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.
8. beast … was, and is not—(Compare Re 17:11). The time when the beast "is not" is the time during which it has "the deadly wound"; the time of the seventh head becoming Christian externally, when its beast-like character was put into suspension temporarily. The healing of its wound answers to its ascending out of the bottomless pit. The beast, or Antichristian world power, returns worse than ever, with satanic powers from hell (Re 11:7), not merely from the sea of convulsed nations (Re 13:1). Christian civilization gives the beast only a temporary wound, whence the deadly wound is always mentioned in connection with its being healed up the non-existence of the beast in connection with its reappearance; and Daniel does not even notice any change in the world power effected by Christianity. We are endangered on one side by the spurious Christianity of the harlot, on the other by the open Antichristianity of the beast; the third class is Christ's little flock."
go—So B, Vulgate, and Andreas read the future tense. But A and Irenæus, "goeth."
into perdition—The continuance of this revived seventh (that is, the eighth) head is short: it is therefore called "the son of perdition," who is essentially doomed to it almost immediately after his appearance.
names were—so Vulgate and Andreas. But A, B, Syriac, and Coptic read the singular, "name is."
written in—Greek, "upon."
which—rather, "when they behold the beast that it was," &c. So Vulgate.
was, and is not, and yet is—A, B, and Andreas read, "and shall come" (literally, "be present," namely, again: Greek, "kai parestai"). The Hebrew, "tetragrammaton," or sacred four letters in Jehovah, "who is, who was, and who is to come," the believer's object of worship, has its contrasted counterpart in the beast "who was, and is not, and shall be present," the object of the earth's worship [Bengel]. They exult with wonder in seeing that the beast which had seemed to have received its death blow from Christianity, is on the eve of reviving with greater power than ever on the ruins of that religion which tormented them (Re 11:10).