Revelation 16:13
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
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(13, 14) And I saw . . .—Better, And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the wild beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, as it were frogs. For they are spirits of demons, doing signs, which go forth upon the kings of the whole world, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty. Some have thought that the kings of the East are the representatives of the Christian powers, and that the drying up of the Euphrates is the preparation for their entrance into the land of promise. The general drift of the chapter seems to me to be adverse to this view. The two hostile kingdoms are being brought slowly into open antagonism; the great issues are to be brought to a decisive test; the time comes when a decision must be made: “If God be God, follow Him; if Baal, then follow him.” The situation becomes so strained that it is useless to keep up the appearance of a respectable neutrality, for forces have been at work which are gradually bringing all powers into the conflict. The forces which are at work preparing for this issue are evil forces; “unclean spirits,” little frogs, spirits of demons go forth to gather every world-power to the struggle. All this points to the final mobilisation of the hosts of evil for an attack upon the kingdom of Christ. Every impediment is removed, and the Euphrates is dried. The kings may advance: like the hosts of Pharaoh they may enter the dried-up sea in hot haste of their hatred of all righteousness. Evil is reckless now, and moves to its destruction; but it cannot so move without working upon men. Three evil spirits go forth for this purpose. There are three radical foes of Christ and His righteousness: the dragon, representing the hate of evil spirits; the wild beast, representing the hostility of world-power; the false prophet, representing the antagonism of world-culture and intellectualism—these three send forth each their emissary, appealing to the pride and passions of men. What are we to understand by them? We must consider their origin. The world-power would have us worship the things seen. It sends forth the spirit of earthliness, the spirit which works in the voluptuary, the ambitious, and the avaricious, the spirit which makes earthly things its end (Philippians 3:19). The world-culture sends forth its spirit of intellectualism, which denies the spiritual nature of man, and substitutes taste and culture for spirituality. The dragon sends forth the spirit of egotism, of proud, self-sufficient independence, which culminates in an utter hatred of the Creator. The three spirits combined make up that wisdom which St. James described as earthly, sensual (unspiritual, psychical), devilish (James 3:15). We may compare the three foes in the “Red Cross Knight:” Sansloy (without law), Sansfoy (without faith), and Sansjoy (without joy)—Spenser’s Faerie Queene. They are like frogs: here is a reference again to the Egyptian plagues.

These spirits gather all earthly powers to the war (not “battle”) of the great day of God the Almighty. The day which will test the power of combined evil, the day which, beginning in rash pride, will end in bitter defeat, to this the evil spirits lure their followers, as the false prophets lured Ahab to his overthrow at Ramoth-Gilead (1Kings 22:20): such is one of the final aspects of evil. The voice of inclination is listened to as though it were prophetic. The suggestions of sinful desire are not only obeyed, but reverenced as oracles. The wicked hath an oracle of transgression in his heart (Psalm 36:1 et seq.).

16:12-16 This probably shows the destruction of the Turkish power, and of idolatry, and that a way will be made for the return of the Jews. Or, take it for Rome, as mystical Babylon, the name of Babylon being put for Rome, which was meant, but was not then to be directly named. When Rome is destroyed, her river and merchandise must suffer with her. And perhaps a way will be opened for the eastern nations to come into the church of Christ. The great dragon will collect all his forces, to make one desperate struggle before all be lost. God warns of this great trial, to engage his people to prepare for it. These will be times of great temptation; therefore Christ, by his apostle, calls on his professed servants to expect his sudden coming, and to watch that they might not be put to shame, as apostates or hypocrites. However Christians differ, as to their views of the times and seasons of events yet to be brought to pass, on this one point all are agreed, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will suddenly come again to judge the world. To those living near to Christ, it is an object of joyful hope and expectation, and delay is not desired by them.And I saw three unclean spirits - They assumed a visible form which would well represent their odiousness - that of frogs - but still they are spoken of as "spirits." They were evil powers, or evil influences (Revelation 16:14, "spirits of devils"), and the language here is undoubtedly designed to represent some such power or influence which would, at that period, proceed from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.

