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This chapter contains a description of the Romish antichrist, under the figure of two beasts, the one representing him in his civil power, the other in his ecclesiastical power. The first beast is described by its origin, the sea, and by the monstrous shape its several parts; its heads seven, in which were the name of blasphemy; its horns ten, on which were crowns; its skin like a leopard, its feet as a bear, and its mouth as a lion; and by its state and condition, having power, a throne, and great authority; and having one of its heads wounded, and healed; and by the great regard had unto him, being wondered at, and worshipped by all the world, and declared to be more powerful than any, and none to be like them, ( Revelation 13:1-4). Next an account is given of what he was suffered to have, a blaspheming mouth, and power to continue forty two months, ( Revelation 13:5); and of what he said or uttered, his blasphemy against God, his name, tabernacle, and the inhabitants of heaven, ( Revelation 13:6); and of what he did by permission, made war with the saints, overcame them, and had power over all people, ( Revelation 13:7); and of the worship given him by the reprobate part of the world, ( Revelation 13:8); and the whole is concluded with an exhortation exciting attention to what had been said, with a threatening to the beast, and a word of comfort to the saints, ( Revelation 13:9,10). And then follows the description of the second beast, by its original the earth; by its likeness to a lamb, and a dragon; to the former for its two horns, and to the latter for its speech, ( Revelation 13:11); and by the actions ascribed to it, which are many; as exercising all the power of the first beast; causing all the inhabitants of the earth to worship that; doing miracles, of which one is mentioned, thereby deceiving the men of the world; ordering them to make an image to the wounded beast; giving life to it, so that it could speak; putting to death all that refused to worship it; obliging men of all ranks and degrees to have a mark in their right hands or foreheads, and forbidding such that had not to buy or sell, ( Revelation 13:12-17). And the chapter is concluded with an epiphonema, exciting men of understanding to search out, and count the number of the beast's name, since it is possible to be done, being the number of a man, and easy to be done, consisting of three Greek letters, c x v , which are numerically 666, ( Revelation 13:18).
Ver. 1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea , etc.] The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, “and he stood”, etc. 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”, etc. 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 12:1 15:1), as there is when he is shown sights elsewhere; (see Revelation 17:3 21:10). 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 20:10), 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 7:2,7); 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 17:11); 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 Titus 3:1 1 Peter 1:13), 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 17:8); 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 57:20), where the Jewish writers say f339 , 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, etc. 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 13:5,6); assuming that to himself which only belongs to God and Christ, as power over the conscience, to forgive sin, etc. and even deity itself; (see Thessalonians 1:4 Revelation 17:3). The Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, “names of blasphemy”.
Ver. 2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard , etc.] To which the Grecian kingdom is compared in ( Daniel 7:6); because of that rapidity and swiftness with which Alexander overran the world, and set up this monarchy; and to which the Roman Papal monarchy bears some resemblance; for as the Grecian monarchy was divided into several parts, which the leopard's spots may also point out, so the Roman empire was divided into ten parts, and united under the pope, as the head of them; and may be, in this form, compared to a leopard for its swiftness, ( Habakkuk 1:8); because this beast, as soon as he arose and got power, quickly, and in a very short time, extended it over all emperors, kings, princes, bishops, and over all kingdoms and churches; and for its spots, ( Jeremiah 13:23), which may be expressive both of the spots of sin and immorality of every kind, and of errors and heresies, superstition and idolatry, with which antichrist and his followers abound; and for its insidiousness and cruelty, ( Jeremiah 5:6 Hosea 13:7). It lies in wait for its prey, and suddenly falls upon it, and devours it; and is a lively picture of the cunning sleight of the antichristian party, who lie in wait to deceive, and of their blood thirstiness and barbarity. It is reported of the leopard, that it is of a sweet smell, and by its odour it draws the fawns, does, etc. near it, and then makes a prey of them; so antichrist, by outward riches and preferments, by the external pomp and splendour of his religion, by his living wonders and miracles, and by his great pretensions to holiness and the like, allures multitudes unto him, and destroys them. And his feet were as [the feet] of a bear ; to which the Persian monarchy is compared, ( Daniel 7:5). And this, as some think, may denote the strength and stability of the kingdom of antichrist, it having already endured a great while, and will be thought to be very firm and stable when its ruin is near; or rather the wars and fightings of antichrist against the saints, the fore feet of the bear being what that creature lights with, and tears and destroys such as oppose it, or fall a prey to it; and may also, as before, express the voraciousness and cruelty of antichrist, with respect to the bodies and souls of men: and his mouth, as the mouth of a lion : to which creature the Babylonian monarchy is compared, ( Daniel 7:4), uttering out blasphemies against God, threatening ruin and destruction to men, and injecting fear into them, as the roaring of a lion does, and seizing upon, and devouring their estates and possessions, as well as butchering their persons. This beast has all the properties of the several