Revelation 13
Pulpit 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.
Verse 1. - And I stood upon the sand of the sea. The Revised Version, agreeing with א, A, C, Vulgate, Syriac, AEthiopic, Armenian, Victorinus, reads ἐστάθη, "he stood." The Authorized Version follows the reading ἐστάθην, "I stood," which is found in B, P, Coptic, Andreas, Arethas. Fortunately, the point is not important. Whether St. John or the dragon stood on the edge of the sea is not material, since we are distinctly told that the ten-horned beast rose from the sea. Wordsworth aptly contrasts this station on the unstable sand in proximity to the sea, the clement of commotion, with the vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1-5). The imagery which follows is founded upon the vision of Daniel 7. The phrase should probably be joined on to the preceding passage, as in the Revised Version. The new vision then opens in the customary manner with εῖδον, "I saw," as in Revelation 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. And saw a beast rise up out of the sea. Supply "I," and make this the beginning of the fresh paragraph (see above). The one beast here takes the place of the four beasts of Daniel 7, and is distinguished by the characteristics of the first three (see on ver. 2). This beast arises from the sea, the second beast from the earth (see ver. 11). They are the instruments of the woe which is denounced against the earth and the sea in Revelation 12:12. The sea, again, is the type of instability, confusion, and commotion, frequently signifying the ungovernable nations of the earth in opposition to the Church of God (cf. Revelation 17:15; Revelation 21:1). Probably this is the beast referred to in Revelation 11:7, and (more fully) in Revelation 17. It is the power of the world which is directed towards the persecution of Christians. Having seven heads and ten horns. Nearly every manuscript has, having ten horns and seven heads. The order is reversed in Revelation 12:3 and Revelation 17:3; possibly the horns are mentioned first in this passage, because they are first seen as the beast rises from the sea. The essential identity of this beast with the dragon of Revelation 12:3 is plainly shown. There Satan is described in his personal character; here he is described under the aspect of the persecuting power of the world. The symbolism is analogous to that found in Daniel 7, where we may find the key to the interpretation. First, the heads signify dominion. The head is naturally looked upon as the chief, the controlling and guiding part of the body; that part to which all the members of the body are subject. This is the idea conveyed in Daniel 7:6. The third beast there is distinguished by the possession of four heads, and (we are immediately told) "dominion was given to it." Seven, as we have repeatedly seen, is the number typical of universality (cf. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 5:1, etc.). The seven, heads, therefore, are symbolical of universal dominion. In the second place, horns are the type of power. Thus, in Daniel 7:7, the beast which is distinguished by the possession of the horns is described as being "diverse from all the beasts that were before it." It was "dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it" (cf. Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalm 132:17; Jeremiah 48:25, etc.). The number ten is the sign of completeness; not of universality or totality, but of sufficiency and abundancy for the purpose in view (cf. Genesis 18:32, the ten righteous wanting at Sodom; Exodus 27:12, the ten pillars of the tabernacle; the ten commandments; the tithe; Psalm 33:2, etc.). The ten horns, therefore, denote plenitude of power. The words of this passage thus signify that the beast should possess worldwide dominion and ample power. These are the qualities ascribed to the power which Satan now directs against the "seed of the woman." At the time of the writing of the Apocalypse, this power was evidently heathen Rome; but the meaning may be extended to embrace all the forms which this world opposition has assumed, whether Roman, Mohammedan, or Gothic, etc. It is consequently unnecessary, as it certainly seems fruitless, to attempt to interpret the heads and horns of individual nations and kings. In endeavouring to do so, many writers have imported into the description here given other details from Daniel, or deduced by themselves, for which there is no warrant in the narrative here supplied. For the same reason, it is useless to inquire into the disposition of the ten horns and seven heads; since the whole is a figure intended to convey certain ideas, and is not a description of an actual bodily form. And upon his horns ten crowns. "Ten crowns;" διαδήματα, crowns denoting sovereignty; not στέφανος, the victor's wreath. The crowns upon the horns denote the sovereign nature of the power with which the beast is invested. The nations of the world who have persecuted the Church of God have the chief rule in this world. And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. The plural ὀνόματα, "names," adopted by the Revised Version, is found in A, B, Vulgate, Coptic, Andreas, Primasius. Alford reads the singular ὄνομα, with א, C, P, Coptic, Andreas, Primasius. There is no article. Possibly each head bore a name, which was the same in each case, and which might therefore with equal propriety be described as name or names. "Upon his heads" (ἐπὶ κεφαλάς); the accusative being used (as Afford suggests) because the action of inscription carries with it a tinge of motion. In the preceding clause we have the genitive Or; ἐπὶ κεράτων, where the preposition denotes rest. We have no hint given as to what the name was; the nature only is indicated. St. John very possibly had in his mind the mitre of the high priest, upon the plate of which was inscribed, "Holiness to the Lord" (Exodus 28:36). It is a "name of blasphemy;" that is, the worldly power, typified by this beast, denies the Divinity and might of the true God, and exalts itself above him. Bede, Hengstenberg, etc., see the fulfilment in the assumption by the Roman emperors of titles which belong rightly only to Christ - King of kings, Divus, etc. But the application is wider. As partial fulfilments of that which will never be completely fulfilled until the end of the world, we may mention Pharaoh, when he said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" (Exodus 5:2); Sennacherib (2 Kings 18.); Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:22); as well as those since St. John's time who have blasphemed by denying the existence or omnipotence of Christ.
