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Revelation Chapter Thirteen


Revelation 13

In chapter 13 we have the clear and full development of Satan's instruments of evil. They are two--the ten-horned and the two-horned beasts. To the first the dragon, who swept with his tail a third part of the stars to earth, Satan under the form of the Roman Empire, gave his throne and much authority. [1] The second not only wielded the first power administratively before him, but was the active power of evil to lead men to recognize the first, and therein the dragon. The beast is the original Roman Empire, but largely modified and in a new character. It has perfect completeness in its forms of government or heads but is composed of ten kingdoms, indicating also, I doubt not, imperfect administrative completeness. It has not twelve horns; it is incomplete. Seven would be completeness of a higher kind. The Lamb had seven horns; the woman, twelve stars on her head. One is perfectness in itself; the other administratively in man. Seven is the highest prime number (you cannot make it); twelve, the most perfectly divisible, composed of the same elements, but multiplied, not added as a simple number. So four is finite perfection, as is a square and still more a cube, perfectly the same all ways but finite. But the beast had names of blasphemy. It was the open enemy of God and His Christ. It absorbed the previous empires and represented them. The dragon, Satan's direct power in the form of the heathen Roman Empire, gave his throne and power to this new beast. It was not of God. God owned no power on the earth now the assembly was gone, till He took His own. The earth was at war with Him.

One of the beast's heads (I doubt not the Imperial) was seen as wounded to death, but healed. The Imperial head was restored and the world was in admiration; and they worship the dragon as giving the beast his power. Nothing in their eyes equals the beast; but God is wholly thrown out in the earth. The beast is given to have the greatest pretensions in his language and outrage against God. He blasphemed God, His name and dwelling-place, and the heavenly saints-all Christianity, and the God of it. The dragon had been cast out from heaven; the raptured saints had been received there. He blasphemed, but could only blaspheme them.

As regards those who dwelt on earth (for the division was not merely a spiritual one now), all worshiped the beast, save the elect-those who had been written from the foundation of the world in the Lamb's book of life. Human resistance by force was not the path of obedience. Here the patience and faith of the saints were shewn. He who took the sword would perish by it; it is never Christ's way, but unresisting patience; but the beast who did would perish. This then was the imperial power, a blasphemous power set up by Satan, with the place of the old Roman Empire, which represented all four, modified in form, but the imperial head restored.

But there was a second beast; it rose not out of the mass of peoples (the sea) to be an empire, but out of the already formed organization with which God had to say as such. It had the form of Messiah's kingdom on earth, two horns like a lamb; but it was the direct power of Satan. He who with a divinely taught ear heard it speak heard the voice of Satan at once. All the power of the first beast it exercises before it; is, with its power, its minister, and makes the earth and the dwellers on it worship it (that is, the Roman Empire restored to its head). It is Antichrist, the false Christ of Satan, who subjects the earth to the Satanic Roman Empire. He does great wonders, as to give men as good proof of the beast's title before men, as Elijah did of Jehovah's. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2, where the man of sin gives the same proofs if lying ones, that Jesus did of being the Christ. He deceives the dwellers on earth by his miracles, making them set up an image to him. This image he gives breath to; so that it speaks and causes those to be killed who do not worship it. All likewise were obliged to take the stamp and the mark of the beast's service in their work, or open profession, and no man was allowed to traffic who had not the name of the beast as a mark.

Such is the power which has the character of Messiah's kingdom in its form, is animated with the fullest energy of Satan, and, recognizing the public power which Satan had set up in the world, will have every one bow to it, none to traffic without acknowledging it. And all will, save the elect. The anti-priestly power of Satan in the heavens is over; royalty and prophecy as yet remain to him, in opposition to Christ who has not yet appeared. These he assumes but he does not and cannot set aside the power of the Gentiles-that remains for Christ to do--but sets it up as his delegate; and, as the apostate Jews of old, so now that people, save the elect remnant, as his instruments bow to it and minister to it. Thus you have all Satan's power exercised. But, in setting up his Messiah, he is obliged to deceive; and advances by his miracles of deceit what he cannot set aside-the Gentile power; and subjects the Jews to idolatry and to the Gentiles; and all the Gentiles themselves dwelling on the earth to the depository of Satan's authority--the first beast.

This is a singular state of things, far from Jewish feelings and modern Gentile hopes; but the unclean spirit of idolatry is to return to his house. Signs, not truth, will govern the superstitious mind of man; they will be given up to believe a lie. Here, though he takes the character of Christ in his kingdom, it is chiefly his action on the Gentiles which is spoken of; the Jews are mixed up with them, as we see in Isaiah 66 and Daniel. It is a liberal time, but one of most complete tyranny as regards all who do not bow to Satan's power and the ordinances established by him. What characterises it is the absence of truth.

As regards the number of the beast, I have no doubt that it will be very simple to the godly, when the beast is there, and the time of spiritually judging it comes, and that name will practically guide those who have to do with him. Till then, the speculations of men are not of much value; Irenaeus's old one of "Dateinos" is as good as any.


[1] We are not to be surprised, therefore, if the beast at the end had only local empire, though originally God had given universal empire to the beats: how widely exercised we know.

