Revelation 13:3
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) And I saw . . .—Translate, And (I saw) one from among his heads as if having been slain [the expression is the same as that applied to the Lamb in Revelation 5:6 : the wound marks are there when the vision rises] unto death; and the stroke of his death was healed. When the wild beast rose from the sea, the seer saw the deadly wound on the head: the wound was really unto death; the beast which had waged war against the true kingdom of righteousness and faith has received his death-blow. This is the historical point from which the vision starts. This being so, the death-blow is that which has just been dealt: the seed of the woman has bruised the serpent’s head. The blow which casts down the dragon inflicts a deadly wound upon the wild beast, which is his agent. When Christ overthrew the wicked one He gave the death-blow to the world-power—to all systems founded on passion, or self-sufficiency, or inhumanity. But the death-blow is apparently healed. What is this but telling the Church of Christ that the fruits of Christ’s victory will not be seen without delay? The world-power is smitten unto death; but the actual death does not follow immediately. The power of evil, contrary to all expectation, rises with new vigour. This revived power showed itself, with more or less force, in the way in which the spirit of the wild beast broke forth when Christianity seemed to have put fetters on the Roman empire.

(3, 4) And all the world wondered . . .—Literally, And the whole earth wondered after the wild beast, and worshipped the dragon, because he gave the authority and worshipped the wild beast, saying, Who is like unto the wild beast? and who is able to war with him? The healing of the death-blow causes wonder to all. Their wonder leads to worship. The spirit of the wild beast is adored wherever worldliness prevails. There is nothing so successful as success, and the homage of men is more often paid to power than to principle. “Who is like unto the beast?” The words are a parody, and a blasphemous parody, on the ascription of praise to God which the name Michael imported. (See Revelation 12:7; comp. Psalms 112, Micah 7:18.) “Who is like unto God?” is the legend of the saints: the opposing cry is, “Who is like unto the beast?”

“Can you not hear the words coming across the centuries from the lips of two Roman youths talking with each other, as they lounge together in the Forum?” (Maurice.) Can we not hear the echo of the words in the Champs Elysées, in Piccadilly, in the Broadway, or Unter Den Linden, from the lips of young men who have taken fashion, rank, wealth, world-power in any shape, as their god?

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 I saw one of his heads, as it were wounded to death - The phrase "wounded to death" means properly that it received a mortal wound, that is, the wound would have been mortal if it had not been healed. A blow was struck that would be naturally fatal, but there was something that prevented the fatal result. John does not say, however, by whom the wound was inflicted, nor does he describe further the nature of the wound. He says that "one of the heads" - that is, one of the seven heads - was thus wounded. In Revelation 17:9, he says that "the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth." In Revelation 17:10, he says, "there are seven kings." And this would lead us to suppose that there were "seven" administrations, or forms of dominion, or dynasties, that were presented to the eye of John; and that while the number "seven," as applied to the "heads," so far identified the power as to fix its location on the seven "hills" Revelation 17:9, in another respect also the number "seven" suggested forms of administration of dynasties, Revelation 17:10. What is meant by saying that one of these heads was wounded to death has been among the most perplexing of all the inquiries pertaining to the Book of Revelation. The use of the word "seven," and the explanation in Revelation 17:9, make it morally certain that Rome, in some form of its administration, is referred to. Of this there can be no doubt, and in this all are agreed. It is not, however, the papal power as such that is here referred to; for:

(a) the papal power is designated under the image of the second beast;

(b) the descriptions pertaining to the first beast are all applicable to a secular power and,

(c) there was no form of the papal spiritual dominion which would properly correspond with what is said in Revelation 17:10.

The reference in this place is, therefore, to Rome considered as a civil or secular power, yet Rome regarded as giving support to the second beast - the papal power. The general idea here is, that a state of things would exist in regard to that power, at the time referred to, as if one of the seven heads of the monster should receive a wound which would be fatal, if it were not healed in some way. That is, its power would be weakened; its dominion would be curtailed, and that portion of its power would have come to an end, if there had not been something which would, as it were, restore it, and save it from the wrath that was impending. The great point of difficulty relates to the particular application of this; to the facts in history that would correspond with the symbol.

