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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 13 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast. See Barnes "Re 12:3"; See Barnes "Re 13:2".

That is, they in fact worshipped him. The word worshiptroskunew—is not always, however, used in a religious sense. It means, properly, to kiss; to kiss towards any one; that is, to kiss his own hand and to extend it towards a person, in token of respect and homage.— Rob. Lex. Compare Job 31:27. Then it means to show respect to one who is our superior; to kings and princes; to parents; and pre-eminently to God. See Barnes "Mt 2:2".

The word may be used here to mean that homage or reverence, as to a higher power, was rendered to the "dragon;" not strictly that he was openly worshipped in a religious sense as God. Can any one doubt that this was the case under Papal Rome; that the power which was set up under that entire domination, civil and ecclesiastical, was such as Satan approved, and such as he sought to have established on the earth? And can any one doubt that the homage thus rendered, so contrary to the law of God, and so much in derogation of his claims, was in fact homage rendered to this presiding spirit of evil?

And they worshipped the beast. That is, they did it, as is immediately specified, by saying that he was incomparable and invincible; in other words, that he was superior to all others, and that he was almighty. For the fulfilment of this, See Barnes on "2 Th 2:4".

 

Who is like unto the beast? That is, he is to be regarded as unequalled and as supreme. This was, in fact, ascribing honours to him which belonged only to God; and this was the manner in which that civil and secular power was regarded in the period here supposed to be referred to. It was the policy of rulers and princes in those times to augment in every way possible the respect in which they were held; to maintain that they were the vicegerents of heaven; to claim for themselves sacredness of character and of person; and to secure from the people a degree of reverence which was in fact idolatrous. Never was this more marked than in the times when the Papacy had the ascendency, for it was its policy to promote reverence for the power that sustained itself, and to secure for itself the idolatrous veneration of the people.

Who is able to make war with him? That is, he is invincible. They thus attributed to him omnipotence—an attribute belonging only to God. This found a fulfilment in the honour shown to the civil authority which sustained the Papacy; for the policy was to impress the public mind with the belief that that power was invincible. In fact, it was so regarded. Nothing was able to resist that absolute despotism; and the authority of princes and rulers that were allied with the Papal rule was of the most absolute kind, and the subjugation of the world was complete. There was no civil, as there was no-religious liberty; and the whole arrangement was so ordered as to subdue the world to an absolute and uncontrollable power.

{b} "who is able" Re 17:14

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