beasts in Daniel's prophecy, wherefore all the figures there made use of to describe them are put together, to point unto us this monster of iniquity. And the dragon gave him his power : for the coming of antichrist is after the working of Satan, ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10); he gave him his cunning and subtlety, as the old serpent, and taught him his arts and tricks to deceive mankind; and gave him a power to do signs and lying wonders, as well as communicated his malice and cruelty to persecute and oppress the saints; or an “army” of ecclesiastics to fight under him, and for him: and his seat ; at Rome, for there Satan's seat was, ( Revelation 2:13), in the time of the Pagan Roman empire, which was quitted by Dioclesian and Maximian, when they resigned the government of it, the one being at Nicomedia, and the other at Milan; and when Constantine came to the throne, he removed to Byzantium, and rebuilt it, and called it after his name Constantinople, and had his residence there, as had all the eastern emperors afterwards; and as for the western emperors, they chiefly resided either at Milan or Ravenna, to which last place Odoacer, Theodoric, and other Gothic kings retired, when the government was in their hands; so that hereby this seat was empty, and way was made for antichrist to take it, as he did. And great authority ; over the Roman empire, and the kings and kingdoms in it; he gave him his authority as the god of this world; what Christ refused at the hands of Satan, that his pretended vicar took, even the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them; yea, assumed to himself all power in heaven, earth, and hell, signified by his triple crown, at the instigation of the devil; so that it appears that he is not the vicar of Christ, but the vicar of the devil; and not the successor of Peter, but the successor of Satan; and that he holds his possessions, not by the donation of Constantine, but by the gift of the dragon.
Ver. 3. And I saw one of his heads , etc.] Not the Capitoline mountain, or the Capitol, the temple of Jupiter, built on that hill, which was burnt by lightning in the times of Titus, and magnificently rebuilt by Domitian, which was a thing past, and of no such moment as to be taken notice of here; nor anyone of the Roman emperors particularly, as Julius Caesar, at whose death the empire received a wound, upon its first erection in him, but was healed by the settlement of Augustus in it; nor Nero, at whose death the family of the Caesars ceased, when the empire was threatened with ruin in the following reigns, but was restored and reestablished in Vespasian, for these were before the times of John: but this is to be understood of the sixth head, or form of government, which obtained in the empire; namely, that of emperors, and of the destruction of Rome itself, the head of the empire, and which was built on seven mountains, designed by the seven heads of this beast: and this head was as it were wounded to death ; when the Roman empire was like a burning mountain cast into the sea; when Rome itself was taken, sacked, and burnt, more than once, particularly by Totilas; when Augustulus, the last of the emperors, was obliged to abdicate the throne; when Odoacer called himself, not emperor of Rome, but king of Italy, and retired from Rome to Ravenna; and when Adolphus, another Gothic king, thought to have changed the name of Rome, and given it that of Gothia: this seemed to be a deadly wound to Rome, to the empire and emperors. And his deadly wound was healed ; by the setting up of ten kingdoms in it, the kings of which gave them to the beast, to antichrist, the pope of Rome, and so the empire came to have an head again, a governor, though of another kind: some choose to understand this of the wound which antichrist received at the Reformation, by Luther, Calvin, and others, which has since been healing, Popery recovering itself again in some countries where it was driven out, and which, it is thought, will be entirely healed before his destruction: and all the world wondered after the beast ; which expresses the large extent of antichrist's dominion, which reached to all the Roman empire, ( Luke 2:1); yea, to all kindreds, tongues, and nations, ( Revelation 13:7); so that the universality the Papists boast of, as a note of the true church, is manifestly a mark of the beast, or of antichrist; and also the great esteem he is had in by his followers, who admire his power and authority, his grandeur, pomp, and riches, his signs and lying wonders, his pretended infallibility and holiness, his stock of merits and unwritten traditions, his skill to interpret Scripture, and his power to forgive sins, and the like: they went after him, obeyed him, embraced his doctrines, attended his religion and worship with wonder and amazement.
Ver. 4. And they worshipped the dragon , etc.] The devil, in the idols, images, angels, and saints departed, to whom they give adoration, as did the Gentiles, whose successors they are, and whose name they bear; (see 1 Corinthians 10:20); which gave power unto the beast , as in ( Revelation 13:2); and they worshipped the beast ; not only in a civil way, being subject to him as their temporal lord, to whom they give homage; obedience, and tribute, but in a religious way; for antichrist sits in the temple to be worshipped as God, showing himself that he is God, and receives adorations from his creatures, the cardinals, and others; but woe to them that worship this beast; (see Revelation 14:9-11). Saying, who [is] like unto the beast ? using such expressions as are used of God himself, implying that there is none like him, ( Exodus 15:11) ( <19B305> Psalm 113:5 Isaiah 40:18,25), yea, they ascribe deity to him, calling him our Lord God the pope, God, and a God on earth; (see Gill on “ Thessalonians 2:4”). Who is able to make war with him ? And indeed, such was his power and strength once, that he was more than a match for emperors and kings; and those were badly off that engaged in a war with him, when his power was such, that he could depose one, and set up other, kick the crowns of kings, tread upon the necks of emperors, oblige them to hold his stirrup, while mounted his horse, and keep them barefoot at his gate for days together, waiting for admittance; of all which there are instances.
