Lange Commentary - Revelation 13:1 - 13:18

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Lange Commentary - Revelation 13:1 - 13:18

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


b. The Antichrist out of the Sea of Nations

1And [ins. I] saw a beast [wild-beast] rise up [ascending] out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns [ten horns and seven heads], and upon his horns ten crowns [diadems], and upon his heads the [om. the] name [names] of blasphemy.[;] 2and the beast [wild-beast] which [that] I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were [om. 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 [throne], and great authority 3[ ἐîïõóßá ].[:] And I saw [om. I saw] one of [from among] his heads as it were [om. it were—ins. if] wounded [slain] to death; and his deadly wound [or the wound of his death] was healed: and all the world [the whole earth] wondered after the beast 4[wild-beast]. And they worshipped the dragon which [om. which—ins. because he] gave power [the authority ( ôὴí ἐîïõóßáí )] unto the beast [wild-beast]: and they worshipped the beast [wild-beast], saying, Who is like unto [om. unto] the beast [wild-beast]? [ins. and] who is able to make [om. make] war with him? 5And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power [om. power—ins. there] was given unto him [authority ( ἐîïõóßá )] to continue 6[Acts 7] forty and [om. and] two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy [unto blasphemies] against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell [those who tabernacle] in [ins. the] heaven. 7And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome [conquer] them: and power [authority ( ἐîïõóὶá )] was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations 8[every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation]. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not [every one whose name hath not been] written in the book of life of the Lamb [ins. that hath been] slain [or ins.,] from the foundation of the world. 9If any man [one] have [hath] an ear, let him hear. 10He that leadeth into [If any one is for] captivity shall go [om. shall go—ins.,] into captivity [ins. he goeth]Revelation 15 : he that killeth [if any one shall kill] with the sword [ins., he] must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience [endurance] and the faith of the saints.

c. The Antichristian False Prophet, as the last Product of the Earth—i. e., the Ancient Order of Things—in its Lapse into Antichristianity

11And I beheld [saw] another beast [wild-beast] coming up [ascending] out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12And he exerciseth all the power [authority ( ἐîïõóßá ) of the first beast [wild-beast] before him, [in his presence;] and [ins. he] causeth [maketh] the earth and them which [that] dwell therein [in it] to [om. to—ins. that they should] worship the first beast [wild-beast], whose deadly [om. deadly] wound [ins. of his death] was healed. 13And he doeth great wonders [signs], so that [or in order that also ( ἵíá êáß )] he maketh [may make] fire come down from [ins. the] heaven on [unto] the earth in 14the sight [presence] of men, and deceiveth [seduceth or misleadeth ( ðëáíᾷ )] them that dwell on the earth by the means of [because of] those miracles [the signs] which he had power [it was given to him] to do [work] in the sight [presence] of the beast [wild-beast]; saying to [telling] them that dwell on the earth, that they should [om. that they should—ins. to] make an image to the beast [wild-beast], 15which [who] had [hath] the wound by a sword, and did live [lived]. And he had power [it was given to him] to give life [or a spirit ( ðíåῦìá )] unto the image of the beast [wild-beast], that the image of the beast [wild-beast] should both speak, and cause that as many as would [should] not worship the image of the beast [wild-beast] should be killed [slain]. 16And he causeth [maketh] all, both [om. both—ins. the] small and [ins. the] great, [ins. and the] rich and [ins. the] poor, [ins. and the] free and [ins. the] bond, to receive [om. to receive—ins. that they should give them] a mark in [on] their right hand, or in [on] their foreheads 17[forehead]: and [or om. and] that no man might [one should be able to] buy or sell, save [but] he that had [hath] the mark, or [om. or] the name of the beast 18[wild-beast], or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast [wild-beast]: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore [and sixty] and [om. and] six.



