« Prev Revelation 13:1 Next »

REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 13 - Verse 1

 

CHAPTER XIII

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER

This chapter is closely connected with chap. xii., which is properly introductory to this and to the subsequent portions of the book to chap. xx. See the Analysis of the book. The vision in this chapter is of two distinct "beasts," each with peculiar characteristics, yet closely related, deriving their power from a common source; aiding each other in the accomplishment of the same object, and manifestly relating to the same power under different forms. To see the design of the chapter, it will be necessary to exhibit the peculiar characteristics of the two "beasts," and the points in which they resemble each other, and sustain each other.

I. The characteristics of the beasts.

A. The characteristics of the first beast, Re 13:1-10.

(a) It comes up out of the sea, (Re 13:1)—out of the commotion, the agitation of nations—a new power that springs up from those disturbed elements.

(b) It has seven heads, and ten horns, and upon its horns ten crowns or diadems, Re 13:1.

(c) In its general form, it resembles a leopard; its feet are like those of a bear; its mouth like that of a lion. Its connexion with the great "dragon"—with Satan—is indicated by, the statement that it derives its "power, and its seat, and its authority from him, (Re 13:2;) a striking representation of the fact that the civil or secular Roman power which supported the church of Rome through all its corrupt and bloody progress was the putting forth of the power of Satan on the earth.

(d) One of the heads of this beast is "wounded to death;" that is, with a wound that is in itself mortal. This wound is, however, in some way as yet unexplained, so healed that the vitality yet remains, and all the world pays homage to the beast, Re 13:3. A blow is aimed at this authority which seems to be fatal; and there is some healing or restorative process by which its power is recovered, and by which the universality of its dominion and influence is again restored.

(e) The effect of this is, that the world renders homage really to the "dragon," the source of this power, though in the form of adoration of the "beast," re 13:4. That is, while the outward homage is rendered to the "beast," the real worship is that of the "dragon," or Satan. This beast is regarded as

(1) incomparable—"Who is like unto the "beast?" and

(2) invincible—"Who is able to war with him?"

(f) In this form the beast is endowed with a mouth that "speaks great things and blasphemies," Re 13:5; that is, the power here referred to is arrogant, and reviles the God of heaven.

(g) The time during which he is to continue is "forty and two months;" that is, twelve hundred and sixty days, or twelve hundred and sixty years. See Barnes "Re 11:2".

 

(h) The characteristics of this beast, and of his dominion, are these:

(1.) He opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, and his church, and all holy beings, Re 13:6.

(2.) He makes war with the saints and overcomes them, Re 13:7.

(3.) He asserts his power over all nations, Re 13:7.

(4.) He is worshipped by all that dwell on the earth, whose names are not in the book of life, Re 13:8.

(i) All are called on to hear—as if the announcement were important for the church, Re 13:9.

(j) The result or issue of the power represented by this monster, Re 13:10. It had led others into captivity, it would itself be made captive; it had been distinguished for slaying others, it would itself feel the power of the sword. Until this is accomplished, the patience and faith of the saints must be sorely tried, Re 13:10.

B. The characteristics of the second beast, Re 13:11-18.

(a) It comes out of the earth, (Re 13:11)—having a different origin from the former; not springing from troubled elements, as of nations at strife, but from that which is firm and established—like the solid earth.

(b) It has two horns like a lamb, but it speaks as a dragon, Re 13:11. It is apparently mild, gentle, lamb-like, and inoffensive; but it is, in fact, arrogant, haughty, and imperative.

(c) Its dominion is co-extensive with that of the first beast, and the effect of its influence is to induce the world to do homage to the first beast, Re 13:12.

(d) It has the power of performing great wonders, and particularly of deceiving the world by the "miracles" which it performs. This power is particularly manifested in restoring what might be regarded as an "image" of the beast which was wounded, though not put to death, and by giving life to that image, and causing those to be put to death who will not worship it, Re 13:13-15.

(e) This beast causes a certain mark to be affixed to all, small and great, and attempts a jurisdiction over all persons, so that none may buy or sell, or engage in any business, who have not the mark affixed to them; that is, the power represented attempts to set up a control over the commerce of the world, Re 13:16,17.

