Revelation 13:12
And he excercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) And he exerciseth . . .—Better, And he works, or exercises (literally, does), all the authority (or, power) of the first wild beast in his presence. It will be seen by this that we must not look upon the second wild beast as a successor, but rather as a supporter, of the first. The intellectual force of an earthly wisdom is practically subservient to the spirit of unmitigated worldliness.

(12, 13) And causeth the earth . . .—Literally, and he makes the earth and them that dwell in it that they shall worship the first wild beast, the stroke of whose death was healed; and he does signs great, so that he even makes fire to descend out of the heaven to the earth in the sight of men. This descent of fire is the counterpart of the work of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:5), and of Elijah in Old Testament days. It is one of the features of that deceivableness of unrighteousness which misleads man. There is a holy fire which inspires the lips and hearts of the holy; there is an unhallowed fire, a fire of mere power, which the worldly spirit is tempted to worship.

13:11-18 Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldly power, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumed power, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charity to the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing to be derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentle manner, but soon spake like the dragon. Its speech betrayed it; for it gives forth those false doctrines and cruel decrees, which show it to belong to the dragon, and not to the Lamb. It exercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the same design, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and to subject the souls of men to the will and control of men. The second beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby men should be deceived to worship the former beast, in the new shape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretended miracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoy natural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast which is the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification for buying and selling, as well as for places of profit and trust, that they oblige themselves to use all their interest, power, and endeavour, to forward the dominion of the beast, which is meant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast, whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and power to his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. To worship the image of the beast, implies being subject to those things which stamp the character of the picture, and render it the image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so as to show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdom of men. The number is the number of a man, computed after the usual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intended by this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious dispute this number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably be doubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he who has wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies of God are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the term of their power will soon expire, and that all nations shall submit to our King of righteousness and peace.And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him - The same amount of power; the same kind of power. This shows a remarkable relationship between these two beasts; and proves that it was intended to refer to the same power substantially, though manifested in a different form. In the fulfillment of this, we should naturally look for some government whose authority extended far, and which was absolute and arrogant in its character, for this is the power attributed to the first beast. See the notes on Revelation 13:2-4, Revelation 13:7-8. This description had a remarkable fulfillment in the papacy, considered as a spiritual dominion. The relation to the secular power is the same as would be indicated by these two beasts; the dominion was as widespread; the authority was as absolute and arrogant. In fact, on these points they have been identical. The one has sustained the other; either one would long since have fallen if it had not been upheld by the other. The papacy, considered as a spiritual domination, was in fact a new power starting up in the same place as the old Roman dominion, to give life to that as it was tending to decay, and to continue its ascendency over the world. These two things, the secular and the spiritual power, constituting the papacy in the proper sense of the term, are in fact but the continuance or the prolongation of the old Roman dominion - the fourth kingdom of Daniel - united so as to constitute in reality but one kingdom, and yet so distinct in their origin, and in their manifestations, as to be capable of separate contemplation and description, and thus properly represented by the two "beasts" that were shown in vision to John.

And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast - That is, to respect, to reverence, to honor. The word "worship" here refers to civil respect, and not to religious adoration. See the notes on Revelation 13:4. The meaning here, according to the interpretation proposed all along in this chapter, is, that the papacy, considered in its religious influence, or as a spiritual power - represented by the second beast - secured for the civil or secular power - represented by the first beast - the homage of the world. It was the means of keeping up that dominion, and of giving it its ascendency among the nations of the earth. The truth of this, as an historical fact, is well known. The Roman civil power would have long ago lost all its influence and been unknown, if it had not been for the papacy; and, in fact, all the influence which it has had since the irruption of the northern barbarians, and the changes which their invasion produced, can be traced to that new power which arose in the form of the papacy - represented in Daniel Dan 7:8 by the "little horn." That new power gave life and energy to the declining influence of Rome, and brought the world again to respect and honor its authority.

