Revelation 13:2
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: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
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(2) And the beast . . .—The wild beast combined the features of three wild animals: the leopard, the bear, the lion. In Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7:4) the kingdoms were described: the first, like a lion; the second, like a bear; the third, like a leopard or panther. Here all these features are combined, because the wild beast is a representative of all forms of world-power, which have been swift to shed blood: like a leopard leaping on the prey, tenacious and relentless as a bear, and all devouring (their throat is an open sepulchre) as a lion. The reader will remember the wild beasts which in vision hindered Dante when he sought to ascend the “pleasant mount”—the “cause and source of all delight.” The leopard, the lion, the wolf were symbols of luxuriousness, cruel ambition, and hungry and heartless avarice, which oppose men and nations when they seek the Holy Hill, where the light of God ever rests. (Comp. Inferno, i. 10-74)

And the dragon.—Read, And the dragon gave him his power and his throne (not his “seat,” as in the English version; it is the royal seat, the throne, which is meant). (See Notes on Revelation 11:16 and Revelation 4:4.)

And great authority.—It is through this succession of world-powers that the dragon carries on his war. The wild beast becomes the vicegerent, so to speak, of the prince of this world.

13:1-10 The apostle, standing on the shore, saw a savage beast rise out of the sea; a tyrannical, idolatrous, persecuting power, springing up out of the troubles which took place. It was a frightful monster! It appears to mean that worldly, oppressing dominion, which for many ages, even from the times of the Babylonish captivity, had been hostile to the church. The first beast then began to oppress and persecute the righteous for righteousness' sake, but they suffered most under the fourth beast of Daniel, (the Roman empire,) which has afflicted the saints with many cruel persecutions. The source of its power was the dragon. It was set up by the devil, and supported by him. The wounding the head may be the abolishing pagan idolatry; and the healing of the wound, introducing popish idolatry, the same in substance, only in a new dress, but which as effectually answers the devil's design. The world admired its power, policy and success. They paid honour and subjection to the devil and his instruments. It exercised infernal power and policy, requiring men to render that honour to creatures which belongs to God alone. Yet the devil's power and success are limited. Christ has a chosen remnant, redeemed by his blood, recorded in his book, sealed by his Spirit; and though the devil and antichrist may overcome the body, and take away the natural life, they cannot conquer the soul, nor prevail with true believers to forsake their Saviour, and join his enemies. Perseverance in the faith of the gospel and true worship of God, in this great hour of trial and temptation, which would deceive all but the elect, is the character of those registered in the book of life. This powerful motive and encouragement to constancy, is the great design of the whole Revelation.And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard - For a description of the leopard, see the notes on Daniel 7:6. It is distinguished for bloodthirstiness and cruelty, and thus becomes an emblem of a fierce, tyrannical power. In its general character it resembles a lion and the lion and the leopard are often referred to together. In this description, it is observable that John has combined in one animal or monster, all those which Daniel brought successively on the scene of action as representing different empires. Thus in Daniel 7:2-7 the lion is introduced as the symbol of the Babylonian power; the bear, as the symbol of the Medo-Persian; the leopard, as the symbol of the Macedonian; and a nondescript animal, fierce, cruel, and mighty, with two horns as the symbol of the Roman. See the notes on that passage. In John there is one animal representing the Roman power, as if it were made up of all these: a leopard with the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion, with two horns, and with the general description of a fierce monster. There was an obvious propriety in this, in speaking of the Roman power, for it was, in fact, made up of the empires represented by the other symbols in Daniel, and "combined in itself all the elements of the terrible and the oppressive, which had existed in the aggregate in the other great empires that preceded it." At the same time there was an obvious propriety in the symbol itself; for the bloodthirstiness and cruelty of the leopard would well represent the ferocity and cruelty of the Roman power, especially as John saw it here as the great antagonistic power of the true church, sustaining the papal claim, and thirsting for blood.

And his feet were as the feet of a bear - See the notes on Daniel 7:5. The idea here seems to be that of strength, as the strength of the bear resides much in its feet and claws. At the same time, there is the idea of a combination of fierce qualities - as if the bloodthirstiness, the cruelty, and the agility of the leopard were united with the strength of the bear.