Ver. 5. And there was given unto him a mouth , etc.] The beast is said to have a mouth before, like the mouth of a lion, ( Revelation 13:2); but now he was moved and stirred up by the dragon, the devil, to open it, not only in a cruel and voracious way, but in a haughty, lying, and blasphemous manner: and this was given him, it was at the instigation of Satan, and by divine permission; his coming, speaking, and acting, were after the working of Satan, but not without the will of God; who, as he gave up many to a judicial blindness, to believe his lies and blasphemies, gave up him to speak them, as follows: speaking great things, and blasphemies ; great swelling words of vanity; calling himself by high and lofty titles, as Christ's vicar, Peter's successor, head of the church, universal bishop, etc. promising great things to his followers, riches, honours, pleasures, pardons, and heaven itself; and uttering things of a blasphemous kind, or great blasphemies, the particulars of which are mentioned in ( Revelation 13:6); so the little horn, who is the same with the Romish antichrist, is said to have a mouth speaking great things, very great things, and his look more stout than his fellows, ( Daniel 7:8,20). And power was given unto him to continue forty [and] two months ; to continue in being, or to continue blaspheming and speaking great things; and indeed, as long as he continues, he will continue blaspheming; as soon as he arose he had a name of blasphemy on his heads, and his mouth was immediately opened in blasphemy, and so it continues, and will to the end of this date. The Ethiopic version reads it, “and power was given to him to do signs, whatsoever he would”; miracles, lying signs and wonders; (see Revelation 13:13,14). Some copies read, and so the Arabic version, “and power was given him to make war”; but he did not make war as soon as he arose, and so not all the time that is here allotted him; and the word “war” seems to be transcribed from ( Revelation 13:7). The phrase rather intends his being, and the continuance and duration of it; which is the same period of time in which the holy city is trodden under foot by this beast, and the same with the 1260 days or years, in which the witnesses prophesy in sackcloth, and the woman, the church, is in the wilderness, ( Revelation 11:2,3 12:6,14); for forty two months, reckoning thirty days to a month, as the eastern people did, make just 1260 days, for these things are all contemporary: hence it appears, that 1260 prophetic days, that is, years, contain the whole period of antichrist's reign and continuance; so that could we tell where they began, it might be exactly known when his reign will end; but for want of knowing the former, the best of calculators have failed in the latter: but seeing the time when he was made universal bishop by Phocas bids fair for the time of his open appearance, and the beginning of his reign, and of his blasphemy, which was in the year 606, to which, if we add 1260, the expiration of his reign will fall in the year 1866; so that he may have upwards of an hundred and twenty years yet to continue; but of this we cannot be certain; however, the conjecture is not improbable.
Ver. 6. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God , etc.] By sitting as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God; by suffering himself to be called by the name of God, God on earth, Lord God the pope, and to be worshipped as God; and by assuming infallibility, giving out that he cannot err, which only belongs to the God of truth; and by his idolatrous practices commanded by him, as the worshipping of idols of gold, silver, wood, and stone, which is in Scripture called blaspheming God, ( Isaiah 65:7 Ezekiel 20:27); (see Daniel 11:36). To blaspheme his name ; his authority, by arrogating to himself all power in heaven, earth, and hell; by taking upon him to bind and loose the consciences of men, and to dispense with the laws of God, and make them void by his own traditions; and to dispose of the kingdoms of this world, by removing kings, and setting up kings at pleasure, which is the prerogative of the King of kings; and by pretending; to forgive sin, which none but God can do; and by granting indulgences, pardons, etc.
