John said that the beast came out of the abyss (Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8).
The beast had many of the same characteristics as the dragon. However they also correspond to the features of the fourth kingdom that Daniel saw in his vision (cf. Daniel 7:7-8). In Daniel’s vision the 10 horns represented 10 rulers (Daniel 7:24). Here the Antichrist has authority over 10 rulers (cf. Revelation 17).The view that the first beast is a real person who will rule the world during the Great Tribulation (Daniel 7:25)-rather than the personification of evil, or the threat of heresy, or Nero revived (based on the Nero redivivus legend), or false prophets collectively-dates back to the early church fathers. [Note: See Johnson, pp. 521-25, 530. See Beasley-Murray, pp. 210-11, and Swete, p. 163, for a good summary of the Nero redivivus view. See also Andy M. Woods, "The First Beast of Revelation 13 Has Not Yet Appeared in World History: A Comparison of the Preterist and Futurist Views" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2002).]
"The ten-nation confederacy of the future anticipated in these prophecies [i.e., Daniel 2, 7] would naturally be considered a revival of the Roman Empire if for no other reason than that it is portrayed as an integral part of the fourth empire." [Note: John F. Walvoord, "Revival of Rome," Bibliotheca Sacra 126:504 (October-December 1969):323. See also idem, The Nations . . ., pp. 83, 102; and idem, "Prophecy of the Ten-Nation Confederacy," Bibliotheca Sacra 124:494 (April-June 1967):99-105.]
Like Satan, the beast had seven heads that apparently represent the remaining seven rulers of nations after three of them disappear (Daniel 7:8). The 10 regal crowns are symbols of governmental authority (cf. Revelation 12:3).
"There are a number of suggestions as to why the diadems are placed on the horns rather than on the heads of the beast. The most plausible is that his claim to authority rests on brute force." [Note: Mounce, p. 250.]
The blasphemous names reflect the beast’s opposition to God (cf. Revelation 13:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).
The beast is evidently Antichrist who is the head of a future empire (cf. Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:18; Revelation 17:8). [Note: Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., p. 200; Swete, p. 161; Lee, 4:689-90; Johnson, p. 521; Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 153; Beckwith, p. 636.] No past governmental entity is similar enough to what John described to qualify as the fulfillment of this empire. The beast embodies the malevolent forces operative in this empire. [Note: Philip E. Hughes, The Book of Revelation, p. 145.] He will be the deification of secular authority. [Note: Mounce, p. 251.]
The repetition of heads, horns, and diadems (Revelation 12:3) suggests that there is a close affinity between the dragon and this beast. Yet there are some differences in the descriptions of these heads, horns, and crowns.
"The conflict of Revelation 12:1-5 transpires while the seven world empires are running their course, but at Revelation 13:1 the focus has shifted to the last of these kingdoms when the beast will enjoy his supremacy over the ten kings who act as subrulers under his authority (cf. Revelation 17:12)." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 154. Cf. Scott, p. 270; and Smith, A Revelation . . ., p. 193.]
John received more information about the identity of these heads, horns, and diadems in chapter 17.
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Characteristics of the beast 13:1-4
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The beast out of the sea 13:1-10
John stressed three things about this beast: his conspiracy with the dragon (Revelation 13:3-4), his success in deceiving the whole world (Revelation 13:3-4; Revelation 13:8), and his success in temporarily defeating God’s saints (Revelation 13:6-7 a). [Note: Paul S. Minear, I Saw a New Earth: An Introduction to the Visions of the Apocalypse, p. 118.]
"The initial description of this creature identifies it as the culminating empire of Daniel’s vision of the end (Daniel 7), but it speedily becomes evident that John has in view the empire as embodied in its ruler." [Note: Beasley-Murray, p. 206. See also Daniel K. K. Wong, "The Beast from the Sea in Revelation 13," Bibliotheca Sacra 160:639 (July-September 2003):337-48.]
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THE POWER OF THE BEAST ( Revelation 13:1-18 )
13:1-18 I saw a beast coming up from the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads; and it had ten royal crowns on its horns; and on its heads I saw blasphemous names.
The beast which I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's feet; its mouth was like a lion's mouth; and to it the dragon delegated its power and its throne and its great authority.
I saw that one of its heads looked as if it had been wounded to death; and its deadly wound had been healed.
The whole earth was drawn in wonder after the beast; and they worshipped the dragon, because it had delegated its authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast. "Who," they said, "is like the beast? Who is able to make war with it?" To it there was given a mouth which made arrogant and blasphemous claims; and it was given authority to go on doing so for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to launch blasphemies against God, to insult his name and his dwelling-place and those who dwell in the heavens.
It was given power to make war with the dedicated people of God and to overcome them; and it was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and race. All who dwell upon the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain.
Whoever has an ear, let him hear.
If anyone is to be taken into captivity, into captivity let him go. If anyone slays with the sword, he himself will be slain with the sword. Here is the summons to steadfastness and to loyalty from the dedicated people of God.
I saw another beast coming up from the land, and it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises before it all the power of the first beast. It causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, the beast whose deadly wound has been healed. It works such great miracles that it causes even fire to come down from heaven in the sight of men. It deceives those who dwell on the earth, because of the miracles which it has the power to do in the presence of the beast. It tells those who dwell upon the earth to make an image of the beast, who has the wound of the sword, and who lived again. It was given power to give the breath of life to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast should even speak and so that it should bring it about that all who do not worship the beast should be killed. It causes all, small and great, rich and poor, free men and slaves, to take to themselves a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, It so arranges things that no one can buy or sell, unless he has the mark, which consists of the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Here there is need of wisdom. Let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for the number is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
It will be much easier if we treat this chapter as a whole before we undertake any detailed study of it. That is all the more necessary because this chapter is the essence of the whole book.
The general meaning is this. Satan, cast out of heaven, knows that his time is short and is determined to do as much damage as he can. To cause that damage on earth he delegates his power to the two beasts who are the central figures in this chapter.
The beast from the sea stands for the Roman Empire, to John the incarnation of evil and is described in terms which come from Daniel. In Daniel 7:3-7 there is a vision of four great beasts who come out of the sea; they are the symbols of the great empires which have held world power and of an empire which, when Daniel was written, was holding world sway. The beast like a lion with an eagle's wings stands for Babylon; the one like a bear stands for Media; the one like a leopard with four wings stands for Persia; and the fourth stands for the empire of Alexander the Great. As the writer of Daniel saw these world powers, they were so savage and inhuman that they could be symbolized by nothing but bestial figures. It was only natural for a Jew to go back to this picture of the beastly empires when he wished to find a picture of another satanic empire threatening God's people in his own day.
John's picture in the Revelation puts together in the one beast the features of all four. It is like a leopard with bear's feet and a lion's mouth. That is to say, for John the Roman Empire was so satanic that it included all the terrors of the evil empires which had gone before.
This beast has seven heads and ten horns. These stand for the rulers and the emperors of Rome. Since Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, there had been seven emperors; Tiberius, A.D. 14-37; Caligula, A.D. 37-41; Claudius, A.D. 41-54; Nero, A.D. 55-68; Vespasian, A.D. 69-79; Titus, A.D. 79-81; Domitian, A.D. 81-96. These seven emperors are the seven heads of the beast. But in addition it is said that the beast had ten horns. The explanation of this second figure lies in this. After the death of Nero there was a short period of almost complete chaos. In eighteen months three different men briefly occupied the imperial power, Galba, Otho and Vitellius. They are not included in John's list of the seven heads but are included in the list of the ten horns.
John says that on the heads of the beast there were blasphemous names. These are the titles which the emperors took to themselves. Every emperor was called divus or sebastos ( G4575) , which means divine. Frequently the very name God or Son of God was given to the emperors; and Nero on his coins called himself The Saviour of the World. For any man to call himself divine was a blasphemous insult to God. Further, the later emperors took as their title the Latin word dominus, or its Greek equivalent kurios ( G2962) , both of which mean lord, and in the Old Testament are the special title of God and in the New Testament the special title of Jesus Christ.
The second beast which figures in this chapter, the beast from the land, is the whole provincial organization of magistrates and priesthoods designed to enforce Caesar worship, which confronted the Christians with the choice either of saying, "Caesar is Lord," or of dying.
So, then, our picture falls into place. These two savage beasts, the might of Rome and the organization of Caesar worship, launched their combined attack on the Christians--and no nation had ever withstood the might of Rome. What hope had the Christians--poor, defenceless, outlaws?
The Head Wounded And Restored
There is another recurring theme in this chapter. Among the seven heads there is one which has been mortally wounded and restored to life ( Revelation 13:3); that head above all is to be worshipped ( Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:14); it is the supreme evil, the supreme enemy of Christ.
We have seen that the seven heads stand for the seven Roman emperors. A head wounded and restored to life will, therefore, stand for an emperor who died and came to life again. Here is symbolized the Nero redivivus, or Nero resurrected, legend which the Christians fused with the idea of Antichrist. In the Sibylline Oracles we read of the expectation in the last terrible days of the coming of a king from Babylon whom all men hate, a king fearful and shameless and of abominable parentage (5: 143-148). A matricide shall come from the east and bring ruin on the world (5: 361-364). One who dared the pollution of a mother's murder will come from the east (4: 119-122). An exile from Rome with a myriad of swords shall come from beyond the Euphrates (4: 137-139).
It is only when we realize what Nero was that we see how his return might well seem the coming of Antichrist.
No man ever started life with a worse heritage than Nero. His father was Cnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, who was notorious for wickedness. He had killed a freedman for no other crime than refusing to drink more wine; he had deliberately run over a child in his chariot on the Appian Way; in a brawl in the Forum he had gouged out the eye of a Roman knight; and he finally died of dropsy brought on by his debauchery. His mother was Agrippina, one of the most terrible women in history. When Ahenobarbus knew that he and Agrippina were to have a child he cynically said that nothing but a monstrous abomination could come from himself and her. When Nero was three, Agrippina was banished by the Emperor Caligula. Nero was handed over to the care of his aunt Lepida who entrusted his education to two wretched slaves, one a barber and the other a dancer.
Under the Emperor Claudius, Agrippina was recalled from exile. She had now only one ambition--somehow to make her son emperor. She was warned by fortune-tellers that, if ever Nero became emperor, the result for her would be disaster. Her answer was: "Let him kill me, so long as he reigns."
Agrippina set to work with all the passion and the intrigue of her stormy nature. Claudius already had two children, Octavia and Britannicus, but Agrippina badgered him into adopting Nero as his son, when Nero was eleven years of age, and persuaded him to marry her although he was her uncle. Agrippina then summoned the famous philosopher, Seneca, and the great soldier, Afranius Burrus, to be Nero's tutors. Steadily Britannicus, the heir to the throne, was pushed into the background and Nero was given the limelight.
For five years the marriage lasted and then Agrippina arranged for Claudius' poisoning by a dish of poisoned mushrooms. When Claudius lay in a coma, she hastened his end by brushing his throat with a poisoned feather. No sooner had Claudius died, than Nero was led forth as emperor, the army having been bribed to support him.
A curious situation ensued. For the next five years Rome was never better governed. Nero was busy playing at painting, sculpture, music, theatricals; he was the complete dilettante; and the wise Seneca and the upright Burrus governed the empire.
Then Nero stopped being the cultured dilettante and embarked on a career of vicious crime. At night with other gilded youths he would roam the streets attacking all whom he could find. Worse was to come. He murdered Britannicus as a possible rival.
No young man or woman was safe from his lust. He was a blatant homosexual. He publicly married a youth named Sporus in a state wedding; and he took Sporus with him on a bridal tour of Greece. He was "married" to a freedman called Doryphorus. He took Poppaea Sabina the wife of Otho, his closest friend, as his paramour, and kicked her to death when she was with child.
He had a passion for wild extravagance and extracted money from all and sundry. The imperial court was a welter of murder, immorality and crime.