On this there have been almost as many opinions as there have been interpreters of the Apocalypse, and there is no impropriety in saying that none of the solutions are wholly free from objection. The main difficulty, so far as the interpretation proposed above is concerned, is, in the fact that "one" of the seven heads is referred to as wounded unto death; as if one-seventh part of the power was endangered. I confess I am not able wholly to solve this difficulty; but, after all, is it certain that the meaning is that just one-seventh part of the power was in peril; that the blow affected just such a portion that it might be described as the one-seventh part? Is not the number seven so used in the Scriptures as to denote a considerable portion - a portion quite material and important? And may not all that is intended here be, that John saw a wound inflicted on that mighty power which would have been fatal if it had not been marvelously healed? And was it not true that the Roman civil and secular power was so waning and decaying, that it might properly be represented as if one of the seven heads of the monster had received a fatal wound, until its power was restored by the influence of the spiritual domination of the church of Rome? If this be the correct exposition, then what is implied here may be thus stated:

(a) The general subject of the representation is the Roman power, as seen at first in its vigor and strength;

(b) then that power is said to be greatly weakened, as if one of its heads were smitten with a deadly wound;

(c) then the wound was healed - this power was restored - by being brought into alliance with the papacy; that is, the whole Roman power over the world would have died away, if it had not been restored and perpetuated by means of this new and mighty influence, Revelation 13:12.

Under this new form, Rome had all the power which it had ever had, and was guilty of all the atrocities of which it had ever been guilty: it was Rome still. Every wound that was inflicted on that power by the incursion of barbarians, and by the dividing off of parts of the empire, was healed by the papacy, and under this form its dominion became as wide and as formidable as under its ancient mode of administration. If a more particular application of this is sought for, I see no reason to doubt that it may be found in the quite common interpretation of the passage given by Protestants, that the reference is to the forms of administration under which this power appeared in the world. The number of distinct forms of government which the Roman power assumed from first to last was the following: kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors. These seven forms of administration were, at least, sufficiently prominent and marked to be represented by this symbol, or to attract the attention of one contemplating this formidable power - for it was under these forms that its conquests had been achieved, and its dominion set up over the earth. In the time of John, and the time contemplated in this vision, all these had passed away but the imperial. That, too, was soon to be smitten with a deadly wound by the invasion of the Northern hordes; and that would have wholly and forever ceased if it had not been restored - the deadly wound being healed - by the influence of the papal power, giving Rome its former ascendency. See the notes at the close of Revelation 13:15.

And his deadly wound was healed - That is, as explained above, the waning Roman secular power was restored by its connection with the spiritual power - the papacy. This was:

(a) a simple matter of fact, that the waning secular power of Rome was thus restored by connecting itself with the spiritual or ecclesiastical power, thus prolonging what might properly be called the Roman domination far beyond what it would otherwise have been; and,

(b) this would be properly represented by just the symbol employed here - the fatal wound inflicted on the head, and the healing of that wound, or preventing what would naturally be the effects. On the fulfillment of this, see the notes on Revelation 13:15, at the close.

And all the world wondered after the beast - The word used here - θαυμαζω thaumazō - means, properly, to be astonished; to be amazed; then to wonder at; then to admire and follow (Robinson, Lexicon). In Revelation 13:4, it is said that the world "worshipped" the beast; and the general idea is, that the beast received such universal reverence, or inspired such universal awe, as to be properly called worship or adoration. There can be no doubt of the propriety of this, considered as applicable to that secular Roman power which sustained the papacy. The homage was as wide as the limits of the Roman empire had ever been, and might be said to embrace "all the world."

3. One of—literally, "from among."

wounded … healed—twice again repeated emphatically (Re 13:12, 14); compare Re 17:8, 11, "the beast that was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit" (compare Re 13:11); the Germanic empire, the seventh head (revived in the eighth), as yet future in John's time (Re 17:10). Contrast the change whereby Nebuchadnezzar, being humbled from his self-deifying pride, was converted from his beast-like form and character to MAN'S form and true position towards God; symbolized by his eagle wings being plucked, and himself made to stand upon his feet as a man (Da 7:4). Here, on the contrary, the beast's head is not changed into a human head, but receives a deadly wound, that is, the world kingdom which this head represents does not truly turn to God, but for a time its God-opposed character remains paralyzed ("as it were slain"; the very words marking the beast's outward resemblance to the Lamb, "as it were slain," see on [2720]Re 5:6. Compare also the second beast's resemblance to the Lamb, Re 13:11). Though seemingly slain (Greek for "wounded"), it remains the beast still, to rise again in another form (Re 13:11). The first six heads were heathenish, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome; the new seventh world power (the pagan German hordes pouring down on Christianized Rome), whereby Satan had hoped to stifle Christianity (Re 11:15, 16), became itself Christianized (answering to the beast's, as it were, deadly wound: it was slain, and it is not, Re 17:11). Its ascent out of the bottomless pit answers to the healing of its deadly wound (Re 17:8). No essential change is noticed in Daniel as effected by Christianity upon the fourth kingdom; it remains essentially God-opposed to the last. The beast, healed of its temporary and external wound, now returns, not only from the sea, but from the bottomless pit, whence it draws new Antichristian strength of hell (Re 13:3, 11, 12, 14; Re 11:7; 17:8). Compare the seven evil spirits taken into the temporarily dispossessed, and the last state worse than the first, Mt 12:43-45. A new and worse heathenism breaks in upon the Christianized world, more devilish than the old one of the first heads of the beast. The latter was an apostasy only from the general revelation of God in nature and conscience; but this new one is from God's revelation of love in His Son. It culminates in Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition (compare Re 17:11); 2Th 2:3; compare 2Ti 3:1-4, the very characteristics of old heathenism (Ro 1:29-32) [Auberlen]. More than one wound seems to me to be meant, for example, that under Constantine (when the pagan worship of the emperor's image gave way to Christianity), followed by the healing, when image worship and the other papal errors were introduced into the Church; again, that at the Reformation, followed by the lethargic form of godliness without the power, and about to end in the last great apostasy, which I identify with the second beast (Re 13:11), Antichrist, the same seventh world power in another form.