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.
Verse 2. - 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. The similarity to the vision of Daniel 7. is very evident; the resemblance extending even to the language, which is here very like the LXX. version of Daniel. Cf. especially the form ἄρκος (found in all the best manuscripts) with that of the LXX. of Daniel 7:5. In the vision of Daniel four beasts are seen rising from the sea. The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, the fourth was distinguished by the ten horns. Here the four are combined in the one appearance of the beast. The qualities which are indicated by the animals named are very generally agreed upon. The lion denotes lordly dominion and rule; the bear suggests crushing force and tenacity of purpose; the leopard is distinguished for its swiftness and cruel blood thirstiness. These characteristics marked the Roman empire at the time of this vision, and this probably was the first fulfilment of the vision. The same qualities have, however, been exhibited at all times by the persecutors of the Church of God, and thus the application may be extended, and the vision represents (as Alford says) "not the Roman empire merely, but the aggregate of the empires of this world as opposed to Christ and his kingdom." And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority; and his throne. The dragon and this beast are essentially one, since the latter wields all the influence of the former. The devil lost his throne in heaven; through the power of the world he temporarily regains a throne as the "prince of this world." Christ, by his incarnation, destroyed much of the personal nature of the devil's influence over men. By that the devil was completely bound as regards the righteous (cf. the interpretation of Revelation 20:2); but his power to work mischief he transfers to the nations of the world, who become his instrument for that purpose.
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.
Verse 3. - And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed; and one of his heads as though it had been slain unto death; and his death stroke was healed. The writer wishes to express the coexistence of two mutually antagonistic qualities. The head had received a fatal wound, and yet the beast continued to exist and exert his power. There may be a contrast and a comparison intended between the Lamb, as it had been slain, worshipped by his adoring followers, and the beast, usurping the honour due to Christ, imitating him even in the respect of having been slain, and exacting homage from those who "wondered after the beast." But the "head smitten unto death" must still possess some special significance of its own. What that is we are not plainly told; but it seems reasonable to refer it to the blow dealt to the power of Satan by the death and resurrection of Christ. It almost seemed at first as though the power of the world must succumb to the influence of the life and death of our Lord, and for a time great progress was made in the increase of the number of believers (cf. Acts 2:41, 47). But the power of the world was not yet destroyed; it continued to exist in spite of the seemingly fatal wound. Some see in this account a reference to the destruction of the Roman pagan empire, and the establishment of the Christian empire. Others believe the blow to be that administered by Michael, when Satan was ejected from heaven. Others refer the wounded head to different individuals; e.g. Nero. That one head is wounded out of the seven probably denotes the partial nature of the wound as visible to an observer. And all the world wondered after the beast; the whole earth wondered after the beast. The pregnant construction. That earth, for which the advent of the dragon meant woe (Revelation 12:12), wondered at, and followed after the beast. The sense of earth must here be restricted to the followers of the world, as opposed to the followers of God.
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?
