And the first beast [was] like a lion
And this figure expresses the strength of the ministers of the word, the lion being the strongest among beasts, ( Proverbs 30:30 ) , to do the work they are called to, to endure hardness, as good soldiers of Christ, and to bear the infirmities of the weak; and also it denotes their courage and boldness in preaching the Gospel of Christ, without fearing the faces of men, or of being afraid of their revilings:
and the second beast like a calf;
or "ox", for so the word here used signifies in the Hellenistic language, and with the Septuagint interpreters, and agrees with ( Ezekiel 1:10 ) , and designs the laboriousness of Christ's faithful ministers in treading out the corn of Gospel truth, who labour in the word and doctrine, and are labourers with God; as also their humility, meekness, and patience in bearing insults, reproaches, and sufferings for Christ, and instructing those that oppose themselves:
and the third beast had a face as a man;
and points at the humanity and tender heartedness, the wisdom, prudence, knowledge, and understanding, and the use of the reasoning faculty, together with a manly spirit in abiding by the Gospel at any rate; all which are so necessary in the ministers of the word.
And the fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle;
which sets forth the sagacity and penetration of Gospel ministers into the deep things of God, and mysteries of grace, and their readiness and swiftness to do the will of God, in publishing the everlasting Gospel; see ( Revelation 14:6 ) .