wondered after—followed with wondering gaze.

And I saw one of his heads; that is, the leopard’s head.

As it were wounded to death: the seven heads of this beast are interpreted by the Spirit of God himself, to be

seven kings, Revelation 17:10, i.e. seven forms of sovereign government in the Roman state, and these successive one to another; for it is said there:

Five are fallen, and one is, and the other is yet to come: so that this head must be either that then in being, or that to come; it cannot be that to come, because that does not receive its fatal blow and deadly wound till the final dissolution of the Roman (as the fourth metal) monarchy; therefore it must be that head then in being, viz. that of the pagan emperors: and the wounding of this head to death, is the conquering the pagan emperors, and the abolishing of paganism and idolatry, and putting a stop to persecution by the Christian emperors;

and his deadly wound was healed; and consequently this wound was healed when idolatry (for substance the same with the heathenish, though in a new dress) and persecution was restored (gradually) by the doctrine and practice of the Romish Church.

And I saw one of his heads,.... Not the Capitoline mountain, or the Capitol, the temple of Jupiter, built on that hill, which was burnt by lightning in the times of Titus, and magnificently rebuilt by Domitian, which was a thing past, and of no such moment as to be taken notice of here; nor anyone of the Roman emperors particularly, as Julius Caesar, at whose death the empire received a wound, upon its first erection in him, but was healed by the settlement of Augustus in it; nor Nero, at whose death the family of the Caesars ceased, when the empire was threatened with ruin in the following reigns, but was restored and reestablished in Vespasian, for these were before the times of John: but this is to be understood of the sixth head, or form of government, which obtained in the empire; namely, that of emperors, and of the destruction of Rome itself, the head of the empire, and which was built on seven mountains, designed by the seven heads of this beast: and this head was

as it were wounded to death; when the Roman empire was like a burning mountain cast into the sea; when Rome itself was taken, sacked, and burnt, more than once, particularly by Totilas; when Augustulus, the last of the emperors, was obliged to abdicate the throne; when Odoacer called himself, not emperor of Rome, but king of Italy, and retired from Rome to Ravenna; and when Adolphus, another Gothic king, thought to have changed the name of Rome, and given it that of Gothia: this seemed to be a deadly wound to Rome, to the empire and emperors.

And his deadly wound was healed; by the setting up of ten kingdoms in it, the kings of which gave them to the beast, to antichrist, the pope of Rome, and so the empire came to have an head again, a governor, though of another kind: some choose to understand this of the wound which antichrist received at the Reformation, by Luther, Calvin, and others, which has since been healing, Popery recovering itself again in some countries where it was driven out, and which, it is thought, will be entirely healed before his destruction:

and all the world wondered after the beast; which expresses the large extent of antichrist's dominion, which reached to all the Roman empire, Luke 2:1; yea, to all kindreds, tongues, and nations, Revelation 13:7; so that the universality the Papists boast of, as a note of the true church, is manifestly a mark of the beast, or of antichrist; and also the great esteem he is had in by his followers, who admire his power and authority, his grandeur, pomp, and riches, his signs and lying wonders, his pretended infallibility and holiness, his stock of merits and unwritten traditions, his skill to interpret Scripture, and his power to forgive sins, and the like: they went after him, obeyed him, embraced his doctrines, attended his religion and worship with wonder and amazement.

{8} 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.