Verse 4. - And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; because be gave his authority (Revised Version) is found in all the best manuscripts. The devil had sought to beguile Christ by offering to him all the kingdoms of the world. His efforts with men are more successful. They worship him on account of the worldly wealth and influence which he bestows. And they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Insert "and" with Revised Version: and who is able, etc.? The beast usurps the homage due to God alone (cf. the song of those who had triumphed in Revelation 15:4, "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy Name?" cf. also Exodus 15:11; Micah 7:18, etc.). The adherents of the beast thus intimate their belief in his superior prowess and his ability to succeed in his war against those who "keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus."
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.
Verse 5. - And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. So the horn which sprang from the fourth beast of Daniel 7:8 had given to it "a mouth speaking great things." The power of the beast is, after all, only held by the consent of God, who for his own good purpose permits him to exercise it for a time. The "great things" are the promises of superior power and good, with which the devil seeks to allure men, as he did Adam and Eve at the first. All attempts to decry God's omnipotence and the power of Christ are blasphemies. And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months; or, to work forty and two months. Again note the power is given to him; that is, he holds it only subject to the will of God. The "forty and two months," or three years and a half, signify the period of the world's existence. (For a full discussion of the subject, see on Revelation 11:2.) It is the "little time" of Revelation 6:10, 11, during which will be fulfilled the number of the saints. It is the "little season" of Revelation 20:3, during which Satan is "loosed," that is, during which he has this power to work given to him (cf. Revelation 11:2, 3; Revelation 12:14). The different readings in this passage, though resting on insufficient authority, serve to amplify the meaning. א reads πουιῆσαι ὅ θέλει, "to do what he willeth." Ποιῆσαι with πόλεμον, "to wage war," is found in 13 and others, and is the marginal reading of the Authorized Version, but is rightly omitted in the Revised Version.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Verse 6. - And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his Name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven; for blasphemies against God. The balance of authority is in favour of omitting "and" (before "them"), thus making (as in the Revised Version) the last clause in apposition with the preceding: his Name and his tabernacle, those tabernacled in heaven. The punishment for this sin among the Jews was death by stoning (see Leviticus 24:16). God's servants fear his Name (Revelation 11:18). God's tabernacle, or temple, is the Church, in the midst of which he dwells (cf. Revelation 11:2), and which exists in the wilderness of the world for the forty and two months, and which yet exists also in heaven, honored of God (cf. Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven," Revised Version).
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.
Verse 7. - And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. This clause is omitted in A, C, P, and some others. So in Daniel 7:21, "The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High." And in Revelation 11:7, "The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them [the two witnesses], and shall overcome them, and kill them." Overcome; that is, apparently; so far as is seen by the world. In the same way the world overcame Christ; but by his death came victory. So in Revelation 2:10 the Church at Smyrna is encouraged by the words, "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations; over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. Λαόν "people," is inserted in every manuscript except a few cursives. The fourfold enumeration, applied to the earth, denotes the universal character of the description (cf. the four living beings, Revelation 4:6. Also Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 11:9; Revelation 14:6). The same classification is adopted in the song of the redeemed (Revelation 5:9), which may be contrasted with this passage. Although the power of Satan extends to every section of the nations of the earth, yet men are not irrevocably delivered into his hand. From every part of mankind men are also redeemed.
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.
Verse 8. - And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb; [every one] whose name hath not been written, as in the Revised Version. "Him," αὐτόν, masculine, although referring to the neuter, θηρίον, because the personality of Satan under the figure of the beast is borne in mind. "Whose name," singular, referring to the individuals of whom the πάντες, "all," are composed. This verse states in another form what has been related in the latter part of the preceding verse. Those over whom the beast has authority are those who worship him, and whose names have not "been written in the book of life." The expression, "book of life," is found only in this book and Philippians 4:3. In all the places where it occurs it seems to refer primarily to Christians (cf. Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:12, 15; Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:19). At baptism the Christian's name is written in the "book of life," from which there is always a possibility of it being blotted out (Revelation 3:5). Those who are not Christians have not their name in the "book of life," but worship the beast, that is, pay allegiance to him. It is "the book of life of the Lamb," because it is through "the Lamb" that there exists a "book of life" for men. Slain from the foundation of the world; or, that hath been slain. It is natural to connect the words, "from the foundation of the world," with "slain," and not with "written." The latter course has been followed by Bengel, Dusterdieck, De Wette, Ewald, Hengstenberg, and others, and in the margin of the Revised Version, and is in accordance with Revelation 17:8, "Whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" (see also Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4). "The Lamb hath been slain from the foundation of the world," because from "the foundation of the world" (cf. Hebrews 9:26) his death has been efficacious for the salvation of men; and because his death "was foreordained before the foundation of the world," although manifest only in the last times (1 Peter 1:20). What was foreknown to and ordained by God is spoken of as having taken place. This latter sense must be the meaning if we adopt the alternative reading.
