Revelation 13:15
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.
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(15) And he had power . . .—Better, And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the wild beast, that the image of the wild beast should both speak, and cause that as many as do not worship the image of the wild beast shall be slain. The image to the wild beast is an image also of the wild beast: and the image of the monster is endued with apparent vitality. Wisdom can give a semblance of life to the most doomed cause; and the bulk of mankind read only with their eyes, and not at all with their thoughts. The image of the Roman emperor was, in ancient days, made an object of worship. Christians suffered rather than by such an act of worship prove disloyal to Christ: like their spiritual ancestors, they refused to worship the image which the world-power had set up; they were willing to render to Cæsar the things that were Cæsar’s, but the homage which belonged to God they refused to any but their God. These are but types of those who have refused, though tempted by specious eloquence and sagacious subtlety, to offer homage to any mere world-power; for the golden image is ever set up upon the plains of this world: its glitter and its vitality survive the storm and the conflict of the ages: it speaks, and men hear and adore, for they walk by sight, not by faith; and it needs no imperial or papal edict to doom to social death and failure those who refuse to shape their conduct by considerations of self-interest, and who are sure to be treated as fanatics because they follow right and conscience and Christ.

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 had power to give life unto the image of the beast - That is, that image of the beast would be naturally powerless, or would have no life in itself. The second beast, however, had power to impart life to it, so that it would be invested with authority, and would exercise that authority in the manner specified. If this refers, as is supposed, to the Roman civil power - the power of the empire restored - it would find a fulfillment in some act of the papacy by which the empire that resembled in the extent of its jurisdiction, and in its general character, the former Roman empire, received some vivifying impulse, or was invested with new power. That is, it would have power conferred on it through the papacy which it would not have in itself, and which would confirm its jurisdiction. How far events actually occurred corresponding with this, will be considered in the notes at the close of this verse.

That the image of the beast should both speak - Should give signs of life; should issue authoritative commands. The speaking here referred to pertains to what is immediately specified, in issuing a command that they who "would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."

And cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast - Would not honor it, or acknowledge its authority. The "worship" here referred to is civil, not religious homage. See the notes on Revelation 13:4. The meaning is, that what is here called the "image of the beast" had power given it, by its connection with the second "beast," to set up its jurisdiction over people, and to secure their allegiance on pain of death. The power by which this was done was derived from the second beast; the obedience and homage demanded was of the most entire and submissive character; the nature of the government was in a high degree arbitrary; and the penalty enforced for refusing this homage was death. The facts that we are to look for in the fulfillment of this are:

(1) that the Roman imperial power was about to expire - as if wounded to death by the sword;

(2) that this was revived in the form of what is here called the "image of the beast" - that is, in a form closely resembling the former power;

(3) that this was done by the agency of the papal power, represented by the second beast;

(4) that the effect of this was to set up over people a wide-extended secular jurisdiction, of a most arbitrary and absolute kind, where the penalty of disobedience to its laws was death, and where the infliction of this was, in fact, to be traced to the influence of the second beast - that is, the papal spiritual power.

The question now is, whether facts occurred that corresponded with this emblematic representation. Now, as to the leading fact, the decline of the Roman imperial power - the fatal wound inflicted on that by the "sword" - there can be no doubt. In the time of "Augustulus," as above stated, it had become practically extinct - "wounded as it were to death," and so wounded that it would never have been revived again had it not been for some foreign influence. It is true also, that, when the papacy arose, the necessity was felt of allying itself with some wide extended civil or secular dominion, that might be under its own control, and that would maintain its spiritual authority. It is true, also, that the empire was revived - the very "image" or copy, so far as it could be, of the former Roman power, in the time of Charlemagne, and that the power which was wielded in what was called the "empire," was what was, in a great measure, derived from the papacy, and was designed to sustain the papacy, and was actually employed for that purpose. These are the main facts, I suppose, which are here referred to, and a few extracts from Mr. Gibbon will show with what propriety and accuracy the symbols here employed were used, on the supposition that this was the designed reference:

(a) The rise, or restoration of this imperial power in the time and the person of Charlemagne. Mr. Gibbon says (3:342), "It was after the Nicene synod, and under the reign of the pious Irene, that the popes consummated the separation of Rome and Italy (from the Eastern empire) by the translation of the empire to the less orthodox Charlemagne. They were compelled to choose between the rival nations; religion was not the sole motive of their choice; and while they dissembled the failings of their friends, they beheld with reluctance and suspicion the Catholic virtues of their foes. The difference of language and manners had perpetuated the enmity of the two capitals (Rome and Constantinople); and they were alienated from each other by the hostile opposition of seventy years. In that schism the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the popes of sovereignty; their submission would have exposed them to the revenge of a jealous tyrant, and the revolution of Italy had betrayed the impotence as well as the tyranny of the Byzantine court."