One of Nero's passions was building. In A.D. 64 came the great fire of Rome which burned for a week. There is not the slightest doubt that Nero began it or that he hindered every attempt to extinguish it, so that he might have the glory of rebuilding the city. The people well knew who was responsible for the fire but Nero diverted the blame on to the Christians and the most deliberately sadistic of all persecutions broke out. He had the Christians sown up in the skins of wild animals and set his savage hunting dogs upon them. He had them enclosed in sacks with stones and flung into the Tiber. He had them coated with pitch and set alight as living torches to light the gardens of his palace.
The insanity of evil grew wilder and wilder. Seneca was forced to commit suicide; Burrus was murdered by a poisoned draught which Nero sent him as a cure for a sore throat; anyone who incurred Nero's slightest displeasure was killed.
Agrippina made some attempt to control him and finally he turned against her. He made repeated attempts to murder her--by poison, by causing the roof of her house to collapse, by sending her to sea in a boat designed to break up. Finally, he sent his freedman Anicetus to stab her to death. When Agrippina saw the dagger, she bared her body. "Strike my womb," she said, "because it bore a Nero."
It could not last. First Julius Vindex rebelled in Gaul, then Galba in Spain. Finally the senate took its courage in its hands and declared Nero a public enemy. In the end he died by suicide in the wretched villa of a freedman called Phaon.
This is the head of the beast, wounded and restored; the Antichrist whom John expected was the resurrected Nero.
We must now look at this chapter section by section in more detail. This may involve a certain amount of repetition, but in a chapter so central and so difficult the repetition will make for clarity.
The Devil And The Beast ( Revelation 13:1-5)
We begin by summarizing the facts already set out in the introductory material to this chapter. The beast is the Roman Empire; the seven heads are the seven emperors in whose time Caesar worship became a power in the empire--Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. The ten heads are these seven emperors together with the three other rulers whose total reigns lasted for only eighteen months in the time of chaos which followed the death of Nero--Galba, Otho and Vitellius. The head which was wounded and restored to life again symbolizes the Nero redivivus idea.
In this picture the Roman Empire is symbolized by a beast which was like a leopard, with a bear's feet and a lion's mouth.
This indicates a completely changed attitude to Rome. Paul had received nothing but help from the Roman government. Time and again the intervention of the Roman authorities and the fact that he was a Roman citizen had saved him from the fury of the Jews. It had been so in Philippi ( Acts 16:1-40); in Corinth ( Acts 18:1-28); in Ephesus ( Acts 19:1-41); and in Jerusalem ( Acts 21:1-40; Acts 22:1-30). It had been Paul's view that the powers that be were ordained of God and that all Christians must render a conscientious obedience to them ( Romans 13:1-6). In the Pastoral Epistles prayer is to be made for kings and for all who are in authority ( 1 Timothy 2:1). In First Peter the injunction is to be a good citizen; to be subject to governors; to fear God, and to honour the emperor ( 1 Peter 2:13-17). In 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 the most probable explanation is that it is the Roman Empire which is the restraining force which keeps the world from disintegrating into chaos and the man of sin from beginning his reign.
In the Revelation things are changed. Caesar worship has emerged. The emperors call themselves by blasphemous names--divine, Son of God, Saviour, Lord. The might of Rome is arrayed to crush the Christian faith; and Rome has become the agent of the devil.
In the description of the beast, H. B. Swete sees a symbol of the power of Rome. The empire has the vigilance, craft and cruelty of the leopard, ever ready to spring upon its prey; it has the crushing strength of the bear; it is like the lion whose roar terrifies the flock.
"Who is like the beast?" is a grim parody of the great question: "Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods?" ( Exodus 15:11). H. B. Swete points out that the beast's claim to preeminence lies not in any moral greatness but in sheer brute force. Any empire founded on brute force and not on moral greatness is anti-God. The description of the beast as speaking haughty things ( Revelation 13:5) comes from the description in Daniel of the little horn ( Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20).
One great truth stands out in this section. In this world a man and a nation have the choice between being the instrument of Satan and the instrument of God.
Insult To God ( Revelation 13:6-9)
(i) This may be taken quite generally. It may mean that the power of the empire and the institution of Caesar worship are a blasphemy against God, and heaven, and the angels. If we like to take this a little further, we can take more out of the word used for God's dwelling-place; the Greek is skene ( G4633) , which means a tent or a tabernacle or a place to dwell. Although it has really no connection with it, skene ( G4633) always reminded a Jew of the Hebrew word shechinah, the glory of God. (Compare the Hebrew verb, shakan, to dwell, H7931) . So it may be that John is saying that the whole conduct of the Roman Empire, and particularly the institution of Caesar worship, is an insult to the glory of God.
(ii) But it is possible to take this passage in a more particular sense. The beast is the Roman Empire. It may be that John is thinking of all the ways--not just those in his own time--in which Rome had insulted God and his dwelling-place.
Most Roman Emperors were embarrassed by Caesar worship; but not Caligula, A.D. 37-41, who was an epileptic and more than a little mad. He took his divinity very seriously and insisted that he should be universally worshipped.
The Jews had always been exempt from Caesar worship because the Romans were well aware of their immovable allegiance to the worship of one God. This is closely parallel to the fact that of all peoples in the empire the Jews alone were exempt from military service, because of their strict observance of food laws and their absolute observance of the Sabbath. But Caligula insisted that an image of himself should be set up within the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews would have suffered extermination rather than submit to such desecration of the Holy Place but Caligula had actually collected an army to enforce his demand (Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews 18: 8) when by great good fortune he died.
If ever there was an insult to the dwelling-place of God, this action of Caligula was one. And it may well be that this notorious incident is in John's mind when he speaks of the insults which the beast launched against the dwelling-place of God.
Earthly Danger And Divine Safety ( Revelation 13:6-9 Continued)
It was given to the beast to overcome those whose names were not written in the Book of Life. The Book of Life is mentioned frequently in the Revelation ( Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27). In the ancient world rulers kept registers of those who were citizens of their realms; only when a man died or lost his rights as a citizen, was his name removed. The Book of Life is the register of those who belong to God.
In Revelation 13:8 there is a question of translation. So far as the Greek goes, there are two equally possible translations, either: "Those whose names have been written before the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain," or, "Those whose names have been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world."
(i) The first is undoubtedly the translation in the parallel passage in Revelation 17:8. A close parallel would be in Ephesians 1:4 where Paul says that God has chosen us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. The meaning would then be that God has chosen his own from before the beginning of time, and nothing in life or in death, nothing in time or eternity, nothing that the Devil or the Roman Empire can ever do can pluck them from his hand. This is the rendering of the Revised Standard Version and the newer translations.
(ii) The second translation speaks of Jesus Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. A close parallel to this would be in 1 Peter 1:19-20 where Peter speaks of Jesus and his sacrifice as being foreordained before the foundation of the world. The Jews held the belief that Michael, the archangel, was created before the foundation of the world to be the mediator between Israel and God; and that Moses was created before the foundation of the world to be the mediator of the covenant between God and Israel. There would, therefore, be nothing unfamiliar to Jewish thought in saying that Jesus was created before the beginning of the world to be the Redeemer of mankind.
We have in these two translations two equally precious truths. But, if we must choose, we must choose the first, because there is no doubt that is the way in which John uses the phrase when he repeats it in Revelation 17:8.
The Christian's Only Weapons ( Revelation 13:10)
At first sight this is a difficult verse.
If anyone is to be taken into captivity, into captivity let him go.
If anyone slays with the sword, he himself will be slain with the
sword. Here is the summons to steadfastness and to loyalty from
the dedicated people of God.
The verse is made up of two quotations. It begins by quoting from Jeremiah 15:2, where Jeremiah is told to tell the people that such as are for death will go forth to death; such as are for the sword will go forth to the sword; such as are for famine will go forth to famine; and such as are for captivity will go forth to captivity. The idea there is that there is no escaping the decree of God. The verse then goes to quote the saying of Jesus in Matthew 26:52. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when the mob has come to arrest Jesus and Peter draws his sword to defend him, Jesus says: "Put your sword back into its place: for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." There are three things here.
(i) If the Christian faith means imprisonment, the Christian must unmurmuringly accept it. Whatever is involved in following Christ, the Christian must accept.
(ii) Christianity can never be defended by force; the man who takes the sword perishes with the sword. When the Roman government began persecuting, the Christians could be numbered perhaps by the hundred thousand; and yet it never occurred to them to use force to resist. It is an intolerable paradox to defend the gospel of the love of God by using the violence of man.
(iii) There are weapons which the Christian can use and these are steadfastness and loyalty. The word for steadfastness is hupomone ( G5281) , which does not simply mean passively enduring but courageously accepting the worst that life can do and turning it into glory. The word for loyalty is pistis ( G4102) , which means that fidelity which will never waver in its devotion to its Master.
The Power Of The Second Beast ( Revelation 13:11-17)
This passage deals with the power of the second beast, the organization set up to enforce Caesar worship throughout the empire. Certain things are said about this power.
(i) It produces signs and wonders, such as fire from heaven; it brings it about that the image of the beast should speak. Everywhere there were statues of the emperor in the presence of which the official act of worship was carried out. In all ancient religions the priests knew how to produce signs and wonders; they knew well how to produce the effect of a speaking, image. Pharaoh had had his magicians in the time of Moses, and the imperial priesthood had its experts in conjuring tricks and ventriloquism and the like.
In Revelation 13:11 there is a curious phrase. This beast from the land is said to have two horns like a lamb; that is, it is a grim parody of the Lamb in the Christian sense of the term. But it is also said to speak like a dragon. It is just possible that that last phrase should be that it spoke like the serpent. The reference would then be to the serpent who seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden. The imperial priesthood could easily use seductive appeals: "Look what Rome has done for you; look at the peace and the prosperity you enjoy; have you ever known a greater benefactor than the emperor? Surely in simple gratitude you can give him this formal act of worship." There are always excellent arguments why the Church should compromise with the world; but the fact remains that, when it does, Christ is betrayed again.
(ii) This beast brings it about that those who will not worship will be killed. That was, in fact, the law. If a Christian refused to make the act of worship to Caesar, he was liable to death. The death penalty was not always carried out; but, if a Christian had not the mark of the beast, he could not buy or sell. That is to say, if a man refused to worship the emperor, even if his life was spared, he would be economically ruined. It remains true that the world knows how to bring pressure to bear on those who will not accept its standards. Often still a man has to choose between material success and loyalty to Jesus Christ.
The Mark Of The Beast ( Revelation 13:11-17 Continued)
Those who had given the worship to Caesar which was demanded had on them the mark of the beast on their right hand and on their forehead. This mark is another of the grim parodies which occur in this chapter; it is a parody of a sacred Jewish custom. When a Jew prayed, he wore phylacteries on his left arm and on his forehead. They were little leather boxes with little scrolls of parchment inside them on which the following passages were written-- Exodus 13:1-10; Exodus 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21.
The word for the mark of the beast is charagma ( G5480) , and it could come from more than one ancient custom.
(i) Sometimes domestic slaves were branded with the mark of their owner. But usually they were branded only if they had run away or had been guilty of some grave misdemeanour. Such a mark was called a stigma ( G4742) ; we still use the word in English. If the mark is connected with this, it means that those who worship the beast are his property.
(ii) Sometimes soldiers branded themselves with the name of their general, if they were very devoted to him. This, to some extent, corresponds to the modern custom of tattooing upon one's person the name of someone specially dear. If the mark is connected with this, it means that those who worship the beast are his devoted followers.
(iii) On every contract of buying or selling there was a charagma ( G5480) , a seal, and on the seal the name of the emperor and the date. If the mark is connected with this, it means that those who worship the beast accept his authority.
(iv) All coinage had the head and inscription of the emperor stamped upon it, to show that it was his property. If the mark is connected with this, it again means that those who bear it are the property of the beast.
(v) When a man had burned his pinch of incense to Caesar, he was given a certificate to say that he had done so. The mark of the beast may be the certificate of worship, which a Christian could obtain only at the cost of denying his faith.