If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Verse 9. - If any man have an ear, let him hear. This verse draws attention to the solemn declaration which follows in the succeeding verse (cf. Revelation 2:7; Revelation 3:6; also Matthew 11:15, etc.).
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.
Verse 10. - 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. There is a twofold difficulty in this verse: first, as to the correct text; secondly, as to the meaning. There are two chief readings. Codex: A has Αἴ τις εἰς αἰχμαλωσίαν εἰς αἰχμαλωσίον ὑπάγει; literally, if any one late captivity, into captivity he goeth; which probably means, "If any one is ordained unto captivity, into captivity he goeth." The reading of the Textus Receptus looks like an attempt to amplify and make clear the above reading: Αἴ τις αἰχμαλωσίαν συνάγει εἰς αἰχμαλωσίαν ὑπάγει. XXX, B, C, have the reading of A, omitting the repetition of αἰχμαλωσίαν. This omission is easily explained by homoeoteleuton, and accordingly the majority of critical editors follow Codex A. There are two passages in Jeremiah which are suggested by these words. Jeremiah 15:2 reads, "Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity;" Jeremiah 43:11, "And deliver such as are for death, to death; and such as are for captivity, to captivity; and such as are for the sword, to the sword." Matthew 26:52 may also be referred to: "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." The verse in the text appears to contain both the meanings of the passages referred to. The first half seems to point out that there are woes foreordained for Christians which they must undergo: "He for whom captivity is appointed must be content to suffer captivity." The next part extends the meaning, adding a warning: "You Christians must suffer these things; not only not relinquishing your faith, but also not meeting three with force; remembering always your Master's saying, 'They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.'" Then the verse concludes, "Here is [the proof of] the patience and the faith of the saints." St. John has just described to his hearers the extensive nature of the power of the world (vers. 3, 7, 8); the obvious conclusion was that captivity, etc., was the lot appointed for some of them. He has also told them of the war waged by the world against Christians, and now he adds the necessary caution against any attempt to defend themselves by the use of the sword. And thus not only their patience but their faith was to be tested. They were not only to bear patiently evils which they could not avoid, but they must have sufficient faith to enable them voluntarily to forego any opportunities which might occur to prevent their sufferings by force of arms.
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.
Verse 11. - And I beheld another beast. Compare the wording of this introduction with that of ver. 1. We shall find reason to interpret this beast as self deceit - that form of plausibility by which men persuaded themselves into a belief that they might without harm worship the former beast. (see on following verses). It has been remarked that mention is often made of the first beast without the second (cf. Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:3, etc.), but never of the second without the first. This fact supports the interpretation given above. Coming up out of the earth. Perhaps in contrast with the former beast, which arose from the sea (ver. 1). In the vision of Daniel 7. the four beasts, which rise from the sea (ver. 3), are declared in ver. 17 to typify four kings which arise from the earth. It is doubtful, therefore, whether we are justified in attaching special significance to this phrase. Some writers understand thereby, "rising up from amongst settled, ordered society of men." More likely, the writer wishes to show the universal character of the temptations with which Christians are assailed; and thus one beast seems to pertain to the sea, and the other to the earth, thus dividing the whole world between them. And he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. That is, while simulating an appearance of Christ, his words betrayed his devilish nature. The aim of this beast throughout is to assume a plausible exterior, that men may be beguiled by him (cf. vers. 13-17). Such is the nature of that self deceit which we believe this beast to typify. Many men, who were not to be tempted into a renunciation of Christ by the bitter persecution of the first beast, because coming in such a form they recognized easily its true nature, were nevertheless beguiled into such acts by specious reasoning and the deceit of their own hearts. Christians at all times are only too ready to be deceived by those who "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18). Whether as in ancient times it he merely to throw a few grains of incense upon the altar of some heathen deity, or as in modern times to conform to some common but unworthy requirement of society, men are apt to be led astray by arguments which look fair, but which as surely accomplish the devil's object as if it had been attained by direct persecution. (On the form of the word "lamb," ἀρνίον, see on Revelation 5:6.)
