Revelation 13:16
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:
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(16, 17) And he causeth . . .—Better, And he [i.e., probably, the second wild beast, and not the image, as in the latter clause of the last verse] makes all men, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give them a mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead: (and) that no one should be able to buy or to sell but he who has the mark, the name of the wild beast, or the number of his name. We have read of the sealing of the servants of God in their foreheads (Revelation 7:3): we shall hear of it again (Revelation 22:4); the power of evil also has its mark or stamp. As slaves received a brand or mark in their flesh, betokening to whom they belonged, so in the spiritual conflict there is on the side of good and of evil a brand or mark. St. Paul spoke of such marks in his own body that proved him a slave of Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:17). In the same way the subtle false prophet, the abettor of world-power, seeks to impress a mark on all, on the penalty of complete social exclusion. It is utterly unnecessary to take this brand of evil literally, any more than we took the seal of Christ literally. That seal we understood as spiritual, in the faith and in the character; this evil brand we must interpret in like manner. It surely means the acquiescence in character and action to the principles of this tyrannical world-power: the right hand is the symbol of toil and social intercourse; the forehead is the symbol of character, as time is ever writing its awful tale upon men’s brows. There have been days when men’s faith has been read only too plainly by a hostile world, and when their simple trust in Christ caused Christians to be suspected, and when “men cast out their name as evil,” and when the mark of the beast was worn and gloried in everywhere. We might cite from the history of the past numberless such epochs. But are we sure that the days are gone? Are we sure that it is easy for simple, unaffected goodness and genuine faith to gain all it might gain? Are we sure that honesty, guilelessness, utter and strenuous truthfulness are not weighted in the race of life? The days of the future may bring intenser forms of this tyranny, as the days of the past have shown them; but the days of the present may afford us illustrations of how readily men may lose, lose much and lose terribly, rather than succumb to fashions which violate honour and dishonour Christ. But we read of more than a mark here: we read of a “name,” and the “number of a name.” What are we to understand by these?

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 caused all - He claims jurisdiction, in the matters here referred to, over all classes of persons, and compels them to do his will. This is the second beast, and, according to the interpretation given above, it relates to the papal power, and to its claim of universal jurisdiction.

Both small and great - All these expressions are designed to denote universality - referring to various divisions into which the human family may be regarded as divided. One of those divisions is into "small and great"; that is, into young and old; those small in stature and those large in stature; those of humble, and those of elevated rank.

Rich and poor - Another way of dividing the human race, and denoting here, as in the former case, all - for it is a common method, in speaking of mankind, to describe them as "the rich and poor."

Free and bond - Another method still of dividing the human race, embracing all - for all the dwellers upon the earth are either free or bond. These various forms of expression, therefore, are designed merely to denote, in an emphatic manner, universality. The idea is, that, in the matter referred to, none were exempt, either on account of their exalted rank, or on account of their humble condition; either because they were so mighty as to be beyond control, or so mean and humble as to be beneath notice. And if this refers to the papacy, every one will see the propriety of the description. The jurisdiction set up by that power has been as absolute over kings as over the feeble and the poor; over masters and their slaves; alike over those in the humblest and in the most elevated walks of life.

To receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads - The word here rendered "mark" - χάραγμα charagma - occurs only in one place in the New Testament except in the Book of Revelation Act 17:29, where it is rendered "graven." In all the other places where it is found Revelation 13:16-17; Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4, it is rendered "mark," and is applied to the same thing - the "mark of the beast." The word properly means "something graven or sculptured"; hence:

(a) a graving, sculpture, sculptured work, as images or idols;

(b) a mark cut in or stamped - as the stamp on a coin.

Applied to people, it was used to denote some stamp or mark on the hand or elsewhere - as in the case of a servant on whose hand or arm the name of the master was impressed; or of a soldier on whom some mark was impressed denoting the company or phalanx to which he belonged. It was no uncommon thing to mark slaves or soldiers in this way; and the design was either to denote their ownership or rank, or to prevent their escaping so as not to be detected.

Most of us have seen such marks made on the hands or arms of sailors, in which, by a voluntary tattooing, their names, or the names of their vessels, were written, or the figure of an anchor, or some other device, was indelibly made by punctures in the skin, and by inserting some kind of coloring matter. The thing which it is here said was engraven on the hand or the forehead was the "name" of the beast, or the "number" of his name, Revelation 13:17. That is, the "name" or the "number" was so indelibly inscribed either on the hand or the forehead, as to show that he who bare it pertained to the "beast," and was subject to his authority - as a slave is to his master, or a soldier to his commander. Applied to the papacy, the meaning is, that there would be some mark of distinction; some indelible sign; something which would designate, with entire certainty, those persons who belonged to it, and who were subject to it. It is hardly necessary to say that, in point of fact, this has eminently characterized the papacy. All possible care has been taken to designate with accuracy those who belong to that communion, and, all over the world, it is easy to distinguish those who render allegiance to the papal power. Compare the notes on Revelation 7:3.