(f) The way by which the power here referred to may be known is by some proper application of the number 666. This is stated in an enigmatical form, and yet with such clearness that it is supposed that it would be sufficient to indicate the power here referred to.

II. Points in which the two beasts resemble or sustain each other. It is manifest on the slightest inspection of the characteristics of the "beasts" referred to in this chapter, that they have a close relation to each other; that, in important respects, the one is designed to sustain the other, and that both are manifestations or embodiments of that one and the same power represented by the "dragon," Re 13:4. He is the great original source of power to both, and both are engaged in accomplishing his purposes, and are combined to keep up his dominion over the earth. The points of resemblance which it is very important to notice are the following:—

(1.) They have the same origin; that is, they both owe their power to the "dragon," and are designed to keep up his ascendency in human affairs, Re 12:3; 13:2,4,12.

 

(2.) They have the same extent of power and dominion. \-

 

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST The world wonders after the He exercises all the power of beast, Re 13:3. They worship the first beast, Re 3:12. He the dragon and the beast causes the earth and them which dwell Re 13:4, and all that dwell therein to worship the first beast. upon the earth shall worship him Re 13:12. He has power to give Re 13:8 life unto the image of the beast

Re 13:15. He sets up jurisdiction

over the commerce of the world

Re 13:16,17

(3.) They do the same things.

 

First Beast Second Beast The dragon gives power to the He exercises all the power of beast, ver. 4. There is given unto the first beast, ver. 12. He does him a mouth speaking great things great wonders, ver. 13. He makes and blasphemies, ver. 5. He opens fire come down from heaven in his mouth in blasphemy against the sight of men, ver. 13. He God, ver. 6. It is given him to performs miracles, ver. 14. He make war with the saints, and to causes that as many as would not overcome them, ver. 7. worship the first beast should be

killed, ver. 15. He claims dominion

over all, vers. 16, 17.

(4.) The one is the means of healing the wounded head of the other, and of restoring its authority.

 

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST One of his heads is, as it were, Has power to heal the wound wounded to death: a wound that of the first beast, ver. 12; for it would be mortal if it were not is manifest that the healing healed ver. 3. comes from some influence of the

second beast.

(5.) The one restores life to the other when dying.

 

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST Is wounded, ver. 3, and his Causes an "image" of the first power manifestly becomes ex- beast- something that should hausted. resemble that, or be the same

power revived, to be made, and

to be worshipped, ver. 15.

(6.) They have the same general characteristics.

 

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST Has a mouth given him to speak Speaks like a dragon, ver. 11; great things and blasphemies, ver. deceives those that dwell upon 5; opens his mouth in blasphemy, the earth, ver. 14; is a persecut- ver. 6; blasphemes the name of ing power—causing those who God, and his tabernacle, and his would not worship the image of people, ver. 6; makes war with the the first beast to be killed, ver. saints and overcomes them, ver. 7. 15.

From this comparison of the two beasts, the following things are plain:

(1.) That the same general power is referred to, or that they are both modifications of one general dominion on the earth: having the same origin, having the same locality, and aiming at the same result.

(2.) It is the same general domination prolonged; that is, the one is, in another form, but the continuation of the other.

(3.) The one becomes weak, or is in some way likely to lose its authority and power, and is revived by the other; that is, the other restores its waning authority, and sets up substantially the same dominion again over the earth, and causes the same great power to be acknowledged on the earth.

(4.) The one runs into the other; that is, one naturally produces, or is followed by the other.

(5.) One sustains the other.

(6.) They, therefore, have a very close relation to each other: having the same object; possessing the same general characteristics; and accomplishing substantially the same thing on the earth. What this was, will be better seen after the exposition of the chapter shall have been made. It may be sufficient here to remark, that, on the very face of this statement, it is impossible not to have the Roman power suggested to the mind, as a mighty persecuting power, in the two forms of the civil and ecclesiastical authority, both having the same origin; aiming at the same object; the one sustaining the other; and both combined to keep up the dominion of the great enemy of God and man upon the earth. It is impossible, also, not to be struck with the resemblance, in many particulars, between this vision and that of Daniel, Da 7 and to be impressed with the conviction that they are intended to refer to the same kingdom in general, and to the same events. But this will be made more manifest in the exposition of the chapter.