Like frogs - βατράχοι batrachoi. This word does not occur in the New Testament except in the passage before us. It is properly translated frogs. The frog is here employed clearly as a symbol, and it is designed that certain qualities of the "spirits" here referred to should be designated by the symbol. For a full illustration of the meaning of the symbol, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. II. lib. v. cap. 4. According to Bochart, the frog is characterized, as a symbol:

(1) for its rough, harsh, coarse voice;

(2) on this account, as a symbol of complaining or reproaching;

(3) as a symbol of empty loquacity;

(4) as a symbol of heretics and philosophers, as understood by Augustine;

(5) because the frog has its origin in mud, and lives in mud, as a symbol of those who are born in sin, and live in pollution;

(6) because the frog endures all changes of the season cold and heat, summer, winter, rain, frost - as a symbol of monks who practice self-denial;

(7) because the frog though abstemious of food, yet lives in water and drinks often, as a symbol of drunkards;

(8) as a symbol of impudence;

(9) because the frog swells his size, and distends his cheeks, as a symbol of pride.

See the authorities for these uses of the word in Bochart. How many or few of these ideas enter into the symbol here, it is not easy to decide. We may suppose, however, that the spirits referred to would be characterized by pride, arrogance, impudence, assumption of authority; perhaps impurity and vileness, for all these ideas enter into the meaning of the symbol. They are not here, probably, symbols of persons, but of influences or opinions which would be spread abroad, and which would characterize the age referred to. The reference is to what the "dragon," the "beast," and the "false prophet" would do at that time in opposing the truth, and in preparing the world for the great and final conflict.

Out of the mouth of the dragon - One of which seemed to issue from the mouth of the dragon. On the symbolic meaning of the word "dragon," see the notes on Revelation 12:3. It, in general, represents Satan, the great enemy of the church; perhaps here Satan under the form of paganism or paganism, as in Revelation 12:3-4. The idea then is, that, at the time referred to, there would be some manifestation of the power of Satan in the pagan nations, which would be bold, arrogant, proud, loquacious, hostile to truth, and which would be well represented by the hoarse murmur of the frog.

And out of the mouth of the beast - The papacy, as above explained, Revelation 13. That is, there would be some putting forth of arrogant pretensions; some loud denunciation or complaining; some manifestation of pride and self-consequence, which would be well represented by the croaking of the frog. We have seen above (notes on Revelation 16:5-6), that although the fifth vial was poured upon "the seat of the beast," the effect was not to crush and overthrow that power entirely. The papacy would still survive, and would be finally destroyed under the outpouring of the seventh vial, Revelation 16:17-21. In the passage before us we have a representation of it as still living; as having apparently recovered its strength; and as being as hostile as ever to the truth, and able to enter into a combination, secret or avowed, with the "dragon" and the "false prophet," to oppose the reign of truth upon the earth.


13. unclean spirits like frogs—the antitype to the plague of frogs sent on Egypt. The presence of the "unclean spirit" in the land (Palestine) is foretold, Zec 13:2, in connection with idolatrous prophets. Beginning with infidelity as to Jesus Christ's coming in the flesh, men shall end in the grossest idolatry of the beast, the incarnation of all that is self-deifying and God-opposed in the world powers of all ages; having rejected Him that came in the Father's name, they shall worship one that comes in his own, though really the devil's representative; as frogs croak by night in marshes and quagmires, so these unclean spirits in the darkness of error teach lies amidst the mire of filthy lusts. They talk of liberty, but it is not Gospel liberty, but license for lust. There being three, as also seven, in the description of the last and worst state of the Jewish nation, implies a parody of the two divine numbers, three of the Trinity, and seven of the Holy Spirit (Re 1:4). Some observe that three frogs were the original arms of France, a country which has been the center of infidelity, socialism, and false spiritualism. A and B read, "as it were frogs," instead of "like frogs," which is not supported by manuscripts. The unclean spirit out of the mouth of the dragon symbolizes the proud infidelity which opposes God and Christ. That out of the beast's mouth is the spirit of the world, which in the politics of men, whether lawless democracy or despotism, sets man above God. That out of the mouth of the false prophet is lying spiritualism and religious delusion, which shall take the place of the harlot when she shall have been destroyed.