Moreover, by the name of God may be meant the Scriptures, which are the means by which God reveals and makes known himself; and these the man of sin blasphemes, by making them a nose of wax, by imposing on them what senses he pleases; by assuming a right of being the sole interpreter of them, and the judge of all controversies; and by setting up his own unwritten traditions upon an equal foot with them, and above them, and by denying the common people the use of them, in their own language; and particularly the Gospel, which is sometimes called the name of the Lord, ( Acts 9:15), may be intended, which is sadly blasphemed, and evil spoken of by antichrist; as the doctrines of justification by Christ's righteousness, of peace and pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice, through the antichristian notions of merit, works of supererogation, pardons, penance, purgatory, and the like: and his tabernacle ; meaning either the human nature of Christ, which God pitched, and not man, the temple of his body, in which the Godhead dwells bodily, and where the eternal Word dwelt, or tabernacled among men; this is blasphemed by pretending to transubstantiate, the bread and wine in the supper of the Lord into the very body and blood of Christ, and to offer him up again in the sacrifice of the Mass, every time that blasphemous piece of service is performed: or else the church of God, which is the temple of the living God, where he chooses, desires, and delights to dwell; this is blasphemed by antichrist, by sitting in it as if he was God; asserting himself to be the head of the church which solely belongs to Christ; taking upon him to coin new doctrines, and make new laws and orders, and impose them on it, and to change and alter the ordinances and discipline of it as he pleases; and by persecuting and destroying all such who will not submit to his decrees and prescripts: or else heaven itself, the habitation of God, and where his throne is, may be designed, which the pope blasphemously affirms to have the keys of; and that he can open and shut it, let persons into it, or exclude front it, at pleasure; and that he can dispose of it, and sell it for money, and make and canonize new saints in it, as often as he thinks fit. And them that dwell in heaven ; either saints below, members of a Gospel church, who are born from above, are partakers of the heavenly calling, and whose conversation is in heaven, who are by antichrist stigmatized and persecuted as schismatics and heretics; or rather angels and saints departed, who are in heaven, and dwell there, and who are worshipped and prayed to as Mediators and intercessors, whose names are used in a very ridiculous and blasphemous manner, to their great dishonour and reproach, as well as to the injury of Christ, the only Mediator between God and men.
Ver. 7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints , etc.] The remnant of the woman's seed, ( Revelation 12:17), whom God has set apart for himself, Christ has cleansed from sin by his blood, and the Holy Spirit has sanctified by his grace; and who under the influence of it live holy lives and conversations; against such Satan always bore an enmity; and it is an aggravation of the wickedness of the Romish antichrist, that he makes war with such, which he is stirred up to by Satan, with a malicious intent, and is permitted by God for the trial of the faith and patience of his people: this war of antichrist, with the saints, may be understood not merely spiritually, of his anathemas, excommunications, bulls, and the like, but literally, of his drawing the temporal sword against them; (see Revelation 13:10); and bringing of armies against them, and fighting pitched battles; and it is thought there may be a special regard had to his war with the Waldenses and Albigenses, in which war it is said that a million were slain; and may take in all his ways and methods of destroying the saints, by the bloody Inquisition, murders, massacres, and punishments of all sorts; and also his last war with the two witnesses, in which they will be slain, which is yet to come, ( Revelation 11:7); and to overcome them : not so as to submit to him, and to forsake the doctrines and ordinances of Christ, but by killing them; and who, by dying in the faith and cause of Christ, overcome Satan, get the victory over the world, and antichrist, and are more than conquerors through him that has loved them. And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations ; in the Roman empire, which wondered after him, and worshipped him, and over whom he has reigned, and has exercised both a temporal and spiritual jurisdiction; (see Revelation 17:15,18).
Ver. 8. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him , etc.] The inhabitants of the Roman empire, the idolatrous part of it, the men of the world, earthly minded men; who are as they came into the world, and are of the earth, earthly, and seek only after earthly honours, pleasures, and profits; these are the admirers and adorers of the beast: whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world ; by which book is meant God's predestination of men to eternal life, or his decree of election; why this is called the “book of life”, (see Gill on “ Revelation 3:5”); and their “names [being] written [therein] from the foundation of the world”, ( Revelation 17:8), for such a construction the words will bear, denotes that election is eternal, and is not an act of time, nor dependent upon anything done in time; and that it is of particular persons, and not of bodies of men, of nations and churches, and still less of propositions, or of persons so and so qualified, or under such conditions and circumstances; and that it is perfectly well known to God, and is sure and certain in its effects, and is unchangeable and irrevocable; for what is written in it, is written, and will always stand, not upon the foot of works, but of the sovereign grace of God; and this is called the Lamb's book; that is, Christ, who is compared to a Lamb for its harmlessness, meekness, and patience, and was typified by the lambs in the legal sacrifices; and this book is called his, because he was present at the making of it, and was concerned in putting down the names in it, ( John 13:18), and he himself stands first in it as the elect of God, and the head of all the elect, who, as members, were chosen in him: the act of election was made in him, and stands sure in him; and he is the author and giver of that life, which men are chosen unto both here and hereafter: and he may be said to be “slain from the foundation of the world”; in the decree and purpose of God, by which he was set forth, or foreappointed to be the propitiation for sin, and was foreordained, before the foundation of the world, to redeem his people by his blood, and in the promise of God immediately after the fall of man, that the seed of the woman should have his heel bruised, and he himself should bruise the serpent's head, which made it as sure as if it was then done; and in the sacrifices, which were immediately upon this offered up, and were types of the death and sacrifice of Christ; and in the faith of the saints, which brings distant things near, and considers them as if present; and also in his members, in Abel, and others, in whom he suffered, as he still does in his people; to which may be added, that such is the efficacy of the bloodshed and death of Christ, that it reached to all the saints from the beginning of the world, for the justification of their persons, the atonement of their sins, and cleansing from them; for the remission of sins, that are past, and for the redemption of transgressions under the first testament; for Old Testament saints from the beginning are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, as New Testament ones are. Something like this the Jews say of the Messiah upon ( Genesis 49:11), “he washed aml[ yrbtad amwym , “from the day that the world was created”; who is he? this is the King Messiah. — It is written ( Genesis 1:2); “and the Spirit of God”, etc. This is the Spirit of the King Messiah; and from the day that the world was created; he washed his garments in wine;” which the Jewish writers understand of blood, which for its redness is like to wine; though they interpret it of the blood of the slain, with which the garments of the Messiah will be stained. Now such whose names are not written in this book of the Lamb, who have no interest in electing grace, nor in redemption by Christ, the slain Lamb of God, nor any right unto eternal life, who are reprobate persons, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, who are foreordained to condemnation, and are given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned, these are the followers and worshippers of antichrist.