The Number Of The Beast ( Revelation 13:18)
In this verse we are told that the number of the beast is six hundred and sixty-six; and it is almost certainly true that more ingenuity has been expended on this verse than on any other verse in Scripture. Who is this satanic beast so symbolized? It must be remembered that the ancient peoples had no figures and the letters of the alphabet did duty for numbers as well. This is as if in English we used A for 1, B for 2, C for 3, D for 4, and so on. Every word, therefore, and in particular every proper name, can also be a number. One charming and romantic way in which use was made of this fact is quoted by Deissmann. On the walls of Pompeii a lover wrote: "I love her whose number is 545," and thereby he at one and the same time identified and concealed his loved one!
The suggestions as to the meaning of 666 are endless. Since it is the number of the beast, everyone has twisted it to fit his own arch-enemy; and so 666 has been taken to mean the Pope, John Knox, Martin Luther, Napoleon and many another. Dr. Kepler provides us with an example of what ingenuity produced during the Second World War. Let A = 100; B = 101; C = 102; D = 103 and so on. Then we can make this addition:
H = 107
I = 108
T = 119
L = 111
E = 104
R = 117
and the sum is 666!
Very early we saw that the Revelation is written in code; it is clear that nowhere will the code be more closely guarded than in regard to this number which stands for the arch-enemy of the Church. The strange thing is that the key must have been lost very early; for even so great a Christian scholar as Irenaeus in the second century did not know what the number stood for.
We set down four of the very early guesses.
Irenaeus suggested that it might stand for Euanthas. In Greek numbers E = 5; U = 400; A = 1; N = 50; TH (the Greek letter theta) = 9; A = 1; S = 200; and the sum is 666. But as to what Euanthas meant Irenaeus had no suggestion to make; so he had simply substituted one riddle for another.
Another suggestion was that the word in question was Lateinos. L = 30; A = 1; T = 300; E = 5; I = 10; N = 50; O = 70; S = 200; and the sum is 666. Lateinos could be taken to mean Latin and, therefore, could stand for the Roman Empire.
A third suggestion was Teitan. T = 300; E = 5; I = 10; T = 300; A = 1; N = 50; and the sum is 666. Teitan could be made to yield two meanings. First, in Greek mythology the Titans were the great rebels against God. Second, the family name of Vespasian and Titus and Domitian was Titus, and possibly they could be called the Titans.
A fourth suggestion was arnoume. A = 1; R = 100; N = 50; 0 = 70; U = 400; M = 40; E = 5; and the sum is 666. It is just possible that arnoume could be a form of the Greek word arnoumai ( G720) , "I deny." In this case the number would stand for the denial of the name of Christ.
None of these suggestions is convincing. The chapter itself gives us by far the best clue. There recurs again and again the mention of the head that was wounded to death and then restored. We have already seen that that head symbolizes the Nero redivivus legend. We might well, therefore, act on the assumption that the number has something to do with Nero. Many ancient manuscripts give the number as 616. If we take Nero in Latin and give it its numerical equivalent, we get:
N = 50
E = 6
R = 500
O = 60
N = 50
The total is 666; and the name can equally well be spelled without the final N which would give the number 616. In Hebrew the letters of Nero Caesar also add up to 666.
There is little doubt that the number of the beast stands for Nero; and that John is forecasting the coming of Antichrist in the form of Nero, the incarnation of all evil, returning to this world.
-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/revelation-13.html. 1956-1959.
Chapter 13 - The Emerging of the Dragon’s Helpers
With the Dragon are: The First Beast and the Second Beast
The Sea Beast, Revelation 13:1-8
The Patience and Faith of the Saints, Revelation 1:1-10
The Earth Beast, Revelation 13:11-18
* POINTS: We must remember the churches in the first century to whom this was written were closer to the mind-set that would understand these symbols better than our remote western minds.
Also there were men among the churches with the spiritual gift of "wisdom" who could interpret these symbols to the churches (1 Corinthians 12:8; Revelation 13:18; Revelation 17:9) and tell definitively who was the beast. These hidden symbols would then baffle heathen readers and provide some protection from persecution.
And I . . The "I" could be "He", i.e., the dragon. The beast out of the bottomless pit, Revelation 11:7.
Textual comment: ASV = "And he stood" i.e., the Dragon, and "I saw" (It appears the "subject" of the one standing on the seashore should be the antecedent noun, the Dragon of Revelation 12:17).
And I saw . . The dragon is standing on the sand of the sea when John sees the beast rise up out of sea. Then he sees another beast rise up out of the earth, Revelation 13:11.
The dragon stood on the seashore watching a beast come out of the sea, in John’s vision (cf. Daniel 7:2-3; Daniel 7:7-8; Daniel 7:19-27). The implication is that the dragon summoned the beast out of the sea.416 Evidently this was part of his plan to destroy the rest of the woman’s offspring (Revelation 12:17). - Constable
beast rise out of the sea . . The first beast - Revelation 13:1-8 A beast from the sea.
[Occassionally the "earth" represents the "home" for the Jews, and "the sea" represents all the gentiles nations or the rest of the world. (Some conclude that “the waters” mentioned in Revelation 17:15 interpret “the sea,” so that it means “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues”; Lenski.). So this "beast" represents a foreign or gentile power.]
This beast represents the Roman Empire, the fourth empire that Daniel sees in Daniel 7:3-7; Daniel 7:7; Revelation 13:1-2
a beast . . The description of the beast is reminiscent of Daniel 7:1-7 FSB
a beast . . Lit. “a monster” (cf. Revelation 11:7), which describes a vicious, killing animal.
seven heads and ten horns . . Represents political and military power or “kings” (Revelation 17:12; cf. Daniel 7:24). Recalls the description of the dragon in Revelation 12:3 and the fourth beast in Daniel 7:7. - NIVZSB
a beast rise up out of the sea . . 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. - Wallace
upon his horns ten crowns . . The crowns represent its political and military power (cp. Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:7-11; Daniel 7:7, Daniel 7:19-20)- NLTSB
the name . . Read, names, as in the margin. Cf. Revelation 17:3. The reference perhaps is to the blasphemous assumption of divine honours by the Roman emperors—most markedly (at least up to St John’s time) by Gaius. - CBSC
blasphemous names . . The Greek manuscripts are equally divided between the PLURAL (ms A) “names” (NRSV, NJB) and SINGULAR (mss P47, C, P) “name” (NKJV, TEV). Whichever is true, this is obviously an allusion to Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:25 or Daniel 11:36. These blasphemous titles are connected with the (1) claim of deity or (2) evil titles (cf. Revelation 17:3). - Utley
The Dragon works through this Sea-Beast described next.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
IDENTIFICATION OF REVELATION SYMBOLS--
The Dragon -- (Revelation 12:9) is Satan, the Devil.
The Beast -- Rome --Identified by Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 7:3-7; Daniel 7:7; Revelation 13:1-2
The Second Beast (False Prophet) -- Religious elements catering to the beast and supporting the persecution against God’s people. (Revelation 13:11)
Babylon (the Harlot)-- Jerusalem and the Jewish system (See Revelation 11:8 )
The Woman on the Moon-- (Revelation 12:1) represents the righteous people on earth. (In OT they are called ’the remnant’. In NT time it becomes the church.)
The man child (Revelation 12:4-5) -- Christ
666 -- Revelation 13:18 the number of a man (undoubted the seven churches of Asia knew who it represented, probably Nero Caesar as his names equals 666.
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Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gbc/revelation-13.html. 2021.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea,.... The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "and he stood", c. and so the Alexandrian copy meaning the dragon, said to be wroth with the woman, and to go forth to make war with her seed, in the latter part of the preceding chapter, where some versions place this clause; and the Arabic version reads expressly, "and the serpent stood", c. And this is thought by some to be the better reading, because of the connection with what goes before, and because there is no mention of the name of John, nor of his being called or removed from heaven, where he was beholding sights, and continuing the account of them, Revelation 4:1, as there is when he is shown sights elsewhere see Revelation 17:3. And besides, as the dragon was contriving a new way of persecuting the saints, and about to raise up a beast out of the sea, by which he might do it, to whom he would give his power, seat, and authority, he is represented as standing in a proper place for this purpose; it was upon the sand, which may signify a multitude of people employed by him, and also may denote the weakness and failure of his efforts in the issue; yet the Greek copies in general agree in the common reading, and refer it to John, who stood on the shore of the isle of Patmos, and in a fit place, in a visionary way, to behold the following sight: for that the next clause belongs to him is without doubt,
and saw a beast rise up out of the sea: by which is meant, not the devil, because it is in Revelation 13:2, distinguished from the dragon, who is the devil and Satan, as also elsewhere, Revelation 16:13, nor the old Roman empire, though there are many things which seem to agree; the Roman monarchy is called a beast it is one of the four beasts in Daniel 7:2; which rose up out of the sea, from a multitude of people and nations, which were gathered to it and composed it. Rome Pagan had, as this beast has, seven heads and ten horns, Revelation 12:3; and had power over all nations, and is therefore sometimes called the whole world, and exercised great cruelty upon the Christians; but then this is signified by the red dragon itself, in the preceding chapter, and, besides, had risen up before the times of John, whereas this is one of the things shown him, which should be hereafter: this beast then was not, but was to come, Revelation 4:1; and was not to arise, nor did it arise till after the downfall of Rome Pagan, and after the Arian persecution, after the woman's flight into the wilderness, and after, and upon the inundation of the barbarous nations into the empire, as appears from the preceding chapter; nor will the time of this beast's duration agree with the old Roman empire, for this beast is to continue forty two months,
Revelation 13:5; which is the whole time of the holy city being trodden under foot, and of the church's being in the wilderness, and of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth; whereas the Roman monarchy, governed by emperors, did not last four hundred years. Moreover, as this beast is distinguished from the dragon, so it is said to have its power from him; whereas the Roman empire was of God, and obedience and subjection to it are always recommended to the saints in the Scriptures, Romans 13:1, much less can the empire, as become truly Christian, be intended; nor are either the eastern or the Turkish empires designed, for neither of these had their seat at Rome, which the dragon save to this beast, but at Constantinople: it remains then, that by it meant the Roman empire, when divided into ten kingdoms, and united in the Papacy; or it designs Christ in his secular power, with the ten kings, that receive power with him as such one hour, and give their kingdom to him: now this beast is said to "rise up out of the sea"; either out of the abyss, the bottomless pit of hell, see Revelation 11:7; or out of the sea of this world, and the wicked in it, who are like a troubled sea that cannot rest; or out of the floods of errors and heresies, by which this man of sin was conceived and cherished, and a way was paved for his open rising and appearance in the world; or rather, since waters design, in this book, nations, people, and tongues, see Revelation 17:15; and the four beasts in Daniel are said to rise out of the sea, Revelation 7:2; and a multitude of people are compared to the waves of the sea, Ezekiel 26:3; see also Isaiah 17:12, where the Jewish writers say b, the nations are compared to the sea, as Israel to the sand, the inundation of the barbarous nations, the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, into the empire, seem to be intended, which made great commotions and changes in it: these set up ten kingdoms in it, upon which antichrist arose, and placed himself at the head of them; these gave their kingdoms to the beast; and so may be said to give rise unto him, especially as to his secular power.
Having seven heads: which some understand the seat of knowledge, and seven a number of perfection; and so may refer to those boasted treasures of wisdom and knowledge which antichrist pretends to have, as being the judge of controversies, and the infallible interpreter of the Scriptures; or else the seven fold form of government among the Romans is intended, as in Revelation 12:3; or rather as it is interpreted in Revelation 17:9; the seven mountains on which Rome was built, and so design the city itself built on them, that being the metropolis of the empire; or the seven capital cities of the empire, as Mr. Daubuz thinks; the whole is meant, for it is the same Roman monarchy as before, only in a different form:
and ten horns; the ten kingdoms, into which the empire was divide it upon its being wasted and vanquished by the Goths, and the ten kings of them, which reigned with the beast, and gave their kingdoms to him; so horns signify kingdoms in Zechariah 1:18.
