Revelation 13:4
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
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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 they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast - See the notes at Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:2. That is, they in fact worshipped him. The word "worship" - προσκυνέω proskuneō - is not always, however, used in a religious sense. It means, properly, "to kiss"; to kiss toward anyone; that is, to kiss his own hand and to extend it toward a person, in token of respect and homage (Robinson, Lexicon). Compare Job 31:27. Then it means to show respect to one who is our superior; to kings and princes; to parents; and pre-eminently to God. See the notes on Matthew 2:2. The word may be used here to mean that homage or reverence, as to a higher power, was rendered to the "dragon"; not strictly that he was openly worshipped in a religious sense as God. Can anyone doubt that this was the case under papal Rome; that the power which was set up under that entire domination, civil and ecclesiastical, was such as Satan approved, and such as he sought to have established on the earth? And can anyone doubt that the homage thus rendered, so contrary to the law of God, and so much in derogation of his claims, was in fact homage rendered to this presiding spirit of evil?

And they worshipped the beast - That is, they did it, as is immediately specified, by saying that he was "incomparable" and "invincible"; in other words, that he was superior to all others, and that he was almighty. For the fulfillment of this, see the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

Who is like unto the beast? - That is, he is to be regarded as unequalled and as supreme. This was, in fact, ascribing honors to him which belonged only to God; and this was the manner in which that civil and secular power was regarded in the period here supposed to be referred to. It was the policy of rulers and princes in those times to augment in every way possible the respect in which they were held; to maintain that they were the vicegerents of heaven; to claim for themselves sacredness of character and of person; and to secure from the people a degree of reverence which was in fact idolatrous. Never was this more marked than in the times when the papacy had the ascendency, for it was its policy to promote reverence for the power that sustained itself, and to secure for itself the idolatrous veneration of the people.

Who is able to make war with him? - That is, he is invincible. They thus attributed to him omnipotence - an attribute belonging only to God. This found a fulfillment in the honor shown to the civil authority which sustained the papacy; for the policy was to impress the public mind with the belief that that power was invincible. In fact, it was so regarded. Nothing was able to resist that absolute despotism; and the authority of princes and rulers that were allied with the papal rule was of the most absolute kind, and the subjugation of the world was complete. There was no civil, as there was no religious liberty; and the whole arrangement was so ordered as to subdue the world to an absolute and uncontrollable power.

4. which gave—A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and Andreas read, "because he gave."

power—Greek, "the authority" which it had; its authority.

Who is like unto the beast?—The very language appropriated to God, Ex 15:11 (whence, in the Hebrew, the Maccabees took their name; the opponents of the Old Testament Antichrist, Antiochus); Ps 35:10; 71:19; 113:5; Mic 7:18; blasphemously (Re 13:1, 5) assigned to the beast. It is a parody of the name "Michael" (compare Re 12:7), meaning, "Who is like unto God?"

And they worshipped the dragon: by the dragon, here, is to be understood the devil.

Which gave power unto the beast; who gave power to these emperors; not that they did so directly, but interpretatively; they worshipped idols, which ordinarily in Scripture are called devils.

And they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Possibly worshipping in this latter clause is not to be understood of a Divine adoration, but a civil subjection; people, upon the driving out of these their enemies, generally gave themselves up to the obedience of their emperors and the bishops of Rome, commanding them idolatrous worship; and admired these two, as those by whom they had been delivered from those enemies who had plagued them so long.

And they worshipped the dragon,.... The devil, in the idols, images, angels, and saints departed, to whom they give adoration, as did the Gentiles, whose successors they are, and whose name they bear; see 1 Corinthians 10:20;

which gave power unto the beast, as in Revelation 13:2;

and they worshipped the beast; not only in a civil way, being subject to him as their temporal lord, to whom they give homage; obedience, and tribute, but in a religious way; for antichrist sits in the temple to be worshipped as God, showing himself that he is God, and receives adorations from his creatures, the cardinals, and others; but woe to them that worship this beast; see Revelation 14:9.

Saying, who is like unto the beast? using such expressions as are used of God himself, implying that there is none like him, Exodus 15:11, yea, they ascribe deity to him, calling him our Lord God the pope, God, and a God on earth; See Gill on 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

Who is able to make war with him? And indeed, such was his power and strength once, that he was more than a match for emperors and kings; and those were badly off that engaged in a war with him, when his power was such, that he could depose one, and set up other, kick the crowns of kings, tread upon the necks of emperors, oblige them to hold his stirrup, while mounted his horse, and keep them barefoot at his gate for days together, waiting for admittance; of all which there are instances.