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]. No particular character is here to be understood, but only the general imposition of the Romish faith upon all sorts of persons. His mark was nothing else but either the profession of his faith and religion, or a vowed subjection to his commands, which we know is the practice of the papacy where it obtaineth in any country.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor,

free and bond,.... Men of all ranks and degrees, states and conditions, within his jurisdiction; this refers to the beast, and not to the image:

to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; or "that they might give themselves marks", as the Complutensian edition reads; which is an allusion either to the custom among the Romans of imprinting marks upon their servants and soldiers, by which they might be known to whom they belonged; servants had them in their foreheads (i), and soldiers in their hands (k); or to the usages of the Jews in binding their phylacteries upon their arms and foreheads, to put them in mind of the law of God, and their obedience to it; or to the practices of the Heathens, in putting the mark of the god they worshipped upon their bodies; Maimonides (l) says, it was a custom with the Gentiles to mark themselves with their idols, showing that they were their bought servants, and were marked for their service: the sense is, that some received the mark in one place, and some in another: those who were obliged to receive the mark in the right hand seem to be the clergy, such who entered into holy orders; who lifted up their right hand, and swore and vowed allegiance to the pope, and testified they were ready to defend and support his religion and interest; and who in their ordination are said to have an indelible character impressed on them: and those who received the mark in their foreheads are the common people in general, who one and all have the same impress upon them; which may intend either the sign of the cross in baptism, or rather their open confession of the Popish religion, which they as publicly avow and declare as if it had been written on their foreheads.

(i) Apulei Metamorph. l. 9. Ausonii Epigram. l. 15. Seneca de Ira, l. 3. c. 3.((k) Aetius apud Turnebi Advers. l. 23. c. 12. (l) Hilchot Obede Cochab. c. 12. sect. 11.

{23} And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive {24} a {b} mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

(23) The third point is a cruel exercise of power, as was said before, usurped over men, in this verse: and over their goods and actions, in the next verse. For he is said, to bring on all persons a cruel slavery, that as bondslaves they might serve the beast. Also he is said to exercise over all their goods and actions, an abuse of indulgences and dispensations (as they term them) among their friends and against others, to use most violent prohibitions, and to curse, even in natural and civil, private and public contracts, in which all good faith ought to have place.

(24) That is their consecrated oil, by which in the ordinance

(as they call it) of confirmation, they make servants for themselves, the persons and doings of men, signing them in their forehead and hands. They make the sign left by Christ, see Re 7:3 and the ordinance of baptism useless. For whom Christ has joined to himself as signified by baptism this beast challenges with his greasy consecrated oil, which he does not hesitate to prefer over baptism, both in authority and value.

(b) The mark of the name of the beast.

Revelation 13:16-17. καὶ ποιεῖ πάντας

ἵνα δῶσιν αὐτοῖς χαρ.

καὶ ἵνα μή τις, κ.τ.λ. The first ἵνα, just as Revelation 13:12; the second ἵνα (Revelation 13:17) has a different relation to the ποιεῖ, which is to be regarded as repeated before it, in so far as here an immediate determination of the object is lacking.

John describes how the entire number of worshippers of the beast,[3379] who recognize one another by a mark which certifies that they belong to the beast, hinder the intercourse, required even in business with respect to their daily life, of saints who have not received that mark of the beast.

ΔῶΣΙΝ ΑὐΤΟῚς ΧΆΡΑΓΜΑ. Deceived by the second beast unto the worship of the first beast (Revelation 13:14), the dwellers on the earth put a mark upon themselves; they receive it willingly.[3380]

ἘΠῚ Τῆς ΧΕΙΡῸς ΑὐΤῶΝ Τῆς ΔΕΞΙᾶς Ἢ ἘΠῚ ΤῸ ΜΈΤΩΠΟΝ ΑὐΤῶΝ. Züll. and Hengstenb. unjustly resist the acknowledgment[3381] that the idea contains an allusion to the heathen custom of branding slaves and soldiers, and thus of designating that they belong to the same master. It is just concerning this that the treatment refers, and not with respect to a counterpart of Deuteronomy 6:8; for the ΧΆΡΑΓΜΑ of the worshippers of the beast is to mark them as such, and to render them distinguishable as of the same nature, but in itself by no means contains an admonition of a service of the beast to which they are bound. The reminiscence of the Gentile custom is the more natural here, as the worshippers of the beast are partners in the Gentile-Roman Empire. The ΧΆΡΑΓΜΑ, however, is not the bringing together by a “confession,”[3382] but it is the definite external mark indicated in both its forms in Revelation 13:17, which is attached either to the forehead or the right hand, and thus in places most readily presented to the eyes; for, since it is intended only for visibility, whether it be attached to the one or the other place is a matter of indifference.[3383] Inappropriately, Hengstenb. says: “The forehead is the most suitable place for the confession” (? Romans 10:10), and the right hand comes into consideration “as the instrument for action.” But just because the parallel assertion ἘΠῚ Τ. ΜΈΤΩΠΟΝ ΑΎΤ. does not allow any other reference than to the convenient visibility of the mark, the ἘΠῚ Τ. ΧΕῖΡ. ΑὐΤ. Τ. ΔΕΞ. also cannot have any deeper reference. The right hand is mentioned because this must manifest itself especially in daily use.