And upon his horns ten crowns; which distinguishes Rome Papal from Rome Pagan; the crowns in Rome Pagan were upon the heads, or the emperors, that resided at Rome; and though it had ten horns, as here, and was divided into so many provinces, which were governed by deputies, proconsuls, c. yet they were not kings, they had no crowns but here the horns have crowns on them because the governors of these ten kingdoms are crowned kings:
and upon his heads the name of blasphemy; which refers not to Rome Pagan being called the eternal city, and Rome the goddess, and the like; but to Rome Papal, or antichrist, who elsewhere is said to have the name "Mystery" written upon the forehead, and to have blasphemy on his heads; and is called blasphemy in the abstract, as being a most blasphemous creature against God, Christ, and his people, and so his name is suitable to his character, mouth, and language, Revelation 13:5; assuming that to himself which only belongs to God and Christ, as power over the conscience, to forgive sin, c. and even deity itself see 2 Thessalonians 1:4. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "names of blasphemy".
b Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 41. 4. & 55. 2. & 63. 3.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-13.html. 1999.
|The First Beast.||A. D. 95.|
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. 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. 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. 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? 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. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 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. 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. 9 If any man have an ear, let him hear. 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.
We have here an account of the rise, figure, and progress of the first beast; and observe, 1. From what situation the apostle saw this monster. He seemed to himself to stand upon the sea-shore, though it is probable he was still in a rapture; but he took himself to be in the island Patmos, but whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell. 2. Whence this beast came--out of the sea; and yet, by the description of it, it would seem more likely to be a land-monster; but the more monstrous every thing about it was the more proper an emblem it would be to set forth the mystery of iniquity and tyranny. 3. What was the form and shape of this beast. It was for the most part like a leopard, but its feet were like the feet of a bear and its mouth as the mouth of a lion; it had seven heads, and ten horns, and upon its heads the name of blasphemy: the most horrid and hideous monster! In some part of this description here seems to be an allusion to Daniel's vision of the four beasts, which represented the four monarchies, Daniel 7:1-3, c. One of these beasts was like a lion, another like a bear, and another like a leopard this beast was a sort of composition of those three, with the fierceness, strength, and swiftness, of them all; the seven heads and the ten horns seem to design its several powers; the ten crowns, its tributary princes; the word blasphemy on its forehead proclaims its direct enmity and opposition to the glory of God, by promoting idolatry. 4. The source and spring of his authority--the dragon; he gave him his power, and seat, and great authority. He was set up by the devil, and supported by him to do his work and promote his interest; and the devil lent him all the assistance he could. 5. A dangerous wound given him, and yet unexpectedly healed, Revelation 13:3; Revelation 13:3. Some think that by this wounded head we are to understand the abolishing of pagan idolatry; and by the healing of the wound the introducing of the popish idolatry, the same in substance with the former, only in a new dress, and which as effectually answers the devil's design as that did. 6. The honour and worship paid to this infernal monster: All the world wondered after the beast; they all admired his power, and policy, and success, and they worshipped the dragon that gave power to the beast, and they worshipped the beast; they paid honour and subjection to the devil and his instruments, and thought there was no power able to withstand them: so great were the darkness, degeneracy, and madness of the world! 7. How he exercised his infernal power and policy: He had a mouth, speaking great things, and blasphemies; he blasphemed God, the name of God, the tabernacle of God, and all those that dwell in heaven; and he made war with the saints, and overcame them, and gained a sort of universal empire in the world. His malice was principally levelled at the God of heaven, and his heavenly attendants--at God, in making images of him that is invisible, and in worshipping them;--at the tabernacle of God, that is, say some, at the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, in which God dwells as in a tabernacle; this is dishonoured by their doctrine of transubstantiation, which will not suffer his body to be a true body, and will put it into the power of every priest to prepare a body for Christ;--and against those that dwell in heaven, the glorified saints, by putting them into the place of the pagan demons, and praying to them, which they are so far from being pleased with that they truly judge themselves wronged and dishonoured by it. Thus the malice of the devil shows itself against heaven and the blessed inhabitants of heaven. These are above the reach of his power. All he can do is to blaspheme them; but the saints on earth are more exposed to his cruelty, and he sometimes is permitted to triumph over them and trample upon them. 8. The limitation of the devil's power and success, and that both as to time and persons. He is limited in point of time; his reign is to continue forty-and-two months (Revelation 13:5; Revelation 13:5), suitable to the other prophetical characters of the reign of antichrist. He is also limited as to the persons and people that he shall entirely subject his will and power; it will be only those whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life. Christ had a chosen remnant, redeemed by his blood, recorded in his book, sealed by his Spirit; and though the devil and antichrist might overcome their bodily strength, and take away their natural life, they could never conquer their souls, nor prevail with them to forsake their Saviour and revolt to his enemies. 9. Here is a demand of attention to what is here discovered of the great sufferings and troubles of the church, and an assurance given that when God has accomplished his work on mount Zion, his refining work, then he will turn his hand against the enemies of his people, and those who have killed with the sword shall themselves fall by the sword (Revelation 13:10; Revelation 13:10), and those who led the people of God into captivity shall themselves be made captives. Here now is that which will be proper exercise for the patience and faith of the saints--patience under the prospect of such great sufferings, and faith in the prospect of so glorious a deliverance.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/revelation-13.html. 1706.
The purpose of Chapter 13 is to describe the second and third enemies of the church.
"A beast of the sea," (verse 1).
"Another beast out of the earth" (verse 11)
The dragon (the devil) attacks the church by delegating his power to these two beasts (verse 4) and (verse 11).
There is no surprise so terrifying as an indirect attack. When evil comes, not in some familiar shape for which one is prepared, but in some unforeseeable form, then he is at a loss as to how to fight this evil. The surprise of Revelation 13:1-18 is that the devil--the great red dragon, does not attack the church directly but he employs the roundabout way of delegating his power to another, and delegated power is harder to combat than any direct attack just because it is so difficult to recognize it.
THE FIRST BEAST: Verses 1-10. It is important to note his origin.
Verse 1 "Out of the sea"--(see also Daniel 7:1-28).
"The sea" represents THE RESTLESS MASS OF HUMAN KIND (see 17:15--"The waters are peoples, and multitudes, and nations.").
Individuals, like the waves of the sea, swayed by impulse or passion make up this sea (see Isaiah 57:20). This beast rising out of human kind is not to be confused with "the living creatures" of 4:7 where the Authorised Version incorrectly translates as "beasts."
WHO IS THIS BEAST?
Most scholars see here a symbol of THAT WORLDLY POWER WHICH IS CONTROLLED BY "THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD." This wild beast is the symbol of ALL worldly power built on passion, greed and selfishness. It is not merely Rome of John’s day, nor any one form of earthly government, it is the general influence of the world so far as it is opposed to God. The influence of the beast is not confined to any party, system, sect or age. Wherever in human society, or group or individual, men are ruled by material interests instead of by God, there this beast is to be seen (see Ephesians 6:12).
THE DESCRIPTION OF THIS BEAST
"With 10 horns and 7 heads." "Seven heads"--later, in 17:10 these "7 heads" are more fully described as "seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come." Thus the key is in our hands. Five world powers had passed away when John wrote. Our history books refer to the five world powers of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian, and Greek, which had all passed away when John wrote. The sixth "IS" (when John wrote) is Rome. "AND THE OTHER HAS YET TO COME"--THIS REFERS TO OUR PRESENT AGE. "Ten horns" These are explained in 17:12 as "The kings which have not yet received royal power." When they arise they also will derive power from the dragon and be part of the beast (worldly power). "A blasphemous name upon its heads" (verse 1) evidently refers to the self-worship, the arrogant pride and self-sufficiency which characterises these world powers. (We haven’t far to look for present day evidence of this).
The beast has THE FEATURES OF THREE WILD ANIMALS. He is like a "leopard" --leaping on its prey like a "bear" --relentless like a "lion" --devouring The beast is a symbol of all world powers which are quick to shed blood.
"One of its heads seemed to have A MORTAL WOUND, BUT ITS MORTAL WOUND WAS HEALED." It is important to note that when John saw the beast rise from the sea the beast had already received its death wound. The blow which cast the dragon (the devil) down from heaven in chapter 12 also inflicts a mortal wound on his agent. The victory of Christ at the Cross and Resurrection and Ascension inflicted a death blow to all worldly power based on passion, pride, greed and self-sufficiency. "BUT ITS MORTAL WOUND WAS HEALED" This tells the church that the full results of Christ’s victory will be DELAYED. Worldly power having received its death wound does not die immediately, but rises with renewed vigour to persecute the church. Note also that it is this beast IN HIS RESURRECTION STATE to which John draws our attention.
In that condition the beast is UNIVERSAL IN HIS INFLUENCE. "Authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation." All "whose names are not written in God’s book of life" worship this beast. This beast has power never possessed by any one form of human government. He is universal in his influence.
HE WORKS NOW IN THIS DISPENSATION for "it was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months." This period, as previously noted, refers to the WHOLE CHRISTIAN AGE FROM PENTECOST UNTIL THE RETURN OF CHRIST.
Against this enemy the true life of every Christian is protected. They may be troubled (as the witnesses of chapter 11) but those who persecute Christians will come into greater condemnation. Here is cause for Christian patience and faith. One fact stands out--Satan is always looking for instruments to use in this world. Just as God is always looking for hands to use, so also Satan seeks servants. In this world a person and a nation has the choice between being the instrument of Satan or of God.
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Norris, Harold. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". "Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/nor/revelation-13.html. 2021.
We begin now what may be called the second volume of the Revelation. The prophetic part of the book divides into two portions at this point. This is another land-mark that cannot be despised, if we would acquaint ourselves with its structure and the bearing of its contents. And it is absolutely requisite to have, at any rate, a generally correct understanding of its outline; else we are in imminent risk of making confusion, the moment we venture to put the parts together, or to form anything like a connected view of that which it conveys to us. The meaning will be made plainer, if I repeat that the seventh trumpet, which was the closing scene before us, brings us down to the end in a general way.
This is constantly the habit of prophecy: take, for instance, our Lord's prophecy inMatthew 24:1-51; Matthew 24:1-51, where, first of all, we are given the broad outline as far as verse 14 the "gospel of the kingdom" preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations; and then the end comes. Having thus brought us down to the close in a comprehensive manner, the Lord turns back, and specifies a particular part of that history in a confined sphere, namely, from the time that the abomination of desolation is set up in the holy place. This clearly is some time before the end. It does not indeed go back absolutely to the beginning, but it returns a certain way, in order to set forth a far closer and more precise view of the appalling state of things that will be found in Jerusalem before the end comes.
Just so is it in the Revelation. The seals and the. trumpets which follow one another conduct us from the time that the church is seen in heaven glorified till judgment closes, i.e. "the time of the dead, even that they should be judged," and the day of wrath upon the earth. Evidently this is the end. Then, in the portion which begins with the last verse of Revelation 11:1-19, we return for a special prophecy. The prophet had been told that he must prophesy again before many people and kings; and I suppose that this is the prophesying again.
So the temple of God is now seen to be open. It is not a door opened in heaven to give us the general view of what was to take place on the earth as regarded in the mind of God. This John did see, the general view being now closed; and we enter on a narrower line of things. The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant. It is the resumption therefore of the old links with His ancient people Israel. At the same time it is not yet the day of blessedness for the Jew. Nor is heaven itself opened for Jesus, attended by risen saints, to appear for the judgment of the beast and the false prophet with their train. It is a transition state of things. When God deigns to look upon and gives us to see the ark of His covenant, He is going to assert His fidelity to the people. Of old He gave promises, and will shortly accomplish all which had been assured to their fathers. The ark of His covenant is the sign of the unfailing certainty of that to which He bound Himself.
"And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings," and besides not "an earthquake" only, but "great hail." In the first scene in the fourth chapter, when the door was seen open in heaven, there were "lightnings, and voices, and thunderings," but there was not even an earthquake. In Revelation 8:1-13 this addition appears. Now besides there is hail. Clearly, therefore, we are coming to far greater detail in the way of judgments from heaven on the earth.