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Revelation 13:4. All that had transpired—Nero’s own death heralding a return, and the collapse of his dynasty proving no fatal blow to the empire—had simply aggrandised the influence of Rome. The Caesar-cult which characterised it is dubbed a worship of Satan by the indignant prophet. The hymn to the incomparable and invincible beast is a parody of O.T. hymns to God. In the following description (Revelation 13:5-8) two traits are blended: insolent blasphemy towards God and almost irresistible powers of seduction over men. Both are adapted from the classical sketch of Antiochus Epiphanes (in Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7), the prototype of that anti-divine force whose climax had been reached, as the prophet believed, in the divine pretensions of the Caesars.

4. which gave power] Rather, because he gave his authority.

Who is like unto the beast?] A sort of blasphemous parody of sayings like Exodus 15:11; Psalm 35:10; Psalm 71:19; Psalm 89:8, or of the name Michael, which is by interpretation “Who is like God?”

Revelation 13:4. Καὶ προσεκύνησαν τῷ δράκοντικαὶ προσεκύνηεαν τὸ θηρίον) The verb προσκυνεῖν, when it treats of the worship of God, everywhere takes the Dative; and thus it is used of the worship of the angel, ch. Revelation 19:10 : but when used of devils and idols, the Accusative, ch. Revelation 9:20. Hence προσκυνεῖν, with the Dative, seems to mean something more than with the Accusative, especially when the two cases are used in one passage, as here and ch. Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11, Revelation 20:4. From this worship I have in my German Exegesis incidentally confirmed Proposition 2, which has been before reviewed on Revelation 13:1. D. Lange says, that he does not regard the beast as a purely political power: Epicr. p. 389. But I have here refuted those, who in other respects agree with him, and who determine it to be a political power, although in different senses. See the same, p. 383.—τίς δυνατὸς, who able) that is, ἐστί; Thus the Septuagint, δυνατὸς ἔσομαι; Numbers 23:1 (Numbers 22:38). Comp. the LXX. also, Numbers 13:31; Genesis 32:28; Daniel 3:17. The worshippers of the beast challenge others: who (is) like the beast? who (is) able to make war with him? Car. Sigonius, Book XIV., concerning the kingdom of Italy, at the year 1176, says: Great men easily impelled (Frederic), who, by repeatedly reminding him that this war was not carried on with man, but with God, prevailed upon him to send ambassadors to Alexander respecting peace. The same writer shortly afterwards represents Alexander himself as saying, That the cause of God is at stake in this war, which cause Frederic has opposed, by opposing the lawful Pontiff. Horatius Tursellinus, in his Epitome of History, says, At length Frederic, perceiving that he was carrying on war, not with men, but with GOD, finally made peace with Alexander. Matthew of Paris thus speaks concerning the same matter:—“The Emperor Frederic came TO THE FEET OF ALEXANDER THE POPE: for he heard and was assured of this, that when he was fleeing from the persecution of the Emperor, and there was no safe passage for him over land, or indeed over the sea, when a tempest had arisen, he put on all his papal attire on board the ship, as if about to celebrate [mass], and stood and commanded the sea and the winds in the place of Jesus Christ, whose vicar he was, AS HE SAID, and immediately there was a great calm. On hearing of this, the Emperor was astonished, and humbly submitted to him in all things, FEARING GOD HOWEVER MORE than MEN.”—Hist. Angl. at the year 1577. Great indeed and blasphemous are the things which his worshippers say of the beast, and the beast of himself, Revelation 13:5-6. See Rome’s Final Downfall, pp. 7–18, I. F. Mayer in Diss. c. Grot., whether it be a dogma of the Papists, that the Roman Pontiff is a god.

Verse 4. - And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; because be gave his authority (Revised Version) is found in all the best manuscripts. The devil had sought to beguile Christ by offering to him all the kingdoms of the world. His efforts with men are more successful. They worship him on account of the worldly wealth and influence which he bestows. And they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Insert "and" with Revised Version: and who is able, etc.? The beast usurps the homage due to God alone (cf. the song of those who had triumphed in Revelation 15:4, "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy Name?" cf. also Exodus 15:11; Micah 7:18, etc.). The adherents of the beast thus intimate their belief in his superior prowess and his ability to succeed in his war against those who "keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 13:4Which gave (ὁς ἔδωκεν)

The correct reading is ὅτι "because he gave."

Who is like unto the beast?

A parody on a similar ascription to God. See Isaiah 40:18, Isaiah 40:25; Isaiah 46:5; Psalm 113:5; Micah 7:18; Jeremiah 49:19. Compare Revelation 18:18.

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