13:1 The Seven-Headed Beast SUMMARY OF REVELATION 13:
The Beast That Rises Out of the Sea. Power Given to the Beast by the Dragon. The Head Wounded to Death and Healed. Power Given to Continue Forty-two Months. The Lamb-like Beast That Had the Voice of a Dragon. His Service to the Seven-Headed Beast. The Number of the Beast. I... saw a beast. The twelfth chapter has shown the relentless hostility of the dragon, the old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan (Re 12:9 20:2), to the woman, a hostility that has manifested itself in changing forms. Re 12:17 declares his purpose to make war on the seed of the woman. This chapter is intended to show the organized forms in which he has carried on this warfare. The apostle sees a beast, a wild savage beast, arising out of the sea. The restless ocean is a symbol of commotion. Having seven heads and ten horns. The beast bears the old dragon mark of seven heads and ten horns (Re 12:3). It must therefore be some manifestation of the same power. Indeed, it is the dragon who has called the beast forth from the sea. Upon his horns ten crowns. These crowns are diadems (Revised Version). They are the sign of royal authority. They represent ten kings or kingdoms (Re 17:12). In Re 12:3, the seven heads had the diadems; now the horns wear them. There is a reason for this that we shall see in the sequel. And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. If these heads should arrogantly claim divine honors, not belonging to them, these would be names of blasphemy. These heads are said to be seven kings. Sometimes kings have claimed to be gods, as Alexander, who asserted that he was the son of Jupiter Ammon, and the Roman Emperors, who all claimed divine honors and required men to worship their statues and to offer them sacrifices.
13:2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard. It was a composite beast which united the characteristics of the beasts seen by Daniel in his vision (Da 7:1-6). The animals combined are all cruel, terrible beasts of prey; a terror to man. And the dragon gave him his power. That is, this beast was called forth to do the dragon's work, and acted by the dragon's authority.
13:3 I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death. The Greek says slain. This deadly wound of the head was a deadly wound of the beast itself. See Re 13:12. This wound was given by the sword; that is, by war. See Re 13:14. It is in this verse suggested that the beast was restored after the wound by the efforts of the second beast first named in Re 13:11. The symbolism implies that a mortal wound was inflicted on the power represented by the beast; that when it was dead, or about to perish, its power was restored by the arts of the second beast. All the world wondered after the beast. Gave it their wonder and admiration.
13:4 They worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast. In following after and obeying the beast they really gave worship to the dragon which had given the beast his power. And they worshipped the beast. Their worship was, however, directed to the beast itself. Who [is] like unto the beast? This language implies giving the beast superhuman honors. Similar language is often used of God (Ex 15:11 Ps 113:5 Isa 40:18). The dragon, cast down, receives worship through the beast.
13:5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. fHe would make blasphemous claims. Daniel affirms the same of the beast seen in his vision (Da 7:25). To continue forty [and] two months. The same period named in Re 12:6 11:02 11:03 Da 7:25. The period referred to here, when the beast shall prevail against the church, is one of 1260 years. This is evidently the period of the world's dominion over the Church.
13:6 He opened his mouth in blasphemy. Three kinds of blasphemy are named: (1) against God; (2) against his tabernacle; (3) against those to whom God has opened his tabernacle. The first would be accomplished by usurping God's prerogatives; the second by maledictions upon the true Church, and the third by curses on the true worshipers.
13:7 It was given unto him. He had power to make war on the saints and to overcome them for a long period. Compare Re 12:14-17. Power was given him. His dominion was also one that seemed universal, and he claimed rule over all kindreds, and languages, and nations.
13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him. All except the true and faithful saints, hidden in obscurity but known above and recorded in the book of life, shall give him homage.
13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear. Let him give heed. The words to be heeded are in Re 13:10.
13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity. If any man [is] for captivity, into captivity he goeth (Revised Version). The meaning is Whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Ga 6:7). With what measure a man meets, it shall be measured to him again (Mt 7:2 Mr 4:24 Lu 6:38). If the beast and his adherents lead the saints captive, they shall finally be made captive; if they slay with the sword, so shall they be slain. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. The assurance that God will, in the end, right all their wrongs gives them faith and patience.