Then the first sign was beheld above. "There appeared a great sign in heaven." We are not to suppose that when the prophecy is fulfilled, any woman will be seen either in heaven or elsewhere as its accomplishment. This is a fertile source of mistake in the interpretation of these visions. Her being seen in heaven shows that it is not a mere history of what is taking place on earth, but that it is all viewed in God's mind. Consequently it is seen above. In point of fact, what the woman represents will be Israel on the earth. The woman is a symbol of the chosen people viewed as a whole, for a future state of things that God means to establish here below. She was "clothed with the sun." Supreme authority is to be seen now connected with Israel, instead of her being in a state of desolation, down-trodden by the Gentiles. "And the moon under her feet" is an allusion, I suppose, to her old condition of legal ordinances, which, instead of governing her, are now subject to her under her feet. How aptly the moon sets forth the reflected light of the Mosaic system is evident to any thoughtful mind. In the millennium this will not be wholly out of sight as now under Christianity, but reappear only it will be in manifest subordination, as we may see in Ezekiel's prophecy. "And upon her head a crown of twelve stars." There is the evidence of human authority in the way of administration here below. In short, whether it be supreme, derivative, or subordinate authority, she is seen with all attached to her. Israel is therefore the manifest vessel of the mighty purposes of God for the earth; and God so looks at her and presents her to us. Thus it is as complete a chance as can be conceived for Israel. But this is not all. "She was with child, and crieth, travailing in birth, in pain to be delivered." It is not yet the day for joyous and triumphant accomplishment of the divine purpose, when before Zion travails she is to bring forth, and before her pain come she is to be delivered of a man-child. There is weakness and suffering yet, but all is secured, and the end is pledged.
Then there is another sign; namely, "a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads." It is Satan, but here invested with the form of the most determined and successful enemy that Israel ever had; for bad as was the tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar, it is evident that the Roman power trod down Jerusalem with a far more tremendous and permanent tyranny. This therefore makes the unfolding of this double sign so much the more striking. It is not that she is delivered yet; but she is seen by the prophet according to the mind of God. This is to be her place, a mighty encouragement, considering what she must pass through before it is all realized. Before this is effected, the enemy is shown in his character of rebellious apostate power. The dragon has seven heads i.e., the completeness of ruling authority; and ten horns, not exactly completeness, but at any rate a very large distribution approaching it, in the instruments of the power wielded in the west. Man is never thus complete. What God gave the woman we saw twelve stars. The dragon has only ten horns. There was a full succession of all the various forms of government, which I suppose to be referred to in the seven heads; but God would not give it that completeness of administrative power even in form which belonged to the woman. All will be in due order when the Lord Jesus takes the government of the earth into His hands in the age to come. "Verily I say unto you, That ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." The twelve apostles of the Lamb are destined to this special place of honourable trust.
"His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven." Here is what seems to show that the third part has a distinct connection with the Roman empire. We saw the third part for the first time in the trumpets, both in the four earlier trumpets and also in the sixth. I have no doubt the Roman empire is particularly in view; and, by the Roman empire we are to understand what was properly Roman the western portion, not what the Romans actually possessed, because they conquered a great deal that belonged to Greece for instance, and Babylon, and Medo-Persia. This was far east; but the properly Roman part was western Europe. There the dragon's power was particularly felt. It "drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them unto the earth; and the dragon stands before the woman that was about to bring forth, that he might devour her child as soon as she should bring forth. And she brought forth a male son, who is about to shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and unto his throne."
There are some things that require explanation here. First of all, a notion prevails that the woman is the church. There may be some Christians now present who have been so taught. A few words, I think, are quite sufficient to dispel the illusion. The church is never represented as a mother in scripture: still less could it be the mother of Christ. Viewed as a woman, the church is the bride of Christ, not His mother; whereas the Jewish body may be truly represented as His mother in symbol. Christ, as man, came of the Jews after the flesh. Accordingly, it is very plain that He is the one here described as the male. The same truth is most evident from the scriptures, whether we take the psalms or the prophets. "Unto us," Isaiah says, "a child is born, a son is given." Again, in the second psalm, we find that the one who is not merely the child of Israel, but acknowledged and honoured by God Himself as the Son, was to rule the nations with a rod of iron. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the Lord Jesus is the one here prominent as the male child.
This, then, furnishes an unquestionable and important key to the meaning of the scene we are now entering upon. The woman represents Israel in the mind of God, Israel in its full corporate character.
Another remark seems to me just. Although Christ, I have no doubt, is referred to as the man-child born of Israel, it may be no small difficulty at first sight to, some minds how to bring in the birth of Christ in this chapter. Indeed, it is a very fair question, and ought to be met. Let it then be observed, that here the Spirit of God is not proceeding with the course of the prophecy. I have already explained that He goes back. Consequently, so far all is perfectly open as to the point of time to which He returns. And another thing should be taken into account that in this portion there is no date serving to fix the time when the birth of the man-child takes place. But then it may be asked, why should the birth of the man-child be introduced here, seeing that it was a patent fact that the Lord had been born, had lived, and died, and gone to heaven long before? There was nothing new to tell. All this was long and well known through the gospel, as well as in oral teaching to the Christians; why then should it be set forth so strangely in this prophecy? The reason I believe to be, that God desired in this very striking manner to rehearse it mystically, and not at all in full open statement, so as to combine it with His translation to heaven and to His own throne. There was a further link with the re-opening of God's dealings with the Jews, and the eventual restoration of the nation. All are introduced here together.
Thus it is plain that God is not at all disposing these matters now as a question of time, but of connection with Christ their centre. John is going to enter into the final scenes after this; but before this is done, we have God's counsel shown about Israel. This brings forward the devil in his evil opposition to that counsel; for it was surely what the adversary most of all feared. Satan invariably opposes Christ with greater tenacity of purpose and hatred and pride than any other. Recognizing in Him the bruiser of himself and the deliverer of man and creation, there is a constant antagonism between Satan and the Son of God that is familiar to us all. But there is more than this: Satan sets himself against His connection with the poor and despised people of Israel. Nevertheless, before God openly espouses the part of Israel, there is the remarkable fact that Christ is caught up to Him and to His throne. Not a word is said of His life; not a word even about His death and resurrection. As far as this passage goes, one might suppose the Lord caught up on high as soon as He was born. This shows us how remarkably mystical the statement is. It is history neither anticipated nor in fact. Had it been an historical summary, we must have had His life noticed with those mighty events on which all hopes for the universe depend. All this is entirely passed over. The reason, I think, is just this, that it intimates to us, as in Old Testament prophecy, how the Lord and His people are wrapped up, as it were, in the very same symbol; even as, in a yet more intimate way, what is said about Christ applies to the Christian.
On this principle then I cannot but consider that the rapture of the man-child to God and His throne involves the rapture of the church in itself. The explanation why it is thus introduced here depends on the truth that Christ and the church are one, and have a common destiny. Inasmuch as He went up to heaven, so also the church is to be caught up. "So also is Christ," says the apostle Paul, when speaking of the church; for we must naturally suppose the allusion is to the body rather than to the head. He does not say, so also is the church, but "so also is Christ." In a similar spirit St. John, in this prophecy, shows us first of all the male child taken to a place in heaven entirely outside the reach of Satan's malice. If this be so, and granted it has a remarkable bearing on what has been already asserted as to the book: we here begin over again, with a particular point of view as the object of the Holy Ghost in this latter portion. Before doing so, John gives us first the general purpose of God about the Jews.
This is strictly in order. We might have thought that the more natural way would be first of all to state the rapture of the man-child; but not so, God always does and describes things in the wisest and best method. The fact is that Christ being born of Israel, there is and ought to be first set forth the tracing of His connection with Israel. The next fact is the devil's opposition to the counsels of God, and hindrance for the time being, which gives occasion to the Lord Himself taking His place in heaven, and eventually to the church following Him into heaven, After this comes back on the scene the Lord's intention to make way for the effectuating of His counsels as to Israel and the earth. In short, therefore, the first portion of the chapter is distinctly a mystical representation of the Lord's relationship with Israel and of His removal out of the scene the effect of the antagonism of Satan; but it also gives room for God's binding up, as it were, with Christ's disappearance in heaven the church's following Him there in due time. For the church is united to Christ. In this way the rapture of the man-child is not a mere historical fact. Christ's ascension to heaven is brought in here because it contains as a consequence the church's subsequent removal to be with Him where He is, His body forming one and the same mystic man before God, "the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
If this then be borne in mind, the whole subject is considerably cleared. "She brought forth a male son, to rule all nations with a rod of iron." There is not the slightest difficulty in applying this to the man-child, viewed not personally and alone but mystically; and the less, because this very promise is made to the church in Thyatira, or rather to the faithful there. It will be remembered that at the end of Revelation 2:1-29 it was expressly said that the Lord would give to him that overcame power over the nations, and he should rule them with a rod of iron, just as He Himself received of His Father. Does not this most strongly confirm the same view? "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should nourish her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days."
In verse 7 we have a new scene; and here we come much more to facts, not to counsels of God or to principles viewed in His mind, but to positive facts; and first of all from above, as later on we shall find effects and chancres on the earth. "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast [down], the ancient serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world, was cast unto the earth, and his angels were cast with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast [down], who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by reason of the blood of the Lamb, and by reason of the word of their testimony, and loved not their life unto death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them." It is evident that at this time persons are spoken of as dwelling in heaven who sympathise deeply with their suffering brethren on earth. Such is the incontestable fact; and soon after Satan will have lost that access to the presence of God in the quality of accuser of the brethren that he had previously possessed; nor will he ever regain the highest seat of his power which is then lost. He is no longer able to fill heaven with his bitter taunts and accusations of the saints of God.
"Woe", however, it is added at this time, "to the earth and to the sea, for the devil has, come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath a short season." This clearly connects the dispossession of Satan from his heavenly seat with the last crisis of Jews and Gentiles at the end of the present age. We find here the hidden reason. Why should there be such an unwonted storm of persecution? why such tremendous doings of Satan here below for a short time, for three years and a half, before the close? The reason is here explained. Satan cannot longer accuse above; accordingly he does his worst below. He is cast down to earth, and never regains the heavens. Again, he will be banished from the earth, as we shall find, into the bottomless pit by and by; and then, although let loose thence for a short time, it is only for his irremediable ruin; for he is cast then (not merely into the pit or abyss, but) into the lake of fire, whence none ever comes back.
Such is the revealed course of the dealings of God with the great enemy of men from first to last.
From verse 13 the history is pursued not from the heavens, but on the earth. "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the male [child]. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished there a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." Thus power is given to escape, rapid means of flight from Satan's persecution. It is not power to withstand Satan, and fight the battle out with him, but the facility given to flee from his violence. This seems to be what is meant by the two wings of the great eagle a figure of vigorous means of escape. That which is in nature the most energetic image of flight is vividly applied to the case before us.
Then we find the enemy, baffled by God's provision, using other efforts. "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood." That is, he here endeavours to stir up the nations (such as are, I suppose, in a state of disorganisation) to overwhelm the Jews. In vain; for "the earth" what was under settled government at this time "helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus." By these are meant such of the Jews as will be remarkable for their power of testimony. The woman represents the more general idea of that people. The remnant of her seed are the witnessing portion. You must bear in mind that all the Jews of that day will by no means have the same spiritual power. There will be differences. Some will be much more energetic and intelligent than others. Satan hastens therefore, and endeavours to put down those that seem most useful as the vessels of the testimony of Jesus.