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.
Verse 12. - And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him; all the authority.., in his sight (Revised Version). That is, his influence over men, though less directly asserted, is equal to that of the first beast. And he exercises this influence "in his sight," that is, by his permission and contemporaneously with the exercise of power by the first beast. So Christians both of St. John's and of our own time seek to escape direct persecution by justifying to themselves their unworthy compliance with the unrighteous requirements of the world. And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. Here we have an explanation of the two preceding clauses. Though like a lamb in appearance, his words denote his deadly nature, which is shown by causing men to worship the first beast; and thus he exercises the authority of the first beast, and accomplishes his work. Those who dwell in the earth are the worldly, not faithful Christians, but those "whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb" (see on ver. 8). This beast causes men to worship the first beast by persuading them into a compliance with his will, and making them pay homage to him. For this reason he is called in Revelation 16:13 the "false prophet." (For "whose deadly wound was healed," see on ver. 3.)
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
Verse 13. - And he doeth great wonders. Men are apt to deceive themselves by attributing to other agencies the power to work wonders which belongs only to God himself. In St. John's time the arts of magic were used; in modern times the marvels of science often lead men to a disbelief in God. Archdeacon Lee, in his commentary, says, "We cannot doubt that there is also a reference to the wonderful power over nature which the spirit of man has attained to, and which has too often been abused to the deification of Nature and her laws, and to the disparagement of the Divine action which is ever present in creation." So that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men; that he should even make fire, etc.. as in the Revised Version. We are not to understand this literally. It is given as a kind of sample of the power possessed by the beast, being a form of miracle which would be well known to St. John's readers (cf. Elijah on Carmel, 1 Kings 18; Korah's company, Numbers 16:35, etc.; also the request of SS. James and John, Luke 9:54). The descent of fire is also frequently a sign of God's approval (cf. Genesis 15:17; Leviticus 9:24; Judges 13:19, 20; 2 Chronicles 7:1). The two witnesses possessed the power of sending forth fire (see Revelation 11:5). In this respect, therefore - in the very nature of his signs - the beast still seems to counterfeit the power of God.
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.
Verse 14. - 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, he deceives by employing false signs, and he deceives by inducing men to believe that the worship of the first beast is allowable. Those "that dwell on the earth" are the worldly minded, as in ver. 12. "Which he had power to do" should rather be "which it was given him to do," as in the Revised Version. The power possessed by the beast does not originate with himself; he possesses it only subject to the will of God (cf. vers. 5 and 7). Thus the second beast - self deceit - beguiles men. They accept exhibitions of power external to God as evidences of an independence and self sufficiency which do not exist apart from God, forgetful of the fact that this power is derived from God: it is given by him. (For "in the sight of the beast," see on ver. 12.) Saying to them that dwell on the earth. Λέγων, "saying," masculine, agrees with the neuter θηρίον. The writer uses the masculine, as in ver. 8, because of the personified nature of the beast. It is not fair to press the word (as some writers do) into the signification that a man must be intended. "Them that dwell on the earth" - the worldly minded (vide supra). That they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live; who hath the stroke of a sword, and lived, as in the Revised Version. The masculine as before (vide supra). This beast suggested that men should set up an image of the first beast, not in order to pay greater honour to the first beast, but that an apparent alternative might be offered to men, so that those who hesitated to pay direct allegiance to the first beast might overcome their scruples and worship something which resembled him, while allowing them to, as it were, cheat their own consciences by persuading themselves that they were not worshipping the beast himself. These two classes of men are, of course, essentially one; they are, in reality, all followers of the beast; but still there is a difference in the manner in which they become worshippers of the beast. The distinction of the two classes seems to be kept in mind in Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:4, where, however, all are included in the same condemnation. Thus the apostle teaches us that those who, by specious and plausible reasoning, who, in short, by self deceit, allow themselves to east in their lot with the worldly - the avowed followers of the first beast - are equally guilty with those who openly proclaim themselves followers of the world. (On the last part of the verse, the nature of the sword stroke, see on ver. 3.)
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.