(8) This is the other place that pertains to the description of the beast of Rome: that besides that natural dignity, and breadth of the Roman Empire, which was eluded to in the two former verses, there was added this also as miraculous, that one head was wounded as it were to death, and was healed again as from heaven, in the sight of all men. This head was Nero the Emperor, in whom the race of the Caesars fell from imperial dignity, and the government of the commonwealth was translated to others: in whose hands the Empire was so cured and recovered to health, as he seemed to all so much the more deeply rooted and grounded fast, than ever before. Hence follows those effects, which are next spoken of: First an admiration of certain power, as it were, sacred and divine, sustaining the Empire and governing it: Secondly, the obedience and submission of the whole earth, in this verse: Thirdly, the adoration of the dragon, and most wicked worshipping of devils confirmed by the Roman Emperors: Lastly, the adoration of the beast himself, who grew into so great estimation, as that both the name and worship of a God was given to him, Re 13:4. Now there were two causes which brought in the minds of men this religion: the show of excellency, which brings with it reverence: and the show of power invincible, which brings fear. Who is like (say they) to the beast? Who shall be able to fight with him?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 13:3. καὶ μίαν έκ τ. κεφ. With the accus., an express εἷδον is, indeed, not placed,[3264] but its idea results[3265] from the connection, since the ΕἿΔΟΝ, Revelation 13:1, which is repeated besides in Revelation 13:2, continues to be effective.

Ὡς ἘΣΦΑΓ. The Ὡς stands just as in Revelation 5:6, only that in this passage the circumstance which explains how that one head bore the marks of an actual mortal wound, and yet could be represented like the rest in all the vigor of life, is expressly designated: ΚΑῚ Ἡ ΠΛ. Τ. ΘΑΝ. ΑὐΤ. ἘΘΕΡΑΠΕΎΘΗ.

The more significant that is, which is said in Revelation 13:3 a., and the more this special feature of the entire image of the beast from the sea is adapted thereto, in order to adjust and test the correct interpretation of the whole, the more certain, on the other hand, to become helpless here, is every exposition that misunderstands the image of the beast as a whole. Hengstenb., Ebrard, Auberlen, etc., who regard the θηρίον an image of the world-power in general, infer from Revelation 17:10, with entire impropriety, that the head wounded unto death, and again healed, is the sixth, i.e., that whereby the Roman form of the world-power is symbolized. But although Hengstenb. further interprets that “by Christ’s atonement” a mortal wound is inflicted upon Roman worldly affairs and heathenism,—a wound which, therefore, could appear as again healed, because the outward condition of the Roman Empire still continued, as John himself must have felt this ungodly power in his banishment to Patmos,

Ebrard and Auberlen prefer an interpretation expressly rejected by Hengstenb. They observe, that by the migration of nations the mortal wound was given the Roman Empire; but that this wound was healed, because a new “Roman Empire” had arisen, whose chief strength rests just in the Germanic nations. This Holy Roman Empire, however, appears as the sixth head of the beast, healed of its mortal wound, because its Christianity is secularized, ay, in all Christian appearance, often of a directly antichristian activity; viz., in the Papacy. But the Christian aspect of this form of the world-power is positively expressed in the fact that the head of the beast (ὡς ἐσφαγμ.) bears in itself a certain resemblance to the Lamb (Ὡς ἘΣΦΑΓΜ., Revelation 5:6). The mode of exposition thus reverts in essentials to the old Protestant; only that this was the more correct, so far as it did not acknowledge the vague significance of the ΘΗΡΊΟΝ of the world-power in the abstract, but understood it as a definite reference to Rome. Thus Calov., in dependence on Luther, explains “ ‘the beast wounded,’ most correctly, of the Roman Empire, harassed by the invasions of the barbarians, who for more than three centuries wounded, devastated, and held Rome, so that, during that whole time, there was no Western emperor. It was also healed by the medical aid of Charlemagne and Leo III.” Coccejus understood the head as the Grecian part of the Roman Empire: “In this part the beast received a fatal wound when Julian restored the worship of the gods.” The ἘΘΕΡΑΠΕΎΘΗ is interpreted: “Julian was removed, and Jovian, the Catholic, succeeded him.” Phil. Nicolai referred the wounding to the dominion of seven hundred years by the Moors in Spain; the healing, to the expulsion of the enemy by King Ferdinand. Most consistently Vitringa explains that the mortal wound is the humiliation of Pope Alexander 13 by the Emperor Frederick in the year 1160, and that the healing is the humiliation of the Emperor by the Pope in the year 1177:[3266] on the other hand, Bengel, with his far-reaching interpretation,[3267] stands already nearer the moderns, as Ebrard and Auberlen. But the former, as well as the latter, interpretation is rejected both by the connection of ch. 12[3268] and by the particular points in Revelation 13:1-2 The ΘΗΡΊΟΝ is just as certainly not the abstract world-power, as the seven heads are not particular “phases of the world-power,” but kings, and that, too, Roman kings. Besides this, the quid pro quo which is ascribed to the writer of the Apocalypse, by representing him as describing the Holy Roman Empire as the empire of heathen Rome which has been again revived, is compatible neither with historical truth nor with a sound conception of biblical prophecy. In both respects, it is impossible to regard an historical development, which is dependent upon the Christian element, and which—in all its unchristian and antichristian deterioration—yet remains in its entire course Christian, and has produced truly holy fruit, as a head of this beast of the dragon. The only indication in the text, which apparently supports such a misconception, Auberlen, etc., have found in the expression ὡς ἘΣΦΑΓΜ., as, from the comparison of Revelation 5:6, they have inferred that thereby there is ascribed to the healed head a Christian, i.e., an apparently Christian, life and nature. But supposing, what does not necessarily lie in the expression, that a significant contrast were intended between the Lamb standing there as slain, and the head of the beast wounded, as it were, to death: is it, then, not much more correct to explain, as Victorin. already has done,[3269] viz., that the person represented by the head wounded and again healed is to be regarded as a pretended Christ in whom the sufferings and resurrection of the Lord appear to be imitated?

