Revelation 13:1-18 . VISION OF THE BEAST THAT CAME OUT OF THE SEA: THE SECOND BEAST, OUT OF THE EARTH, EXERCISING THE POWER OF THE FIRST BEAST, AND CAUSING THE EARTH TO WORSHIP HIM.
3. One of--literally, "from among."
wounded . . . healed--twice again repeated emphatically ( Revelation 13:12 Revelation 13:14 ); compare Revelation 17:8 Revelation 17:11 , "the beast that was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit" (compare Revelation 13:11 ); the Germanic empire, the seventh head (revived in the eighth), as yet future in John's time ( Revelation 17:10 ). Contrast the change whereby Nebuchadnezzar, being humbled from his self-deifying pride, was converted from his beast-like form and character to MAN'S form and true position towards God; symbolized by his eagle wings being plucked, and himself made to stand upon his feet as a man ( Daniel 7:4 ). Here, on the contrary, the beast's head is not changed into a human head, but receives a deadly wound, that is, the world kingdom which this head represents does not truly turn to God, but for a time its God-opposed character remains paralyzed ("as it were slain"; the very words marking the beast's outward resemblance to the Lamb, "as it were slain," second beast's resemblance to the Lamb, Revelation 13:11 ). Though seemingly slain (Greek for "wounded"), it remains the beast still, to rise again in another form ( Revelation 13:11 ). The first six heads were heathenish, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome; the new seventh world power (the pagan German hordes pouring down on Christianized Rome), whereby Satan had hoped to stifle Christianity ( Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:16 ), became itself Christianized (answering to the beast's, as it were, deadly wound: it was slain, and it is not, Revelation 17:11 ). Its ascent out of the bottomless pit answers to the healing of its deadly wound ( Revelation 17:8 ). No essential change is noticed in Daniel as effected by Christianity upon the fourth kingdom; it remains essentially God-opposed to the last. The beast, healed of its temporary and external wound, now returns, not only from the sea, but from the bottomless pit, whence it draws new Antichristian strength of hell ( Revelation 13:3 Revelation 13:11 Revelation 13:12 Revelation 13:14 , Revelation 11:7 , 17:8 ). Compare the seven evil spirits taken into the temporarily dispossessed, and the last state worse than the first, Matthew 12:43-45 . A new and worse heathenism breaks in upon the Christianized world, more devilish than the old one of the first heads of the beast. The latter was an apostasy only from the general revelation of God in nature and conscience; but this new one is from God's revelation of love in His Son. It culminates in Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition (compare Revelation 17:11 ); 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ; compare 2 Timothy 3:1-4 , the very characteristics of old heathenism ( Romans 1:29-32 ) [AUBERLEN]. More than one wound seems to me to be meant, for example, that under Constantine (when the pagan worship of the emperor's image gave way to Christianity), followed by the healing, when image worship and the other papal errors were introduced into the Church; again, that at the Reformation, followed by the lethargic form of godliness without the power, and about to end in the last great apostasy, which I identify with the second beast ( Revelation 13:11 ), Antichrist, the same seventh world power in another form.
wondered after--followed with wondering gaze.
4. which gave--A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS read, "because he gave."
power--Greek, "the authority" which it had; its authority.
Who is like unto the beast?--The very language appropriated to God, Exodus 15:11 (whence, in the Hebrew, the Maccabees took their name; the opponents of the Old Testament Antichrist, Antiochus); Psalms 35:10 , 71:19 , 113:5 , Micah 7:18 ; blasphemously ( Revelation 13:1 Revelation 13:5 ) assigned to the beast. It is a parody of the name "Michael" (compare Revelation 12:7 ), meaning, "Who is like unto God?"
5. blasphemies--So ANDREAS reads. B reads "blasphemy." A, "blasphemous things" (compare Daniel 7:8 , 11:25 ).
power--"authority"; legitimate power (Greek, "exousia").
to continue--Greek, "poiesai," "to act," or "work." B reads, "to make war" (compare Revelation 13:4 ). But A, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS omit "war."
forty . . . two
6. opened . . . mouth--The usual formula in the case of a set speech, or series of speeches. Revelation 13:6 Revelation 13:7 expand Revelation 13:5 .
blasphemy--So B and ANDREAS. A and C read "blasphemies."
and them--So Vulgate, Coptic, ANDREAS, and PRIMASIUS read. A and C omit "and": "them that dwell (literally, 'tabernacle') in heaven," mean not only angels and the departed souls of the righteous, but believers on earth who have their citizenship in heaven, and whose true life is hidden from the Antichristian persecutor in the secret of God's tabernacle.
