Revelation 17:12
And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
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(12) And the ten horns . . .—The explanation of the ten horns. They are the kings, not necessarily, as we have seen, personal kings, but rather kingdoms or nationalities, who received not a kingdom as yet; as they are on the seventh head, the hour of their power is not yet, but comes at the fall of the sixth head: then they receive power one hour. (Comp. “short time” in Revelation 17:10.) But though these are sundered powers, they are one in their subjection to the wild beast. They have one mind or judgment, and their power and authority they give to the wild beast. The universal empire idea may disappear, but the spirit and principle of mere earthliness will remain; it needs no vast power like Rome to illustrate its spirit. The ten horns are united in one mind; they move as the wild beast directs; their work and tendency of their power is hostile to Christ. They shall make war with the Lamb; and the Lamb shall conquer them because He is Lord of lords, and King of kings. When do these powers make war with the Lamb? The answer is, they make war when the direction of their policy and morals is in favour of oppression, wrong, worldliness; whenever nations or peoples allow the secular spirit to breathe through all they do, they are not with Christ, they are against Him. There are hints that some “special outbreak” of hostility may take place on the eve of the full manifestation of the righteous King and His kingdom (Revelation 19:16-19); busy evil spirits, lawless utterances, unbrotherly federations, unspiritual conceptions, may pave the way for such; the great crisis will then come, when the issue will be secularity and spirituality. It is not necessary to define the ten kings; the number does not need to be pressed as literal; for in Hebrew, “when a whole was to be divided into parts, ten was the number commonly adopted” (Bähr, quoted by Dr. Currey). The war of the ten kings against the Lamb is brought out more fully in Revelation 19. There the King of kings is seen victorious; in His victory they who are with Him, the called, and chosen, and faithful, shall share. This threefold description is a brief summary of the Christian life. This is the only place where St. John employs the word translated “called.” (Comp. Matthew 20:16.)

17:7-14 The beast on which the woman sat was, and is not, and yet is. It was a seat of idolatry and persecution, and is not; not in the ancient form, which was pagan: yet it is; it is truly the seat of idolatry and tyranny, though of another sort and form. It would deceive into stupid and blind submission all the inhabitants of the earth within its influence, except the remnant of the elect. This beast was seven heads, seven mountains, the seven hills on which Rome stands; and seven kings, seven sorts of government. Five were gone by when this prophecy was written; one was then in being; the other was yet to come. This beast, directed by the papacy, makes an eighth governor, and sets up idolatry again. It had ten horns, which are said to be ten kings who had as yet no kingdoms; they should not rise up till the Roman empire was broken; but should for a time be very zealous in her interest. Christ must reign till all enemies be put under his feet. The reason of the victory is, that he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He has supreme dominion and power over all things; all the powers of earth and hell are subject to his control. His followers are called to this warfare, are fitted for it, and will be faithful in it.And the ten horns which thou sawest - On the scarlet-colored beast, Revelation 17:3.

Are ten kings - Represent or denote ten kings - that is, kingdoms or powers. See the notes on Daniel 7:24.

Which have received no kingdom as yet - That is, they were not in existence when John wrote. It is implied, that during the period under review they would arise, and would become connected, in an important sense, with the power here represented by the "beast." For a full illustration respecting the ten "kings," or kingdoms here referred to, see the notes on Daniel 7, at the close of the chapter, II.((2).

But receive power - It is not said from what source this power is received, but it is simply implied that it would in fact be conferred on them.

As kings - That is, the power would be what is usually exercised by kings.

One hour - It cannot be supposed that this is to be taken literally. The meaning clearly is, that this would be brief and temporary; that is, it was a form of administration which would be succeeded by one more fixed and permanent. Anyone can see that, in fact, this is strictly applicable to the governments, as referred to in the notes on Daniel, which sprang up after the incursion of the northern barbarians, and which were finally succeeded by the permanent forms of government in Europe. Most of them were very brief in their duration, and they were soon remodelled in the forms of permanent administration. Thus, to take the arrangement proposed by Sir Isaac Newton:

(1) the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans in Spain and Africa;

(2) the kingdom of the Suevians in Spain;

(3) the kingdom of the Visigoths;

(4) the kingdom of the Alans in Gallia;

(5) the kingdom of the Burgundians;

(6) the kingdom of the Franks;

(7) the kingdom of the Britons;

(8) the kingdom of the Huns;