Prefatory Remarks on the Relation of Ch. 13 to Ch. 17—It has already been remarked that the figure of Satan and his seven heads (Revelation 12.) (Revelation 12) must not be identified with the figure of Antichrist and his seven heads. Neither must the history of the rule of Antichristianity, primarily set forth as a whole (Revelation 13), be identified with the judgment upon the first third of Antichristianity, the Harlot, (Revelation 17). Consequently, the details also (chs. 13 and 17), especially the parallels of the seven heads, may, indeed, be regarded as similarities, but are not to be treated as identities. This remark applies particularly to the deadly wounding of one of the Beast’s heads (Revelation 13) and the temporary disappearance of the Beast (Revelation 17)—a disappearance certainly resultant upon the wounding. All those combinations that are grounded upon the identity of these two items, which are connected as cause and effect, fall to pieces when subjected to a more precise and circumstantial exegesis. It is impossible to overlook the antithesis, that, in the total history of Antichristianity (Revelation 13), the False Prophet, the spirit of a fallen Hierarchy, is subservient to the Antichristian political World-power, whilst in the history of partial Antichristianity (Revelation 17), the Woman rides upon the Beast, although the Beast at last destroys the Harlot. Comp. Ebrard, pp. 377 and 455.

Above all, we would remind our readers of the fact that we have another entire cyclical world-picture before us, viewed under the aspect of Antichristianity; it is no mere petty section of Roman history, comprised, as some would have it, between the years 1 and 70 A. D. Further, the following definite antithesis is distinctly evident: As the Beast out of the sea represents the whole of historical worldly political Antichristianity, as embraced, however, in its final consummate appearance—so, likewise, the Woman, contrasted with the Beast, is not, so to speak, a particle of the Kingdom of God, still less the Jewish people, but the whole Old and New Testament Kingdom of God, and this too with reference to the final form of the Old Testament, in which the Mother appears, and to the final form of the New Testament Church, which divides into the two forms of Harlot and Bride, finally appearing as the Bride.

Our Earth-picture is in three sections. In the first, the devilish essence has obtained no human shape, but already operates by summoning to its aid human masses which unconsciously serve it. In the second section, it has fashioned an organ unto itself in the appearance of the Beast out of the sea. In the third section, it has even made a Beast from the earth, a production of the old Theocratic order of things, subservient to the sea-monster, and hence, indirectly, ministrant to itself.

The beginning of the first section plainly shows that here the Earth-picture commences which corresponds with the Heaven-picture, for in Rev_13:14, Rev_13:6 is repeated. Here, however, we have the amplificatory statement: to the Woman were given the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness. The great eagle may be relatively understood of worldly powers, if the context require such an apprehension, as for instance in Eze_17:3; Eze_17:7. When, however, the term is as free from limitation as we find it here, our thoughts are led back to the redemption of Israel from Egypt, when Jehovah bare the people on eagle wings (Exo_19:4); and we are the more forcibly reminded of that event, since Israel, also, found refuge from the pursuing Pharaoh far out in the wilderness. If Jehovah Himself is not to be here understood, the thing signified is His redemptive providence, in its powerful, swift and lofty flight, unattainable for all earthly pursuers. The fact that the wings must be two in number requires no elucidation; it is, however, somewhat remarkable that the Woman receives the wings herself and becomes a flying Woman. Thus did the young Church of Christ fly from Jerusalem to Pella; and thus in every subsequent persecution it has fled deeper into the wilderness of solitude, of concealment, of renunciation, of foreign countries; thus it finally fled literally into the wilderness of hermitry and monasticism. For the wilderness forms, in general, a contrast to the worldly region of secular life, just as the wilderness into which the Eagle bore Israel formed a contrast to Egypt. The Middle Ages afford a symbolical representation of these flights, in the development of monkish forms, of constantly increasing strictness, in face of every new advance of secularization;—back of these figures, however, lies the fact that the Church has ever fled deeper into the hiding-place of world-renunciation. Here is her place, where she is nourished. And how she has been nourished with heavenly strength, has been shown by the Mystics of the Middle Ages as well as by the Martyrs of the Reformation.

The time of her sojourn in the wilderness, or the time of the Church of the Cross, is, as has already been observed, obscurely designated in a twofold manner—by the number 3½ and by the indefinite form of times.

Thus she is nourished from the face of the Serpent. Even the serpent of hierarchical despotism scarce observed how the Church was nourished inwardly with powers of the world to come [Heb_6:5].