7. power--Greek, "authority."
all kindreds . . . tongues . . . nations--Greek, "every tribe . . . tongue . . . nation." A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, ANDREAS, and PRIMASIUS add "and people," after "tribe" or "kindred."
8. all that dwell upon the earth--being of earth earthy; in contrast to "them that dwell in heaven."
whose names are not written--A, B, C, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS read singular, "(every one) whose (Greek, 'hou'; but B, Greek, 'hon,' plural) name is not written."
Lamb slain from the foundation of the world--The Greek order of words favors this translation. He was slain in the Father's eternal counsels: compare 1 Peter 1:19 1 Peter 1:20 , virtually parallel. The other way of connecting the words is, "Written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb slain." So in Revelation 17:8 . The elect. The former is in the Greek more obvious and simple. "Whatsoever virtue was in the sacrifices, did operate through Messiah's death alone. As He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," so all atonements ever made were only effectual by His blood" [BISHOP PEARSON, Exposition of the Creed].
9. A general exhortation. Christ's own words of monition calling solemn attention.
10. He that leadeth into captivity--A, B, C, and Vulgate read, "if any one (be) for captivity."
shall go into captivity--Greek present, "goeth into captivity." Compare Jeremiah 15:2 , which is alluded to here. Aleph, B, and C read simply, "he goeth away," and omit "into captivity." But A and Vulgate support the words.
he that killeth with the sword, must be killed with the sword--So B and C read. But A reads, "if any (is for) being (literally, 'to be') killed with the sword." As of old, so now, those to be persecuted by the beast in various ways, have their trials severally appointed them by God's fixed counsel. English Version is quite a different sense, namely, a warning to the persecutors that they shall be punished with retribution in kind.
Here--"Herein": in bearing their appointed sufferings lies the patient endurance . . . of the saints. This is to be the motto and watchword of the elect during the period of the world kingdom. As the first beast is to be met by patience and faith ( Revelation 13:10 ), the second beast must be opposed by true wisdom ( Revelation 13:18 ).
11. another beast--"the false prophet."
out of the earth--out of society civilized, consolidated, and ordered, but still, with all its culture, of earth earthy: as distinguished from "the sea," the troubled agitations of various peoples out of which the world power and its several kingdoms have emerged. "The sacerdotal persecuting power, pagan and Christian; the pagan priesthood making an image of the emperors which they compelled Christians to worship, and working wonders by magic and omens; the Romish priesthood, the inheritors of pagan rites, images, and superstitions, lamb-like in Christian professions, dragon-like in word and act" [ALFORD, and so the Spanish Jesuit, LACUNZA, writing under the name BEN EZRA]. As the first beast was like the Lamb in being, as it were, wounded to death, so the second is like the Lamb in having two lamb-like horns (its essential difference from the Lamb is marked by its having TWO, but the Lamb SEVEN horns, Revelation 5:6 ). The former paganism of the world power, seeming to be wounded to death by Christianity, revives. In its second beast-form it is Christianized heathendom ministering to the former, and having earthly culture and learning to recommend it. The second beast's, or false prophet's rise, coincides in time with the healing of the beast's deadly wound and its revival ( Revelation 13:12-14 ). Its manifold character is marked by the Lord ( Matthew 24:11 Matthew 24:24 ), "Many false prophets shall rise," where He is speaking of the last days. As the former beast corresponds to the first four beasts of Daniel, so the second beast, or the false prophet, to the little horn starting up among the ten horns of the fourth beast. This Antichristian horn has not only the mouth of blasphemy ( Revelation 13:5 ), but also "the eyes of man" ( Daniel 7:8 ): the former is also in the first beast ( Revelation 13:1 Revelation 13:5 ), but the latter not so. "The eyes of man" symbolize cunning and intellectual culture, the very characteristic of "the false prophet" ( Revelation 13:13-15 , Revelation 16:14 ). The first beast is physical and political; the second a spiritual power, the power of knowledge, ideas (the favorite term in the French school of politics), and scientific cultivation. Both alike are beasts, from below, not from above; faithful allies, worldly Antichristian wisdom standing in the service of the worldly Antichristian power: the dragon is both lion and serpent: might and cunning are his armory. The dragon gives his external power to the first beast ( Revelation 13:2 ), his spirit to the second, so that it speaks as a dragon ( Revelation 13:11 ). The second, arising out of the earth, is in Revelation 11:7 , 17:8 , said to ascend out of the bottomless pit: its very culture and world wisdom only intensify its infernal character, the pretense to superior knowledge and rationalistic philosophy (as in the primeval temptation, Genesis 3:5 Genesis 3:7 , "their EYES [as here] were opened") veiling the deification of nature, self, and man. Hence spring Idealism, Materialism, Deism, Pantheism, Atheism. Antichrist shall be the culmination. The Papacy's claim to the double power, secular and spiritual, is a sample and type of the twofold beast, that out of the sea, and that out of the earth, or bottomless pit. Antichrist will be the climax, and final form. PRIMASIUS OF ADRUMENTUM, in the sixth century, says, "He feigns to be a lamb that he may assail the Lamb--the body of Christ."