Ver. 9. If any man have an ear, let him hear .] And diligently attend to this mystical description of antichrist, as being matter of some difficulty to understand, as well as of great moment and importance, and seriously consider it, that he may know him, and his followers, and avoid them; (see Gill on “ Revelation 1:7”).
Ver. 10. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity , etc.] As the devil, by whom men are led captive at his will, and the Romish antichrist, who leads multitudes of souls to hell; these shall be taken and cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. The Jews have a saying, that “captivity comes into the world for idolatry, uncleanness, and murder;” which three things are notorious in the Romish antichrist: and in the same treatise they say f344 , that the sword, the next judgment mentioned, comes into the world for delay of justice, and the perversion of it. He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword ; the design of the phrase is to show, that there will be a just retaliation made to the antichristian beast, for all his cruelty to the saints, and the murders of them; and that because he has shed much blood of the saints, blood shall be given him to drink, and he shall be used in like manner he has used others; (see Genesis 9:6) ( Matthew 26:52). Here is the patience and the faith of the saints ; meaning either that hereby, through the cruelties and barbarities of the Romish antichrist, the patience and faith of the saints are tried; and that they have great need of them, and of the exercise of them, under such usages; and that these being tried, and continue, will receive much commendation, honour, and praise; or else the sense is, that it requires both faith and patience in the saints, to believe that antichrist will be thus destroyed, and to wait quietly till the time comes.
The Arabic version reads, “here is the patience and prayers of the saints”: who cry, how long will it be ere our blood is avenged? and have need of patience to rest a while, till their prayers are answered.
Ver. 11. And I beheld another beast , etc.] The same with the first, only in another form; the same for being and person, but under a different consideration; the same antichrist, but appearing in another light and view: the first beast is the pope of Rome, at the head of the ten kingdoms, of which the Roman empire consisted; this other beast is the same pope of Rome, with his clergy, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, etc. before he is described as a temporal monarch, now as a spiritual lord; there he is represented in his secular character, as having the seat, power, and authority of the dragon, of Rome Pagan, engaging the attention and wonder of the whole world, and striking terror into them, and as making war with the saints, and ruling over all nations and tongues; here in his ecclesiastic character, pretending great humility and holiness, showing signs and lying wonders, obliging to idolatry, and exercising tyranny and cruelty on all that will not profess his religion: that this is the same beast with the first in substance, though not in show, appears from his exercising the same power, causing all to worship the first beast, or himself as a temporal lord, by which he is supported in his spiritual dignity; and by mention being made only of one beast, at the close of this account, and of his mark, name, and number being but one; nor is there any other but one hereafter spoken, of in this book, either as ruling, or as conquered, and as taken, and as going into perdition, and as cast into the lake: this beast is described by his original, coming up out of the earth ; either from under it, out of the bottomless pit, from hell; or out of, a low condition, a poor crawling earthworm; the extracts of many of the popes, cardinals, and religious orders, have been very mean: or this may represent the secret and private manner, and slow degrees by which this monster of iniquity rose; as things gradually rise up out of the earth unobserved; this man of sin was springing up in the apostles' time, and by degrees rose up to the power and authority he is here said to have: or rather, as this beast, in his other form, rose up out of the sea, out of the commotions raised in the empire by the barbarous nations, by whom he was lifted up to his imperial dignity; so he is described in this form, and is represented as rising up out of the earth, out of the earthly part of the church, or out of the apostasy which the visible church was sunk into, through the outward riches and honours bestowed on it by the Christian emperors, which made way for the rising of this beast; and this shows the nature of his kingdom, which is worldly and earthly, and so truly antichristian, being diametrically opposite to the kingdom of Christ, which is not of this world: and he had two horns like a lamb ; or “like to the Lamb”; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God; though he has seven horns, denoting fulness of power, this but two; he stands on Mount Zion, with the 144,000, having his Father's name on their