── John DarbySynopsis of Revelation


Revelation 13

Chapter Contents

A wild beast rises out of the sea, to whom the dragon gives his power. (1-10) Another beast, which has two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon. (11-15) It obliges all to worship its image, and receive its mark, as persons devoted to it. (16-18)

Commentary on Revelation 13:1-10

(Read Revelation 13:1-10)

The apostle, standing on the shore, saw a savage beast rise out of the sea; a tyrannical, idolatrous, persecuting power, springing up out of the troubles which took place. It was a frightful monster! It appears to mean that worldly, oppressing dominion, which for many ages, even from the times of the Babylonish captivity, had been hostile to the church. The first beast then began to oppress and persecute the righteous for righteousness' sake, but they suffered most under the fourth beast of Daniel, (the Roman empire,) which has afflicted the saints with many cruel persecutions. The source of its power was the dragon. It was set up by the devil, and supported by him. The wounding the head may be the abolishing pagan idolatry; and the healing of the wound, introducing popish idolatry, the same in substance, only in a new dress, but which as effectually answers the devil's design. The world admired its power, policy and success. They paid honour and subjection to the devil and his instruments. It exercised infernal power and policy, requiring men to render that honour to creatures which belongs to God alone. Yet the devil's power and success are limited. Christ has a chosen remnant, redeemed by his blood, recorded in his book, sealed by his Spirit; and though the devil and antichrist may overcome the body, and take away the natural life, they cannot conquer the soul, nor prevail with true believers to forsake their Saviour, and join his enemies. Perseverance in the faith of the gospel and true worship of God, in this great hour of trial and temptation, which would deceive all but the elect, is the character of those registered in the book of life. This powerful motive and encouragement to constancy, is the great design of the whole Revelation.

Commentary on Revelation 13:11-18

(Read Revelation 13:11-18)

Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldly power, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumed power, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charity to the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing to be derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentle manner, but soon spake like the dragon. Its speech betrayed it; for it gives forth those false doctrines and cruel decrees, which show it to belong to the dragon, and not to the Lamb. It exercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the same design, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and to subject the souls of men to the will and control of men. The second beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby men should be deceived to worship the former beast, in the new shape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretended miracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoy natural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast which is the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification for buying and selling, as well as for places of profit and trust, that they oblige themselves to use all their interest, power, and endeavour, to forward the dominion of the beast, which is meant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast, whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and power to his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. To worship the image of the beast, implies being subject to those things which stamp the character of the picture, and render it the image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so as to show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdom of men. The number is the number of a man, computed after the usual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intended by this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious dispute this number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably be doubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he who has wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies of God are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the term of their power will soon expire, and that all nations shall submit to our King of righteousness and peace.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 13

Verse 1

[1] And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

And I stood on the sand of the sea — This also was in the vision.

And I saw — Soon after the woman flew away.

A wild beast coming up — He comes up twice; first from the sea, then from the abyss. He comes from the sea before the seven phials; "the great whore" comes after them. O reader, this is a subject wherein we also are deeply concerned, and which must he treated, not as a point of curiosity, but as a solemn warning from God! The danger is near. Be armed both against force and fraud, even with the whole armour of God.