But the abode of the Woman does not remain hidden from the Serpent, who casts out of his mouth water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away. In the parable of the mustard seed, Christ had described the development of the seed into a tree-like shrub, which the birds would mistake for a real tree, and make their nests in its branches; John could already see the beginnings of the fulfillment of this prophecy in the pressing of foreign elements into the living Church. In his quality of Seer, however, he had the broadest and most extensive view of this whole inundation of the Church by the Græco-Roman world, by the migrations of nations, by its baptism with many peoples. For it is an irrefragable fact that waters are indicative of surging national life (Psa_93:3-4); consequently, the river here denotes a violent flux of national life against the essential Church, and the casting of this water out of the mouth of the Dragon forces the inference of a diabolical background to this tremendous onset. We cannot, of course, deny the fact that an opposite attraction to the light had its share in influencing the Germanic peoples, especially, in their migrations; this, however, does not invalidate a truth clearly unfolded in the migrations of the Huns, the Vandals, the Turks, and the Mongols, in their perilous onset against the Church. And, moreover, the Germanic nations were urged on and swept away by the dark lust of conquest of the Huns. But the earth helped the Woman by opening her mouth and swallowing up the river. It was the earth as a Divine institution, in the double form of the pedagogical Church of the Law, striking back into the Old Testament, and the Christian State, which subdued the flood of barbarous nations through the medium of a Theocratic education. Num_16:32 can hardly, merely on account of the similarity of expression, be cited here as analogous.

The rage of the Evil One is, indeed, only heightened by this discomfiture; it, however, takes another direction. The Dragon, angry concerning the Woman, departs to make war “with the remnant of her seed.” These are designated as truly pious persons; they keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The explanations of them as brethren of Christ, or Gentile Christians, or Zionites, are not satisfactory. It would seem nearer the truth to say that they are the individual Christians who, collectively, form the Woman (Bleek et al.), if the text did not make a decided distinction between the Woman, or the Kingdom of God in its visible appearance, and these isolated children of the same. And here it is a natural proceeding to glance back from the striking expression ïἱ ëïéðïß (comp. Rev_3:2) to the significant typical expression of the Prophets: the remnant ([residue, remainder] ùְׁàֵøִéú ùֶׁàַø ; Isa_10:20-22; Isa_11:11; Isa_28:5; Amo_9:12; Mic_2:12; Mic_4:7; Mic_7:18, etc.). There has been a storm of judgment, in the assaults of the Dragon upon the Woman, at the end of which there is but a remnant of individual Christians left, who are true servants of God and martyrs of Christ. The Woman has had to submit to an alliance with the earth; the essential Church has had to consent to an alliance with the Theocratic ecclesiastico-political form. In consequence of this alliance, the Church has itself become more akin to the earth, and a distinction has arisen between her visible totality and her living children. Subsequently she is herself partially represented by the earth. In the last time, therefore, Satan instinctively directs his attacks only upon the vital Christianity of individual Christians. He may gain many a victory in combat with them; for how many separatists and sects fall a prey to diabolical deceit. As a whole, however, they resist him, and this urges him on in the direction of the sea, the social life of the nations.