12. ten kings … received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings … with the beast—Hence and from Re 17:14, 16, it seems that these ten kings or kingdoms, are to be contemporaries with the beast in its last or eighth form, namely, Antichrist. Compare Da 2:34, 44, "the stone smote the image upon his feet," that is, upon the ten toes, which are, in Da 2:41-44, interpreted to be "kings." The ten kingdoms are not, therefore, ten which arose in the overthrow of Rome (heathen), but are to rise out of the last state of the fourth kingdom under the eighth head. I agree with Alford that the phrase "as kings," implies that they reserve their kingly rights in their alliance with the beast, wherein "they give their power and strength unto" him (Re 17:13). They have the name of kings, but not with undivided kingly power [Wordsworth]. See Auberlen's not so probable view, see on [2731]Re 17:3.

one hour—a definite time of short duration, during which "the devil is come down to the inhabitant of the earth and of the sea, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Probably the three and a half years (Re 11:2, 3; 13:5). Antichrist is in existence long before the fall of Babylon; but it is only at its fail he obtains the vassalage of the ten kings. He in the first instance imposes on the Jews as the Messiah, coming in his own name; then persecutes those of them who refuse his blasphemous pretensions. Not until the sixth vial, in the latter part of his reign, does he associate the ten kings with him in war with the Lamb, having gained them over by the aid of the spirits of devils working miracles. His connection with Israel appears from his sitting "in the temple of God" (2Th 2:4), and as the antitypical "abomination of desolation standing in the Holy place" (Da 9:27; 12:11; Mt 24:15), and "in the city where our Lord was crucified" (Re 11:8). It is remarkable that Irenæus [Against Heresies, 5:25] and Cyril of Jerusalem [Rufinus, Historia Monachorum, 10.37] prophesied that Antichrist would have his seat at Jerusalem and would restore the kingdom of the Jews. Julian the apostate, long after, took part with the Jews, and aided in building their temple, herein being Antichrist's forerunner.

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings: possibly by ten kings here are not meant monarchs, but governments.

Which have received no kingdom as yet; which were not in being in John’s time, nor in many years after.

But receive power as kings one hour with the beast; but should, during some time of the beast’s reign, have power with the papacy, employing their power with his to establish his idolatry. But who these ten monarchs are, or what these ten governmts are, I must confess myself at a loss to determine. It is plain they should be:

1. Such as should be contemporaneous with the reign of the beast.

2. Such as employed their power in conjunction with his.

3. Such as should afterwards be instruments to ruin the papacy, Revelation 17:16,17.

The beast’s reign being twelve hundred and sixty years, there hath been, and will be, such a variety of princes and governments, as it is very hard to determine who they shall be. But their being contemporaneous with the beast, makes me think it cannot be understood either of any that were in the world before the year 606, when the beast’s reign began (though the mystery of iniquity was working, and the image of the beast was making, long before); as also that the ten barbarous nations that disturbed Italy from the year 410 till near 600 could not be meant, being all before antichrist came to any reign; nor did they ever show any great love or hatred to the pope; sometimes serving, sometimes opposing him, as suited their respective civil interests. I am very inclinable to think the prophecy to concern some kings nearer the end of antichrist’s reign, who though for a while they served the papacy, yet shall at last be instruments to ruin him; but who they are shall do this, or when it shall be, I cannot determine.