And his mouth as the mouth of a lion - See the notes on Daniel 7:4. The month of the lion is made to seize and hold its prey, and is indicative of the character of the animal as a beast of prey. John has thus brought together the qualities of activity, bloodthirstiness, strength, ferocity, all as symbolical of the power that was intended to be represented. It is hardly necessary to say that this description is one that would apply well, in all respects, to Rome; nor is it necessary to say, that if it be supposed that he meant to refer to Rome, this is such a description as he would have adopted.

And the dragon - See the notes on Revelation 12:3.

Gave him his power - Satan claimed, in the time of the Saviour, all power over the kingdoms of the world, and asserted that he could give them to whomsoever he pleased. See the notes on Matthew 4:8-9. How far the power of Satan in this respect may extend, it may not be possible to determine; but it cannot be doubted that the Roman power seemed to have such an origin, and that in the main it was such as, on that supposition, it would be. In its arrogance and haughtiness - in its thirst for dominion - in its persecutions - it had such characteristics as we may suppose Satan would originate. If, therefore, as the whole connection leads us to suppose, this refers to the Roman secular power, considered as the support of the papacy, there is the most evident propriety in the representation.

And his seat - θρόνον thronon. Hence, our word "throne." The word properly means a seat; then a high seat; then a throne, as that on which a king sits. Here it refers to this power as exercising dominion on the earth.

And great authority - The authority was great. It extended over a large part of the earth, and, alike in its extent and character, it was such as we may suppose Satan would set up in the world.

2. leopard … bear … lion—This beast unites in itself the God-opposed characteristics of the three preceding kingdoms, resembling respectively the leopard, bear, and lion. It rises up out of the sea, as Daniel's four beasts, and has ten horns, as Daniel's fourth beast, and seven heads, as Daniel's four beasts had in all, namely, one on the first, one on the second, four on the third, and one on the fourth. Thus it represents comprehensively in one figure the world power (which in Daniel is represented by four) of all times and places, not merely of one period and one locality, viewed as opposed to God; just as the woman is the Church of all ages. This view is favored also by the fact, that the beast is the vicarious representative of Satan, who similarly has seven heads and ten horns: a general description of his universal power in all ages and places of the world. Satan appears as a serpent, as being the archetype of the beast nature (Re 12:9). "If the seven heads meant merely seven Roman emperors, one cannot understand why they alone should be mentioned in the original image of Satan, whereas it is perfectly intelligible if we suppose them to represent Satan's power on earth viewed collectively" [Auberlen]. Daniel, in his vision of the Chaldaic, Persian, Grecian, and Roman monarchies, by which the world was successively ruled from his time to St. John’s, and many years after, had the first represented to him by a lion, for its nobleness and fierceness; the second by a bear, for its cruelty; the third, by a leopard, for the smallness of its bulk, the swiftness of its conquests, its strength, &c.; the fourth, by a beast (not named) strong, and exceedingly terrible, that had great iron teeth, that devoured, and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue under its feet. This beast is certainly here described, which had several forms: John saw it at first under the representation of a red dragon, which signified that empire, while pagan, for three hundred years after Christ; in which time the old serpent could prevail nothing against the church. Then (after a rest to the church of a few years, which ended with Theodosius about the year 380 or 400) he saw it under the form of

a leopard, ruled by Arian emperors till near 600. This beast had

the feet of a bear and

the mouth of a lion. These emperors, with the Goths and Vandals that were Arians, were as cruel to true Christians as the pagan emperors had been. Gitimer, king of the Vandals, Anno 530, and the Goths under Totilas, 540, made miserable havoc amongst the Christians.

And the dragon gave him his power; these together inherited both the power of the heathen emperors, and their seat, and Rome, which was their seat, or throne, and exercised there

great authority. All this was done in the form of a leopard, not so terrible as that of a dragon; for the Arians disclaimed paganism, and the worship of pagan idols. All this while the papacy was creeping up, but till the year 552, or thereabouts, the Goths and Vandals, and other barbarous nations, were not driven out of Italy. Totilas (who took Rome Anno 547) was then killed, and Thejas succeeded him, who was the last king of the Goths in Italy, who about twenty years after was beaten by Narsetes, and driven out, after the Goths and. Vandals had reigned in Italy about seventy-seven years.