Verse 15. - 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; and it was given to him to give breath, etc. א and a number of cursives lead the indicative future, ποιήσει, that is," he [the beast] shall cause," etc. The symbolism is most probably derived from the heathen oracles. This beast is permitted to give life, to impart spirit to the image; that is, he gives it an appearance of reality which a mere image could not possess. This is the dangerous power of self deceit. If men would face the naked truth, stripped of plausible arguments and specious resemblances, they would see that there was no reality in the ideal which they place before their minds, and their worship of which is prompted by love of the world, and the denial of God's power. Together with the attempt to deceive men into worshipping the image, is offered the alternative of death, or, should we not say, apparent death? It is only self deceit which makes men imagine that the alternative to an acceptance of the sovereignty of Satan and the world; is death. No doubt many Christians in St. John's time were thus beguiled. They deceived themselves by imagining that they must either conform to the heathen practices required of them, or suffer death; those with clearer mental vision saw that the threatened death was in reality life.
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:
Verse 16. - 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; that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead. Δώσῃ, "he may give," found in the Textus Receptus, is unsupported by any uncial; δῶσιν, "they may give," is read in א, A, B, C, P; and most cursives have either δῶσιν or δώσωσιν. Wordsworth translates, "give to themselves," and adds, "a remarkable sentence, intimating compulsion under the semblance of choice." But it does not seem fair to press the meaning so far. The third plural is often used in a perfectly general way in the Apocalypse (cf. Revelation 12:6, and Moulton's Winer, p. 655), and the Revised Version is probably correct in translating by the passive (vide supra). Certainly the other passages in the Apocalypse, where the mark is mentioned, seem to show that men have absolute freedom of choice (see especially Revelation 14:9 and Revelation 20:4). Again the beast seeks to imitate God (cf. Revelation 3:12, "I will write upon him my new name;" Revelation 22:4, "His name shall be in their foreheads;" Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4; Revelation 14:1). The idea is taken kern the Mosaic customs (cf. Deuteronomy 6:8, "And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontiers between thine eyes") Some writers see also an allusion to the heathen custom of branding slaves and others who were devoted to the service of temples; and recall the fact that χαράγματα, or "cuttings," such as are here mentioned, were forbidden to the Jews (Leviticus 19:28).
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.
Verse 17. - And that no man might bay or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. "And" is omitted in א, C, some cursives and versions and Fathers: no man should be able to buy, etc. A, B, C, P, and most cursives also omit , "or," before "the name," thus reading, as in the Revised Version: save he that hath the mark, even the name of the beast, or the number of his name. This expressly asserts what we might have gathered from the analogy of the mark of the true Christian (see on ver. 16), viz. that "the mark" was "the name" or "the number of his name." The manner in which this was fulfilled in the early ages of the Church is sufficiently notorious. Then faithfulness to the cause of Christ frequently meant banishment from friends, kindred, and home. St. John himself was feeling the effect of this at the time when he wrote these words in exile at Patmos. So, at the present day, the Jews regard as an utter alien any one of their number who embraces Christianity. So also, at the present day, the faithful Christian is often interdicted the society of the world, is declared a social nuisance, and is shunned by the worldly minded, who pay allegiance to the beast. (On the "number," see on ver. 18.)
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.