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings,.... Not ten Christian emperors, which are reckoned up by Brightman from Constantine to Theodosius; for these did not reign with the beast, or give their kingdoms to him, and much less did they make war with the Lamb; they are rather the angels of Michael, that fought for him, the Lamb, against the dragon, and his angels, Revelation 12:7 nor ten kings that will rise up and divide the Roman empire between them, towards the end of the world, which is a sense devised by Papists to obscure and hide from men the true meaning of the passage; but the ten kingdoms which rose up, and into which the Roman empire was divided upon its being ruined, and torn to pieces by the Goths, Huns, and Vandals. They are the same with the "ten toes" of Nebuchadnezzar's image, and the "ten horns" of the fourth beast, or kingdom, in Daniel 2:42. These are differently reckoned up by interpreters: by Napier thus; Spain, France, Lombardy, England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, and the exarchate of Ravenna: by Mr. Mede after this manner; the Britains in Britain, under Vortimer their king; the Saxons in the same place, under Hengist; the Franks in Gallia Belgica, or Celtics, under Childeric; the Burgundians in another part of France, under Gunderic; the Wisigoths in Aquitain, and part of Spain, under Theodoric; the Sueves and Alans in Gallaecia and Portugal, under Riciarius; the Vandals in Spain and Africa, under Genseric; the Almains in that part of Germany called Rhetia, under Sumanus; the Ostrogoths in Pannonia, and after in Italy, under Theodomir; and the Greeks in the rest of the empire, under Marcianus: and by another (u) writer they are accounted for in this way; the Almains in both the Rhetia, and in Pannonia, who rose in the year 356; the Ostrogoths, first in Pannonia, and then in Italy, in 377; the Wisigoths in Pannonia, and then in Italy, afterwards in France, and last of all in Spain, in 378; the Huns in Pannonia, and for some time throughout all Europe, in 378; the Britian Romans in Britain, and afterwards the Saxons, in 406; the Sueves, first in France, and then in Spain, in 407; the Alans, first in France, and then in Spain, in 407; the Vandals, first in France, then in Spain, afterwards in Africa, in 407; the Burgundians in France, in 407; the Franks in France, in 410. And it is generally thought all these ten kingdoms were up by the year 450 at least. Though Dr. Allix makes the epocha of them A. D. 486, when the western empire was taken from the Romans, and fixes them in the following order; the Almains in Rhetia and Pannonia; the Franks in Belgica; the Anglo-Saxons in Britain; the Wisigoths in Gallia Aquitania and Hispania Tarraconensis; the Sueves and Alans in Portugal; the Vandals in Africa; the Burgundians in Gallia Sequanensis; the Ostrogoths in Pannonia, and afterwards in Italy; the Lombards in Pannonia, and the Heruli and Turcilingi, who conquered Augustulus: and though these kingdoms were thrown into different forms and shapes afterwards, yet it is remarkable they were just of this number; as, 1. Italy and Germany; 2. France; 3. Spain; 4. England with Ireland; 5. Scotland; 6. Hungary; 7. Poland with Lithuania; 8. Denmark, with Sweden and Norway, Sweden being since divided; 9. Portugal; 10. The Grecian empire seized by the Ottomans. And as these kings cannot be understood of single persons at the head of these kingdoms, or of so many kings succeeding one another; so neither is it necessary to consider these kingdoms as being in the same state, and made up of the same sort of people always; it is enough that they are in the same place, and within the empire; for we, may observe, that different things, at different times, are ascribed to them, or at least to some. They all are at first of one mind, and give their kingdom to the beast; then they, at least some of them, hate the whore, and burn her with fire; and yet others lament the destruction and burning of Rome, Revelation 17:16.

Which have received no kingdom as yet: in John's time, when the Pagan empire was in being, and the beast was not risen, with whom they were to reign; hence these horns have no crowns on them, Revelation 12:3.

But receive power as kings one hour with the beast; as soon as he was risen; and therefore the horns are represented with crowns upon them, Revelation 13:1. Their rise was with the Papal beast, who rose not to his supreme power and dignity until the western emperor, which let and hindered, was removed out of the way; which was done by the barbarous nations, who set up these kingdoms, which made way for the lordly and tyrannical government of the pope of Rome; so that he and they rose up together: and this may he meant by the "one hour"; namely, that at one and the same hour or season he came to his supreme authority and grandeur, and they received their kingly power with him; or this may denote the time of their continuance in their honour and greatness; it was but for an hour, or a short time, as that phrase sometimes signifies, Plm 1:15 and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "for one hour"; to which agrees the Arabic version,

and their power shall be of one hour: and this shall be "as kings"; for they only have the title of kings, but not sovereign power; they are vassals to the beast, the pope, who reigns over them, Revelation 17:18 and sets up kings in these kingdoms, and deposes them at pleasure; exalting himself above all that is called God, or above all civil magistrates; so that these have only the name, not the thing; they are as kings, and look like such, but are not really so; though what power they have, they receive not from the beast, but from God; the beast receives his power and authority, as well as seat, from the dragon; but civil power and magistracy is from God, who suffers these princes, and gives them up to such stupidity as to give their kingdom to the beast, and to exercise their power as he directs.

(u) De Excidio Antichristi apud Poli Synops. in loc.

{26} And the ten horns which thou sawest are {27} ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings {28} one hour with the beast.

(26) The third place of this description, as I said in see Geneva Re 17:8 is a prophetical prediction of things to come, which the beast should do, as in the words following John does not obscurely signify, saying, which have not yet received the kingdom, etc. For there is an antithesis or opposition between these kings, and those that went before. First the persons are described in this verse, then their deeds, in the two verses following.

(27) That is, arising with their kingdoms out of that Roman beast: at such time as that political empire began to fall by the plotting of the popes.

(28) Namely, with that second beast, whom we called before a false prophet, who ascending out of the earth, got to himself all the authority and power of the first beast, and exercised the same before his face, as was said in Re 14:11,12. For when the political empire of the west began to bow downwards, there arose those ten kings, and the second beast took the opportunity offered to usurp for himself all the power of the former beast. These kings long ago, many have numbered and described to be ten, and a great part of the events plainly testifies the same in this our age.