Accordingly, he stands upon the sand of the sea. Here he appears to vanish—only, however, to arise in his moral creature, the Beast out of the sea, positive Antichristianity. The fact that here, as well as Dan_7:2 sqq., the sea represents the life of the nations, is proved not only by the consistent import of this symbol, but also by the agreement of the idea in respect of the ascending Beast. The fundamental thought is this—that always a demonic ruling power issues from a spiritual anarchy of excited national life, and rests thereupon. It does not follow from this that we already have to do with a democratic form of Antichristianity. The decisive passage where we are to seek for light is the scene Rev_16:19. After the out-pouring of the seventh Vial of wrath, the one great city, Sodom-Egypt (Rev_11:8), is divided into three parts, and the one judgment branches into three judgments—the judgment upon specific Babylon, executed by the ten kings (chs. 17, 18); the judgment upon the ten kings, executed through the Parousia of Christ (Revelation 21); and the judgment upon God and Magog as the host of Satan, executed through the intervention of God with fire from Heaven (Rev_20:9). Hence it is evident that in the present bestial figure, those three potencies are still undivided—Antiehristian absolute despotism, democracy and anarchy. That the decidedly worldly character of the Beast is expressed, is evidenced by his coherence with the Danielic world-monarchies; and, no less, by his hostile antithesis to the Theocratico-churchly Woman, and his distinction from the False Prophet from the earth. Still, the three ground-forms of Antichristianity already peep forth from our unitous figure, and among them, of course, the first ground-form, Babylon, appears. That a great Beast of prey is intended, is evident from the attributes of the Beast as well as from his peculiar designation ( èçñßïí not= æῶïí ). With these attributes, he appears as a unitous compound of the Danielic beasts, yet in an original modification. The ten horns of the fourth Danielic Beast come in view here. In the stead of the four Beasts, however, we have the one Beast, and that not with four, but with seven heads, because here the centre of gravity falls in the New Testament time, beyond the vision of Daniel. The Beast has, moreover, become civilized with the times. In the vision of Daniel, the lion occupies the foreground; here, the general aspect of the Beast is pied, like the less formidable leopard—variegated with hierarchic and despotic colors. Of the Danielic bear, the Johannean Beast has retained the ursine feet, on account of his ungainly appearance, or his fatal embraces. Of the lion, the mouth remains (see 1Pe_5:8). Thus compounded, he is still more of a monster than the fourth Danielic Beast; and his monstrosity is still further increased by the fact of his union of the seven spirit-like and apparently holy heads with ten horns of worldly authority—a disproportion which distinctly proclaims that his authority is to be regarded as bestial arbitrariness, and not as reposing upon actual spirit-might; this fact is also evident from the circumstance that he has set his crowns not on his heads, but, more shamelessly than Satan himself, on his horns.

On the other hand, the heads have on them names of blasphemy, different forms of rebellion against the Divine-human government of God, and against the God-man Himself (Daniel 7 :2 Thessalonians 2).

The Dragon seems desirous of being completely merged in this his representative. He gives him (the manner of the giving is intimated Joh_13:27) his magical power, i. e. his lying power; his throne or his terrific ruler-glory, intimidating to all that is cowardly and base on Earth; and his authority as a ruler (see Mat_4:9; 2Co_4:4).

Manifestly, this collective appearance of Antichristianity reaches back into the Old Testament; in this it resembles the collective appearance of the Kingdom of God, in the form of the Woman (Revelation 12). As, however, the main history of the Woman falls in the New Testament time, so it is with the full revelation of Antichristianity, which even tapers at last into the consummate figure of Antichrist (Rev_13:17-18).

And now we come to the hardest knot of the Book. The point of departure for our consideration is the mark, or recognition-sign ( ÷Üñáãìá ), the real symbolum of the congregation of the Beast. Every one who chooses to belong to this congregation must bear this sign about him, either on his forehead or on his hand. After the analogy of branded slaves, he must bear the Antichristian slave-mark on himself as a sign that he belongs to the Beast—indirectly to the Dragon—and that he has not fallen under social excommunication, like the confessors of Christ. Now is this mark to be apprehended literally or figuratively? The particulars seem to favor the literal apprehension of it. Either on the forehead or on the hand—either in ordinary writing or in number-writing.

Forehead and hand, however, are themselves intelligible symbols; and, consequently, the sign on the forehead seems to denote the Theocratic impiety of open confession of the prince of enmity to God and Christ, whilst the sign on the hand is apparently significant of the practical impiety of open atheistical audaciousness; thus a contrast is formed, as if the complete dogmatics and ethics of Satanic superstition and unbelief were intended.

But, though the spiritual deportment is the main thing, the instantaneous recognizability of the spiritual state is conditioned on a definite symbolum. This symbolum consists of the Antichristian party-name, corresponding to the generic name of Christian. The devil-worshipper calls himself after the name of the Beast who rules him; either plainly, without circumlocution, or in numeric writing.