[3264] Against the false Rec.

[3265] Cf. Revelation 4:4.

[3266] As a new interpretation, Vitr. proposes. “The first five fallen (Revelation 17:10) heads are five distinguished popes before the Reformation: Gregory VII., Alexander III., Innocent III., Boniface VIII., John XXII.; after the Reformation follow Paul III., Paul VIII., and finally the eighth, still future Pope, who shall put to death Christ’s witnesses” (Revelation 11:7).

[3267] “You may see the paroxysms both of wounding and healing in the history of Gregory VII., Paschal II., Calist II., Alexander III., and others. Whatever adversity then happened is wounding; and whatever prosperity, healing.”

[3268] Auberlen has, indeed, found the migration of nations in Revelation 12:15 sqq.

[3269] “This one, therefore, viz., Nero, being raised, God will send as a king worthy of the worthy, and a Messiah such as the Jews have merited.” Cf. Beda: “Antichrist, pertaining to the heads of the earthly kingdom, in imitation of our true Head, professes to have risen again, an though having been slain, and presents himself for men’s reception, instead of Christ, who truly did this.” In like manner, Zeger, C. a Lap., etc.

If we turn from such explanations as do not need a special refutation,[3270] that of Victorin. is first presented, which, being brought again to notice by Corrodi[3271] and Eichhorn, has been of late resolutely defended by Lücke, De Wette, Bleek, Baur, Volkmar, Hilgenf., E. Renan, etc[3272] The Roman historians of the report bruited shortly after Nero’s death, that he was still living, and would again appear,[3273] are quoted. This opinion, which was current especially in Asia,[3274] is recognized by the writer of the Apoc.; and two circumstances concur, which seem to greatly urge the explanation from that fancy of the enigmatical discourse concerning the head of the beast wounded to death, and again healed. On the one hand, it has penetrated Christian literature, viz., the Apocalyptic:[3275] on the other hand, it appears to give a definite explanation of Revelation 17:8, and the one best harmonizing with Revelation 13:3, viz., that Nero, slain by his own hand, appears returning from the abyss of hell, and working again as the living antichrist.

But against this mode of exposition it is to be remarked: (1) The writer of the Apocalypse in no way betrays such impurity and limitation of faith and Christian culture, that without injustice a superstition dare be ascribed to him which the Roman authors already had derided.[3276] In any case, if John subscribed to that illusion, nothing more could any longer be said concerning a truly prophetical character of the Apoc., dependent upon inspiration, and concerning its canonical authority.[3277] (2) In reference to Revelation 17:8,[3278] it must be mentioned already here, how difficult it is by the ΘΗΡΊΟΝ which is there described, to understand Nero alone, who is symbolized, just as in ch. 13, by one of the seven heads of the beast. (3) But it is also in the highest degree doubtful whether the Nero-myth were current already at the close of the first century, as they try to find it in John: on the contrary, unmistakable traces indicate that the original Nero-myth received the form in which it is now by an anachronism, regarded as utilized in the Apoc. only by combining with it misunderstood passages like Revelation 13:3; Revelation 17:8, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 sqq. Sueton., Tacit., and Dio Chryst. by no means say that it was their opinion that the actually dead Nero had returned from the lower regions to life; but they report[3279] that it was not properly known in what way Nero had died, and that, therefore,[3280] the report originated that he was not at all dead, but had escaped to the Parthians, and would return to take vengeance on his enemies. So it stands in the sibylline books, where Nero appears as a fugitive,[3281] who is to return from the ends of the earth, his temporary place of refuge.[3282] That this Nero-myth was diffused among Christians by the authority of the sibylline books, is attested by Lactantius, who explains it not only as madness, but also indicates its natural origin:[3283] “Cast down, therefore, from the head of the government, and fallen from its summit, the impotent tyrant suddenly was nowhere present, so that a place not even of burial might appear on earth for so wicked a beast. Whence some madmen believe that he has been translated and reserved alive, the sibyl saying that the fugitive matricide shall come from the ends of the earth,” etc. Therefore Lactantius also knows nothing, as yet, of a resurrection and return of the dead Nero, but he has in view the faith of some madmen, supported by the sibylline books, that the still living Nero had found a refuge somewhere at the ends of the earth, whence he will return as a precursor of the antichrist.[3284] But this superstition, still diffused at his time, Lact. regards so senseless, because thereby a life a century long must be presupposed to Nero; while the entire fable could be explained without difficulty, from the fact that the grave of Nero was unknown,—an explanation which is proved to be right, inasmuch as Nero was actually buried with the greatest silence.[3285] In Lactantius, therefore, the Nero-myth, designated as senseless, does not have the form in which they want to find it presented by the writer of the Apoc.