Out of the sea — That is, Europe. So the three woes (the first being in Persia, the second about the Euphrates) move in a line from east to west. This beast is the Romish Papacy, as it came to a point six hundred years since, stands now, and will for some time longer. To this, and no other power on earth, agrees the whole text, and every part of it in every point; as we may see, with the utmost evidence, from the propositions following: - PROP. 1. It is one and the same beast, having seven heads, and ten horns, which is described in this and in the seventeenth chapter. Of consequence, his heads are the same, and his horns also. PROP. 2. This beast is a spiritually secular power, opposite to the kingdom of Christ. A power not merely spiritual or ecclesiastical, nor merely secular or political but a mixture of both. He is a secular prince; for a crown, yea, and a kingdom are ascribed to him. And yet he is not merely secular; for he is also a false prophet. PROP. 3. The beast has a strict connexion with the city of Rome. This clearly appears from the seventeenth chapter. PROP. 4. The beast is now existing. He is not past. for Rome is now existing; and it is not till after the destruction of Rome that the beast is thrown into the lake. He is not altogether to come: for the second woe is long since past, after which the third came quickly; and presently after it began, the beast rose out of the sea. Therefore, whatever he is, he is now existing. PROP. 5. The beast is the Romish Papacy. This manifestly follows from the third and fourth propositions; the beast has a strict connexion with the city of Rome; and the beast is now existing: therefore, either there is some other power more strictly connected with that city, or the Pope is the beast. PROP. 6. The Papacy, or papal kingdom, began long ago. The most remarkable particulars relating to this are here subjoined; taken so high as abundantly to show the rise of the beast, and brought down as low as our own time, in order to throw a light on the following part of the prophecy: - A.D. 1033. Benedict the Ninth, a child of eleven years old, is bishop of Rome, and occasions grievous disorders for above twenty years. A.D. 1048. Damasus II. introduces the use of the triple crown. A.D. 1058. The church of Milan is, after long opposition, subjected to the Roman. A.D. 1073. Hildebrand, or Gregory VII., comes to the throne. A.D. 1076. He deposes and excommunicates the emperor. A.D. 1077. He uses him shamefully and absolves him. A.D. 1080. He excommunicates him again, and sends a crown to Rodulph, his competitor. A.D. 1083. Rome is taken. Gregory flees. Clement is made Pope, and crowns the emperor. A.D. 1085. Gregory VII. dies at Salerno. A.D. 1095. Urban II. holds the first Popish council, at Clermont and gives rise to the crusades. A.D. 1111. Paschal II. quarrels furiously with the emperor. A.D. 1123. The first western general council in the Lateran. The marriage of priests is forbidden. A.D. 1132. Innocent II declares the emperor to be the Pope's liege-man, or vassal. A.D. 1143. The Romans set up a governor of their own, independent on Innocent II. He excommunicates them, and dies. Celestine II. is, by an important innovation, chosen to the Popedom without the suffrage of the people; the right of choosing the Pope is taken from the people, and afterward from the clergy, and lodged in the Cardinals alone. A.D. 1152. Eugene II. assumes the power of canonizing saints. A.D. 1155. Adrian IV. puts Arnold of Brixia to death for speaking against the secular power of the Papacy. A.D. 1159. Victor IV. is elected and crowned. But Alexander III. conquers him and his successor. A.D. 1168. Alexander III. excommunicates the emperor, and brings him so low, that, A.D. 1177. he submits to the Pope's setting his foot on his neck. A.D. 1204. Innocent III. sets up the Inquisition against the Vaudois. A.D. 1208. He proclaims a crusade against them. A.D. 1300. Boniface VIII. introduces the year of jubilee. A.D. 1305. The Pope's residence is removed to Avignon. A.D. 1377. It is removed back to Rome. A.D. 1378. The fifty years' schism begins. A.D. 1449. Felix V., the last Antipope, submits to Nicholas V. A.D. 1517. The Reformation begins. A.D. 1527. Rome is taken and plundered. A.D. 1557. Charles V. resigns the empire; Ferdinand I. thinks the being crowned by the Pope superfluous. A.D. 1564. Pius IV. confirms the Council of Trent. A.D. 1682. Doctrines highly derogatory to the Papal authority are openly taught in France. A.D. 1713. The constitution Unigenitus. A.D. 1721. Pope Gregory VII. canonized anew. He who compares this short table with what will be observed, verse 3, Revelation 13:3 and Revelation 17:10, will see that the ascent of the beast out of the sea must needs be fixed toward the beginning of it; and not higher than Gregory VII., nor lower than Alexander III. The secular princes now favoured the kingdom of Christ; but the bishops of Rome vehemently opposed it. These at first were plain ministers or pastors of the Christian congregation at Rome, but by degrees they rose to an eminence of honour and power over all their brethren till, about the time of Gregory VII. (and so ever since) they assumed all the ensigns of royal majesty; yea, of a majesty and power far superior to that of all other potentates on earth. We are not here considering their false doctrines, but their unbounded power. When we think of those, we are to look at the false prophet, who is also termed a wild beast at his ascent out of the earth. But the first beast then properly arose, when, after several preludes thereto, the Pope raised himself above the emperor. PROP. 7. Hildebrand, or Gregory VII., is the proper founder of the papal kingdom. All the patrons of the Papacy allow that he made many considerable additions to it; and this very thing constituted the beast, by completing the spiritual kingdom: the new maxims and the new actions of Gregory all proclaim this. Some of his maxims are, 1. That the bishop of Rome alone is universal bishop. 2. That he alone can depose bishops, or receive them again. 3. That he alone has power to make new laws in the church. 4. That he alone ought to use the ensigns of royalty. 5. That all princes ought to kiss his foot. 6. That the name of Pope is the only name under heaven; and that his name alone should be recited in the churches. 7. That he has a power to depose emperors. 8. That no general synod can be convened but by him. 9. That no book is canonical without his authority. 10. That none upon earth can repeal his sentence, but he alone can repeal any sentence. 11. That he is subject to no human judgment. 12. That no power dare to pass sentence on one who appeals to the Pope. 13. That all weighty causes everywhere ought to be referred to him. 14. That the Roman church never did, nor ever can, err. 15. That the Roman bishop, canonically ordained, is immediately made holy, by the merits of St. Peter. 16. That he can absolve subjects from their allegiance. These the most eminent Romish writers own to be his genuine sayings. And his actions agree with his words. Hitherto the Popes had been subject to the emperors, though often unwillingly; but now the Pope began himself, under a spiritual pretext, to act the emperor of the whole Christian world: the immediate dispute was, about the investiture of bishops, the right of which each claimed to himself. And now was the time for the Pope either to give up, or establish his empire forever: to decide which, Gregory excommunicated the emperor Henry IV.; "having first," says Platina, "deprived him of all his dignities." The sentence ran in these terms: "Blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, incline, I beseech thee, thine ears, and hear me thy servant. In the name of the omnipotent God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I cast down the emperor Henry from all imperial and regal authority, and absolve all Christians, that were his subjects, from the oath whereby they used to swear allegiance to true kings. And moreover, because he had despised mine, yea, thy admonitions, I bind him with the bond of an anathema." The same sentence he repeated at Rome in these terms: "Blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and thou Paul, teacher of the gentiles, incline, I beseech you, your ears to me, and graciously hear me. Henry, whom they call emperor, hath proudly lifted up his horns and his head against the church of God,-who came to me, humbly imploring to be absolved from his excommunication,-I restored him to communion, but not to his kingdom,-neither did I allow his subjects to return to their allegiance. Several bishops and princes of Germany, taking this opportunity, in the room of Henry, justly deposed, chose Rodulph emperor, who immediately sent ambassadors to me, informing me that he would rather obey me than accept of a kingdom, and that he should always remain at the disposal of God and us. Henry then began to be angry, and at first intreated us to hinder Rodulph from seizing his kingdom. I said I would see to whom the right belonged, and give sentence which should be preferred. Henry forbad this. Therefore I bind Henry and all his favourers with the bond of an anathema, and again take from him all regal power. I absolve all Christians from their oath of allegiance, forbid them to obey Henry in anything, and command them to receive Rodulph as their king. Confirm this, therefore, by your authority, ye most holy princes of the apostles, that all may now at length know, as ye have power to bind and loose in heaven, so we have power to give and take away on earth, empires, kingdoms, principalities, and whatsoever men can have." When Henry submitted, then Gregory began to reign without control. In the same year, 1077, on September 1, he fixed a new era of time, called the Indiction, used at Rome to this day. Thus did the Pope claim to himself the whole authority over all Christian princes. Thus did he take away or confer kingdoms and empires, as a king of kings. Neither did his successors fail to tread in his steps. It is well known, the following Popes have not been wanting to exercise the same power, both over kings and emperors. And this the later Popes have been so far from disclaiming, that three of them have sainted this very Gregory, namely, Clement VIII., Paul V., and Benedict XIII. Here is then the beast, that is, the king: in fact such, though not in name: according to that remarkable observation of Cardinal Bellarmine, "Antichrist will govern the Roman empire, yet without the name of Roman emperor." His spiritual title prevented his taking the name, while he exerciseth all the power. Now Gregory was at the head of this novelty. So Aventine himself, "Gregory VII was the first founder of the pontifical empire." Thus the time of the ascent of the beast is clear. The apostasy and mystery of iniquity gradually increased till he arose, "who opposeth and exalteth himself above all." 