foreheads, this upon the earth, with his followers, having his own mark and name upon them. The Ethiopic version renders it, “and he had two horns, and he seemed as a lamb”; he affected a lamb like disposition, pretended to great humility and meekness, calling himself “servus servorum”, the servant of servants, to cover his pride, ambition, and tyranny; and would be thought to be a lamb without spot and blemish, ascribing to himself infallibility, and suffering himself to be called his Holiness, when he is the man of sin, and mystery of iniquity: by his “two horns” some understand his two fold power, secular and ecclesiastic; but as these are separately represented by two beasts, rather these two horns intend the two parts of the empire, eastern and western, into which it was divided, when this beast arose, and by which the Papacy was raised to its power, had supported in it; and the two supreme pontiffs, the bishop of Rome, and the bishop of Constantinople; or else the beast's power of binding and loosing, of dispensing with the laws of God, and of imposing his own laws on the consciences of men. And he spake as a dragon ; like the devil himself, affirming as he did, ( Luke 4:6); that the power of disposing of the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them, was delivered to him, and he could give it to whom he would: he spake arrogantly, as if he was above all that is called God, and as if he was God himself; and he spake like a dragon cruelly, like the great red dragon, like the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning, breathing out slaughter, and threatenings against the saints, as Rome Pagan; and he spake lies in hypocrisy, blasphemies, idolatries, and doctrines of devils.
Ver. 12. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him , etc.] Sitting in the same seat, having the same power and authority from the dragon, making war with the saints by preaching and writing against them, by anathemas, excommunications, and bulls, and so overcame and silenced them, or delivered them over to the secular arm to be put to death, ruling over the consciences of men in a tyrannical way, in all nations, kindreds, and tongues, in the empire; and all this before, in the presence, and under the influence of the secular power, of the Papacy, signified by the first beast, and with his good liking, and for his credit and support: and causeth the earth, and them that dwell therein ; the Roman empire, and the inhabitants of it, especially the carnal and earthly part of them: to worship the first beast ; to be subject to the temporal power of the Papacy, or to submit to the pope as a temporal lord, to give homage and tribute to him, and the like, in order to support his worldly power and grandeur; and this was caused or brought about by his emissaries, his spiritual vassals, his legates, cardinals, priests, etc. by their exhortations, persuasions, and commands, delivered both in writing and preaching: whose deadly wound was healed ; which deadly wound was given the Roman empire under its sixth head, the emperors, when they ceased, and was healed by the pope, the seventh head, being set as a temporal monarch over the ten kingdoms in it.
Ver. 13. And he doeth great wonders , etc.] Or miracles; not real, but pretended ones, lying wonders, which the Popish legends are full of the accounts of, as done by the priests, or by this or the other saint: so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men ; in imitation of Elijah, ( 2 Kings 1:9-14); and this single instance is put instead of all others, it being usual with the Jews to express all wonderful and miraculous operations by this miracle of Elijah's: and this may be understood mystically, of the pretensions of the Papacy to confer the Holy Ghost, and his gifts upon men, by breathing on them, which on the day of Pentecost were represented by cloven tongues, as of fire, coming down from heaven; or of their anathemas, curses, and excommunications, at which time burning torches and candles are cast up, and fall down, as emblems of divine wrath, which is called cursing men with bell, book, and candle; or else of the fire of persecution: “from heaven”; the secular powers of the empire: “upon the earth”; the common people: or this may be understood literally; so they tell us, that Pope Zachary, once on a journey to Ravenna, had in the daytime a cloud to protect him from the heat, and in the night time armies of fire appeared in the clouds to go before him; and as Pope Innocent was at Mass, a golden crown was seen, and on it a dove, and under it a smoking censer, and hard by them two burning firebrands: and it is reported of Pope Hildebrand, that, whenever he pleased, he could shake his sleeves, and sparks of fire would come out; and by these miracles deluded the eyes of the simple with a show of holiness, which, with other instances, are taken notice of by Napier, Brightman, and other writers: and so here this is said to be done “in the sight of men”; to their apprehension, seemingly, in their view; they being cheated and deluded with an appearance and show of things which were not real.