The nature of the signature contained by the χάραγμα is definitely expressed in Revelation 13:17 : ΤῸ ὌΝΟΜΑ ΤΟῦ ΘΗΡΊΟΥ, Ἢ ΤῸΝ ἈΡΙΘΜῸΝ ΤΟῦ ὈΝΌΜΑΤΟς ΑὐΤΟῦ, i.e., either the express name by which the beast is known, and. therefore written in letters, or the number which gives the numerical value of the letters contained in the name.[3384] In every respect perversely, Coccejus says that the ΧΆΡΑΓΜΑ is the law, the ὌΝΟΜΑ the Catholic Church, and the ἈΡΙΘΜ. unwritten tradition.

[3379] The specifications τ. μικροῦς κ. τ. μεγ., κ.τ.λ., exhaust in a perceptible way the idea of the πἁντας. Cf. Revelation 6:15, Revelation 11:18, Revelation 19:18.

[3380] Cf. Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11, Revelation 16:2, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:4.

[3381] Grot., Ebrard, etc.

[3382] Against Hengstenb., who yet himself remarks that the confession has an impulse for an external sign.

[3383] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 7:3.

[3384] Cf. De Wette, etc.

Revelation 13:16-17. Detection was inevitable, for the very coins were stamped (Matthew 22:19) with the head of the Cæsar, the gods, or Rome itself, and the prophet apparently expected that genuine Christians would refuse to sanction idolatry and condone blasphemy by handling such emblems of profanity (cf. Ign. ad Magn. 5, δύο νομίσματα, ὃ μὲν θεοῦ, ὃ δὲ κόσμου). Only abject, servile devotees of the cultus will stoop to that! Irenæus has a similar allusion (iv. 30. 2) to those who carried money “cum inscriptione et imagine Cæsaris”.—μέτωπον. This highly figurative allusion is to the habit of marking soldiers and slaves with a conspicuous tattoo or brand (cf. Lucian, Dea Syra; 3Ma 2:29, where the Alexandrian Jews are branded with the mark of Dionysius; also on Galatians 6:17); or, better still, to the religious custom of wearing a god’s name as a talisman (cf. Deissmann, 349 f.). The general sense of the prediction is that the faithful will be shut up to the alternative of starving or of coming forward to avow their prohibited faith, so subtly and diabolically does the cultus of the emperor pervade all social life. Another solution is to think of the χάραγμα or red stamp, which was essential to all documents of exchange (Deissmann, 240 f.); it consisted of a red seal with tho emperor’s name or effigy. Ramsay (Seven Letters, pp. 106 f.) takes the whole description as a symbolic and rather sarcastic way of referring to a boycotting demand that every Asiatic Christian should somehow “stamp himself overtly and visibly as loyal, or be disqualified from participation in ordinary social life and trading”. Probably the passage is a figurative and unqualified expression for conspicuous loyalty to the Imperial cult. In Ep. Lugd. the devil is said to work against Christ by “excluding us from houses, baths, and markets, and also by forbidding any one of us to appear anywhere”.

16. to receive] Lit. that they give them.

a mark] The word for “mark” is not the same as in Galatians 6:17, but the image is, as there, that of the brand put upon slaves to identify them; pagan devotees sometimes received such a brand, marking them as the property of their god. In the so-called Third Book of Maccabees (which, stupid as it is, has perhaps some historical foundation) we are told that Ptolemy Philopator ordered the Jews of Alexandria to be branded with an ivy-leaf, the cognisance of Dionysus. One may compare also the sealing of the servants of God in chap. 7, and Revelation 14:1.

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). Revelation 13:16A mark (χάραγμα)

The word occurs frequently in Revelation, and only once elsewhere (Acts 17:29) on which see note. Commentators find illustrations in the brand set upon slaves by their masters, or upon soldiers by their monarchs, and in the branding of slaves attached to certain temples. Herodotus describes a temple to Hercules at the Canopic mouth of the Nile, and says: "If a slave runs away from his master, and taking sanctuary at this shrine gives himself up to the God, and receives certain sacred marks upon his person, whosoever his master may be, he cannot lay hand on him" (ii., 113). In the treatise "concerning the Syrian goddess" falsely attributed to Lucian, it is said of the slaves of the temple, "all are branded, some upon the wrist and some upon the neck." Paul, in Galatians 6:17, applies the word for these brands, στίγματα, to the marks of Christ's service which he bears in his body. In 3 Macc. 2:29, we read that Ptolemy Philopator required all the Jews of Alexandria to be registered among the common people; and that those who were thus registered were to be marked (χαράσεσθαι) on their persons by the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysus (Bacchus). In Leviticus 19:28, the Israelites are forbidden to make cuttings in their flesh for the dead and to print marks (γράμματα στικτὰ) upon themselves.

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