And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard,.... To which the Grecian kingdom is compared in Daniel 7:6; because of that rapidity and swiftness with which Alexander overran the world, and set up this monarchy; and to which the Roman Papal monarchy bears some resemblance; for as the Grecian monarchy was divided into several parts, which the leopard's spots may also point out, so the Roman empire was divided into ten parts, and united under the pope, as the head of them; and may be, in this form, compared to a leopard for its swiftness, Habakkuk 1:8; because this beast, as soon as he arose and got power, quickly, and in a very short time, extended it over all emperors, kings, princes, bishops, and over all kingdoms and churches; and for its spots, Jeremiah 13:23, which may be expressive both of the spots of sin and immorality of every kind, and of errors and heresies, superstition and idolatry, with which antichrist and his followers abound; and for its insidiousness and cruelty, Jeremiah 5:6. It lies in wait for its prey, and suddenly falls upon it, and devours it; and is a lively picture of the cunning sleight of the antichristian party, who lie in wait to deceive, and of their blood thirstiness and barbarity. It is reported (c) of the leopard, that it is of a sweet smell, and by its odour it draws the fawns, does, &c. near it, and then makes a prey of them; so antichrist, by outward riches and preferments, by the external pomp and splendour of his religion, by his living wonders and miracles, and by his great pretensions to holiness and the like, allures multitudes unto him, and destroys them.

And his feet were as the feet of a bear; to which the Persian monarchy is compared, Daniel 7:5. And this, as some think, may denote the strength and stability of the kingdom of antichrist, it having already endured a great while, and will be thought to be very firm and stable when its ruin is near; or rather the wars and fightings of antichrist against the saints, the fore feet of the bear being what that creature lights with, and tears and destroys such as oppose it, or fall a prey to it; and may also, as before, express the voraciousness and cruelty of antichrist, with respect to the bodies and souls of men:

and his mouth, as the mouth of a lion: to which creature the Babylonian monarchy is compared, Daniel 7:4, uttering out blasphemies against God, threatening ruin and destruction to men, and injecting fear into them, as the roaring of a lion does, and seizing upon, and devouring their estates and possessions, as well as butchering their persons. This beast has all the properties of the several beasts in Daniel's prophecy, wherefore all the figures there made use of to describe them are put together, to point unto us this monster of iniquity.

And the dragon gave him his power: for the coming of antichrist is after the working of Satan, 2 Thessalonians 1:9; he gave him his cunning and subtlety, as the old serpent, and taught him his arts and tricks to deceive mankind; and gave him a power to do signs and lying wonders, as well as communicated his malice and cruelty to persecute and oppress the saints; or an "army" of ecclesiastics to fight under him, and for him:

and his seat; at Rome, for there Satan's seat was, Revelation 2:13, in the time of the Pagan Roman empire, which was quitted by Dioclesian and Maximian, when they resigned the government of it, the one being at Nicomedia, and the other at Milan; and when Constantine came to the throne, he removed to Byzantium, and rebuilt it, and called it after his name Constantinople, and had his residence there, as had all the eastern emperors afterwards; and as for the western emperors, they chiefly resided either at Milan or Ravenna, to which last place Odoacer, Theodoric, and other Gothic kings retired, when the government was in their hands; so that hereby this seat was empty, and way was made for antichrist to take it, as he did.

And great authority; over the Roman empire, and the kings and kingdoms in it; he gave him his authority as the god of this world; what Christ refused at the hands of Satan, that his pretended vicar took, even the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them; yea, assumed to himself all power in heaven, earth, and hell, signified by his triple crown, at the instigation of the devil; so that it appears that he is not the vicar of Christ, but the vicar of the devil; and not the successor of Peter, but the successor of Satan; and that he holds his possessions, not by the donation of Constantine, but by the gift of the dragon.

(c) Aelian. de Animal. l. 5. c. 40.

And the beast which I saw was like {6} unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: {7} and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

(6) Swift as the leopard, easily grabbing all things, as the bear does with his foot, and tearing and devouring all things with the mouth as a lion does.

(7) That is, he lent the same power to the beast to use, when he perceived that he could not escape, but must be taken by the hand of the angel, and cast into the bottomless pit; Re 20:1-15 yet he did abandon the same power completely from himself, but that he might use it as long as he could.