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Before the seventh trumpet the adversary wrought more secretly; but soon after the beginning of this, the beast openly opposes his kingdom to the kingdom of Christ. PROP 8. The empire of Hildebrand properly began in the year 1077. Then it was, that upon the emperor's leaving Italy, Gregory exercised his power to the full. And on the first of September, in this year, he began his famous epocha. This may be farther established and explained by the following observations: - OBS. 1. The beast is the Romish Papacy, which has now reigned for some ages. OBS. 2. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. OBS. 3. The seven heads are seven hills, and also seven kings. One of the heads could not have been, "as it were, mortally wounded," had it been only a hill. OBS. 4. The ascent of the beast out of the sea is different from his ascent out of the abyss; the Revelation often mentions both the sea and the abyss but never uses the terms promiscuously. OBS. 5. The heads of the beast do not begin before his rise out of the sea, but with it. OBS. 6. These heads, as kings, succeed each other. OBS. 7. The time which they take up in this succession is divided into three parts. "Five" of the kings signified thereby "are fallen: one is, the other is not yet come." OBS. 8. "One is:" namely, while the angel was speaking this. He places himself and St. John in the middlemost time, that he might the more commodiously point out the first time as past, the second as present, the third as future. OBS. 9. The continuance of the beast is divided in the same manner. The beast "was, is not, will ascend out of the abyss," Revelation 17:8,11. Between these two verses, that is interposed as parallel with them, "Five are fallen, one is, the other is not yet come." OBS. 10. Babylon is Rome. All things which the Revelation says of Babylon, agree to Rome, and Rome only. It commenced "Babylon," when it commenced "the great." When Babylon sunk in the east, it arose in the west; and it existed in the time of the apostles, whose judgment is said to be "avenged on her." OBS. 11. The beast reigns both before and after the reign of Babylon. First, the beast reigns, Revelation 13:1, etc.; then Babylon, Revelation 17:1, etc.; and then the beast again, Revelation 17:8, etc. OBS. 12. The heads are of the substance of the beast; the horns are not. The wound of one of the heads is called "the wound of the beast" itself, verse 3; Revelation 13:3 but the horns, or kings, receive the kingdom "with the beast," Revelation 17:12. That word alone, "the horns and the beast," Revelation 17:16, sufficiently shows them to be something added to him. OBS. 13. The forty-two months of the beast fall within the first of the three periods. The beast rose out of the sea in the year 1077. A little after, power was given him for forty-two months. This power is still in being. OBS. 14. The time when the beast "is not," and the reign of "Babylon," are together. The beast, when risen out of the sea, raged violently, till "his kingdom was darkened" by the fifth phial. But it was a kingdom still; and the beast having a kingdom, though darkened, was the beast still. But it was afterwards said, "the beast was," (was the beast, that is, reigned,) "and is not;" is not the beast; does not reign, having lost his kingdom. Why? because "the woman sits upon the beast," who "sits a queen," reigning over the kings of the earth: till the beast, rising out of the abyss, and taking with him the ten kings, suddenly destroys her. OBS. 15. The difference there is between Rome and the Pope, which has always subsisted, will then be most apparent. Rome, distinct from the Pope, bears three meanings; the city itself, the Roman church, and the people of Rome. In the last sense of the word, Rome with its dutchy, which contained part of Tuscany and Campania, revolted from the Greek emperor in 726, and became a free state, governed by its senate. From this time the senate, and not the Pope, enjoyed the supreme civil power. But in 796, Leo III., being chosen Pope, sent to Charles the Great, desiring him to come and subdue the senate and people of Rome, and constrain them to swear allegiance to him. Hence arose a sharp contention between the Pope and the Roman people, who seized and thrust him into a monastery. He escaped and fled to the emperor, who quickly sent him back in great state. In the year 800 the emperor came to Rome, and shortly after, the Roman people, who had hitherto chosen their own bishops, and looked upon themselves and their senate as having the same rights with the ancient senate and people of Rome, chose Charles for their emperor, and subjected themselves to him, in the same manner as the ancient Romans did to their emperors. The Pope crowned him, and paid him homage on his knees, as was formerly done to the Roman emperors: and the emperor took an oath "to defend the holy Roman church in all its emoluments." He was also created consul, and styled himself thenceforward Augustus, Emperor of the Romans. Afterwards he gave the government of the city and dutchy of Rome to the Pope, yet still subject to himself. What the Roman church is, as distinct from the Pope, appears, 1. When a council is held before the Pope's confirmation; 2. When upon a competition, judgment is given which is the true Pope; 3. When the See is vacant; 4. When the Pope himself is suspected by the Inquisition How Rome, as it is a city, differs from the Pope, there is no need to show. OBS. 16. In the first and second period of his duration, the beast is a body of men; in the third, an individual. The beast with seven heads is the Papacy of many ages: the seventh head is the man of sin, antichrist. He is a body of men from Revelation 13:1; he is a body of men and an individual, Revelation 17:8; he is an individual, Revelation 17:12. OBS. 17. That individual is the seventh head of the beast, or, the other king after the five and one, himself being the eighth, though one of the seven. As he is a Pope, he is one of the seven heads. But he is the eighth, or not a head, but the beast himself, not, as he is a Pope, but as he bears a new and singular character at his coming from the abyss. To illustrate this by a comparison: suppose a tree of seven branches, one of which is much larger than the rest; if those six are cut away, and the seventh remain, that is the tree. OBS. 18. "He is the wicked one, the man of sin, the son of perdition" usually termed antichrist. OBS. 19. The ten horns, or kings, "receive power as kings with the wild beast one hour," Revelation 17:12; with the individual beast, "who was not." But he receives his power again, and the kings with it, who quickly give their new power to him. OBS. 20. The whole power of the Roman monarchy, divided into ten kingdoms, will be conferred on the beast, Revelation 17:13,16,17. OBS. 21. The ten horns and the beast will destroy the whore, Revelation 17:16. OBS. 22. At length the beast, the ten horns, and the other kings of the earth, will fall in that great slaughter, Revelation 19:19. OBS. 23. Daniel's fourth beast is the Roman monarchy, from the beginning of it, till the thrones are set. This, therefore, comprises both the apocalyptic beast, and the woman, and many other things. This monarchy is like a river which runs from its fountain in one channel, but in its course sometimes takes in other rivers, sometimes is itself parted into several streams, yet is still one continued river. The Roman power was at first undivided; but it was afterwards divided into various channels, till the grand division into the eastern and western empires, which likewise underwent various changes. Afterward the kings of the Heruli. Goths, Lombards, the exarchs of Ravenna, the Romans themselves the emperors, French and German, besides other kings, seized several parts of the Roman power. Now whatever power the Romans had before Gregory VII., that Daniel's beast contains; whatever power the Papacy has had from Gregory VII., this the apocalyptic beast represents, but this very beast (and so Rome with its last authority) is comprehended under that of Daniel.