Verse 1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea. The sand upon the shore of the sea. That is, he seemed to stand there, and then had a vision of a beast rising out of the waters. The reason of this representation may, perhaps, have been that among the ancients the sea was regarded as the appropriate place for the origin of huge and terrible monsters. —Prof. Stuart, in loc. This vision strongly resembles that in Da 7:2, seq., where the prophet saw four beasts coming up in succession from the sea. See Barnes on "Da 7:2".

In Daniel, the four winds of heaven are described as striving upon the great sea, (Da 7:2,) and the agitated ocean represents the nations in commotion, or in a state of disorder and anarchy, and the four beasts represent four successive kingdoms that would spring up. See Barnes on "Da 7:2".

In the passage before us, John indeed describes no storm or tempest, but the sea itself, as compared with the land (See Barnes "Re 13:11") represents an agitated or unsettled state of things, and we should naturally look for that in the rise of the power here referred to. If the reference be to the civil or secular Roman power that has always appeared in connexion with the Papacy, and that has always followed its designs, then it is true that it rose amidst the agitations of the world, and from a state of commotion that might well be represented by the restless ocean. The sea in either case naturally describes a nation or people, for this image is frequently so employed in the Scriptures. Compare as above, Da 7:2; Ps 65:7; Isa 60:5; Re 10:2.

The natural idea, therefore, in this passage, would be that the power that was represented by the "beast" would spring up among the nations, when restless or unsettled, like the waves of the ocean.

And saw a beast. Daniel saw four in succession, (Da 7:3-7,) all different, yet succeeding each other; John saw two in succession, yet strongly resembling each other, Re 13:1,11. On the general meaning of the word beastyhrionSee Barnes "Re 11:7".

The beast here is evidently a symbol of some power or kingdom that would arise in future times. See Barnes on "Da 7:3".

Having seven heads. So also the dragon is represented in Re 12:3.

 See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

The representation there is of Satan, as the source of all the power lodged in the two beasts that John subsequently saw. In Re 17:9, referring substantially to the same vision, it is said that "the seven heads are seven mountains;" and that there can be no difficulty, therefore, in referring this to the seven hills on which the city of Rome was built, (compare Barnes on "Re 12:3,) and consequently this must be regarded as designed, in some way, to be a representation of Rome.

And ten horns. See this also explained in Barnes on "Re 12:3".

Compare also the more extended illustration in Barnes on "Da 7:25"

seq. The reference here is to Rome, or the one Roman power, contemplated as made up of ten subordinate kingdoms, and therefore subsequently to the invasion of the Northern hordes, and to the time when the Papacy was about to rise. Compare Re 17:12: "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, [marg. kingdoms,] which have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power as kings with the beast." For a full illustration of this, see Barnes on the close of Daniel 7.

And upon his horns ten crowns. Greek, ten diadems. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

These indicated dominion or authority. In Re 12:3, the "dragon is represented as having seven diadems on his head; here, the beast is represented as having ten. The dragon there represents the Roman domination as such, the seven-hilled, or seven-headed power, and, therefore, properly described as having seven diadems; the beast here represents the Roman power, as now broken up into the ten dominations which sprung up (see notes on Daniel as above) from the one original Roman power, and that became henceforward the supporters of the Papacy, and, therefore, properly represented here as having ten diadems. And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. That is, the whole power was blasphemous in its claims and pretensions. The word blasphemy here seems to be used in the sense that titles and attributes were claimed by it which belonged only to God. On the meaning of the word blasphemy, See Barnes "Mt 9:3"; See Barnes "Mt 26:65".

The meaning here is, that each one of these heads appeared to have a frontlet, with an inscription that was blasphemous, or that ascribed some attribute to this power that properly belonged to God; and that the whole power thus assumed was in derogation of the attributes and claims of God. In regard to the propriety of this description considered as applicable to the Papacy,

See Barnes "2 Th" 2:4".

 

{a} "beast" Da 7:2 {b} "seven heads" Re 12:3; 17:3,9,12

{1} "name" "names"

« Prev Revelation 13:1 Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |