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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 11 - Verse 7

Verse 7. And when they shall have finished their testimony. Professor Stuart renders this, "And whenever they shall have finished their testimony." The reference is undoubtedly to a period when they should have faithfully borne the testimony which they were appointed to bear. The word here rendered "shall have finished"— teleswsi, from telew—means properly to end, to finish, to complete, to accomplish. It is used, in this respect, in two senses— either in regard to time, or in regard to the end or object in view, in the sense of perfecting it, or accomplishing it. In the former sense it is employed in such passages as the following: Re 20:3, "Till the thousand years should be fulfilled;" Mt 10:23 "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel [Gr., ye shall not have finished the cities of Israel] till the Son of man be come"—that is, ye shall not have finished passing through them; Mt 11:1, "When Jesus had made an end [Gr.,finished] of commanding his twelve disciples;" 2 Ti 4:7, "I have finished my course." In these passages it clearly refers to time. In the other sense it is used in such places as the following: Ro 2:27, "And shall not the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law;" that is, if it accomplish, or come up to the demands of the law; Jas 2:8, "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scriptures." The word, then, may here refer not to time, meaning that these events would occur at the end of the "thousand two hundred and threescore days," but to the fact that what is here stated would occur when they had completed their testimony in the sense of having testified all that they were appointed to testify; that is, when they had borne full witness for God, and fully uttered his truth. Thus understood, the meaning here may be that the event here referred to would take place, not at the end of the 1260 years, but at that period during the 1260 years when it could be said with propriety that they had accomplished their testimony in the world, or that they had borne full and ample witness on the points entrusted to them.

The beast. This is the first time in the book of Revelation in which what is here called "the beast" is mentioned, and which has so important an agency in the events which it is said would occur. It is repeatedly mentioned in the course of the book, and always with similar characteristics, and as referring to the same object. Here it is mentioned as "ascending out of the bottomless pit;" in Re 13:1, as "rising up out of the sea;" in Re 13:11, as "coming up out of the earth." It is also mentioned with characteristics appropriate to such an origin, in Re 13:2-4, (twice,) Re 13:11-12, (twice,) Re 13:14, (twice,) Re 13:15, (twice,) Re 13:17-18; 14:9,11

Re 15:2; 16:2,10,13; 17:3,7-8, (twice,) Re 17:11-13,16-17

Re 19:19-20, (twice;) Re 20:4,10. The word here used—yhrion—means properly a beast, a wild beast, Mr 1:13; Ac 10:12; 11:6; 28:4-5; Heb 12:20; Jas 3:7; Re 6:8.

It is once used topically of brutal or savage men, Tit 1:12. Elsewhere, in the passages above referred to in the Apocalypse, it is used symbolically. As employed in the book of Revelation, the characteristics of the "beast" are strongly marked.

(a) It has its origin from beneath—in the bottomless pit; the sea; the earth, Re 11:7; 13:1,11.

 

(b) It has great power, Re 13:4,12; 17:12-13.

 

(c) It claims and receives worship, Re 13:3,12,14-15; 14:9,11.

 

(d) It has a certain "seat" or throne from whence its power proceeds, Re 16:10.

(e) It is of scarlet colour, Re 17:3.

(f) It receives power conferred upon it by the kings of the earth, Re 17:13.

(g) It has a mark by which it is known, Re 13:17; 19:20.

(h) It has a certain "number;" that is, there are certain mystical letters or figures which so express its name that it may be known, Re 13:17-18. These things serve to characterize the "beast" as distinguished from all other things, and they are so numerous and definite, that it would seem to have been intended to make it easy to understand what was meant when the power referred to should appear. In regard to the origin of the imagery here, there can be no reasonable doubt that it is to be traced to Daniel, and that the writer here means to describe the same "beast" which Daniel refers to in Da 7:7. The evidence of this must be clear to any one who will compare the description in Daniel, (chapter 8) with the minute details in the book of Revelation. No one, I think, can doubt that John means to carry forward the description in Daniel, and to apply it to new manifestations of the same great and terrific power—the power of the fourth monarchy—on the earth. For full evidence that the representation in Daniel refers to the Roman power prolonged and perpetuated in the Papal dominion, I must refer the reader to Barnes on "Da 7:25".

It may be assumed here that the opinion there defended is correct, and consequently it may be assumed that the "beast" of this book refers to the Papal power.

That ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. See Barnes "Re 9:1".

This would properly mean that its origin is the nether world; or that it will have characteristics which will show that it was from beneath. The meaning clearly is, that what was symbolized by the beast would have such characteristics as to show that it was not of Divine origin, but had its source in the world of darkness, sin, and death. This, of course, could not represent the true church, or any civil government that is founded on principles which God approves. But if it represent a community pretending to be a church, it is an apostate church; if a civil community, it is a community the characteristics of which are that it is controlled by the Spirit that rules over the world beneath. For reasons which we shall see in abundance in applying the descriptions which occur of the "beast," I regard this as referring to that great apostate power which occupies so much of the prophetic descriptions—the Papacy.

Shall make war against them. Will endeavour to exterminate them by force. This clearly is not intended to be a general statement that they would be persecuted, but to refer to the particular manner in which the opposition would be conducted. It would be in the form of "war;" that is, there would be an effort to destroy them by arms.

And shall overcome them. Shall gain the victory over them; conquer them—nikhsei autouv. That is, there will be some signal victory in which those represented by the two witnesses will be subdued.

And kill them. That is, an effect would be produced as if they were put to death. They would be overcome; would be silenced; would be apparently dead. Any event that would cause them to cease to bear testimony, as if they were dead, would, be properly represented by this. It would not be necessary to suppose that there would be literally death in the case, but that there would be some event which would be well represented by death—such as an entire suspension of their prophesying in consequence of force.

{a} "beast" Re 17:8 {b} "make war" Da 7:21; Zec 14:2

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