Ver. 14. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth , etc.] The Complutensian edition, and two of Stephens's copies, read “mine”, instead of “them”; creatures of God, and professors of Christ, carnal and unregenerate men; not the elect of God, and true believers in Christ, these cannot be deceived by the signs and wonders of false Christs and false prophets; antichrist's deceivableness of unrighteousness only operates in them that perish: by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast ; the secular power of the Papacy encouraging, confirming, and giving a sanction to those lying miracles, and obliging all to believe them, and come into the things, doctrines, or practices, they are designed to promote: saying to them that dwell on the earth : the apostate church, or the carnal inhabitants of the empire: ordering and commanding them that they should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword, and did live ; meaning the Roman empire, which had received a deadly wound in its sixth head, the emperors, by the sword of the Goths, Huns, etc. but now revived in its seventh head, the pope of Rome, to whom the ten kings gave their kingdoms: the image made to this beast some understand of the translation of the empire to Charles the great, and his successors the emperors, by the pope of Rome, he ordaining so many electors to chose a king of the Romans, and elect an emperor when one was wanting; and this was an image to the first beast, a shadow, an appearance of the Roman empire, and but a shadow; for the power of inaugurating and crowning these emperors, and of setting up and deposing them when the pope pleased, lie reserved to himself: but rather this designs the image worship, or the worshipping of idols of gold and silver, of wood and stone, which he caused the inhabitants of the earth to make, and give adoration to; or else the whole Papal religion, and the Papacy itself, for the beast, and the image of the beast, are all along in this book afterwards mentioned together as being the same, ( Revelation 14:9 15:2 16:2 19:20 20:4), which is an image of the Gentile religion, in their high priest, priests, temples, idols, offerings, garments, worshipping of angels, and saints departed, with a numerous train of rites and ceremonies, borrowed from the old Pagan religion; hence the Papists are called Gentiles, ( Revelation 11:2), the Roman empire, represented by these two beasts, and this image, had now one head, the pope, as before an emperor, and a religion in it much resembling its ancient one; but, before that was set up, this image was in being.
Ver. 15. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast , etc.] Or “breath”; he breathed into it, and animated it; he gave this new religion a sanction, he confirmed and established it, and obliged all in his dominions to embrace and acknowledge it; and this he did by his decrees and canons, and those that refused were delivered over to the secular power, which he also exercised under another consideration: that the image of the beast should both speak : so that it was not like Nebuchadnezzar's golden image that he set up, which required another to speak for it and demand adoration to it; and should seem to be preferable to the dumb idols of the Gentiles, which have mouths, but speak not; and may be understood either of the images of the virgin Mary, and other saints, which it is pretended, and the people are made to believe, that they do at times actually speak, and really weep and laugh, as it may serve their different purposes; or this image may be said to speak by the decrees, canons, anathemas, curses, threatenings, persuasions, doctrines, and blasphemies of the pope and his clergy; so that this image is like both the first and second beast; it has a mouth speaking blasphemies, as the first, and it speaks like a dragon, as the second; and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed : which, according to the generality of copies, refers to the image itself, that that has a power from the beast as to speak, so to put to death those that refuse to worship it; but the Complutensian edition reads kai poiei , “and causes”: that is, the beast causes, or orders all those that will not worship the image, to be killed; that is, that as many as will not embrace and profess the Popish religion shall be put to death; and these are the known orders and decrees of the Papacy, which have been executed by the Inquisition, and other hands, in innumerable instances; the blood of all the saints and prophets is found in Rome Papal, and will be avenged; these are the martyrs of Jesus, with whose blood the whore on the scarlet coloured beast has been made drunk; and this sense is confirmed by the eastern versions.
Ver. 16. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor , free and bond , etc.] Men of all ranks and degrees, states and conditions, within his jurisdiction; this refers to the beast, and not to the image: to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads ; or “that they might give themselves marks”, as the Complutensian edition reads; which is an allusion either to the custom among the Romans of imprinting marks upon their servants and soldiers, by which they might be known to whom they belonged; servants had them in their foreheads f345 , and soldiers in their hands f346 ; or to the usages of the Jews in binding their phylacteries upon their arms and foreheads, to put them in mind of the law of God, and their obedience to it; or to the practices of the Heathens, in putting the mark of the god they worshipped upon their bodies; Maimonides says, it was a custom with the Gentiles to mark themselves with their idols, showing that they were their bought servants, and were marked for their service: the sense is, that some received the mark in one place, and some in another: those who were obliged to receive the mark in the right hand seem to be the clergy, such who entered into holy orders; who lifted up their right hand, and swore and vowed allegiance to the pope, and testified they were ready to defend and support his religion and interest; and who in their ordination are said to have an indelible character impressed on them: and those who received the mark in their foreheads are the common people in general, who one and all have the same impress upon them; which may intend either the sign of the cross in baptism, or rather their open confession of the Popish religion, which they as publicly avow and declare as if it had been written on their foreheads.