the dragon—Satan, who gives his power and throne (Re 13:2) to the beast.

false prophet—distinct from the harlot, the apostate Church (of which Rome is the chief, though not sole, representative), Re 17:1-3, 16; and identical with the second beast, Re 13:11-15, as appears by comparing Re 19:20 with Re 13:13; ultimately consigned to the lake of fire with the first beast; as is also the dragon a little later (Re 20:10). The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, "the mystery of iniquity," form a blasphemous Antitrinity, the counterfeit of "the mystery of godliness" God manifests in Christ, witnessed to by the Spirit. The dragon acts the part of God the Father, assigning his authority to his representative the beast, as the Father assigns His to the Son. They are accordingly jointly worshipped; compare as to the Father and Son, Joh 5:23; as the ten-horned beast has its ten horns crowned with diadems (Greek, Re 13:1), so Christ has on His head many diadems. While the false prophet, like the Holy Ghost, speaks not of himself, but tells all men to worship the beast, and confirms his testimony to the beast by miracles, as the Holy Ghost attested similarly to Christ's divine mission.

God here showeth John, that after the power and strength both of the pope and Turks should be broken, the devil would yet make one push more; to which purpose he would influence some on the behalf of the antichristian secular power, others on the behalf of

the beast with two horns, or

the false prophet. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs,.... Rome, the seat of antichrist, being destroyed, and the kingdom of the beast darkened, and brought into great contempt, Mahometanism greatly declining, the Gospel succeeding everywhere, the Jews being converted, and resettled in their own land, the devil bestirs himself more than ordinary; and dispatches his, and the emissaries of antichrist, to the kings of the whole earth, that can any ways be engaged on their side, and against the saints; and these are no other than the creatures of antichrist, such as cardinals, priests, and particularly Jesuits, as their original from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, show. Mr. Daubuz thinks these "three" are the "monks", the "religious knights", and "secular clergy": and these are called "spirits"; not because they are what are called familiar spirits, or devils themselves, for they are the spirits of devils, as in the next verse; but either because they pretend to be spiritual men, ecclesiastics, men in spiritual offices, and indeed are spiritual wickednesses in high places; or because of their agility, swiftness, and expeditiousness in going to and fro, Satan like, to do mischief: and they are said to be "unclean"; as the evil spirits and devils are, being so by nature, and delighting in uncleanness, and giving themselves up to work it with greediness: and they are "like frogs"; the allusion is to the plague of frogs in Egypt, Exodus 8:5 and these antichristian emissaries are fitly compared to them, for their impurity, and pleasure they take in it, as frogs do in dirt and filth; and for their being talkative, impudent, and troublesome, like the noisy croaking frogs; so "rhetoricians" are by Cicero (a) compared to frogs; and as the frogs of Egypt got into the king's bedchamber, Exodus 8:3 so these get into the private retirements of princes, into their cabinet councils, and stir them up to war and bloodshed: and as for the number, "three", this is only used to express a sufficient number of them, or to make the account square with the dragon, beast, and false prophet, from whom they proceed; and besides, this is omitted in the king's manuscript. Now John saw these, in a visionary way,

come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet; by the dragon is meant the devil, Revelation 12:9 not as acting in Rome Pagan, which has been long ago destroyed, rather as in the Pagan parts of the world, and as in the Turkish empire, now ruined; who, seeing his cause declining everywhere, bestirs himself to support and revive it, though this issues in the binding of him for a thousand years, Revelation 20:2. By the beast is meant the first beast, in Revelation 13:1 and so the Ethiopic version renders it; the antichristian civil state, now sadly shattered and weakened, by the pouring out of the fifth vial: and by "the false prophet" is meant, not Mahomet, or the supporters of his religion, but the second beast in Revelation 13:11 or the antichristian ecclesiastic state, as appears from the description of this prophet in Revelation 19:20 compared with that: so then these spirits manifestly appear to be the emissaries of antichrist, under a diabolical influence; his creatures, that are made, and sent forth by him, have their commissions and orders from him, to act for him in every shape, to support his interest, civil and religious, by lies, murders, and false doctrine; a further account is given of them in the next verse.

(a) Ad Atticum, l. 15. Ephesians 16.