Revelation 13:2. That the description of the form of the beast has been developed from Daniel 7:4 sqq., is at once manifest; but it must not be overlooked, that the Apocalyptic portrayal of it has an essentially distinct conception and purpose. Daniel portrays four worldly kingdoms succeeding one another (the Chaldaean, Medan, Persian, and Greek), and that, too, in such a way that the forms of beasts which symbolize the first three kingdoms are not only like a lion, a bear, and a leopard, but also bear within themselves other significative marks, while the fourth worldly kingdom is represented under the form of a monster, not specifically determined, as, on the one hand, by the great iron teeth, the power of this kingdom, devouring and crushing all, and on the other, however, by the ten horns, beneath which again a small horn comes forth corruptibly, it is symbolized how Antiochus Epiphanes finally rises as the blasphemous usurper of the Greek Empire ruled by the ten kings successively. John, however, describes not four or more, but in any case one kingdom; whether he have in mind the undivided idea of the world-power in general, which has attained form in many concrete empires,—from the Egyptian to the Roman of that time,[3250]—or, without definite reference to the earlier empires, refer only to the present Roman. At all events, it is incorrect to mangle the undivided form of the beast, and to explain perhaps with Wetst., who inverts the order: “The mouth of the lion designates the greed and avarice of Galba; the form of the leopard, the inconsiderate rashness and inchastity of Otho; the feet of the bear, the ferocity and torpor of Vitellius.” But it is no less incorrect when Andreas so interprets the combined form of the beast that he refers the leopard, etc., to that definite kingdom which he understands by the beast in Daniel 7, but in connection therewith attempts to preserve the unity of the idea by considering the antichrist, the coming ruler of the Roman Empire, as possessor at the same time of those three kingdoms;[3251] as it depends in general only upon an inaccurate combination with ch. 17, when in this passage the beast from the sea is regarded the antichrist himself, or his kingdom, in the sense that not the present Roman empire, but one not to be expected until the end of days, is to be understood;[3252] for the tendency of the entire statement of ch. 13[3253] pertains not to the pure future, as though an antichristian efficacy of Satan and the worldly power in his service, as it will have place only at the end of days, were to be described, but the world-power already present, ruling over all in blasphemous pride and oppressing believers,[3254] appears here in a way that undoubtedly makes us recognize its antichristian nature as to how it stands in the service of Satan himself. This antichristian world-power,—and that, too, in the definite appearance of the present Roman Empire,

John beholds in a form of a beast, whose threefold composition of the leopard, bear, and lion is to be explained as little in the sense of Daniel 7, as the ten horns of Revelation 13:1 are to be combined with the fourth beast, which in Daniel bears this number of horns.[3255] Just as the ten coroneted horns (and the seven heads) serve only to designate a particular individuality of the Roman Empire symbolized by the entire form of beast, entirely apart from the fact that in Daniel a fourth empire is symbolized by a monstrous beast with ten horns, so also the combination of the Apocalyptic beast does not have the sense that, in the empire signified by this beast, either the definite empire[3256] of Daniel, or all empires in general, inclusive of the present Roman and the still future,[3257] i.e., the Germano-Slavic,[3258] appear combined, and accordingly the beast out of the sea signifies the world-power only abstractly;[3259] but, on the contrary, the form of a beast which is compared as a whole to the leopard, which is as rapid in its movements as it is strong,[3260] is furnished with feet like the paws of a bear,[3261] while its mouth is like the jaws of a lion, so that thus the entire monstrous beast, which unites in itself the most dreadful weapons of the strongest beasts, informs us of the rapacity and power of the Roman Empire displayed in the same. The special interpretation of particular features reaches too far, and is, therefore, arbitrary, as in Beda: ΠΆΡΔ., “on account of the variety of nations;”[3262] ἌΡΚ., “on account of spite and madness;” ΛΈ., “on account of bravery of body and pride of tongue.”

[3250] Hengstenb., etc.

[3251] πάρδ. designates the Greek, ἄρκ. the Persian, λέ. the Babylonian empire: ὦν κρατησει ὁ Ἀντίχριστος ὡς Ρ̓ωμαίων βασιλεὐς ἐλευσόμενος

[3252] Against C. a Lap., Hofm., etc.

[3253] Cf. already ch. 12.

[3254] Which John, of course, considers to be such as is immediately judged and brought to naught by the coming of the Lord.