In the declaration: here is wisdom—however, it cannot be meant that the Seer designs depositing here in a riddle the central point of all the wisdom of revelation. The like expression recurs, more plainly, in Rev_17:9 : Here is the understanding that possesses [is master of] wisdom—in accordance with what follows after, the skillful, holy, intelligent ability to recognize the Antichristian power, or rightly to apply the Apocalyptic sign to the corresponding historic phenomenon. In this, therefore, wisdom will approve itself. Wisdom alone will not answer; understanding alone would be still further from the mark. But whosoever has the right understanding of wisdom will reckon the number of the Beast, or transpose the ideal marks of the Beast into historic marks.

The Seer next furnishes the key. The number of the Beast is, in the first place, the number of an unknown man. It runs through a line of precursory Antichrists down to the last specifically consummated Antichrist. The standing sign, however, is the demonic side of Antichrist, and this is signalized by the number six hundred sixty-six. By an absolute unrepose and toil, by the absolute denial of the approaching Sabbath or Golden Age, and by an absolute aimlessness and abortiveness, or self-consumption, we are to recognize the features of Antichrist. Where these appear in demonic perfection, there is Antichrist (comp. Isa_48:22; Isa_57:21; Isa_66:24). To compute the number of the Beast means, therefore, to determine the human unknown Antichrist in accordance with the stationary and revealed traits of the demonic nature of Antichrist, with the understanding of wisdom (not the understanding of a prying and calculating curiosity).

Between the general form of Antichristianity and its summing up in the last Antichrist, a highly significant consideration presents itself. One of the heads of the Beast appears as wounded to death; but the deadly wound becomes whole again. Such a wounding could proceed only from Christianity. We must, however, carefully distinguish the fact, that Christ Himself, in the kingdom of spirit, has bruised the serpent’s head (the life-principle of the seven heads)—from the fact that historic Christianity inflicts a deadly wound upon the Antichristian world-power in the distinct head of the pagan-Roman world-monarchy,—a wound which, in this present world’s history, can be healed. This item coincides precisely with the apparent vanishment of the Beast that was and is not and shall be, as represented by the seventh head (Rev_17:8-10.—See Int., pp. 25 sq.). Since that healing, all the Earth has been wondering after the Beast. Since within Christianity itself an Antichristian power has unfolded in many and diverse forms, having even partially matured its principles, the generality of men, especially such as are hangers on of authority a tout prix, have become accustomed to divide their hearts, and at the rupture of light [truth] and falsehood, right and might, with superstition and cowardice to pay homage to the lying power, making, for the most part, only symbolical reverences to Christianity. This is worshipping the Beast, and it is also, indirectly, a subtile devil-service—a worshipping of the Dragon. For that which has converted Satan into an Ahriman, an evil deity, for such men, is the fact that he has given power to the Beast; this he has accomplished by means of an impious policy of craft and violence—a policy which, starting from Italy especially, attained such fearful terroristic development in the Middle Ages. In reference to the Dragon, they worship Godless principles; in reference to the Beast, they worship his incomparableness and irresistibility. Vast pomp and inexorable hardness compose the social cement which, ever more and more, threatens to convert the majority of men into an idea-less, anti-ideal mass—the method which would succeed in giving mankind an animal training, were it not that it has a Divine kernel before which all the might of Satan must be confounded. So secure is Divine Providence in face of the Beast, that it gives him a mouth for all boasting and blasphemy, i.e., for all self-exaltation and derision of Divine truth, of Christian principles. For precisely this is the Divine method of sifting, as exhibited in the history of the world; thus the elect must become manifest, and thus the chaff must be separated from the wheat. To this end, therefore, authority is given to him, power to do what seems good to him for forty-two months. This, again, is the whole time of the Church of the cross—not, however, in the form of times or of days, but in the form of months [moons], like the abandonment of the outer court to the Gentiles (Rev_11:2); the greatest vicissitudes and fluctuations thus being indicated. Meanwhile, this Antichristianity is perfecting itself against the end. Finally, there is an open manifestation of audacity; the Beast blasphemes God, and that in a threefold manner: he blasphemes His name, or revealed religion; His tabernacle, or His vital, simple, unadorned Church; and His children, the men of the Spirit [or men of spirit, i. e., spiritually-minded men], who dwell in Heaven: in his blaspheming against them that dwell in Heaven, a blasphemy against the hope of a hereafter is involved. It is also given him even to make war with the saints and to overcome them. For the combat is conducted before the undiscerning, appearance-seeking and party-spirited world, and here, almost invariably, it is the Stentor voice, arrogance and false pathos that decide; and the result is all the more certain since extraordinary magical and terroristic aids are on the side of the Beast, extending even to all terrors of violence and tricks of craft. Thus there is vouchsafed him an extension of authority over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. Now it is an unmistakable fact that this ideally unitous might has hitherto, in its actual exercise, been only approximately unitous, although the phenomena of the gradual realization of such a unity occasionally appear in formidable powers. But with the developments of the Antichristian might, corresponds the homage of all who dwell upon the earth, the true slaves of the old ordinances and the old earth, further characterized as those whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The meaning of this is—they lack the Divine trait of a believing aptitude for suffering, of willingness to suffer for the truth, to suffer with Christ.

