Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Re 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.
1. I stood—So B, Aleph, and Coptic read. But A, C, Vulgate, and Syriac, "He stood." Standing on the sand of the sea, HE gave his power to the beast that rose out of the sea.
upon the sand of the sea—where the four winds were to be seen striving upon the great sea (Da 7:2).
beast—Greek, "wild beast." Man becomes "brutish" when he severs himself from God, the archetype and true ideal, in whose image he was first made, which ideal is realized by the man Christ Jesus. Hence, the world powers seeking their own glory, and not God's, are represented as beasts; and Nebuchadnezzar, when in self-deification he forgot that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men," was driven among the beasts. In Da 7:4-7 there are four beasts: here the one beast expresses the sum-total of the God-opposed world power viewed in its universal development, not restricted to one manifestation alone, as Rome. This first beast expresses the world power attacking the Church more from without; the second, which is a revival of, and minister to, the first, is the world power as the false prophet corrupting and destroying the Church from within.
out of the sea—(Da 7:3; compare Note, see on Re 8:8); out of the troubled waves of peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. The earth (Re 13:11), on the other hand, means the consolidated, ordered world of nations, with its culture and learning.
seven heads and ten horns—A, B, and C transpose, "ten horns and seven heads." The ten horns are now put first (contrast the order, Re 12:3) because they are crowned. They shall not be so till the last stage of the fourth kingdom (the Roman), which shall continue until the fifth kingdom, Christ's, shall supplant it and destroy it utterly; this last stage is marked by the ten toes of the two feet of the image in Da 2:33, 41, 42. The seven implies the world power setting up itself as God, and caricaturing the seven Spirits of God; yet its true character as God-opposed is detected by the number ten accompanying the seven. Dragon and beast both wear crowns, but the former on the heads, the latter on the horns (Re 12:3; 13:1). Therefore, both heads and horns refer to kingdoms; compare Re 17:7, 10, 12, "kings" representing the kingdoms whose heads they are. The seven kings, as peculiarly powerful—the great powers of the world—are distinguished from the ten, represented by the horns (simply called "kings," Re 17:12). In Daniel, the ten mean the last phase of the world power, the fourth kingdom divided into ten parts. They are connected with the seventh head (Re 17:12), and are as yet future [Auberlen]. The mistake of those who interpret the beast to be Rome exclusively, and the ten horns to mean kingdoms which have taken the place of Rome in Europe already, is, the fourth kingdom in the image has TWO legs, representing the eastern as well as the western empire; the ten toes are not upon the one foot (the west), as these interpretations require, but on the two (east and west) together, so that any theory which makes the ten kingdoms belong to the west alone must err. If the ten kingdoms meant were those which sprung up on the overthrow of Rome, the ten would be accurately known, whereas twenty-eight different lists are given by so many interpreters, making in all sixty-five kingdoms! [Tyso in De Burgh]. The seven heads are the seven world monarchies, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, the Germanic empire, under the last of which we live [Auberlen], and which devolved for a time on Napoleon, after Francis, emperor of Germany and king of Rome, had resigned the title in 1806. Faber explains the healing of the deadly wound to be the revival of the Napoleonic dynasty after its overthrow at Waterloo. That secular dynasty, in alliance with the ecclesiastical power, the Papacy (Re 13:11, &c.), being "the eighth head," and yet "of the seven" (Re 17:11), will temporarily triumph over the saints, until destroyed in Armageddon (Re 19:17-21). A Napoleon, in this view, will be the Antichrist, restoring the Jews to Palestine, and accepted as their Messiah at first, and afterwards fearfully oppressing them. Antichrist, the summing up and concentration of all the world evil that preceded, is the eighth, but yet one of the seven (Re 17:11).
name of blasphemy—So C, Coptic, and Andreas. A, B, and Vulgate read, "names of blasphemy," namely, a name on each of the heads; blasphemously arrogating attributes belonging to God alone (compare Note, see on Re 17:3). A characteristic of the little horn in Da 7:8, 20, 21; 2Th 2:4.
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.