Revelation 17:12-17. The interpretation of the ten horns, also (Revelation 17:15) of the waters, on which the harlot sits. In conclusion, the interpretation of the harlot herself, Revelation 17:18, follows the interpretation of the special points.

δέκα βασιλεῖς. Hengstenb. errs in two ways by regarding the number ten, which is analogous to the number seven, Revelation 17:9 sqq., as inaccurate, and the βασιλεῖς, again, as reigns. See, besides, on Revelation 17:18.


θηρίου. The limitation of οὔπω ἔλαβον in Grot., viz., “in the parts of the Roman Empire,” is more explicit than the closing words of Revelation 17:12. The text says that the ten kings in general have received no dominion at all; but they obtained authority as kings, and that, too, as associates and aids of the beast (μετὰ τ. θηρ.; cf. Revelation 17:13 sq.), for “one hour;” for they shall be immediately abandoned by the Lord. The very brief duration (μίαν ὥρ. accus., as Revelation 9:5) of their rule, designated in a schematic way,[3884] appears to correspond with the circumstance that of one of these kings it is said: ἐξυυσ. ὠς βασιλ. The βασιλεία of these βασιλεῖς would then appear, not as a complete sovereignty, but as a quickly evanescent power, which, however, because of its temporary greatness, is represented as one that is royal.[3885]

μίαν γνώμην ἔχουσιν. The words immediately following give[3886] the statement that the unanimity of these kings is intended to act in concert with the beast, and that, too, first of all, against the Lord (Revelation 17:14), but then also against the harlot (Revelation 17:16).

μετὰ τοῦ ἀρνίου πολεμήσουσι. Here, however, there immediately follows—as the reverse of Revelation 11:7, Revelation 13:7—the statement that not only the Lamb, because he is the Lord of all lords and King of kings,[3887] but even believers, shall conquer those kings. The νικήσει αυτ. suggests for the further designation of subject, καὶ οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ, κ.τ.λ.,[3888] the idea of a ΝΙΚΉΣΟΥΣΙ.[3889] The threefold designation, according to which the saints[3890] appear as those who have been called and chosen on the part of their Lord, and have, on their part, maintained their fidelity,[3891] emphasizes the inner foundation of the victory, confirming the promise, and likewise calling to mind the condition of the victory.

[3884] Cf. Revelation 18:10.

[3885] Cf. Revelation 9:3.

[3886] Cf. also Revelation 17:17[3887] Cf. Revelation 19:16.

[3888] The στρατεύματα of the Lord, Revelation 19:14; Revelation 19:19.

[3889] Unnaturally, Beng.: “Those who are with him are the elect,” who are only to look on.

[3890] Cf. Revelation 13:7.

[3891] Cf. Revelation 2:10.

Revelation 17:12-18 : the campaign of Nero and his vassal-kings against Rome, which is slain by an arrow feathered from her own wings.

12. the ten horns &c.] Comparing Daniel 7, 8, we can hardly doubt that these horns represent kingdoms related to the Roman Empire as the kingdoms of the Diadochi to that of Alexander. Such are the principal kingdoms of modern Europe: and in the recognition of this fact lies the key to mediaeval and to much of modern history. (See Sir F. Palgrave’s Normandy and England, Intr. ch. 1, English Commonwealth, chh. 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, and Dr Bryce’s Holy Roman Empire, passim). The number ten is probably to be taken as exact, but we cannot yet point to it as being definitely realised. It is remarkable that the kingdoms of Europe have (as is pointed out by Elliot, Horae Apoc. Part IV. ch. 4 § 2) tended at many periods to that number: but there are now more than ten sovereign states in Christendom, or even in Europe only. Judging from the analogy of the Macedonian kingdoms (see on Revelation 16:12) we may guess that only those are included which are of considerable size and power, and have some claim to continue the imperial tradition of the common predecessor. The existing states of Germany, France, Austria, and Russia have such a claim (which they assert, more or less constantly and more or less legitimately, by the use of the imperial title): so has our own country, which has claimed rank as an empire coordinate with continental ones since the days of Edgar the Peaceable: so (more doubtfully) have Spain and Portugal in virtue of their memories, and so have the new kingdoms of Greece and Italy in virtue of their hopes. A tenth can hardly be named, for Sweden though powerful was not imperial even under Gustavus Adolphus or Charles XII., and Turkey could hardly be thus coupled with the states of Christendom: but believers will watch the developement of “the Eastern Question” with a solemn interest.

receive power as kings] It is extraordinary that St Hippolytus, (On Christ and Antichrist, ch. 27) inferred, apparently not from this passage, but from Daniel 2:42, that the ten powers of the last days, among which the Roman empire is partitioned, will pass from monarchies into democracies. Few things were humanly speaking less likely in his days, few more so in ours.

one hour] Presumably for a very short time: the end will be very near when the ten horns appear in their final and unmistakeable form. It therefore ought not to surprise us, that we cannot identify them all yet, that we only see them in process of developement.