And upon his heads a name of blasphemy — To ascribe to a man what belongs to God alone is blasphemy. Such a name the beast has, not on his horns, nor on one head, but on all. The beast himself bears that name, and indeed through his whole duration. This is the name of Papa or Pope; not in the innocent sense wherein it was formerly given to all bishops, but in that high and peculiar sense wherein it is now given to the bishop of Rome by himself, and his followers: a name which comprises the whole pre-eminence of the highest and most holy father upon earth. Accordingly among the above cited sayings of Gregory, those two stand together, that his "name alone should be recited in the churches;" and that it is "the only name in the world." So both the church and the world were to name no other father on the face of the earth.

Verse 2

[2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

The three first beasts in Daniel are like "a leopard," "a bear," and "a lion." In all parts, except his feet and mouth, this beast was like a leopard or female panther; which is fierce as a lion or bear, but is also swift and subtle. Such is the Papacy, which has partly by subtilty, partly by force, gained power over so many nations. The extremely various usages, manners, and ways of the Pope, may likewise be compared to the spots of the leopard.

And his feet were as the feet of a bear — Which are very strong, and armed with sharp claws. And, as clumsy as they seem, he can therewith walk, stand upright, climb, or seize anything. So does this beast seize and take for his prey whatever comes within the reach of his claws.

And his mouth was as the mouth of a lion — To roar, and to devour.

And the dragon — Whose vassal and vicegerent he is.

Gave him his power — His own strength and innumerable forces.

And his throne — So that he might command whatever he would, having great, absolute authority. The dragon had his throne in heathen Rome, so long as idolatry and persecution reigned there. And after he was disturbed in his possession, yet would he never wholly resign, till he gave it to the beast in Christian Rome, so called.