[3255] Against Züll., De Wette.

[3256] Andr., etc.

[3257] Hengstenb.

[3258] Auberlen.

[3259] “The ungodly world-power as a whole.”

[3260] Cf. Jeremiah 5:6; Hosea 13:7; Sir 28:23, where, in order to illustrate dreadful strength, the leopard is compared with the lion and the wolf.

[3261] ὡς ἄρκ. Cf. Revelation 4:6; Revelation 4:8. Var. Lect. Revelation 9:7-9.

[3262] Cf. Grot.: “The leopard is an animal of various color; thus Roman Idolatry had as its gods, males, females, the greatest, the least,” etc. Coccejus: “Of various color. For to this beast belong Christiaus serving bishops, and yet constituting another source of faith, also Arians, Mussulmans, etc.” Vitr., etc.

καὶ ἔδωκεν, κ.τ.λ. Here is shown the reason why the dragon, who in Revelation 12:17 has entered into a conflict against believers, has come upon the shore of the sea (Rev. 12:18): he has called the beast from the sea in order to equip him with his own power, and thus to make him an instrument of his wrath. In what way the dragon accomplished this impartation, ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ, we dare not ask, since John does not declare it, for properly he does not attempt to state what is not made visible.

Worthy of notice is the inner relation of the three points, τὴν δύναμιν αὐτ., τ. θρόνον αὐτ., and ἐξουσίαν μεγάλην. The δύναμις imparted to the beast, which is expressly marked as diabolical (δύν. αὐτού), is shown in his power over freedom and life (Revelation 13:10), and the entire business of men (Revelation 13:17). But the dragon also, by giving his throne to the beast, invests it with a βασιλεία, so that now a throne can be ascribed to the beast himself (Revelation 16:10): hence the more definite view of the worldly dominion of the beast is here presented. Finally, the ἐξουσία μεγάλη[3263] designates the great, yet always definite and limited, plenitude of power, in order by the medium of that ΔΎΝΑΜΙς to work within the entire sphere of nature and to serve the purpose of the dragon.

[3263] Cf. Revelation 6:8, Revelation 9:3, Revelation 10:9.

Revelation 13:2. The empire gathered up all the obnoxious qualities of Israel’s former oppressors: craft, lust of blood, and vicious energy. Hence the combination of traits from Daniel’s four beasts: general appearance that of a fierce panther, feet like a bear’s (i.e., plantigrade), jaws like a lion’s (of devouring strength)—a Palestinian (Hosea 13:7-8) picture of a perfect beast of prey, raging and ravening, before whom the church, like Dryden’s milk-white Hind, “was often forced to fly, And doom’d to death, though fated not to die”.—καὶ ἔδωκεν κ.τ.λ., connecting the empire with the dragon of 12 and stamping it as Satanic (cf. Lueken, 22 f.; Weinel, 11–12), as a weird and wild messiah of the devil on earth.

2. like unto a leopard … bear … lion] The fourth beast in Daniel 7 is not described as like any ordinary animal: here he is described as combining the likeness of the other three. We may draw the inference mentioned on Revelation 13:1, that this beast is not the fourth, but a combination of all four: but on the simpler view the description is not less appropriate. The Rome of St John’s day was “like unto” a Greek empire, and at the same time embodied elements derived from Babylon, and from Persia. And if we watch the “spirit of Antichrist” that is working in our day, we shall see it in the various forms of Hellenic aestheticism, of Persian luxury, and of Chaldean scientific necessarianism. It remains for this spirit to mount the imperial throne of Rome, when he who now letteth is taken out of the way.

the dragon gave him his power] It is the Devil’s interest and policy to disguise his working under the forms of the world: at present, he has actually persuaded many to disbelieve in his existence.

seat] Better, throne. The words rendered “power” and “authority” here are the same as “strength” and “power” in Revelation 12:10. Antichrist, or the Antichristian empire, bears just the same relation to the Devil as the true Christ to God.

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. Revelation 13:2A leopard (παρδάλει)

The ancients do not seem to have distinguished between the leopard, the panther, and the ounce. The word stands for either. Leopard is leo-pard, the lion-pard, which was supposed to be a mongrel between a panther and a lioness. Compare Daniel 7:6.


Compare Daniel 7:5.


Compare Daniel 7:4.

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