Mr. Gibbon then proceeds to state reasons why Charlemagne was selected as the one who was to be placed at the head of the revived imperial power, and then adds (p. 343), "The title of patrician was below the merit and greatness of Charlemagne; and it was only by reviving the "Western empire" that they could pay their obligations, or secure their establishment. By this decisive measure they would finally eradicate the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement of a provincial town the majesty of Rome would be restored; the Latin Christians would be united, under a supreme head, in their ancient metropolis; "and the conquerors of the West would receive their crown from the successors of Peter. The Roman church would acquire a zealous and respectable advocate"; and under the shadow of the Carlovingian power, the bishop might exercise, with honor and safety, the government of the city." All this seems as if it were a designed commentary on such expressions as these: "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed," "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; and he had power to give life unto the image of the beast," etc.

(b) Its extent. It is said Revelation 13:12, "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." Compare Revelation 13:14-15. That is, the extent of the jurisdiction of the revived power, or the restored empire, would be as great as it was before the wound was inflicted. Of the extent of the restored empire under Charlemagne, Mr. Gibbon has given a full account, iii. pp. 546-549. The passage is too long to be copied here in full, and a summary of it only can be given. He says, "The empire was not unworthy of its title; and some of the fairest kingdoms of Europe were the patrimony or conquest of a prince who reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary.

I. The Roman province of Gaul had been transformed into the name and monarchy of France, etc.

II. The Saracens had been expelled from France by the grandfather and father of Charlemagne, but they still possessed the greatest part of Spain, from the rock of Gibraltar to the Pyrenees. Amidst their civil divisions, an Arabian emir of Saragossa implored his protection in the diet of Paderborn. Charlemagne undertook the expedition, restored the emir, and, without distinction of faith, impartially crushed the resistance of the Christians, and rewarded the obedience and service of the Muslims. In his absence he instituted the Spanish March, which extended from the Pyrenees to the river Ebro: Barcelona was the residence of the French governor; he possessed the counties of Rousillon and Catalonia; and the infant kingdoms of Navarre and Aragon were subject to his jurisdiction.

III. As king of the Lombards, and patrician of Rome, he reigned over the greatest part of Italy, a tract of a thousand miles from the Alps to the borders of Calabria, etc.


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.

The beast, mentioned Revelation 13:11, had power to give life unto this new formed idolatry, conformable to that of the pagans, in which the old beast again lived: he gave life to it by his decrees and bulls, and canon laws, and by his excommunications and censures of those that would not comply with his idolatry as heretics; after which the persons so adjudged were delivered up to the secular power to be put to death.

And he had power to give life unto the image of the

beast,.... 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 , "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.

{22} And he had power to give {a} 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.

(22) The papists books are full of these miracles of the images of the beast, (that is, which the beast ordained to establish idolatry) which miraculously speak, and give judgment, or rather astonishingly, by the fraud of the false prophets.

(a) To give life, as Jannes and Jambres imitated the miracles that Moses did.

Revelation 13:15. To the second beast, it was further given (ἐδοθη, cf. Revelation 13:7): δοῦναι πνεῦμα τῇ εἰκόνι τοῦ θηρίου, i.e., to give that image of the beast a demoniacal πνεῦμα ζωῆς,[3374] and that, too, with the intention (ἽΝΑ ΚΑῚ ΛΑΛ.) that this might thereby speak, and also by this sign of life manifest his usurped divine glory—which must be adored (Revelation 13:15 b). Revelation 13:15 a must not be understood of a speaking of the spirit of heathen idols;[3375] but this feature of the description contains a suggestion of what has been reported concerning divine images actually speaking;[3376] and John appears[3377] to presuppose the reality of such demoniacal miracles.