Verse 3

[3] And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

And I saw one — Or the first.

Of his heads as it were wounded — So it appeared as soon as ever it rose. The beast is first described more generally, then more particularly, both in this and in the seventeenth chapter. The particular description here respects the former parts; there, the latter parts of his duration: only that some circumstances relating to the former are repeated in the seventeenth chapter. Revelation 17:1-18 This deadly wound was given him on his first head by the sword, verse 14; Revelation 13:14 that is, by the bloody resistance of the secular potentates, particularly the German emperors. These had for a long season had the city of Rome, with her bishop, under their jurisdiction. Gregory determined to cast off this yoke from his own, and to lay it on the emperor's shoulders. He broke loose, and excommunicated the emperor, who maintained his right by force, and gave the Pope such a blow, that one would have thought the beast must have been killed thereby, immediately after his coming up. But he recovered, and grew stronger than before. The first head of the beast extends from Gregory VII., at least to Innocent III. In that tract of time the beast was much wounded by the emperors. But, notwithstanding, the wound was healed. Two deadly symptoms attended this wound: 1. Schisms and open ruptures in the church. For while the emperors asserted their right, there were from the year 1080 to the year 1176 only, five open divisions, and at least as many antipopes, some of whom were, indeed, the rightful Popes. This was highly dangerous to the papal kingdoms. But a still more dangerous symptom was, 2. The rising of the nobility at Rome, who would not suffer their bishop to be a secular prince, particularly over themselves. Under Innocent II. they carried their point, re-established the ancient commonwealth, took away from the Pope the government of the city, and left him only his episcopal authority. "At this," says the historian, "Innocent II. and Celestine II. fretted themselves to death: Lucius II., as he attacked the capitol, wherein the senate was, sword in hand, was struck with a stone, and died in a few days: Eugene III., Alexander III., and Lucius III., were driven out of the city: Urban III. and Gregory VIII. spent their days in banishment At length they came to an agreement with Clement III., who was himself a Roman." And the whole earth - The whole western world.

Wondered after the wild beast — That is, followed him with wonder, in his councils, his crusades, and his jubilees. This refers not only to the first head, but also to the four following.

Verse 4

[4] And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

And they worshipped the dragon — Even in worshipping the beast, although they knew it not.

And worshipped the wild beast — Paying him such honour as was not paid to any merely secular potentate. That very title, "Our most holy Lord," was never given to any other monarch on earth.

Saying, Who is like the wild beast — "Who is like him?" is a peculiar attribute of God; but that this is constantly attributed to the beast, the books of all his adherents show.

Verse 5

[5] And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

And there was given him — By the dragon, through the permission of God.

A mouth speaking great things and blasphemy — The same is said of the little horn on the fourth beast in Daniel. Nothing greater, nothing more blasphemous, can be conceived, than what the Popes have said of themselves, especially before the Reformation.

And authority was given him forty-two months — The beginning of these is not to be dated immediately from his ascent out of the sea, but at some distance from it.

Verse 6

[6] And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

To blaspheme his name — Which many of the Popes have done explicitly, and in the most dreadful manner.

And his tabernacle, even them that dwell in heaven — (For God himself dwelleth in the inhabitance of heaven.) Digging up the bones of many of them, and cursing them with the deepest execrations.

Verse 7

[7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

And it was given him — That is, God permitted him.

To make war with his saints — With the Waldenses and Albigenses. It is a vulgar mistake, that the Waldenses were so called from Peter Waldo of Lyons. They were much more ancient than him; and their true name was Vallenses or Vaudois from their inhabiting the valleys of Lucerne and Agrogne. This name, Vallenses, after Waldo appeared about the year 1160, was changed by the Papists into Waldenses, on purpose to represent them as of modern original. The Albigenses were originally people of Albigeois, part of Upper Languedoc, where they considerably prevailed, and possessed several towns in the year 1200. Against these many of the Popes made open war. Till now the blood of Christians had been shed only by the heathens or Arians; from this time by scarce any but the Papacy. In the year 1208 Innocent III. proclaimed a crusade against them. In June, 1209, the army assembled at Toulouse; from which time abundance of blood was shed, and the second army of martyrs began to be added to the first, who had cried "from beneath the altar." And ever since, the beast has been warring against the saints, and shedding their blood like water.

And authority was given him over every tribe and people — Particularly in Europe. And when a way was found by sea into the East Indies, and the West, these also were brought under his authority.

Verse 8

[8] And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

And all that dwell upon the earth will worship him — All will be carried away by the torrent, but the little flock of true believers. The name of these only is written in the Lamb's book of life. And if any even of these "make shipwreck of the faith," he will blot them "out of his book;" although they were written therein from (that is, before) the foundation of the world, Revelation 17:8.

Verse 9

[9] If any man have an ear, let him hear.

If any one have an ear, let him hear — It was said before, "He that hath an ear, let him hear." This expression, if any, seems to imply, that scarce will any that hath an ear be found.

Let him hear — With all attention the following warning, and the whole description of the beast,

Verse 10

[10] He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

If any man leadeth into captivity — God will in due time repay the followers of the beast in their own kind. Meanwhile, here is the patience and faithfulness of the saints exercised: their patience, by enduring captivity or imprisonment; their faithfulness, by resisting unto blood.