13:11 THE LAMB-LIKE DRAGON. I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth. John sees this second monster coming up out of the earth, a beast that has two horns like a lamb, and a voice like the voice of a dragon. There is a close connection existing between the ten-horned and the two-horned beast. The latter (1) exercises the power of the first beast before him, (2) causeth the earth to worship the first beast, (3) says to the earth that it should make an image of the first beast (Re 13:14), (4) gives life unto the image of the first beast, and (5) causes those who will not worship the image to be slain (Re 13:15). These statements show that there exists a close connection between the two, and that the last is the supporter and restorer of the first. We have found the first to be a symbolical representation of the temporal power of Rome. Most Protestant commentators see in the second beast the spiritual power of Rome, the power which gave life to, and built up, the temporal dominion of the Papacy. The Papal claims are two-fold, both of spiritual and temporal dominion. St. Peter with the sword and the keys is always represented as the symbol of the Papal power; the sword of temporal sway, and the keys of the kingdom. The Pope not only claims to be the vicar of Christ, but the rightful ruler of the kings of the earth, and in this capacity, in the days of his greatness, has made and deposed kings, and granted kingdoms. And he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. There is a similitude like the Lamb of God; a counterfeit representation; but a voice like the old dragon of pagan Rome. Both features show themselves. It professes to be Christian power. Sometimes its servants do a really lamb-like work, but then again we hear the dragon's voice. It can hardly be necessary to state that symbolism could choose no language more appropriate to represent the harsh, arrogant utterances of Rome when she puts forth her power, or asserts her authority. Whoever has heard the harsh orders of the priest to his flock, has heard the dragon's voice. How appropriately this language describes the bulls of Popes, or the fulminations of anathemas and excommunications against their enemies!
13:12 He... causeth the earth? to worship the first beast. The spiritual power of Rome is exercised before, or in the presence of, the temporal power. They have dwelt together, and it is the spiritual power that has made those that dwell upon the earth regard and pay homage to the temporal. If an earthly ruler refused to heed the mandates of the Pope, his subjects were absolved from allegiance and bidden to depose him. If they refused, the whole kingdom was laid under interdict, the churches were closed, religious rites were suspended, the dead were not buried in the consecrated grounds, and a superstitious population soon demands deliverance by submission. It was by the terrors of the spiritual power that the earth was brought into subjection to the imperial temporal sway of the Popes. The second beast has made men worship the first.
13:13 And he doeth great wonders. The second beast did great wonders, pretended to perform miracles, and thus deceived them that dwell upon the earth (Re 13:14). Rome has claimed the possession of miraculous power in all ages, and no fact in history is better established than that she has continually resorted to lying miracles.
13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles. The object of these false miracles was to rivet the chains of the spiritual dominion, so as to build up the temporal sway of the papacy. The dragon-lamb commanded men to make an image of the beast, and to offer it homage.
13:15 And he had power to give life to the image of the beast. The image of the beast, of the old Pagan power, this eighth head, which is the beast and of the seven, is not a lifeless image. The arts of the dragon-lamb gave it life. The spiritual power built up the temporal and gave it imperial and despotic dominion. It had power to slay all who would not worship it. The awful dragonnades in southern France, the frightful work of the Inquisition, the merciless persecution in Holland, the scenes of blood and death caused by Rome in many lands, are the fulfillment.
13:16 He causeth all... to receive a mark. The mark of the beast is some stamp or sign, by which all its worshipers should be known. In ancient days slaves were sometimes branded, as cattle are in our own age. The brand or mark of the beast would be some indelible sign which would designate with certainty those who were subject to his authority. To receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. A mark in the hand is supposed by some to represent the practice, while a mark in the forehead indicates the profession of life. It is remarkable, however, that a mark on the forehead, the sign of the cross made with water, converts a person into a Roman Catholic, and without this mark none are regarded as heirs of salvation.
13:17 That no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, etc. It has been common for Catholics to be forbidden to patronize those who were not loyal to the Pope. At least three councils are named, those of Tours, of Constance and the Lateran, which have expressly forbidden business intercourse with heretics.
13:18 THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast. Re 13:17 speaks of the name of the beast. It has, then, a name. It also speaks of the number of its name. Its name, then, is some number. We wish to discover its name, and if we can count the number, we will find its name. The number of the beast, that is, the number of its name (Re 13:17) is the number of a man, and that number is six hundred and sixty-six.