Significant, besides, is the statement that the idol of the first beast had not the power to speak of itself, nor with the rough force with which the beast ruled the world, but that the intellectual power of the lying wisdom of the world must give that beast living speech. The false prophet with his ΠΛΑΝᾶΝ belongs thereto, if that beast is to find worship.

Incorrect is the special reference in Victorin.: “He will cause a golden image to antichrist to be placed in the temple at Jerusalem, and the vanishing angel to enter, and to give thence voices and decisions.”

κ. ποιήσῃ ἱνα

ἀποκτανθῶσι. On the construction, cf. Revelation 13:12. On the historical illustration of this testimony, as in the letter of Pliny to Trajan.[3378]

[3374] Cf. Revelation 11:11.

[3375] Against Hengstenb., who remarks how the heathen in his idol objectified his own views, and that, too, with a vividness which was attested by the assertions of actual speech on the part of those images.

[3376] Cf. Grot., Ew. ii., who also recalls the popular deception of speaking statues of Mary.

[3377] Cf. also Revelation 13:13.

[3378] L. X., ep. 97: “When they invoked the gods, and with wine and frankincense made supplication to your image, which, for that purpose, I had commanded to be brought together with the statues of the deities, none of which things, as is said, those who are really Christians can be forced to do.” Those who remain faithful must die: “Threatening also to punish them with death. Such as persisted, I ordered them to be led away.” Cf., concerning the Neronian persecution, Tacit., Ann., xv. 44.

Revelation 13:15. The statue is made to speak, in order to work on the credulity and awe of the worshippers. The trick was well within the reach of contemporary magic (cf. Valer. Maxim, i. 8. 3–5), and later tradition attributed it to Simon Magus (Clem. Recogn. iii. 47, cf. Clem. Hom. ii. 32), while similar ventriloquism was practised by Apollonius of Tyana and Egyptian sorcerers at Caligula’s court. cf. Lucian’s αὐτόφωνοι χρησμοὶ (Alex. 26).—ἀποκτανθῶσιν, cf. the scutcheon of Captain Pope in Bunyan’s Holy War—“the stake, the flame, and the good man in it”.

15. he had power] Lit. it was given to him.

life] Lit. breath or spirit.

Revelation 13:15. Ἵνα λαλήσῃ ἡ εἰκὼν τοῦ θηρίου) that the image of the beast should speak. “That images should speak, is a wonderful thing, and yet not incredible. You find it mentioned in Roman stories, and in Valerius Maximus, respecting the images of Juno Moneta, of Fortuna Mulielnis, and of Silvanus. And Moses Maimonides, in Part iii. ch. 24 of the Guide of those in doubt, says, that two books have been read by himself respecting Images which spake.”—Grotius on this passage. Add the things which Peter Crugotius and Nic. Mulerius cite on this passage also. The things which Freinshemius has collected on Florus, who treats, Book ii. c. 8, respecting the sweat of Apollo of Cumæ, are not dissimilar. “All these things were so customary two or three centuries ago, in the case of images belonging to our country, that they wept, laughed, and even SPOKE and walked, almost oftener than men; and performed other actions, which the men of our time can scarcely believe.”—ἵνα ἀποκτανθῶσι, that they should be killed) Rupertus says with weight on this passage: “Christ did not do this; nor have His prophets nor apostles taught, nor have kings now become Christian understood this, that they should kill, and think that the service of Christ is to be advanced by bloodshed. For the true God does not wish compulsory, but willing service. Therefore also in this, nay, even especially in this, he will show to those who have understanding, and who are strong in reason, that he is in truth Antichrist, that he is in truth not Christ; but that, in accordance with his name, he is opposed to Christ. It is Christ who shed His own blood. It is Antichrist who shed the blood of others.” After the Reformation, illustrious interpreters from time to time laid it down that a most violent persecution was even then impending from the beast: as Phil. Nicolai, Book ii. concerning the kingdom of Christ, p. 305; Hoe on Ap. XI., num. 78; Doelingius de Antichr. p. 298, and everywhere. Add Matthew Hofmann’s Chronology Apoc. p. 116.

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. Revelation 13:15Speak

This is supposed by some to refer to the tricks of pagan priests in making pictures and statues appear to speak.

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