12. power--Greek, "authority."
before him--"in his presence"; as ministering to, and upholding him. "The non-existence of the beast embraces the whole Germanic Christian period. The healing of the wound and return of the beast is represented [in regard to its final Antichristian manifestation though including also, meanwhile, its healing and return under Popery, which is baptized heathenism] in that principle which, since 1789, has manifested itself in beast-like outbreaks" [AUBERLEN].
which dwell therein--the earthly-minded. The Church becomes the harlot: the world's political power, the Antichristian beast; the world's wisdom and civilization, the false prophet. Christ's three offices are thus perverted: the first beast is the false kingship; the harlot, the false priesthood; the second beast, the false prophet. The beast is the bodily, the false prophet the intellectual, the harlot the spiritual power of Antichristianity [AUBERLEN]. The Old-Testament Church stood under the power of the beast, the heathen world power: the Middle-Ages Church under that of the harlot: in modern times the false prophet predominates. But in the last days all these God-opposed powers which have succeeded each other shall co-operate, and raise each other to the most terrible and intense power of their nature: the false prophet causes men to worship the beast, and the beast carries the harlot. These three forms of apostasy are reducible to two: the apostate Church and the apostate world, pseudo-Christianity and Antichristianity, the harlot and the beast; for the false prophet is also a beast; and the two beasts, as different manifestations of the same beast-like principle, stand in contradistinction to the harlot, and are finally judged together, whereas separate judgment falls on the harlot [AUBERLEN].
deadly wound--Greek, "wound of death."
13. wonders--Greek, "signs."
so that--so great that.
maketh fire--Greek, "maketh even fire." This is the very miracle which the two witnesses perform, and which Elijah long ago had performed; this the beast from the bottomless pit, or the false prophet, mimics. Not merely tricks, but miracles of a demoniacal kind, and by demon aid, like those of the Egyptian magicians, shall be wrought, most calculated to deceive; wrought "after the working (Greek, 'energy') of Satan."
14. deceiveth them that dwell on the earth--the earthly-minded, but not the elect. Even a miracle is not enough to warrant belief in a professed revelation unless that revelation be in harmony with God's already revealed will.
by the means of those miracles--rather as Greek, "on account of (because of; in consequence of) those miracles."
which he had power to do--Greek, "which were given him to do."
in the sight of the beast--"before him" ( Revelation 13:12 ).
which--A, B, and C read, "who"; marking, perhaps, a personal Antichrist.
had--So B and ANDREAS read. But A, C, and Vulgate read, "hath."
15. he had power--Greek, "it was given to him."
to give life--Greek, "breath," or "spirit."
image--Nebuchadnezzar set up in Dura a golden image to be worshipped, probably of himself; for his dream had been interpreted, "Thou art this head of gold"; the three Hebrews who refused to worship the image were east into a burning furnace. All this typifies the last apostasy. PLINY, in his letter to Trajan, states that he consigned to punishment those Christians who would not worship the emperor's image with incense and wine. So JULIAN, the apostate, set up his own image with the idols of the heathen gods in the Forum, that the Christians in doing reverence to it, might seem to worship the idols. So Charlemagne's image was set up for homage; and the Pope adored the new emperor [DUPIN, vol. 6, p. 126]. Napoleon, the successor of Charlemagne, designed after he had first lowered the Pope by removing him to Fontainebleau, then to "make an idol of him" [Memorial de Sainte Helene]; keeping the Pope near him, he would, through the Pope's influence, have directed the religious, as well as the political world. The revived Napoleonic dynasty may, in some one representative, realize the project, becoming the beast supported by the false prophet (perhaps some openly infidel supplanter of the papacy, under a spiritual guise, after the harlot, or apostate Church, who is distinct from the second beast, has been stripped and judged by the beast, Revelation 17:16 ); he then might have an image set up in his honor as a test of secular and spiritual allegiance.
speak--"False doctrine will give a spiritual, philosophical appearance to the foolish apotheosis of the creaturely personified by Antichrist" [AUBERLEN]. JEROME, on Daniel 7, says, Antichrist shall be "one of the human race in whom the whole of Satan shall dwell bodily." Rome's speaking images and winking pictures of the Virgin Mary and the saints are an earnest of the future demoniacal miracles of the false prophet in making the beast's or Antichrist's image to speak.