Ver. 17. And that no man might buy or sell , etc.] Either in an ecclesiastical sense, as to, be in any church office, or perform any such service, to say Mass, hear confession, give absolution, sell pardons and indulgences, etc. or in a civil sense, as to trade, and exercise merchandise, and this was forbidden by several Popish councils and synods; the Lateran council, under Pope Alexander, decreed against the Waldenses and Albigenses, that no one should presume to retain or encourage them in their houses or countries, or “trade” with them; and the synod of Tours in France forbid any reception of heretics, or protection, and that any communion should be had with them “in buying and selling”, as Mr. Mede has observed; and it was ordered by a bull of Pope Martin the Fifth, that no contract should be made with such, and that they should not follow any business and merchandise: save he that had the mark ; took the oath to be true to the pope, or made a public profession of the Popish religion: or the name of the beast ; Papists, so called from the pope; thus the antichristians are called from antichrist, as the Christians from Christ: or the number of his name ; which is either the same with the number of the beast in ( Revelation 13:18), or is something distinct it; and those who have it may be such persons who neither have the indelible character of the Romish clergy, nor are open professors of the Popish religion, but are in heart inclined to it, and privately and secretly promote it, by their doctrines and practices; and so are numbered, reckoned, esteemed, and accounted of by the Papists, and receive favours from them; or rather such who openly “furnish the drink offering” in the Mass, mixed with wine and water, ynml , “for that number”, ( Isaiah 65:11).
Ver. 18. Here is wisdom , etc.] Not only in the above description of the two beasts, but in what follows as to the number of the beast, these two now coalescing in one, and have one and the same number; and to wrap it up, and conceal it in such an obscure manner, shows great wisdom in God, as it requires much in men, and serves greatly to exercise all his intellectual powers to find it out: let him that hath understanding count the number of, the beast ; whoever has skill numbers, let him make use of it, that he may know the name and nature of the antichristian beast, and the numerical letters of his name, or the number of him, and of the time when he arose, and when he will expire: for it is the number of a man : either a number that may be reckoned by man, or which is in common use among men; (see Revelation 21:17); or that which is contained in the name of a man: and his number [is] six hundred threescore [and] six : which some think refers to the time of the rise of antichrist, in the year 666; but that seems rather to be in the year 606, when the bishop of Rome obtained the name of universal bishop; others have been of opinion that it refers to the expiration of the beast, which they thought would have been in the year 1666, the number of the thousand being dropped, as it is in our common way of speaking; as when we say the Spanish invasion was in 88, meaning 1588, and the civil wars began in 41, that is, 1641; but time has shown that this was a mistaken sense; the more prevailing opinion is that of Mr.
Potter, who has wrote a peculiar and learned treatise upon this passage, who makes the counting of this number to be no other than the extracting of its root, which is the number 25, which when multiplied into itself, and the fraction in working it 41 is added, makes up the square number 666; and now 25 being added to A. D. 33, make 58, which was the time of the beast's conception, to which if 666 is added, it brings us to the year 724, when he arrived to his age of manhood, and when the war about the worshipping of images broke out: but others think that the numeral letters in some man's name which amount to this date, and which agrees with antichrist, are intended; and here various conjectures are made; some have observed, that in genealogical arithmetic the number of Adonikam's posterity is 666, ( Ezra 2:13); whose name signifies “a lord rising up”, or “risen”; and suits very well with antichrist, who is risen up, and assumes a lordly domination over the kings of the earth; and it is further observed, that the Hebrew word tyymwr , which signifies “Roman”, and, having the word beast or kingdom joined to it, designs the Roman beast, or kingdom, consists of numeral letters, which make up this sum; and so the Hebrew word rwts , “Sethut”, which is the name of a man, ( Numbers 13:13), and signifies “mystery”, in its numeral letters comes just to this number, and one of the names of the whore of Babylon is “mystery”, ( Revelation 17:5); but the name “Lateinos” bids as fair as any, which is mentioned by so ancient a writer as Irenaeus, who was a hearer of Polycarp, a disciple of John, the writer of this book; now the numeral value of the letters of this word makes up exactly 666, thus; l 30. a 1. t 300. e 5. i 10. n 50. o 70. v 200. in all 666; and it is well known that the church of Rome is called the Latin Church and the pope of Rome the head of the Latin church, and his seat is in the Latin empire, and the service of the beast is in the Latin tongue, and the Bible is kept in that language, from the reading of the common people: it has been observed that the numeral letters in Ludovicus, or Lewis, which is a common name of the French kings, and is the name of the present French king, make up this same number; and may denote the destruction of antichrist, which will quickly follow the downfall of the kingdom of France, under a king of this name; and the rather, since this was the last of the ten kingdoms that was set up, and in which the primitive beast subsists, and the only one that has not yet been conquered, or in which a revolution has not been; and since this is the tenth part of the city which shall fall a little before the third woe comes on: and that it may fall under Ludovicus, or Lewis, the present French king f348 , may be hoped for, and is desirable.