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

Verse 13. And I saw three unclean spirits. They assumed a visible form which would well represent their odiousness—that of frogs—but still they are spoken of as "spirits." They were evil powers, or evil influences, (Re 16:14, "spirits of devils,") and the language here is undoubtedly designed to represent some such power or influence, which would, at that period, proceed from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet,

Like frogs. batracoiv. This word does not occur in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. It is properly translated frogs. The frog is here employed clearly as a symbol, and it is designed that certain qualities of the "spirits" here referred to should be designated by the symbol. For a full illustration of the meaning of the symbol, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. II. lib. v. cap. Iv. According to Bochart, the frog is characterized, as a symbol,

(1) for its rough, harsh, coarse voice;

(2) on this account as a symbol of complaining or reproaching;

(3) as a symbol of empty loquacity;

(4) as a symbol of heretics and philosophers-as understood by Augustine;

(5) because the frog has its origin in mud, and lives in mud, as a symbol of those who are born in sin, and live in pollution;

(6) because the frog endures all changes of the season—cold and heat, summer, winter, rain, frost—as a symbol of monks who practise self-denial;

(7) because the frog, though abstemious of food, yet lives in water and drinks often, as a symbol of drunkards;

(8) as a symbol of impudence;

(9) because the frog swells his size, and distends his cheeks, as a symbol of pride. See the authorities for these uses of the word in Bothart. How many or few of these ideas enter into the symbol here, it is not easy to decide. We may suppose, however, that the spirits referred to would be characterized by pride arrogance, impudence, assumption of authority; perhaps impurity and vileness, for all these ideas enter into the meaning of the symbol. They are not here probably symbols of persons, but of influences or opinions which would be spread abroad, and which would characterize the age referred to. The reference is to what the "dragon," the "beast," and the "false prophet" would do at that time in opposing the truth, and in preparing the world for the great and final conflict.

Out of the mouth of the dragon. One of which seemed to issue from the mouth of the dragon. On the symbolic meaning of the "dragon," see Barnes "Re 12:3".

It, in general, represents Satan, the great enemy of the church; perhaps here Satan under the form of Heathenism or Paganism, as in Re 12:3-4. The idea then is, that, at the time referred to, there would be some manifestation of the power of Satan in the heathen nations, which would be bold, arrogant, proud, loquacious, hostile to truth, and which would be well represented by the hoarse murmur of the frog.

And out of the mouth of the beast. The Papacy as above explained, chapter thirteen. That is, there would be some putting forth of arrogant pretensions; some loud denunciation or complaining; some manifestation of pride and self-consequence, which would be well represented by the croaking of the frog. We have seen above, Barnes on "Re 6:5"

See Barnes "Re 6:6, that although the fifth vial was poured upon "the seat of the beast," the effect was not to crush and overthrow that power entirely. The Papacy would still survive, and would be finally destroyed under the outpouring of the seventh vial, Re 16:17-21. In the passage before us we have a representation of it as still living; as having apparently recovered its strength; and as being as hostile as ever to the truth, and able to enter into a combination, secret or avowed, with the "dragon" and the "false prophet," to oppose the reign of truth upon the earth.

And out of the mouth of the false prophet. The word rendered false prophetqeudoprofhtou—does not before occur in the book of Revelation, though the use of the article would seem to imply that some well-known power or influence was referred to by this. Compare Barnes on "Re 10:3".

The word occurs in other places in the New Testament, Mt 7:15; 24:11,24; Mr 13:22; Lu 6:26; Ac 13:6; 2 Pe 2:1; 1 Jo 4:1; and twice elsewhere in the book of Revelation, with the same reference as here, Re 19:20; 20:10. In both these latter places it is connected with the "beast." "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet." "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are." It would seem then to refer to some power that was similar to that of the beast, and that was to share the same fate in the overthrow of the enemies of the gospel. As to the application of this, there is no opinion so probable as that it alludes to the Mohammedan power—not strictly the Turkish power, for that was to be "dried up" or to diminish; but to the Mohammedan power as such, that was still to continue for awhile in its rigour, and that was yet to exert a formidable influence against the gospel, and probably in some combination, in fact, if not in form, with Paganism and the Papacy. The reasons for this opinion are,

(a) that this was referred to in the former part of the book is one of the formidable powers that would arise, and that would materially affect the destiny of the world—and it may be presumed that it would be again referred to in the account of the final consummation- see Re 9:1-11;

(b) the name "false prophet" would better than any other describe has that power, and would naturally suggest it in future times—for to no one that ever appeared in our world could the name be so properly applied as to Mohammed; and

(c) what is said will be found to agree with the facts in regard to that power, as, in connexion with the Papacy and with Paganism, constituting the sum of the obstruction to the spread of the gospel around the world.

{a} "dragon" Re 12:3,9 {b} "beast" Re 13:2 {c} "false prophet" Re 19:20

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