Augustine is the first to testify to the existence of the expectation that Nero would arise from the dead, and return as antichrist, since he expressly remarks that this form of the myth, by the side of the older, has resulted from an interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 sqq. that is as bold as it is perverted:[3286] “Some think that this[3287] was said of the Roman Empire,—as his declaration, ‘The mystery of iniquity doth already work,’ he wanted to be understood of Nero, whose deeds seemed as though of antichrist. Whence some suspect that he will rise again, and be the antichrist. But others think that he was not slain, but rather had withdrawn so as to be regarded slain, and was concealed alive in the vigor of the age, in which he was when he was believed to have died, until he would be revealed at his own time, and be restored to the government. But to me such presumption of those thinking these things is very wonderful.” In this connection, also, Augustine does not mention the Apoc.[3288] This is done by Sulp. Severus,[3289] who, however, does not combine the myth of the revivification of the dead Nero with Revelation 13:3, but under the presumption that Nero had actually committed suicide[3290] records the entirely peculiar turn to the matter: It is believed that the wound which Nero inflicted upon himself was healed, and that he still lives, and at the end of the world will return as antichrist. The complete form of the myth is given first by Victorin., who expressly says that the actually deceased Nero would be again raised by God, and be sent as the pseudo-Messiah for judgment upon the ungodly; but Victorin.’s own words[3291] betray the origin of the myth thus fashioned, in the same way as Augustine[3292] testifies to the origin of another application of the myth from 2 Thessalonians 2. It cannot, therefore, in any way be asserted upon an historical basis, that the writer of the Apocalypse, when he represents one of the heads of the beast as wounded to death and again healed, depends upon an idea current at his time, concerning the return of Nero raised from the dead,—for such an idea does not belong as yet to his time,—but it must be asserted that the writer of the Apoc. has himself fashioned this manner of expressing the Nero-myth. No one, however, has ventured this.

[3270] Grot. on ὡς ἐσφ.: “The Capitol was burned while the Vitellians and Flavians warred with one another.”

ἒθεραπ.: “For the same Vespasian restored the Capitol, who also restored the Roman Empire, and, indeed, with great pomp of idolatry.” Züllig, who in Revelation 13:18 finds the name of Balaam: “Balaam, slain as anti-Moses, now has returned to life, with seven heads, as the anti-Messiah, as the one for whom he will now be regarded returned from death to life.”

[3271] Krit. Gesch. des Chiliasmus, Zür., vol. ii., p. 308 sqq.

[3272] Der Antichrist, Germ. ed., Leipz. and Paris, 1873, p. 278.

[3273] Tacit., Hist., ii. Revelation 8 : “About the same time, Achaia and Asia were terrified by a false rumor, as though Nero were approaching, and a fluctuating rumor concerning his death, the majority, on this account, thinking and believing that he was alive.” Cf. Sueton., Nero, 100:57; Dio Chrys., Or., xxi., ed. Reiske., T. I., p. 504.

[3274] So that a false Nero, who availed himself of this in a remarkable way, found a following among the Parthians. Sueton., l. c.; Tacit., Hist., i. Revelation 2 : “War also with the Parthians, near at hand, was stirred up by the farce of the pretended Nero.”

[3275] Sibyll. Orac., ed. Serv. Gall., L. VIII., p. 688: ὅταν γʼ ἐπανέλθη ἑχ περάτων γαἱης ὁ φυγἀς μητροκτόνος ἐλθών [“When the matricide fugitive returns from the opposite part of the earth”]. Cf. p. 716; L. V., p. 547; Sulp. Sev., Hist., s., L. II., Opp. ed.; G. Hom., Lugd. Bat., 1647, p. 373: “Certainly his body, viz., that of Nero, was slain; whence it is believed, that, although he pierced himself with the sword, yet that he was restored by the healing of his wound, as it is written of him: And the stroke of his death was healed, in order that he might be seut at the end of the world to exercise the mystery of iniquity.”

[3276] Dio Chryst., l. c.: τρόπον τινὰ οὐχ ἅπαξ αὐτοῦ τεθνηκότος, ἀλλὰ πολλάκις μετὰ τῶν σφόδρα οἰηθέντων αὐτον ζῇν.