Another explanation of the horns has been suggested (Renan, L’Antechrist, pp. 433, 4)—that they are the claimants of the Empire who appeared in the “long year” (Tac. Dial. 17) after the death of Nero. It is possible to enumerate ten of these, but unfortunately not without including both Galba and Vespasian, one of whom must be reckoned among the heads, and therefore not the horns. Else, both Rome and the Roman Empire were so severely shaken in the civil wars between the rival emperors, and their actual fall in the fifth century so nearly anticipated, that this interpretation harmonises well enough with Revelation 17:16. On the other hand, it fails to give meaning to Revelation 17:13, or to agree with the undoubted meaning of the same symbol in Daniel.

with the beast] Yet in Daniel 7:7-8 the ten horns appear before the little horn (which seems to correspond with this appearance of the Beast, no longer merely as a polity but as a person), and three of them are destroyed by him. I do not pretend to be able to reconcile the two.

Revelation 17:12. Τὰ δέκα κέρατα, the ten horns) The ten horns correspond with the ten toes of the kingly image: Daniel 2:41-42; Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:24; and since each of the feet has five toes, we must wait to see whether the ten kings are about to be divided by any means into two quinaries.—οὐκ ἔλαβονλαμβάνουσιἔχουσιδιδόασιν[191]—πολεμήσουσι, they have not received: they receive, have, give: they shall make war) The past, the present, the future. They have not received, because they gave [their kingdom] to the beast: Revelation 17:17. Objection: The order of the text is thus changed. Answer: Let the Chiasmus lately noticed be weighed: in accordance with which, even in Revelation 17:18, present things are put before the future things noticed in Revelation 17:14; and, independently of that verse, even before the future things of Revelation 17:16, the slaughter of the kings is also mentioned immediately before the destruction of the beast, Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:14.— ὡς βασιλεῖς, as kings) Having not received the kingdom until now.—μίαν ὥραν, one hour) comp. Revelation 17:10, note. It is not said, in one hour, as ch. Revelation 18:10; but for one hour. A similar use of the accusative occurs, ch. Revelation 20:2.—μετὰ τοῦ θηρίου, with the beast) The beast has his followers, ten kings: antithetical to (Revelation 17:14.) with Him, the Lamb, who also has His followers.

[191] So AB Vulg. Iren.; but Rec. Text, διαδιδώσουσιν, h Vulg. (Fuld. MS., not Amiat. the best MS.)—E.

Verse 12. - And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet. The horns, as we have seen, are symbolical of power (see on Revelation 13:1), and ten signifies completeness and sufficiency (Revelation 13:1). By the ten horns, therefore, is expressed widespread, complete power. But this power, says the seer, has not come into existence as yet. He thus points to a coming power, hostile to God, such as is described in that part of the account of the seven kings which states "the other is not yet come" (ver. 10). If; seems probable, therefore, that in describing the forces opposed to God - those past, those present, and those yet to come - St. John foresees that the hostile world power will not be always pre-eminently wielded by one nation, as in his own time; but will be divided into many parts, here represented by the number ten, though not necessarily exactly ten in number. This, indeed, exactly describes what has really been the case since St. John's time, and what, humanly speaking, seems likely to continue to the end of the world. These ten horns seem thus to be identical with the seventh king of ver. 10. Compare the account given of the horns in Daniel 7. But receive power as kings one hour with the beast; authority (Revised Version). One hour denotes "a short time," in which way the Bible constantly describes the period of the world's existence, and especially that period which intervenes between the time of the writer and the judgment day (cf. Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 7:29; Revelation 6:11; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 22:20, etc.). This sentence thus declares that, though in the future divided into many parts, and thus not being visibly as potential as former single united kingdoms, nevertheless this hostile world power will be still formidable, having ranged itself on the side of the beast, acting for and with him, and receiving power from him. Ver 13. - These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast; they give (present tense) their power and authority, etc. That is, though apparently split up into many sections, they form practically one, acting by and for the beast on whose side they range themselves (see on ver. 32). Revelation 17:12Kings which (οἵτινες)

The compound relative classifying: "of the kind which."

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