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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 13 - Verse 10

Verse 10. He that leadeth into captivity. This is clearly intended to refer to the power or government which is denoted by the beast. The form of the expression here in the Greek is peculiar—"if any one leadeth into captivity," etc.—Ei tiv aicmalwsian sunagei. The statement is general, and it is intended to make use of a general or prevalent truth with reference to this particular case. The general truth is, that men will, in the course of things, be dealt with according to their character and their treatment of others; that nations characterized by war and conquest will be subject to the evils of war and conquest—or that they may expect to share the same lot which they have brought on others. This general statement accords with what the Saviour says in Mt 26:52: "All they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword." This has been abundantly illustrated in the world; and it is a very important admonition to nations not to indulge in the purposes of conquest, and to individuals not to engage in strife and litigation. The particular idea here is, that it would be a characteristic of the power here referred to, that it would "lead others into captivity." This would be fulfilled if it was the characteristic of this power to invade other countries, and to make their inhabitants prisoners of war; if it made slaves of other people; if it set up an unjust dominion over other people; or if it was distinguished for persecuting and imprisoning the innocent, or for depriving the nations of liberty. It is unnecessary to say that this is strikingly descriptive of Rome— considered in any and every point of view—whether under the republic or the empire; whether secular or ecclesiastical; whether Pagan or Papal. In the following forms there has been a complete fulfilment under that mighty power of what is here said:

(a) In the desire of conquest, or of extending its dominion, and, of course, leading others captive as prisoners of war, or subjecting them to slavery.

(b) In its persecutions of true Christians—alike pursued under the Pagan and the Papal form of the administration.

(c) Especially in the imprisonments practised under the Inquisition— where tens of thousands have been reduced to the worst kind of captivity. In every way this description is applicable to Rome, as seeking to lead the world captive, or to subject it to its own absolute sway.

Shall go into captivity. As a just recompense for subjecting others to bondage, and as an illustration of a general principle of the Divine administration. This is yet, in a great measure, to be fulfilled; and, as I understand it, it discloses the manner in which the Papal secular power will come to an end. It will be by being subdued, so that it might seem to be made captive, and led off by some victorious host. Rome now is practically held in subjection by foreign arms, and has no true independence; perhaps this will be more and more so as its ultimate fall approaches.

He that killeth with the sword. See Barnes on "Mt 26:52".

There can be no doubt that this is applicable to Rome in all the forms of its administration considered as a Pagan power, or considered as a nominally Christian power; either with reference to its secular or its spiritual dominion. Compute the numbers of human beings that have been put to death by that Roman power; and no better language could have been chosen to characterize it than that which is here used—"killeth with the sword." Compare See Barnes "Da 7:24, seq.

Must be killed with the sword. This domination must be brought to an end by war and slaughter. Nothing is more probable than this in itself; nothing could be more in accordance with the principles of the Divine dealings in the world. Such a power as that of Rome will not be likely to be overcome but by the force of arms; and the probability is, that it will ultimately be overthrown in a bloody revolution, or by foreign conquest. Indeed, there are not a few intimations now that this result is hastening on. Italy is becoming impatient of the secular power swayed in connexion with the Papacy, and sighs for freedom; and it is every way probable that that land would have been free, and that the secular power of the Papacy, if not every form of the Papacy itself, would have come to an end, in the late convulsion (1848) if it had not been for the intervention of France and Austria. The period designated by prophecy for the final overthrow of that power had not arrived; but nothing can secure its continuance for any very considerable period longer.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. That is, the trial of their patience and of their faith. Nowhere on earth have the patience and the faith of the saints been put to a severer test than under the Roman persecutions. The same idea occurs in Re 14:12.

{a} "that leadeth" Isa 33:1 {b} "he that killeth" Ge 9:6 {c} "patience" Heb 6:12

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