2. leopard … bear … lion—This beast unites in itself the God-opposed characteristics of the three preceding kingdoms, resembling respectively the leopard, bear, and lion. It rises up out of the sea, as Daniel's four beasts, and has ten horns, as Daniel's fourth beast, and seven heads, as Daniel's four beasts had in all, namely, one on the first, one on the second, four on the third, and one on the fourth. Thus it represents comprehensively in one figure the world power (which in Daniel is represented by four) of all times and places, not merely of one period and one locality, viewed as opposed to God; just as the woman is the Church of all ages. This view is favored also by the fact, that the beast is the vicarious representative of Satan, who similarly has seven heads and ten horns: a general description of his universal power in all ages and places of the world. Satan appears as a serpent, as being the archetype of the beast nature (Re 12:9). "If the seven heads meant merely seven Roman emperors, one cannot understand why they alone should be mentioned in the original image of Satan, whereas it is perfectly intelligible if we suppose them to represent Satan's power on earth viewed collectively" [Auberlen].
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.
3. One of—literally, "from among."
wounded … healed—twice again repeated emphatically (Re 13:12, 14); compare Re 17:8, 11, "the beast that was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit" (compare Re 13:11); the Germanic empire, the seventh head (revived in the eighth), as yet future in John's time (Re 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 (Da 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," see on Re 5:6. Compare also the second beast's resemblance to the Lamb, Re 13:11). Though seemingly slain (Greek for "wounded"), it remains the beast still, to rise again in another form (Re 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 (Re 11:15, 16), became itself Christianized (answering to the beast's, as it were, deadly wound: it was slain, and it is not, Re 17:11). Its ascent out of the bottomless pit answers to the healing of its deadly wound (Re 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 (Re 13:3, 11, 12, 14; Re 11:7; 17:8). Compare the seven evil spirits taken into the temporarily dispossessed, and the last state worse than the first, Mt 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 Re 17:11); 2Th 2:3; compare 2Ti 3:1-4, the very characteristics of old heathenism (Ro 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 (Re 13:11), Antichrist, the same seventh world power in another form.
wondered after—followed with wondering gaze.
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?
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, Ex 15:11 (whence, in the Hebrew, the Maccabees took their name; the opponents of the Old Testament Antichrist, Antiochus); Ps 35:10; 71:19; 113:5; Mic 7:18; blasphemously (Re 13:1, 5) assigned to the beast. It is a parody of the name "Michael" (compare Re 12:7), meaning, "Who is like unto God?"
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.
5. blasphemies—So Andreas reads. B reads "blasphemy." A, "blasphemous things" (compare Da 7:8; 11:25).
power—"authority"; legitimate power (Greek, "exousia").
to continue—Greek, "poiesai," "to act," or "work." B reads, "to make war" (compare Re 13:4). But A, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and Andreas omit "war."
forty … two month—(See on Re 11:2, 3; Re 12:6).
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
6. opened … mouth—The usual formula in the case of a set speech, or series of speeches. Re 13:6, 7 expand Re 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. See on Re 12:12; Joh 3:7.
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.
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."
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.
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 1Pe 1:19, 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 Re 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].
If any man have an ear, let him hear.
9. A general exhortation. Christ's own words of monition calling solemn attention.
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.
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 Jer 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 (Re 13:10), the second beast must be opposed by true wisdom (Re 13:18).
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
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, Re 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 (Re 13:12-14). Its manifold character is marked by the Lord (Mt 24:11, 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 (Re 13:5), but also "the eyes of man" (Da 7:8): the former is also in the first beast (Re 13:1, 5), but the latter not so. "The eyes of man" symbolize cunning and intellectual culture, the very characteristic of "the false prophet" (Re 13:13-15; Re 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 (Re 13:2), his spirit to the second, so that it speaks as a dragon (Re 13:11). The second, arising out of the earth, is in Re 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, Ge 3:5, 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."
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
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."
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
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."
And deceiveth 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 to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
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" (Re 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."
And he had power to give life unto 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.
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, Re 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.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
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, Re 7:3; 14:1; 22:4; and Ga 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].
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
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.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
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 Re 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" (Zep 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, Mt 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].