This accordingly leads to the plans that Satan sets up for the purpose of accomplishing his long-cherished design of supplanting not only gospel and law, but the testimony to the kingdom of God in the world. And there are two especial methods which Satan will adopt, suited to catch a twofold class of men who are never wanting in this world natural men, some of Whom like power, as others like religion. I am not now speaking of any who are born of God; but it is clear that man's heart runs either after intellect and power, or into religious formality. The devil will therefore put forward two main instruments as leaders of systems that express human nature on either side, exactly suiting what the heart of man seeks and will have. Thus Satan has designed from the beginning to set up himself in man as God. For he too will work by man, as God Himself is pleased to develop all His wondrous ways and counsels in man. As the Lord Jesus is not only a divine person but the expression of the divine glory no less than of His grace; and as the church is the object of His love in heavenly blessedness, and Israel for the earth; so the enemy (who cannot originate but only corrupt the truth, and lie by a sort of profane imitation of the counsels of God) will have his beasts no less certainly than God has His Lamb. In Revelation 13:1-18 this is made plain. There are these two beasts; the first civil power, the second religion, and both apostate.
"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." The beast that emerges from the revolutionary Roman world is just adapted for the dragon to fill with opposition to the purposes of God. In Revelation 12:1-17 the dragon was seen similarly characterized as the beast. Both have the forms of power peculiar to the Roman empire. But there is a difference also: "And upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his beads names of blasphemy." The dragon has the diadems on his heads; the beast shows us more the actual facts the horns crowned. The dragon represents the enemy of Christ in his political employment of the Roman empire, and this from first to last; so that the heads or successive forms of power are said to be crowned, not the horns, which were only as a fact to be developed before the close of its history at the earliest not before the Gothic barbarians broke up the empire of the west. On the other hand, in the beast ofRevelation 13:1-18; Revelation 13:1-18 we see, not merely the hidden spirit of evil making use of the power of Rome in its various changes, but the empire in its final state when the deadly wound done to the imperial head was healed, and Satan shall have given to it thus revived his power, his throne, and great authority. Now this is the very time when the ten horns receive authority as kings; it is simultaneously and continuously with the beast, as Revelation 17:1-18 informs us; and hence the horns of the beast are seen crowned (not merely the heads, as in the dragon's case previously).
Further, the beast is described afterwards in remarkable terms, which allude to the beasts so well known in Daniel 7:1-28. "And the beast which I saw was like a leopardess, and its feet were as of a bear, and its mouth as a lion's." Here we have certain qualities that resemble the three first-named beasts of the prophet Daniel. Though Satan does not originate, he adopts whatever will suit of that which has been, and endeavours by this most singular combination to bring out the beast or fourth empire (for there is none to succeed) so as to surpass for the last days everything known of old.
What is meant by a beast? An imperial system or empire, but withal refusing to recognize God above. Man was made to own Him, and alone does, as taught of God. Man alone of all beings in the earth was made to look up to One above, and is responsible to do the will of God. The beast does not look up but down; it has no sense of an unseen superior. "The fool hath said in his heart that there is no God." In principle this is true of every unrenewed man; but here it is the more tremendous, because an empire ought to be the reflection of the authority that God in His providence has conferred on it. No empire has avoided the moral sentence implied in the symbols, but this beast will go beyond all that have ever arisen. At the time that the prophecy was given the fourth beast was in existence; but the prophet was given to see that out of a state of political convulsion, just before the last three years and a half, and connected with Satan's expulsion from heaven by the power of God, this beast rises up out of the sea. That is, there will be a state of total confusion in the west, and an imperial power will rise up. This is the one here described: "And I saw one of its heads as it were wounded to death; and its deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." It is not hard to see sufficient grounds for gathering that the wounded head was the imperial form of power. The empire of the west will have been long extinct, when, strange to say, it reappears in the latter day. But there is a great deal more than simply the revival of imperialism, which draws out the astonishment of the world. They had thought it all over with the Roman empire. They could easily understand a new empire; they could readily conceive a Teutonic kingdom, or a Muscovite dominion, or any other of large space and population; but the revival of the Roman empire will take the world by surprise. This is a part of what is here referred to. The grounds of this assertion, however, depend on Revelation 17:1-18, so that I cannot now enter into minute evidence, nor do I wish to anticipate what will come before us in the next lecture. Let it suffice to give what I believe to be the truth revealed about it as we pass onward.
But then it is not simply that this empire had qualities of power that belonged to more than one of the previous empires, and that it had its own peculiarity in that it was marked by the revival of imperialism at the close. We are told that "they worshipped the dragon, because he gave authority to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? and who is able to make war with him?" It is evident, therefore, that we have here an apostate and idolatrous state of the world. The dragon is worshipped, as is the beast; and2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 is plain that worship is paid to another personage connected with, but distinct from, these both, called "the man of sin," which is much more a religious power. The first beast is a political body; the religious chief will not be in the west at all, but in Jerusalem, and a very special object of worship in the temple of God there at the close.
This is a difficulty to some, because it is distinctly said that this man of sin will not tolerate any other object of worship. But then you must remember that they are all the same firm. Therefore to worship the one is pretty much to worship the other; just as in regard to the true God, there is no worship of one person in the Godhead without the same homage to the others. It is in vain for any to pretend to worship the Father without worshipping the Son, and he that worships the Father and the Son can only worship in the power of the Holy Ghost. When we worship God as such, when we say "God," we do not mean Father only, but Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. So precisely in this awful counterpart, the fruit of the energy of satanic craft and power at the close. The worshipping of the dragon and of the beast seems therefore quite consistent with divine worship paid to the man of sin. The fact is, they are, as often remarked with justice, the great counter-trinity the trinity of evil as opposed to the Trinity of the Godhead. The devil is clearly the source of it all; but then the public leader of his power politically is the beast; and the grand religious agent, who works out all plans and even miracles in its support, is the second beast or man of sin.
This appears to be the true and mutual bearing of all, if we bow to all these scriptures. I am aware that differences of thought exist here as in almost everything else. But this objection has no force at all. The only question is, what best satisfies the word of God, what most faithfully answers not merely to the letter of it, but to its grand principles? I am persuaded, therefore, that far from any real obstacle in the fact of these three different objects being combined in worship, on the contrary the force and nature of the case cannot well be understood unless this is seen.
Let us pursue the other points which the scriptures set before us. "And there was given him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given him to continue [or act] forty-two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that tabernacle in heaven." Here again it seems evident that there is a people in heaven removed from exposure to the power either of Satan or of the public instruments of his malice in the world. There are also saints here below. The tabernacle above may be blasphemed, and those that dwell there Satan may revile, but he cannot touch cannot even accuse longer before God. He turns therefore all his power to deal with man on the earth.
"And it was given him to make war with the saints" (clearly those that are not in heaven), "and to overcome them: and authority was liven him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him." It will be seen that there is an invariable distinction between the crowd of the Gentiles scattered over the world, and "those that dwell on the earth." The difference is that the former class is a larger term, embracing the world at large; whereas by the latter is meant a considerably narrower sphere, whose character of earthliness is the more decided, because it had known the heavenly testimony of Christ and the church. The name might be still held; but apostate hearts deliberately preferred earth to heaven, and would surely have their portion in neither, but in the lake of fire.
It is solemn to see that this is what Christendom hastens to become: infidelity and superstition are rapidly forming it now. All that is at work is bringing about this earthly and godless state of things. Never since the gospel was preached were men more thoroughly settling down in the endeavour to improve the earth, and consequently to forget heaven day by day, only thinking of it as a dismal necessity when they die, and cannot avoid leaving the world. But as to turning to heaven, both as a hope full of joy and as a home for the affections, whenever was it more thoroughly kept out of the minds of men? All this then prepares us for the designation given to the people that did hear of heaven but deliberately gave up all the hopes connected with it to settle down on the earth. They were dwellers on the earth. The others are "every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation," that have heard comparatively little about the gospel. But he will endeavour to deal with both; and more particularly "all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose name is not written in the book of life of the slain Lamb from the foundation of the world."
Carefully bear in mind that "from the foundation of the world" belongs not to "slain," but to the writing of the name. John does not mean that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, but that the name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. Compare Revelation 17:8.
"If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity." The importance of this statement was to guard the saints themselves from taking power peremptorily into their own hands. They might cry to God, they might ask Him to arise and judge the earth, but they were not to fight themselves. As the beast would take power, so should he suffer the consequence. He might lead into captivity, but into captivity he must go. He might kill with the sword, but he must be killed himself: indeed, his would be a still more awful doom. At the same time patience, with this retributive sanction annexed, is put in as a general principle, and stated in such a form as to apply to any one. It was surely and particularly meant to guard the saints from mistake and wrong. I do not think the direct application is to the beast, but rather warning to the saints of God. "Here is the patience and faith of the saints." This gives the application.
In the latter part of the chapter we have a second beast. This calls for more attention, because there has been and there is a danger of some confusion and difficulty on this subject. Let it be observed that the second beast it is which more particularly resembles in wickedness what the Lord Jesus was in goodness. It is indeed a "beast;" that is, it has a kind of imperial power, though very likely on a far smaller scale than the first beast. Still it has the character of empire attached to it. It is a beast, and not merely a horn. Then the horns that it has have a peculiar character. "He had two horns like a lamb." There was the pretence of resembling the Messiah. But "he spake as a dragon." It was really the expression of Satan. "And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence." It is, therefore, plain that the second beast is really the more energetic of the two, and the active instrument of evil.
And this is always the case in every form of wickedness that has ever been forged for this world. The promoters of it the persons that exercise the influence, sometimes unseen, sometimes publicly are as a rule those that put religion forward. The religion of the earth is the prolific source of all the worst evil that is done under the sun. The devil could not accomplish his plans if there was not such a thing as earthly religion. Is not this an awful thing to think of, and a solemn thing, too, for those that have the smallest connection with it?
Accordingly in this case, observe, the second beast which resembles Christ, and takes that place, does not come out of the sea, or the turbulent state of the nations, but out of the earth. It is a more settled state of things when this beast appears, who exercises all the authority of the first beast before him (that is, in his presence, with his full sanction: it is not usurpation; it is not in any sense something done without him; but it is done in his presence, as is here said); "and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast" (there is an understanding between them), "whose deadly wound was healed." It is remarkable that in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 we do not hear of his causing the world to worship the first beast; but that he compels or at any rate claims worship, and is himself worshipped as God. For he arrogates divine worship to himself.
It makes the whole matter plain, if we remember that the first beast means the Roman empire, and, consequently, its seat is the west. The second beast, on the contrary, is in the land of Palestine, and has a Jewish form. Any one who looks at2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 can see that we are in view of what will be in the land of Judea, and not in Rome. It is the temple of God that is particularly seen, where the man of sin sets himself up as an object of worship. Only we must remember that we must read scripture with scripture. Supposing I treat the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians as giving me all that the Bible tells about the man of sin, I foreclose scripture, and must have an imperfect account. On the other hand, if we take only what we have inRevelation 13:1-18; Revelation 13:1-18, we shall want certain elements necessary for completing the sketch. I believe that all this is arranged with consummate wisdom by God, because He does not want us to read only one part of His word; He wishes us thoroughly to search into all His word. He will not give a proper understanding of holy writ, unless there be a real confidence in and value for all that He has given us. Consequently it is only by putting together these scriptures, as to which there is ample light to show what is referred to, that we can really understand the subject.
Now it is quite plain in the first part of the chapter that we have before us a mighty political power. It is equally certain that 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 describes not a vast imperial system so much as a religious power. An utterly lawless personage is the man of sin, but still essentially a religious power. It claims to itself what belongs to God; and this is precisely what we find connected with the second beast.
We may remark another feature in the symbol here. It had two horns. The reason, as I suppose, is connected with the whole testimony of John. Any one who has looked into it will see that even as to our blessed Lord Himself, the general bent is to show what He was on earth not what He is in heaven. I admit there are exceptional passages in John; but while Paul's object is to direct us to Christ in heaven, as the characteristic point of his witness, John on the contrary draws particular attention to what He was on earth.