Whose deadly wound was healed - See the notes on Revelation 13:3. That is, was healed by the influence of this new power represented by the second beast. A state of things occurred, on the rise of that new power, as if a wound in the head, otherwise fatal, was healed. The striking applicability of this to the decaying Roman power - smitten as with a deadly wound by the blows inflicted by the northern hordes, and by internal dissensions - will occur to every one. It was as if a healing process had been imparted by some life-giving power, and, as a consequence, the Roman dominion - the prolongation of Daniel's fourth kingdom - has continued to the present time. Other kingdoms passed away - the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian; Rome alone, of all the ancient empires, has prolonged its power over men. In all changes elsewhere, an influence has gone forth from the seven-hilled city as wide and as fearful as it was in the brightest days of the republic, the triumvirate, or the empire, and a large part of the world still listens reverently to the mandates which issue from the seat which so long gave law to mankind. The fact that it is so is to be traced solely to the influence of that power represented here by the second beast that appeared in vision to John - the papacy.

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."

The power of the first beast was to speak great words and blasphemies, and to make war with, and overcome the saints, Revelation 13:5,7. This power also should be exercised by the papacy, (according to this prophecy), and time hath witnessed the truth of it. And as, before he arrived at the height of power, he had persuaded the latter emperors to establish idolatry and superstition; so having now the power in his own hands, and being by the first beast made head of the church, he now vigorously causeth all under his power to obey the edicts, decrees, and commands of that nature, which those emperors had published; choosing rather to do this in the name of others, than from himself; that in case of the non-compliance of any, he might charge them with sedition or disobedience to the imperial laws, or dissenting from antiquity, &c. Hence he

causeth them to worship the first beast rather than himself. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him,.... 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, &c. 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.

{17} And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein {18} to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

(17) The history of the acts of this beast contains in sum three things, hypocrisy, the witness of miracles and tyranny: of which the first is noted in this verse, the second in the three verses following: the third in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses. His hypocrisy is most full of lies, by which he abuses both the former beast and the whole world: in that though he has by his cunning, as it were by line, made of the former beast a most miserable skeleton or anatomy, usurped all his authority to himself and most impudently exercises the same in the sight and view of him: yet he carries himself so as if he honoured him with most high honour, and did truly cause him to be reverenced by all men.

(18) For to this beast of Rome, which of civil Empire is made an ecclesiastical hierarchy, are given divine honours, and divine authority so far, as he is believed to be above the scriptures, which the gloss upon the Decretals declares by this devilish verse. Articulos solvit, synodumque facit generalem That is, He changes the Articles of faith, and gives authority to general Councils.

Which is spoken of the papal power. So the beast is by birth, foundation, feat, and finally substance, one: only the Pope has altered the form and manner of it, being himself the head both of that tyrannical empire, and also of the false prophets: for the empire has he taken to himself, and to it added this cunning device. Now these words, whose deadly wound was cured are put here for distinction sake, as also sometimes afterwards: that even at that time the godly readers of this prophecy might by this sign be brought to see the thing as present: as if it were said, that they might adore this very empire that now is, whose head we have seen in our own memory to have been cut off, and to be cured again.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 13:12. The second beast is expressly designated as standing in the relation of servitude to the first: the entire ἐξουσία given, he puts in operation, and that, too, ἐνωπίον αὐτοῦ, i. e., beneath the eyes of the first beast, as its lord.[3358]

ΠΟΙΕῚ

ἹΝΑ ΠΡΟΣΚΥΝΉΣΟΥΣΙ
. Cf. Revelation 3:9.

Οὖ ἘΘΕΡΑΠ., Κ.Τ.Λ. This was indicated already (Revelation 13:4) as the cause of the astonishing adoration.

[3358] Cf. Revelation 13:14; Revelation 8:2; 1 Kings 10:8; Numbers 3:6. De Wette, Hengstenb.12. exerciseth] Lit. doeth: the sense is, he does all that the Dragon has given the Beast power or authority to do.

before him] The relation of the False Prophet to the Beast is nearly the same as that of Aaron to Moses, Exodus 4:16; Exodus 7:9 sqq., or even of a true Prophet to God, 1 Kings 17:1.Revelation 13:12. Ποιεῖἐποίει) There is a mixture of tenses, as Revelation 13:15, and ch. Revelation 11:9-10, with Annot. in the Apparatus, p. 818 [Ed. ii. p. 541].— τὴν γῆν καὶ τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ κατοικοῦντας, the earth and them which dwell therein) A remarkable expression; for in Revelation 13:14, and in other places, it is said, τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, those that dwell on the earth. I see no difference of meaning, except that here in Revelation 13:12, a sudden universality of worship is implied, perhaps to be promulgated by some edict.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.)
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