The highly significant words now following, to which the arousing challenge is prefixed, “if any man hath an ear, let him hear,” may primarily conduce to the comfort of believers amid the persecutions which the Beast prepares for them. The Old Testament law of the strictest retribution, in spite of that misunderstanding which regards it as abrogated in the social affairs of life, because it is thus abrogated, by a higher law, in the Kingdom of Love, of personal relations, re-appears at the close of the New Testament in all its freshness, nay, in sharper outlines than before. We refer our readers to the original text and the attempt of the translation to reproduce it. The retribution will correspond in each case to the fault.

Believers are to comfort themselves with these words in their sorrows. The words are, also, however, designed for their instruction, for even well-meaning, pious zeal has, in manifold ways, violated the law of the patience [endurance] of the saints. Often are the sufferings of a later Christian generation expiations of ancient trespasses, committed in a sphere in which the patience [endurance] and the faith of the saints alone win the victory. Here appears the vital law which lies at the foundation of the patience and faith of the saints. The more prominence is given to this law, inasmuch as just these excesses of pious zeal to which we have referred, are connected with the contrast which now comes to view with the appearance of the second Beast, that arises from the earth. This Beast from the earth, the supreme issue of the spirit of corrupt theocratic authority, the spiritual extract of the fallen hierarchy, is a still more hateful monster than the Beast out of the sea. He is personified baseness, for he denies his origin, the consecrated earth of God. He is personified hypocrisy, for he has two horns like a lamb, and he speaks like a dragon; he is, therefore, still worse than the Beast out of the sea, in Satanic falseness, in Satanic hate. He is, likewise, personified hollowness, in that he begins to imitate the deeds of the first Beast. Finally, he is personified reprobacy, in that he becomes an eye-servant of the first Beast, changing from a prophet of God into a prophet of Antichrist. The prototype of such “arch-rogues” was Judas, when he became subservient to the enemies of Christ, himself excelling them in depravity. Even in earlier Judaism such traitors made their appearance, especially in the time of the Maccabees, when Simon, Jason, Menelaus and the like figured (2 Maccabees 4). In reality, Caiaphas, in his relation to the Romans, belongs to this class. Throughout the Christian ages such perfidies have been repeated: there was a rank growth of them in the French revolution in particular. Even our own time betrays a peculiar disposition to the production of such subjects. The approach to the bridge of treason is, however, visible at all times in such tendencies as seek to obliterate, as far as possible, the contrast between God and the world, sin and grace, inwardness and outward show. But at all events, the master of false prophecy is yet to come—the vice-Antichrist, acting as the deputy [Scherge] of the head Antichrist, and seeking to save at least his thirty pieces of silver out of the wreck of his former system. Thus, therefore, the False Prophet enters the service of Antichrist; his office, henceforth, is to gain adherents for his master. He it is who also prepares the earth for apostasy. A special motive which he urges to induce men to become worshippers of the Beast, is the fact that his deadly wound is healed. This, in his sense, signifies that the operation of Christianity is exhausted—that Christianity has outlived itself—Biblical, pristine Christianity is at an end. This false, counterfeit lamb does great signs, and would even, in appearance, imitate the former Church-ban by a ban of nature, and make fire fall from Heaven. Here, especially, we perceive the heavenly integrity of the former Son of Thunder, who once desired to make fire fall from Heaven upon a Samaritan city. He now knows to what such a proceeding would lead, and knows that God has reserved to Himself the right in the final judgment to let fire fall from Heaven on the Satanic mob (Revelation 20). The signs, however, which the false lamb really executes, to the seduction of men, will be lying signs, like the cause which he serves—or, at all events, grandiose magical arts. The greatest sign is the infatuation of men into making an image to the Beast—to the Beast, moreover, as presenting the mockery of Christ’s resurrection, as having been wounded to death, and as having revived again—i.e., to the invincible, immortal Beast. It is a slight reminder of the sin of Aaron, that the men must make the image, but the False Prophet himself gives it a spirit, so that the image of the Beast can speak. Thus, in fine, the theory, science, poetry, and art of Antichristianity speak just as does this Beast himself in his practical shape. The declaration that the tendency of the image was to cause that all who would not worship the Beast should be killed, is doubtless to be taken as referring to social death; and matters even arrive at such a pass that those who refuse their countenance to the Beast are, by his godless company, who have adopted an absolutely anti-symbolical symbolum, completely excluded from social intercourse, as indicated by buying and selling. Thus there is already prepared, by the world, that separation which Christ, at His coming, shall judicially consummate.