16. to receive a mark--literally, "that they should give them a mark"; such a brand as masters stamp on their slaves, and monarchs on their subjects. Soldiers voluntarily punctured their arms with marks of the general under whom they served. Votaries of idols branded themselves with the idol's cipher or symbol. Thus Antiochus Epiphanes branded the Jews with the ivy leaf, the symbol of Bacchus (2 Maccabees 6:7; 3 Maccabees 2:29). Contrast God's seal and name in the foreheads of His servants, Revelation 7:3 , 14:1 , 22:4 ; and Galatians 6:17 , "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," that is, I am His soldier and servant. The mark in the right hand and forehead implies the prostration of bodily and intellectual powers to the beast's domination. "In the forehead by way of profession; in the hand with respect to work and service" [AUGUSTINE].
17. And--So A, B, and Vulgate read. C, IRENÆUS, 316, Coptic, and Syriac omit it.
might buy--Greek, "may be able to buy."
the mark, or the name--Greek, "the mark (namely), the name of the beast." The mark may be, as in the case of the sealing of the saints in the forehead, not a visible mark, but symbolical of allegiance. So the sign of the cross in Popery. The Pope's interdict has often shut out the excommunicate from social and commercial intercourse. Under the final Antichrist this shall come to pass in its most violent form.
number of his name--implying that the name has some numerical meaning.
18. wisdom--the armory against the second beast, as patience and faith against the first. Spiritual wisdom is needed to solve the mystery of iniquity, so as not to be beguiled by it.
count . . . for--The "for" implies the possibility of our calculating or counting the beast's number.
the number of a man--that is, counted as men generally count. So the phrase is used in Revelation 21:17 . The number is the number of a man, not of God; he shall extol himself above the power of the Godhead, as the MAN of sin [AQUINAS]. Though it is an imitation of the divine name, it is only human.
six hundred threescore and six--A and Vulgate write the numbers in full in the Greek. But B writes merely the three Greek letters standing for numbers, Ch, X, St. "C reads" 616, but IRENÆUS, 328, opposes this and maintains "666." IRENÆUS, in the second century, disciple of POLYCARP, John's disciple, explained this number as contained in the Greek letters of Lateinos (L being thirty; A, one; T, three hundred; E, five; I, ten; N, fifty; O, seventy; S, two hundred). The Latin is peculiarly the language of the Church of Rome in all her official acts; the forced unity of language in ritual being the counterfeit of the true unity; the premature and spurious anticipation of the real unity, only to be realized at Christ's coming, when all the earth shall speak "one language" ( Zephaniah 3:9 ). The last Antichrist may have a close connection with Rome, and so the name Lateinos (666) may apply to him. The Hebrew letters of Balaam amount to 666 [BUNSEN]; a type of the false prophet, whose characteristic, like Balaam's, will be high spiritual knowledge perverted to Satanic ends. The number six is the world number; in 666 it occurs in units, tens, and hundreds. It is next neighbor to the sacred seven, but is severed from it by an impassable gulf. It is the number of the world given over to judgment; hence there is a pause between the sixth and seventh seals, and the sixth and seventh trumpets. The judgments on the world are complete in six; by the fulfilment of seven, the kingdoms of the world become Christ's. As twelve is the number of the Church, so six, its half, symbolizes the world kingdom broken. The raising of the six to tens and hundreds (higher powers) indicates that the beast, notwithstanding his progression to higher powers, can only rise to greater ripeness for judgment. Thus 666, the judged world power, contrasts with the 144,000 sealed and transfigured ones (the Church number, twelve, squared and multiplied by one thousand, the number symbolizing the world pervaded by God; ten, the world number, raised to the power of three the number of God) [AUBERLEN]. The "mark" (Greek, "charagma") and "name" are one and the same. The first two radical letters of Christ (Greek, "Christos"), Ch and R, are the same as the first two of charagma, and were the imperial monogram of Christian Rome. Antichrist, personating Christ, adopts a symbol like, but not agreeing with, Christ's monogram, Ch, X, St; whereas the radicals in "Christ" are Ch, R, St. Papal Rome has similarly substituted the standard of the Keys for the standard of the Cross; so on the papal coinage (the image of power, Matthew 22:20 ). The two first letters of "Christ," Ch, R, represent seven hundred, the perfect number. The Ch, X, St represent an imperfect number, a triple falling away (apostasy) from septenary perfection [WORDSWORTH].