And I saw {13} three unclean spirits {14} like frogs come out of the mouth of the {15} dragon, and out of the mouth of the {16} beast, and out of the mouth of the {17} false prophet.

(13) That is, every one of them focus their whole force, and conspired that by wonders, word and work they might bring into the same destruction all kings, princes and potentates of the world, cursedly bewitched by them by their spirits, and teachers of the vanity and impunity of the beast that committed fornication with the kings of the earth. This is a good description of our times.

(14) Croaking with all importunity and continually day and night provoking and calling forth to arms, as the trumpets and furies of wars, as is declared in Re 16:14.

(15) That is, the devil; Re 12:3

(16) See Re 13:1.

(17) That is, of that other beast; Re 13:11, for so he is called also in Re 19:20,20:10.

Revelation 16:13. βάτραχοι perhaps a reminiscence of the second Egyptian plague, but probably an Iranian touch; the frog was a special agent of Ahriman in the final contest (cf. reff., H. J. 1904, 352, and Hübschmann, 230, 231). According to Artemidorus (ii. 15) frogs represent γοήτας καὶ βωμολόχους, and they were naturally associated with serpents (cf. Plut. Pyth. 12) as amphibious.13. And I saw &c.] Between the sixth and seventh vial, as between the sixth and seventh seal, and between the sixth and seventh trumpet, there appears a vision that has nothing to do with the series in which it is inserted, but which marks the near approach of the final conflict between the kingdoms of light and of darkness. But here we have the preparation for the conflict on the side of the latter, not, as in the two other places, of the former.

unclean spirits] This phrase is in the Gospels usually synonymous with “devils” or rather “demons.” But here the term “spirit” seems to be rather used in the sense of “inspiring power,”—they are called in the next verse “spirits of demons.” See St John’s I. Ephesians 4:3; 1 Timothy 4:1, which probably refer to the same order of things as this: also 1 Samuel 16:14 &c. (note especially “he prophesied,” Revelation 18:10), 1 Kings 22:21 sqq.

like frogs] There may be a reference to the plague of Egypt, Exodus 8:2 sqq., but the parallel is not close. Frogs were proverbial for their constant and meaningless noise, which some think helps us to interpret the likeness. If so, one would be tempted to connect it with St Hippolytus’ view mentioned on Revelation 17:12.

the false prophet] Identified by Revelation 19:20 with the second beast of Revelation 13:11.Revelation 16:13. Ὡς βάτραχοι[182]) See App. on this passage. The nominative case has the same meaning, as Exodus 34:4, ΔΎΟ ΠΛΆΚΑς ΛΙΘΊΝΑς, ΚΑΘΆΤΕΡ ΑἹ ΤΡῶΤΑΙ.

[182] So AB. h Vulg. “in modum ranarum.” But Rec. Text, with inferior authorities, ὅμοια βατράχιος.—E.Verse 13. - And I saw; introduces a new phase of the vision (see on Revelation 4:1). The mention of the punishment of the ungodly by the kings of the east causes the seer to look forward to the conflict, the end of which is described in Revelation 19:19-21. He therefore now digresses somewhat, in order to describe the means by which the dragon endeavours to enlist the hosts of the world on his side. Three unclean spirits like frogs. These three spirits represent the influences of the dragon, the first beast and the second beast, which we have interpreted as the devil, the love of the world and worldly power, and self deceit; in other words, the devil, the world, the flesh. These influences axe spiritually unclean, and suggest the loathsome Egyptian plague of the frogs; that is to say, their likeness to frogs consists in their common quality of uncleanness. Perhaps also there is a reference to their devilish origin, in which they resembled the unclean spirits so frequently east out by our Lord while on earth. Burger very aptly refers to the contrast afforded by the dove-like form of the Holy Spirit of God. Come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. Omit "come." The seer does not behold the three spirits proceeding from the mouths of the evil trinity, but he sees those that are out of their mouths; he sees them in their works exhibited in the world. The second beast is here called the "false prophet," since he deludes men, and persuades them against their better judgment to worship the first beast (see on Revelation 13:11). Frogs

Possibly with reference to Exodus 8:1-14.

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