Verse 11

[11] And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

And I saw another wild beast — So he is once termed to show his fierceness and strength, but in all other places, "the false prophet." He comes to confirm the kingdom of the first beast.

Coming up — After the other had long exercised his authority.

Out of the earth — Out of Asia. But he is not yet come, though he cannot be far off for he is to appear at the end of the forty-two months of the first beast.

And he had two horns like a lamb — A mild, innocent appearance.

But he spake like a dragon — Venomous, fiery, dreadful. So do those who are zealous for the beast.

Verse 12

[12] And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

And he exerciseth all the authority of the first wild beast — Described in the second, fourth, fifth, and seventh verses. Revelation 13:2; 3,5,7 Before him - For they are both together.

Whose deadly wound was healed — More throughly healed by means of the second beast.

Verse 13

[13] And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

He maketh fire — Real fire.

To come down — By the power of the devil.

Verse 14

[14] And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Before the wild beast — Whose usurped majesty is confirmed by these wonders.

Saying to them — As if it were from God.

To make an image to the wild beast — Like that of Nebuchadnezzar, whether of gold, silver, or stone. The original image will be set up where the beast himself shall appoint. But abundance of copies will be taken, which may be carried into all parts, like those of Diana of Ephesus.

Verse 15

[15] And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

So that the image of the wild beast should speak — Many instances of this kind have been already among the Papists, as well as the heathens.

And as many as will not worship — When it is required of them; as it will be of all that buy or sell.

Shall be killed — By this the Pope manifests that he is antichrist, directly contrary to Christ. It is Christ who shed his own blood; it is antichrist who sheds the blood of others. And yet, it seems, his last and most cruel persecution is to come. This persecution, the reverse of all that preceded, will, as we may gather from many scriptures, fall chiefly on the outward court worshippers, the formal Christians. It is probable that few real, inward Christians shall perish by it: on the contrary, those who "watch and pray always" shall be "accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of man," Luke 21:36.

Verse 16

[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

On their forehead — The most zealous of his followers will probably choose this. Others may receive it on their hand.

Verse 17

[17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

That no man might buy or sell — Such edicts have been published long since against the poor Vaudois. But he that had the mark, namely, the name of the first beast, or the number of his name - The name of the beast is that which he bears through his whole duration; namely, that of Papa or Pope: the number of his name is the whole time during which he bears this name. Whosoever, therefore, receives the mark of the beast does as much as if he said expressly, "I acknowledge the present Papacy, as proceeding from God;" or, "I acknowledge that what St. Gregory VII. has done, according to his legend, (authorized by Benedict XIII.,) and what has been maintained in virtue thereof, by his successors to this day, is from God." By the former, a man hath the name of the beast as a mark; by the latter, the number of his name. In a word, to have the name of the beast is, to acknowledge His papal Holiness; to have the number of his name is, to acknowledge the papal succession. The second beast will enforce the receiving this mark under the severest penalties.

Verse 18

[18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Here is the wisdom — To be exercised. "The patience of the saints" availed against the power of the first beast: the wisdom God giveth them will avail against the subtilty of the second.

Let him that hath understanding — Which is a gift of God, subservient to that wisdom.

Count the number of the wild beast — Surely none can be blamed for attempting to obey this command.

For it is the number of a man — A number of such years as are common among men. And his number is six hundred and sixty-six years - So long shall he endure from his first appearing.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Revelation