This seems to me of importance for the meaning of these two horns. The Lord Jesus, as all are aware, was a prophet on earth; and assuredly, as we know, He will reign as king over the earth. But what lies between? He is priest; but He is priest in heaven. Accordingly it is not the place of John but of Paul to bring out the heavenly priesthood of Christ. John never, as far as I know, develops the offices of Christ above. Not but that he points out what connects itself with them, as for instance, inJohn 13:1-38; John 13:1-38, and again inJohn 14:1-31; John 14:1-31, as well as inJohn 17:1-26; John 17:1-26 and John 20:1-31. But these are quite exceptions. The general strain of John is to dwell on Christ manifesting God here below. Paul's doctrine is man glorified in heaven.
Accordingly this I believe to be the key to the two horns of the beast. When the Antichrist appears, he will not take the place of being a priest; far higher will be his assumption. He will set up to be a prophet, and a king, yea, a king imitating what Christ will be to Israel. We have two horns, not seven; it is an imitation, but not of the full power of Christ. In the Lord we see perfection of power, just as could be said of the Holy Ghost in His fulness of power for government. In the Antichrist there is the pretension to what belonged to Christ connected with the earth, and with the most marked absence of what pertains to Him in heaven.
This is no mean evidence by the way, that the idea of applying all this to the papacy as its full meaning is a mistake; for the essential feature of the papacy lies in its assumption to be a living earthly representative of Christ's priesthood. It is precisely the corruption of what is heavenly and not Messianic. Popery is much more antichurch than antichrist. Such is the difference.
But when Revelation 13:1-18 is fulfilled, there is no question of the church any longer. The Christian body will be no more seen on earth. the saints of the high places are on high. Accordingly it is not a mere sham clothing with the priestly power of Christ which the antichrist makes, but a false assumption of His prophetical place which was on the earth, and of His kingly sphere which will be on the earth. This personage claims both powers. He has two horns like a lamb, and is active in the performance of great signs and wonders. He has a double activity. First of all, he borrows the controlling influence of the Roman empire, he exercises all the authority of the first beast. Besides this, he does a vast deal on his own account which the Roman emperor could not do. "And he worketh great signs, that he should even make fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." That is, he imitates the power not only of Christ but of God. He claims to be the Jehovah God of Israel. Just as Jesus is Jehovah as well as Messiah, so this vessel of Satan's power in Jerusalem will emulate what God did by Elijah to disprove the claims of Baal. Fire, we know, came down and consumed the sacrifice of old, and God demonstrated as clearly that Baal was not God, as that Jehovah was. So the second beast will do wonders, not really, but in appearance. "He worketh great signs that he should even make fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of those signs which it was given him to work in the sight of the beast."
All shows that this is the antichrist. The first beast does not work any miracles whatever. He astonishes the world by reviving imperialism; but this is a very different thing and cannot properly be called a sign. It may and will amaze men, but is not a miracle. But the beast out of the earth or land, which is incomparably more active and energetic than the first, does work great signs (no doubt by Satan's energy, but still he works them); and the consequence is that he "deceiveth them that dwell on the earth," saying to them especially "to make an image to the beast, which had the stroke of the sword, and lived." I am not prepared to say whether this is or is not the abomination of desolation set up in the holy place. It seems to resemble that idol, and may probably be the same thing.
"And it was given him to give life to 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. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast. for it is a man's number; and his number [is] six hundred threescore [and] six."
The various guesses that have been made respecting this number are most inadequate. It may be that it is one of those secrets that cannot be unravelled until the person appears, when we may be sure that at least the wise will understand it. That we are to understand it now is, I think, more than we ought to assume. To what moral profit could it possibly serve? Assuredly everything that can edify and refresh the soul, and that can be used by the Holy Ghost for real blessing in separating us from the world and attaching us to heaven, and, above all, to Christ, we may gather from the Revelation rightly understood now. Indeed, I believe we can gather a great deal more than those who are to be in the circumstances will be able to reap in their day. But there may be points of minute application kept back by the wise reserve of God, who does not indulge mere curiosity, as this would be. Such knowledge will be of practical importance only when the time comes; and therefore I do not doubt that this is just one of those points in which the Lord does not gratify men's minds now. I have heard no explanation that carries any force along with it. Many of those which have been offered entirely and obviously fail for instance, "apostacy" and such like explanations. "Apostacy" is not the number of a man; nor for similar reasons can "apostate" stand, nor, perhaps, "the Latin man" or kingdom, though certainly entitled to attention. Further, it does not seem, as generally thought, to be the number of antichrist, the second beast, but of the Roman empire, or rather Emperor, in final antagonism to Jehovah and His anointed.
Next we come to Revelation 14:1-20, where we have neither the counsels of God as opposed by Satan, first in heaven and then in earth; nor the plan and instruments by which Satan gives battle to those counsels. All this we have had in chapters 12 and 13. But now we enter on another line of things. What is God doing with His own? Nothing? Impossible! All must be active and good. God, therefore, is pleased to reveal to us a variety of ways in which He will put forth His power, and send both testimony and warning suited to the crisis; and this is given with remarkable completeness throughout the seven divisions into which this chapter naturally divides itself.
The first is a certain numbered multitude separated to the Lamb on mount Zion. The Lord Jesus is about to insist on His rights in the midst of Israel; and Zion is the known centre of royal grace. Royal, I say, because it is Christ asserting His title as Son of David; but it is also royal grace., because it supposes the total ruin of Israel, and that the Lord in pure favour begins there to gather round Himself once more. This accordingly is the first form in which God displays His action for the last days. The devil may have his beasts and horns; God has His Lamb; and the Lamb now is not seen on the throne in heaven, or taking a book. He stands on mount Zion. It is a notable point of progress toward the kingdom that is clearly brought before us before the close.
"And I looked, and, lo, the Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty-four thousand, having his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." They are not spoken of as conscious of any such relationship, as it is not a question of their Father, not of His Father and their Father. Nothing of the kind is ever found in the Apocalypse but "his Father's name on their foreheads." "And I heard a voice from heaven, as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sing [as it were] a new song in presence of the throne, and in presence of the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were bought from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins."
These saints had not corrupted themselves; and the name of the Lamb is coupled with them. With Babylonish wickedness here below they had nothing to do; they were pure, and are associated with the holy Sufferer. "These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were bought from among men, first-fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault" ["before the throne of God" is spurious]. Such is the first action of God. It is a complete remnant, not said to be from the twelve tribes of Israel, such as we saw inRevelation 7:1-17; Revelation 7:1-17; but this is particularly of the Jews. They were gathered out from those guilty of rejecting the Lamb. And now. God answers all that and other wickedness by this merciful and honourable separation to the Lamb, who is now about to be installed in His royal seat on mount Zion.
The next scene gives us an angel flying. "And I saw," it is said, "another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having [the] everlasting gospel to preach unto those that sit on the earth, and unto every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people." Why is it called "everlasting"? We must remember that the gospel which is being preached now is a very special gospel, and in no way an everlasting gospel. Nobody ever heard the gospel that is preached now till Jesus died and rose and even went to heaven. That is to say, the gospel as it should be preached in and out of Christendom depends on the most stupendous facts ever accomplished here below, for which God waited more than four thousand years even of man's dwelling on the earth before He would or could righteously send it forth. Consequently the gospel of the grace of God, as we know, is not properly (never in scripture) called the "everlasting gospel." I suspect that most use these terms without thinking what is really meant. When they call the gospel now the "everlasting gospel," they have probably some vague notion that it connects us with eternity. They think it a fine-sounding epithet, conveying I really do not know what; but at any rate it is to be supposed that there is some idea in the mind of those that so characterize "the gospel of God." It is certainly a mistake, if scripture is to decide.
"Everlasting gospel" means what it says. It means those glad tidings that always have been and always will be true: whatever else God has made known to man, this has always abode unchanging. What is it then? The glad tidings of God always were that He purposes to bless man by the promised seed Christ Jesus, to set him up over the rest of creation, to have dominion as His image and glory. At the very beginning the first chapter of Genesis proves that this is God's mind for man here below. The end of all things will proclaim the selfsame thing. The millennium will be a grand demonstrative testimony to it. In the new heavens and the new earth man will be thoroughly and for ever blest.
The declaration of this I believe to be the everlasting gospel. In the latter day it will act as the setting aside of the lie of Satan, who puts and would fain keep man in a position of estrangement from God, who is morally forced to be the judge of man instead of being the blesser of all upon the earth, and consequently to cast him into hell. All this, it is plain, is the fruit of Satan's wiles; but the everlasting gospel presents God as the blesser of man and creation, as it always was in His mind, and as He will certainly bring it to pass; not, of course, for every individual man, because those who despise His mercy in Christ, and those especially who having heard despise the gospel of His grace, must be lost for ever. I am speaking now of what always was before Him, and always kept before man in His word.
The way in which the subject is spoken of here confirms this. "Fear God," is the message, "and give glory to him" (there is thus the evident contradiction of idolatry); "for the hour of his judgment is come." Then will be the downfall of all those that oppose God, not only of all the vanities of the nations, but of all those that heed or sustain them against God. "Worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Clearly therefore it is the universal message of God to man, and connected with His creation glory. The solemn threat of His speedy judgments is a ground of pressing on the blinded consciences of man the claim of the honour solely due to Him.
There are no doubt many who think it an extraordinary circumstance that God should send out such a message as this in days rapidly approaching. Let me say why such a difficulty is felt. It is because men conjecture and judge out of their own position and their own relationships. But never earl we understand anything aright as long as we reason and conclude thus. It is not the way to understand any part of the Bible, least of all perhaps prophecy. If it be a question of our conduct or duty, it is indispensable to stand on our proper relationship; we must abide carefully in the place that God has given us, while bowing to the word of God that applies to us there. How can we act intelligently or rightly as Christians unless we, knowing what it means, believe we are Christians? We only glorify our God and Father just so far as we look up as children to Him as our Father, and as saints own Him as our God. This is surely true. But here no Christians are said to be on earth: we have elect Jews; we have nations, along with "those that sit upon the earth." That is, there are men, apparently apostates, under the latter designation, as well as the general mass of mere nations, tribes, tongues, and peoples. It seems then that God comes down, as it were, to meet them on the lowest possible ground of His own truth. And what is that? They are called to fear God and give glory to Him; and this is on the ground that He is Judge, just about to deal with His own world. He calls upon them to abandon all that idolatry into which they will have fallen, particularly in those days.
And I have not the slightest question myself that at this present moment there is the working of a leaven that will end in idolatry, especially (if there be in this a difference) for the higher orders of this country, who will drag in the lower also. In the humbler classes there is in another way that grossness of love for sensible objects and show that will prepare them for idolatry. But I repeat that there is the active instilling of a spirit, no doubt more subtle and refined in the educated classes, which, in my judgment, will infallibly school them into naturalistic idolatry before many years are over. There is, on the one hand, the material tendency of modern science and literature; there is, on the other, the condescending patronage of times that are past. On these dangerous tracks all that is now energetically leavening the world tends to bring man back to heathenism again; i.e., the apostacy.
However this may be judged by those who hear it, we must remember that there will be also another cause of a most solemn nature, which is plainly revealed: God is going to pour out a judicial delusion on Christendom. It is certain that He will not only inflict severe blows of judgment, but give men up to believe a lie the great lie of the devil. Here is the great truth of all times: that God, the God who has now revealed Himself in Christ and by redemption, alone is the due object of worship. So far then is this message, to my mind, from being a strange thing that it appears exactly suitable to man as then situated, and no less to God's wisdom and goodness.
Another consideration perhaps may help some as connected with this, and confirmatory of it, founded on Matthew 25:1-46, where the nations are called up before the Son of man when He sits as King upon the throne. It will be remembered that he tells those whom He designates as the sheep that, inasmuch as they did what they had done to His brethren, it was really to Him; as, on the other hand, the insults fell on Him which were aimed at them. These acts of kindness, or the contrary, will be owned by the Lord here. It is no use for people to call it the general judgment, or the judgment of our works. It is not. The one principle before us in this scripture is His dealing with the living Gentiles, or the nations according to their ways with His brethren; and it will require real power of God to act aright then. The pressure against His messengers will be enormous. If any receive them well, it will be from faith. I grant that the measure of their faith is small. That to honour His brethren is virtually to honour Himself, they do not themselves know. When they stand in presence of the King, how astonished they are that He should regard what was done to the messengers of His gospel in the last days as if done to His own.
