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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 13 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard. For a description of the leopard, see Barnes on "Da 7:6".

It is distinguished for bloodthirstiness and cruelty, and thus becomes all emblem of a fierce, tyrannical power. In its general character it resembles a lion, and the lion and the leopard are often referred to together. In this description, it is observable that John has combined in one animal or monster, all those which Daniel brought successively on the scene of action as representing different empires. Thus in Daniel (Da 7:2-7) the lion is introduced as the symbol of the Babylonian power; the bear, as the symbol of the Medo-Persian; the leopard, as the symbol of the Macedonian; and a nondescript animal, fierce, cruel, and mighty, with two horns, as the symbol of the Roman. See Barnes "Da 7:2-7".

In John there is one animal representing the Roman power, as if it were made up of all these: a leopard with the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion, with two horns, and with the general description of a fierce monster. There was an obvious propriety in this, in speaking of the Roman power, for it was, in fact, made up of the empires represented by the other symbols in Daniel, and "combined in itself all the elements of the terrible and the oppressive, which had existed in the aggregate in the other great empires that preceded it." At the same time, there was an obvious propriety in the symbol itself; for the bloodthirstiness and cruelty of the leopard would well represent the ferocity and cruelty of the Roman power, especially as John saw it here as the great antagonistic power of the true church, sustaining the Papal claim, and thirsting for blood.

And his feet were as the feet of a bear. See Barnes on "Da 7:5".

The idea here seems to be that of strength, as the strength of the bear resides much in its feet and claws. At the same time, there is the idea of a combination of fierce qualities—as if the bloodthirstiness, the cruelty, and the agility of the leopard were united with the strength of the bear.

And his mouth as the mouth of a lion. See Barnes on "Da 7:4".

The mouth of the lion is made to seize and hold its prey, and is indicative of the character of the animal as a beast of prey. John has thus brought together the qualities of activity, bloodthirstiness, strength, ferocity, all as symbolical of the power that was intended to be represented. It is hardly necessary to say that this description is one that would apply well, in all respects, to Rome; nor is it necessary to say, that if it be supposed that he meant to refer to Rome, this is such a description as he would have adopted.

And the dragon. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

 

Gave him his power. Satan claimed, in the time of the Saviour, all power over the kingdoms of the world, and asserted that he could give them to whomsoever he pleased. See Barnes on "Mt 4:8-9".

How far the power of Satan in this respect may extend, it may not be possible to determine; but it cannot be doubted that the Roman power seemed to have such an origin, and that in the main it was such as, on that supposition, it would be. In its arrogance and haughtiness—in its thirst for dominion—in its persecutions—it had such characteristics as we may suppose Satan would originate. If, therefore, as the whole connexion leads us to suppose this refers to the Roman secular power, considered as the support of the Papacy, there is the most evident propriety in the representation.

And the seat. yronon. Hence our word throne. The word properly means a seat; then a high seat; then a throne, as that on which a king sits. Here it refers to this power as exercising dominion on the earth.

And great authority. The authority was great. It extended over a large part of the earth, and alike in its extent and character, it was such as we may suppose Satan would set up in the world.

{c} "was like unto" Da 7:4-7 {d} "dragon" Re 12:9 {e} "seat" Re 16:10

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