Chapter 13. Two Beasts

Kill with the Sword
Be Killed with the Sword

I. The Beast out of the Sea

  1. Ten Horns and Seven Heads
  2. Great Authority
  3. Exercise Authority at Will

II. The Beast out of the Earth

  1. Two Horns Like a Lamb
  2. Perform Wonderful Signs
  3. Set up an Image to Deceive Inhabitants

III. His Number Is 666

  1. Receive a Mark on Hand
  2. No One Could Buy or Sell
  3. Man's Number

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Thirteen General Review
1) To notice two "beasts" Satan would use in making war against the
2) To offer an explanation consistent with the context in which the
   Revelation was written as to the identity of the two beasts
This chapter reveals two agents the dragon (Satan) would use in
carrying out his war against the people of God.
The first is the beast from the sea.  Described by John as having seven
heads and ten horns, there were ten crowns on his horns and on his 
heads a blasphemous name.  The beast was like a leopard, with feet like
a bear and a mouth like a lion.  One of  the heads of the beast 
appeared mortally wounded, but was healed.  To this beast the dragon 
gave his power, his throne, and great authority, and all the world 
marveled and worshiped the beast.  Given a mouth speaking great things
and blasphemies against God, His name, His tabernacle, and those
dwelling in heaven, the beast was also granted to make war against the
saints for forty-two months.  All on the earth worshiped him, except 
those whose names were in the Lamb's Book of Life.  With this 
description of the beast and his activities, John gives a word of 
caution to the saints (1-10).
John then saw the beast from the land, having two horns like a lamb and
speaking like a dragon.  With the same authority as the first beast,
this second beast causes all to worship the first by deceiving them
with great signs.  Telling them to make an image to the first beast, he
was given power to make the image speak and put to death those who
would not worship it.  This second beast also causes all to receive a
mark on their right hands or on their forehead, without which they
cannot buy or sell.  John then adds a word of wisdom, in which he tells
those with understanding to calculate the number of the beast, which is
the number of a man:  666 (11-18).
The identity of the first beast from the sea becomes clearer when we
get to chapter seventeen.  I agree with those who say this beast from 
the sea is the Roman Empire, especially as personified in its 
persecuting emperors.  The beast from the earth or land may represent 
the Roman Concilia, a committee that was set up in Asia Minor where the
seven churches were located to enforce emperor worship at the time the 
Revelation was given (Summers).
The significance of 666 should not be underestimated, as John 
encourages those with understanding to calculate the number.
Unfortunately, through many ingenuous and fanciful ways people have
come up with the number to represent just about anyone (e.g., Nero, the
Pope, Hitler).  Keeping the context of the Revelation and its time in
view, the number 666 may refer to "Lateinos" (which in Greek can be 
calculated to 666); and in turn points to the ruler of the Latin or 
Roman empire (Schaff, History Of The Christian Church, Vol. 1, p. 177).
Taken more symbolically, the number may simply signify evil raised to
its highest power (Hailey, Summers) as was the case in emperors like 
Nero and Domitian.
      1. Seen by John as rising up out of the sea
      2. Having seven heads, ten horns, with ten crowns on his horns,
         and on his heads a blasphemous name
      3. Like a leopard with feet like those of a bear and a mouth like
         that of a lion
      4. His power, throne, and great authority given him by the dragon
      5. One of his heads was mortally wounded, but healed
      1. All the world marveled and followed the beast
         a. Worshipping the dragon who gave authority to the beast
         b. Worshipping the beast because of his apparent invincibility
      2. What the beast was given
         a. A mouth speaking great things and blasphemies
         b. Authority to continue (make war) for forty-two months
      3. With this authority:
         a. He blasphemed God, His name, His tabernacle, and those 
            dwelling in heaven
         b. He was granted to make war with the saints and overcome 
         c. He was given authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation
         d. All who dwell on earth would worship him, unless their
            names are in the Book of Life of the Lamb
   C. A NOTE OF CAUTION (9-10)
      1. If anyone has an ear, let him hear
      2. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who
         kills with the sword must be killed with the sword
      3. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints
      1. Seen by John as coming up out of the earth
      2. With two horns like a lamb, but speaking like a dragon
      1. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his 
      2. He causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the
         first beast
         a. Performing great signs, making even fire come down from
         b. Deceiving the world by the signs
      3. He tells the world to make an image to the first beast
         a. To which he is granted power to give breath
         b. So the image could both speak and cause those who do not
            worship it to be killed
      4. He causes all to receive a mark on the right hand or on their
         a. Without which none can buy or sell
         b. Which is the name of the beast, or the number of his name
      1. Let those with understanding calculate the number of the beast
      2. For it is the number of a man:  His number is 666
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The beast from the sea (1-10)
   - The beast from the land (11-18)
2) What physical characteristics of the beast from the sea are 
   mentioned by John? (1-3)
   - Having seven heads, ten horns upon which are ten crowns
   - Upon his heads a blasphemous name
   - Like a leopard, with feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion
   - One of the heads with a mortal wound that had been healed
3) What did the dragon give the beast from the sea? (2)
   - His power, his throne, and great authority
4) How did the world respond to the beast from the sea? (3-4)
   - They marveled and followed the beast
   - They worshiped the beast
5) What else was given to the beast from the sea? (5)
   - A mouth speaking great things and blasphemies
   - Authority to continue (make war) for forty-two months
6) When he opened his mouth, what did the beast blaspheme? (6)
   - God's name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven
7) What was granted to the beast from the sea? (7)
   - To make war with the saints and to overcome them
   - Authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation
8) Who would worship this beast from the sea? (8)
   - All who dwell on the earth, with the exception of those whose 
     names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life
9) What note of caution is given at this point? (9-10)
   - If anyone has an ear, let him hear
   - He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills
     with the sword must be killed with the sword
   - Here is the patience and faith of the saints
10) What were the physical characteristics of the beast from the land?
   - Had two horns like a lamb, and spoke like a dragon
11) What did the beast from the land do? (12-14)
   - Exercise all the authority of the first beast in his presence
   - Cause the earth and those in it to worship the first beast
   - Perform great signs, even making fire come down from heaven
   - Deceives those on the earth by the signs, telling them to make an
     image to the first beast
12) What was granted to the beast from the land? (15)
   - Power to give breath to the image of the first beast
   - So that the image would both speak and cause those who would not
     worship it to be killed
13) What did the beast from the land require all to receive?  Why?
   - A mark on their right hand or on their foreheads
   - So no one could buy or sell unless they had the mark or name of 
     the beast, or the number of its name
14) What note of wisdom is given at this point? (18)
   - Let those with understanding calculate the number of the beast
   - It is the number of a man; his number is 666


--《Executable Outlines


Two Beasts

Kill with the sword

Be killed with the sword


I.  The beast out of the sea

1.    Ten horns and seven heads

2.    Great authority

3.    Exercise authority at will

II.The beast out of the earth

1.    Two horns like a lamb

2.    Perform wonderful signs

3.    Set up an image to deceive inhabitants

III.       His number is 666

1.    Receive a mark on hand

2.    No one could buy or sell

3.    Man’s number

── Chih-Hsin Changan Outline of The New Testament