Certainly these Gentiles were wrought in by divine grace, yet very evidently they will not be what you would call "intelligent." But then how often must we beware of making too much of this! What a constant snare it is to slip into an unconscious criticism! Men are apt to give themselves an exaggerated importance on the score of their knowledge. God, I am sure, always attaches a far higher value to the heed paid to the Lord Himself, and this too in those that He sends out. It is always a crucial test. It will be so then most of all, because these messages will go forth to the nations on the earth when, growingly lifted up and self-satisfied, they are summoned by messengers, poor and contemptible in their eyes, who will solemnly proclaim the kingdom just coming the King who is coming in person to judge the quick apart from and before the judgment of the dead. But some souls here and there will receive them, not only treating them kindly, but this because they receive the message. The power of the Spirit of God alone will give them this faith. None less than God Himself will incline their heart. Accordingly the Lord will refer to this reception, or the kindness that accompanied it, as an evidence of their heeding Himself in the persons of His messengers.
This I consider to be similar, if not the same, as the everlasting gospel; indeed it is called by Matthew the "gospel of the kingdom." I am inclined to infer that the "gospel of the kingdom" and the "everlasting gospel" are substantially identical; and that it was thus described because it was always in the purpose of God to establish this kingdom over the world, and to bless man himself here below. This Matthew, in accordance with his design, calls rather the "gospel of the kingdom," because Christ is going to be King. John, it would seem, calls it the "everlasting gospel," because it is in contrast with special messages from time to time, as well as with all that bad to do with man as he is here below. At this most corrupt time, then, the message will be sent forth, and certain souls will receive it by God's grace.
Thus the second scene in the chapter is the proclamation of the everlasting gospel unto those settled down on the earth, and to the nations, etc., as the first section was the separation of a remnant of Jews to the Lamb on mount Zion.
The third section, which may be passed over with comparatively few words, is a warning respecting the fall of Babylon. An angel comes forth, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, the great city, which made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
The fourth is a warning about the beast. "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark on his forehead, or on his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mingled without mixture in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up unto ages of ages: and they. have no rest day and night, who worship the beast and his image, and if any one receiveth the mark of his name." So far these divine dealings all go in pairs: as the work among the Jews, and then a final testimony to the Gentiles; then the warning about Babylon, and another about the beast. "Here is the endurance of the saints, that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Then we come to the fifth, which is rather different. It is a declaration, that "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth." From this time nobody that belongs to the Lord is going to die, and those that die in the Lord ( i.e. in fact all who have thus died) are just on the point of blessedness, not by personal exemption but by the first resurrection and the reign with the Lord, which will terminate all further persecution and death for His name. The wicked must pay the wages of sin, and be destroyed by the judgments of God; but there shall be no more dying in the Lord after this. As a class these are to be blessed (not to die) henceforth. "And I heard a voice out of heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they shall rest from their labours; for their works do follow with them." There is an end of such sorrow and labour: the Lord is going to take the world and all things in hand.
Accordingly in the next scene "I saw, and, behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sitting like unto [the] Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Send thy sickle, and reap; for the hour is come to reap; for the harvest of the earth is dried. And he that sat on the cloud thrust his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped." It is not here a question of gathering in. The Son of man is seen with the crown of gold, King of righteousness, not yet manifested as King of peace.
And then the close of all the scenes comes. "And another angel came out of the temple that is in heaven, having himself also a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, that had authority over the fire; and called with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripened." This goes farther. For the harvest the call was out of the temple; here it is out of the temple that is in heaven. It is not only wrath on earth but from heaven. And another angel comes out from the altar ( i.e., the place of human responsibility, where God manifests Himself to sinners in the sacrifice of Christ, judging sins but in grace). So much the more tremendous His vengeance on the earthly religionists who despise Christ and the cross in deed if not in word. This angel has authority over the fire, the sign of detective and consuming judgment. In short, we have here the harvest and the vintage, the two great forms of the judgment at the close; the harvest being that judgment that discerns between the just and the unjust, and the vintage being the infliction of unmingled wrath on apostate religion, "the vine of the earth," which is the object of God's special abhorrence.
It is plain, therefore, that here we have seven distinct acts in which God will interfere in the way of forming a testimony, of warnings to the world and comfort to His people, and finally of judging the results as far as the quick are concerned.
But a very peculiar scene is described in Revelation 15:1-8, and Revelation 16:1-21. On this one need not now bestow more than a few words. "I saw another sign in heaven." It is clearly connected with what we have had inRevelation 12:1-17; Revelation 12:1-17. "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having seven plagues, the last; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." You will observe that it is not yet the coming of Christ. This is of importance to show the structure of this portion of the book. We must carefully beware of supposing that the seven bowls are after the Son of man is come for the harvest and the vintage of the earth. We shall find, so far from this being the case, that the vision must go back, I do not say to the beginning ofRevelation 14:1-20; Revelation 14:1-20, but before the end of it. The very last of the bowls, the seventh, is the fall of Babylon. Now that act of judgment would correspond to the third dealing of God in chapter 14. The first was the separation of the Jews; the second the everlasting gospel to the Gentiles; and the third the fall of Babylon. Thus the last bowl only brings us up to the same point. Hence the bowls must not in any way be supposed to follow after chapter 14, but only after its earlier part at the utmost. This is important, because it may help some to gather a juster idea how to place chronologically the various portions of the book. The last bowl is also the last outpouring of God's wrath before the Lord Jesus Christ comes. Consequently it must precede the latter part of that chapter. It synchronizes, we have seen, with the third out of its seven consecutive sections. The end of chapter 16 does not in point of time fall lower than the third step in those of chapter 14. The fourth probably, but certainly the fifth, sixth, and seventh are events necessarily subsequent to all the bowls.
Let us look then a little into the subject. "I saw as it were a sea of glass." but here it is distinguished in its accompaniments from the description inRevelation 4:1-11; Revelation 4:1-11. There the elders were seen on thrones, with the sea of glass bearing its silent but strong testimony that these saints had done with earthly need and danger, that those who required the washing of water by the word are not contemplated in this scene. This is all intelligible and even plain. When the glorified saints are caught up to heaven, they no longer require what was set forth by the laver and its water to purify; for the sea of glass attests that the purity was fixed. The fact is, that they were beyond the scene where water was needed to cleanse their daily defilements.
Here it is not merely a sea of glass, but mingled with fire. What does this teach? It declares, in my opinion, that these saints passed through a time of fearful fiery tribulation, as did not the elders. The absence of the fire in connection with the elders is just as significant as the presence of fire in connection with the saints in collision with the beast and the false prophet, of whom we are now speaking. If people ask you, "Are the saints to pass through the time of tribulation? The right answer is, What saints do you mean? If you mean those that are presented by the elders caught up at Christ's coming, clearly they will not. Scripture is positive. If you only mean that some saints are to pass through that tremendous time, it is unquestionable. In short, we have only to distinguish, and all becomes perfectly plain: by confounding the two classes all is made a mass of obscurity. But scripture cannot be broken.
Here then we find a sea of glass mingled with fire. "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and those that have gained the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God." The victory over the beast is never predicated of the elders in any sort; nor is there any connection with the elders here. It is a closing scene of fearful trial. This is important. The victories here are confined to the time when Satan's last plans become consummated. These were delivered from them probably before the beast falls. At any rate, the time does not seem of prime importance, but the fact is undeniable that these conquerors belong exclusively to the time of the last efforts of the devil through the beast and the false prophet. They are strictly speaking therefore Apocalyptic saints, and the final company of them. It will be recollected that in our last lecture we saw the first sufferers. Although these may have fallen under the hand of the Roman Empire, they really got the victory over it, and are here seen standing on the sea of glass having harps of God. Their melody in praise of the Lord was none the worse for the sea of tribulation through which they had passed into His presence.
"And they sing the song of Moses, servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." Thus it is plain that they are not Christians in the strict sense of the word. Assuredly they are saints in the most real sense, but not standing in the relations which now subsist; they are not to have that sort of bond which is made good by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in those who are now in association with Christ. So exclusive is it that those who may have been under Moses are under him no more; they own no master or head save Christ, Whereas the souls of whom we read here still retain their link with Jewish things, though beyond a doubt they serve God and the Lamb. Hence we hear of them "saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, O King" not "of saints," but "of nations." There is no such thing in scripture as "King of saints." This is one of the worst readings of the vicious received text of the Revelation. I do not hesitate to say, both that it is against the best witnesses, and that it conveys a heterodox meaning, and is consequently mischievous. For what can go more practically to destroy the proper relationship of the saints of the Lord? Elsewhere we never hear of such a thing as "King of saints," nor has it any just sense. To the saints the Lord Jesus stands undoubtedly as their Lord and master; but king is a relationship with a nation living on the earth. It is not at all a connection that pertains to the new man. Besides, these if martyred belong actually to heaven, where such a relationship would be strange indeed. Thus it is strange doctrine as well as a fictitious reading. The allusion is toJeremiah 10:7; Jeremiah 10:7. There you will find "king of nations," with other words which are cited here. If these saints were not exclusively Gentiles, at least they comprehended such; and this has to be borne in mind in reading the passage. The true title then is "king of Gentiles" or of "nations." No doubt King of the Jews He is; but those in particular who were Gentiles themselves would and ought to rejoice in being able to praise Him as the King of nations.
"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee" (here again it is not Israel, but all nations shall come); "for thy judgments are made manifest." They are anticipating the triumph that is reserved for God in the day of the glory of Christ's coming.
"And after that I saw, and there was opened the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven: and the seven angels came out of the temple, that had the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who liveth unto the ages of the ages. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no one was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled." It is not now the ark of God's covenant seen in the opened temple. It is characterised as the tabernacle of the testimony, and judgments follow on apostate Gentiles, not the revelation of the divine counsels touching Israel.
Then (Revelation 16:1-21) we have these seven bowls poured out. It is not now "the third" as under the trumpets, with which the analogy is close; there is no restriction to the western empire of Rome. The whole apostate sphere is smitten, and with yet more severity. The first, as we know, was on the earth; the second on the sea; the third on the rivers and fountains of waters; and the fourth on the sun. Thus all the different departments of nature, whatever may be symbolized by them (and their meaning seems to me neither indeterminate 'nor obscure), were visited by the bowls of God's wrath.
The three later bowls, like the three woe trumpets, come to closer quarters with men.
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. It is clear therefore that we have here a Gentile sphere before us, which fits in with the prefatory scene. "The fifth angel poured out his bowl upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings that are from the sun-rising might be prepared." The Euphrates was the boundary that separated the empire on its oriental frontiers from the vast hordes of uncivilized north-eastern nations destined to come into conflict with the powers of the west in the latter day. Thus the way is made plain for them to come forward and enter into the final struggle. This seems the meaning of the drying up of the great river. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of demons, working signs, which go forth unto the kings of the whole habitable earth, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God the Almighty." This gives proof of what I have just now referred to. There is about to be a universal uprising and fight to the death between the east and the west. But the Lord has designs which neither side knows nor regards, and He is no indifferent spectator. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And they" (for I take it so) "gathered them together unto the place called in the Hebrew tongue Armagedon."
Lastly comes the seventh angel, who deals with the world still more decidedly and universally by pouring on the air. "And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake" and not only great but unexampled "such as was not since men were upon the earth, such an earthquake, so great." Clearly, therefore, judgment from heaven becomes yet more unsparing in its blows on man here below. "And the great city came ( ἐγένετο ) into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon was remembered before God." This accounts for the warning of the fall of Babylon referred to in the complete series of God's dealings inRevelation 14:1-20; Revelation 14:1-20. To that Revelation 16:1-21 now brings us up in point of time.
This must suffice for tonight, though no more than a sketch of the general bearing of this part of the prophecy.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Revelation 13:1". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/revelation-13.html. 1860-1890.
the Third Week after Epiphany