[3277] This statement is not based on a narrow-minded conception of the canon (Volkm.), but asserts the demands which justice and cautious piety make of exegetes. The Apoc., with respect to its other contents, stands so high that it is utterly impossible that it should advance any superstitious statement directly contradictory to the simplest Christian faith and thought (also against Weiss., p. 34). But if it be exegetically proved that this is nevertheless the case, it appears necessary to surrender the deutero-canonical authority of the book. But, in spite of all its dazzling appearance, the exegesis of Volkm., as well as of Ewald, etc., is on this point incorrect.

[3278] See on the passage.

[3279] Cf. especially Dio Chryst., l. c.: καί οὕτως ἀπέστησαν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἠνάγκασαν ὄτῳ ποτὲ τρόπῳ ἀπολέσθαι αὐτόν· οὑδέπω γὰρ καὶ νῦν τοῦτό γε δῆλόν ἐστιν [“And thus they stood aloof from him, and urged the question in what way he had died; for this even now was not as yet manifest”].

[3280] Cf. Tacit., l. c.

[3281] φυγάς, L. VIII., 13:71; ed. Friedlieb, φεύγων, L. V., 13:364.

[3282] In the same sense also is the passage, L. V., 13:33, to be understood. ἔσται καὶ ἅϊστος ὀλοίϊος, εἶτʼ ἀνακάμψει, where Gallaeus (“will utterly be destroyed”) and Friedlieb (“the pernicious vanishes away”) mistranslate the ἄϊστος. It is said only that the pernicious one, i.e., Nero, will become invisible, viz., by flight, but will return. It is altogether a perversion when the sibylline expressions concerning the return of Nero are compared with the Apoc., in order to make a Nero redivivus acceptable here; for in the sibylline books the chief matter is lacking, as, e.g., Hilgenf. himself acknowledges (Zeitschr. f. Wiss. Th., 1871, p. 39. Cf. also, 1869, p. 421 sqq.).

[3283] De Mort. Persec., c. 2.

[3284] “A precursor of the devil, and going before him as he comes to devastate the earth, and overthrow the human race.”

[3285] Eutrop., Hist. Rom. vii. Revelation 18 : “The remains of Nero, which were buried in a humble way.”

[3286] De Civ. D., L. XX., c. 19, § 3.

[3287] l. c., Revelation 13:7.

[3288] That Nero had sometimes been regarded the antichrist of Daniel, because of his persecution of the Christians (Jerome on Daniel 11:28 : “Whence many of our writers think that because of the greatness of his cruelty and baseness, the Domitian Nero would be antichrist”), does not belong here.

[3289] l. c.

[3290] Etiamsi se gladis transfixit.

[3291] Nanc ergo caetera.

[3292] l. c.

Any other explanation of Revelation 13:3 is therefore hardly possible, than that indicated already in the Introduction.[3293] By a combination with Revelation 17:8-11, the result is attained that the mortal wound cannot be referred to the sixth,[3294] but must be referred to the fifth, head of the beast. This is correctly acknowledged by Ewald, Lücke, De Wette, etc., as they are further right in accounting Nero as the last of the fallen kings. But to proceed from this to the interpretation of Revelation 13:3, advocated by Ewald, Lücke, etc.,—which is proved to be just as untenable,—is not only not demanded by Revelation 17:8-11, but is prohibited, because it is not said there that the fifth fallen king, i.e., Nero, would return as the eighth, but that the future eighth would be the personified beast himself. But of this nothing whatever is said in ch. 13; it is not once to be perceived from ch. 13 that an eighth king is at all to be expected, so that this point (Revelation 13:3. The prophet sees in the empire an extraordinary vitality which adds to its fascination. Disasters which would suffice to ruin an ordinary state, leave Rome as strong as ever, thanks to her marvellous recuperative power. The allusion is not to the murder of Cæsar (so e.g., Bruston, Gunkel, Porter), nor to the illness of Caligula (Spitta), but (so Düsterdieck, O. Holtzmann, B. Weiss, etc.) to the terrible convulsions which in 69 A.D. shook the empire to its foundations (Tac. Hist. i. 11). Nero’s death, with the bloody interregnum after it, was a wound to the State, from which it only recovered under Vespasian. It fulfilled the tradition of the wounded head (Daniel 8:8). Song of Solomon 4 Esd. 12:18 (where the same crisis is noted) “post tempus regni illius [i.e., Nero’s] nascentur contentiones non modicae et periclitabitur ut cadat et non cadet tunc, sed iterum constituetur in suum initium”; also Suet. Vesp. 1 and Joseph. Bell. iv. 11, 5, Revelation 7:4; Revelation 7:2 (Rome unexpectedly rescued from ruin by Vespasian’s accession). The vitality of the pagan empire, shown in this power of righting itself after the revolution, only added to its prestige. The infatuation of loyalty, expressing itself in the worship of the emperor as the personal embodiment of the empire, grew worse and worse. A comparison of 3 a with 12 (cf. Revelation 13:18) shows, however, a further allusion, viz., to the Nero redivivus belief (cf. Introd. § 5). This is not developed until 17, but already the beast is evidently identified in a sense with one of its heads, who is a travesty (3 a = Revelation 5:6) of the Lamb, i.e., an antichrist. The context would certainly read quite naturally without 3 a, but it is implied in 12 (and 18), and none of the numerous attempts to analyse the chapter into source and revision is of any weight, in view of the general style and characteristics. These indicate the author’s own hand. Even the translation-hypothesis (e.g., Bruston, Gunkel) leads to arbitrary handling. See Introd. § 6.

