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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 13 - Verse 16

Verse 16. And he caused all. He claims jurisdiction, in the matters here referred to, over all classes of persons, and compels them to do his will. This is the second beast, and, according to the interpretation given above, it relates to the Papal power, and to its claim of universal jurisdiction.

Both small and great. All these expressions are designed to denote universality—referring to various divisions into which the human family may be regarded as divided. One of those divisions is into "small and great;" that is, into young and old; those small in stature and those large in stature; those of humble, and those of elevated rank.

Rich and poor. Another way of dividing the human race, and denoting here, as in the former case, all—for it is a common method, in speaking of mankind, to describe them as "the rich and poor."

Free and bond. Another method still of dividing the human race embracing all—for all the dwellers upon the earth are either free or bond. These various forms of expression, therefore, are designed merely to denote, in an emphatic manner, universality. The idea is, that, in the matter referred to, none were exempt, either on account of their exalted rank, or on account of their humble condition; either because they were so mighty as to be beyond control, or so mean and humble as to be beneath notice. And if this refers to the Papacy, every one will see the propriety of the description. The jurisdiction set up by that power has been as absolute over kings as over the feeble and the poor; over masters and their slaves; alike over those in the humblest and in the most elevated walks of life.

To receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. The word here rendered markcaragma—occurs only in one place in the New Testament except in the book of Revelation, (Ac 17:29,) where it is rendered graven. In all the other places where it is found, (Re 13:16-17; 14:9,11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4) it is rendered mark, and is applied to the same thing—the "mark of the beast." The word properly means something graven or sculptured; hence

(a) a graving, sculpture, sculptured work, as images or idols;

(b) a mark cut in or stamped—as the stamp on coin. Applied to men, it was used to denote some stamp or mark on the hand or elsewhere—as in the case of a servant on whose hand or arm the name of the master was impressed; or of a soldier on whom some mark was impressed denoting the company or phalanx to which he belonged. It was no uncommon thing to mark slaves or soldiers in this way; and the design was either to denote their ownership or rank, or to prevent their escaping so as not to be detected. (Among the Romans, slaves were stigmatized with the master's name or mark on their foreheads. So Valerius Maximus speaks of the custom for slaves "literatum notis inuri;" and Plautus calls the slave "literatus." Ambrose (De Obit. Valentin.) says, Charactere Domini inscribuntur servuli. Petronius mentions the forehead as the place of the mark: Servitia ecce in frontibus cernitis. In many cases, soldiers bore the emperor's name or mark imprinted on the hand. Actius says, Stigmata vocant quae in facie, vel in alia parte corporis, inscribuntur; qualia sunt militum in manibus. So Ambrose says, Nomine imperatoris signantur milites. Compare See Barnes "Ga 6:17".

) Most of us have seen such marks made on the hands or arms of sailors, in which, by a voluntary tattooing, their names, or the names of their vessels, were written, or the figure of an anchor, or some other device, was indelibly made by punctures in the skin, and by inserting some kind of colouring matter. The thing which it is here said was engraven on the hand or the forehead was the "name" of the beast, or the "number" of his name, Re 13:17. That is, the "name" or the "number" was so indelibly inscribed either on the hand or the forehead, as to show that he who bare it appertained to the "beast," and was subject to his authority—as a slave is to his master, or a soldier to his commander. Applied to the Papacy, the meaning is, that there would be some mark of distinction; some indelible sign; something which would designate, with entire certainty, those persons who belonged to it, and who were subject to it. It is hardly necessary to say that, in point of fact, this has eminently characterized the Papacy. All possible care has been taken to designate with accuracy those who belong to that communion, and all over the world it is easy to distinguish those who render allegiance to the Papal power. Compare See Barnes on "Re 7:3".

 

{1} "receive a mark" "give them"

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