Verse 18. - Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man. The last clause has no article, ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστί. Compare the expression, "Here is the patience," etc. in ver. 10, where it relates to what precedes. Here it evidently refers to what follows. The form of expression is frequent in St. John's writings (cf. 1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:16, 19; 1 John 4:10, etc.). The plain meaning seems to be that men may display their wisdom and understanding in discovering the meaning of the number of the beast. But the interpretation which Auberlen gives may be correct; viz. that as the first beast is met and vanquished by patience and faith, so this second beast is to be met by wisdom. This agrees with our interpretation of this second beast as symbolizing self deceit. St. John evidently intends that the meaning of the number should be known: "Let him that hath understanding count the number;" that is, "Let him that hath understanding discern in what sense the symbol is used." It is the "number of man;" that is, it describes symbolically something which is peculiarly a characteristic of mankind. Some writers have understood the words to mean, "the number refers to an individual man;" but the absence of the article militates against this view. Others explain, "It is a number which is to be reckoned according to man's mode of reckoning," just as in Revelation 21:17, "a measure of a man." If this be the meaning, it leaves open the question as to what St. John meant by "the usual mode of man's reckoning." His own use of numerals throughout the Apocalypse is, as we have repeatedly seen, symbolical of general qualities, and does not indicate either individuals or exact numbers. We are justified, therefore, according to this view, in interpreting the number symbolically (vide supra). And his number is Six hundred three score and six. The Revised Version is better, Six hundred and sixty and six; it preserves the similarity of form which is found in the Greek words, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, as found in A. In א we have ἑξακόσιαι, etc.; in P, Andreas, ἑξακόσια. The shortened form χξς' is found in B and most cursives. C, 11, and some manuscripts known to Irenaeus and Tichonius differ by reading ἑξακόσιαι δέκα ἕξ, "six hundred and sixteen," but this is probably incorrect. Commentators have universally attempted to discover the name denoted by this number, by attaching to each letter of the name (generally the Greek letters) its numerical value, the total of which should equal the number 666. To this method there are several objections. In the first place, St. John nowhere else makes such use of a number, though numbers form a prominent feature of the book. In the second place, the adoption of this method seems to have been a consequence upon the interpretation of the words, "number of a man," as meaning "a number to be calculated according to man's methods." But this may not be the meaning at all (vide supra); and, if it is, "man's method" would surely signify the symbolical method which St. John adopts all through the rest of the book, as being a language perfectly well understood by himself and his readers. And thirdly, this numerical method has proved entirely unsatisfactory in the hands of those who have hitherto adopted it. For a complete expose of the fallaciousness of such attempts, we may refer the reader to Dr. Salmon's 'Introduction to the New Testament,' p. 291, et seq. A commonly received interpretation makes the name of the beast to be Nero Caesar, written in the Hebrew characters נרון קסר; and as the name may be written Neron or Nero, the difference of the final n ( = 50) is thought to account for the discrepancy in the manuscript authorities. Dr. Salmon shows that Nero could not have been intended, because (1)the prophecy in that ease would have been immediately falsified;

(2) the solution would have been known to the early Christians; but it was not known, according to Irenaeus. Dr. Salmon then adds (p. 300), "Pages might be filled with a list of persons whose names have been proposed as solutions of the problem. Among the persons supposed to be indicated are the emperors Caligula, Trajan, and Julian the Apostate, Genseric the Vandal, Popes Benedict IX. and Paul V., Mahomet, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Beza, and Napoleon Bonaparte. There are three rules by the help of which I believe an ingenious man could find the required sum in any given name. First, if the proper name by itself will not yield it, add a title; secondly, if the sum cannot be found in Greek, try Hebrew, or even Latin; thirdly, do not be too particular about the spelling." The above objections also hold good very generally with regard to the suggestion of λατεινος, by which may be indicated the Roman or Latin power, either pagan or papal. But if we attempt to interpret this number in the same way as we have dealt with all other numbers in the Apocalypse, viz. by regarding them as symbolical of qualities, we shall be on surer ground. In the first place, the number six is typical of what is earthly as opposed to what is heavenly. As seven is the number of perfection, and is descriptive of universality, and is therefore the symbol pertaining to God, so six is a type of what falls short of the heavenly ideal. Cf. the six days of the creation; the six years of servitude (Exodus 21:2, etc.) and of work (Exodus 23:10). Again, the threefold employment of the number six, while emphasizing the fact of the number referring to what is essentially earthly, has a fulness, importance, and seeming completeness which makes it a type of that which appears to be perfect, but in reality falls short of perfection. It is, in short, symbolical of a deceit, a sham. It is therefore descriptive of the nature of the second beast; of that self deceit which causes men to accept the world as a substitute for God, or, at least, as not antagonistic to him; which enables men to thus quiet their consciences, while in reality becoming followers of the worldly power and subjects of Satan. That this is the meaning of the number six is recognized by some writers, though they do not here so apply it. In the 'Speaker's Commentary,' Introduction, § 11 (a), we find, "Six is the 'signature' of non-perfection;" and, "This number is also a symbol of human rule and power." Wordsworth says, "The numerical symbol of the beast, 666, indicates that he aims at and aspires to the attributes of Christ, and puts forth a semblance of Christian truth, but falls away from it in a triple decline and degeneracy."

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