3. I saw] Should be omitted from the Greek text, but of course must be supplied in sense.

one of his heads] Comparing Revelation 17:10-11, it has been thought that this indicates the death of Nero, and his expected reappearance as Antichrist. See notes on ch. 17 and Introduction pp. 47, 49.

his deadly wound] Lit., the stroke of his death.

Revelation 13:3. Καὶ μίαν) Thus all the most ancient remains: two or three copies insert εἶδον.[144] I agree with Wolf, that μίαν, when you destroy εἶδον, does not refer to the verb ἔδωκε, which immediately precedes it. although there appears to be a gloss, as noticed in the Apparatus, which refers μίαν to it. But if εἶδον is to be understood, it ought to be repeated from Revelation 13:1, just as Pliny uses the verb of seeing by Hyperbaton, H. N. Book VIII. c. 6: Italy first saw elephants in the war with king Pyrrhus, and called them Lucanian oxen; but (it saw them) at Rome[145] in a triumph, etc. But the connection of the discourse is equally good, ἔχον μίαν, κ.τ.λ.: comp. Revelation 13:14 : and the Latin translator, whereas long ago he did not read I saw, seems thus to have construed the passage: and I saw a beast having seven headsand (having) one of HIS [SUIS, not ejus] heads as it were slain to death. There is here, Revelation 13:1-3, that mixture of cases, which we have seen more than once, and shall see somewhat below: and the connection is easy between the seven heads and one of the heads. One head is mentioned for the first: for εἷς, one, even without the article, means the first, ch. Revelation 6:1, twice; Ezekiel 32:1, especially in the LXX., etc. The accusative μίαν, which, as we lately noticed, depends by Hyperbaton on ἔχον, Revelation 13:1, most closely connects together the ascent of the beast out of the sea and the wound. Wherefore also he says, κεφαλὴν ἐσφαγμένην, not σφαττομένην, as ἀστέρα πεπτωκότα, in the preterite, ch. Revelation 9:1. The first head of the beast is the Pope in the Lateran, on the Cælian Mount, from Gregory VII. to Innocent III., or beyond him. During that space of time many adversities befel the Pope, through his contention with the Emperor; but he recovered from all.—ὡς ἐσφαγμένηνἐθεραπεύθη, as it were slain [“wounded to death”]—was healed) You may see paroxysms both of the wound and of the healing in the history of Gregory VII., Paschal II., Calixtus II., Alexander III., and others. Whatever adversity then happened, belongs to the wound: whatever prosperity, belongs to the healing.—καὶ ἐθαύμασεν ὅλη ἡ γῆ ὀπίσω τοῦ θηρίου, and all the earth wondered after the beast) that is, went after the beast with admiration. An abbreviated expression, as Acts 15:23, writing and sending by their hands. All followed the beast with their feet, or eyes, or inclination; for instance, in the Crusades.

[144] ABCh Vulg. (Amiat.) Iren. omit εἶδον. Rec. Text inserts it, with no very old authority except Fuld. MS. of Vulg. (inferior to Amiat.)—E.

[145] “Romæ autem (scil. vidit), etc.”

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. Revelation 13:3I saw (εἶδον)

Omitted in the best texts.

Wounded (ἐφαγμένην)

Lit., slain. See on Revelation 5:6. The Rev. smitten is questionable. The word occurs eight times in Revelation, and in seven of these it must be rendered slain or slaughtered. Professor Milligan rightly observes that the statement is the counterpart of that in Revelation 5:6, where we read of the lamb as though it had been slaughtered. In both cases there had been actual death, and in both revival. The one is a mocking counterpart of the other.

Deadly wound (πληγὴ τοῦ θανάτου)

Lit., stroke of death. Rev., death-stroke.

After the beast (ὀπίσω τοῦ θηρίου)

A pregnant construction for wondered at and followed after.

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