By the American Editor

[Elliott: The dejected Dragon (Satan) persecutes the Woman (the true, primitive, orthodox, catholicly united Church), also fallen from Heaven (her first figured state of elevation and glory), by inciting against, her (1) Arian emperors (Constantius, A. D. 337–361; Valens, A. D. 364–378): (2) temptations to superstition: (3) the Arian-Pagan Gothic flood (see below). The flight into the wilderness indicates a change, not of place, but of state; it implies “the faithful Church’s (gradual) loss of its previous character of Catholicity or Universality, its invisibility in respect of true Christian public worship and destitution of all ordinary means of spiritual sustenance.” (For the period of the Wilderness-state, Rev_12:14, see below with Rev_13:5) The two wings of the great eagle, the assisting and protecting influence of the Eastern and Western divisions of the great, eagle-symbolized, Roman Empire united under Theodosius the Great; these wings were given to her: Theodosius was not only a Church-member, but appears to have been a truly pious man. The flood cast out of the serpent’s mouth, the Arian-Pagan Gothic invasions (a double idea suggested: (1) what flows from the mouth is doctrine, good or bad, Pro_18:4; Pro_15:28; (2) floods are a constant Scripture metaphor for the invasion of hostile nations, Isa_8:7; Jer_46:7; Eze_26:3; Nah_1:8, etc.; see also, with the double sense, Psa_144:7); such was the fury of this flood as “to sweep away all the political bulwarks of the Roman authority before it; and thus might well have been deemed sufficient to sweep away also the Christian Church and Christianity itself, the professed religion of the Empire.” The earth helped, etc.: “In those continuous and bloody wars of which the Western world had been the theatre, the barbarous invading population was so thinned, so absorbed, as it were, into the land they had invaded, that it needed their incorporation as one people with the conquered to make up the necessary constituency of Kingdoms. And in this incorporation, not only was much of their original institutions, customs and languages absorbed, but their religion altogether. … So the Arianism of the invading flood, as well as its Paganism, was seen no more. It was absorbed, as it were, into the soil, and had disappeared.” The Beast from the sea (Rev_13:1) is one with (1) the Beast from the Abyss (Rev_17:3); (2) the little horn of Daniel’s fourth wild Beast (Dan_7:7-8; Dan_7:19-24); (3) St. Paul’s Man of sin (2Th_2:1-12); (4) St. John’s Antichrist (1Jn_2:18-22; 1Jn_4:3; 2Jn_1:7), and symbolizes the Papal Empire (the sea representing the flood of invading Goths): the seven heads signify (1) seven hills (of Rome), Rev_17:9; (2) “the number of different successive governing heads of bestial characterforms of government—which (not another Beast or Empire, but) the same individual seven-hilled Roman Empire would be under from first to last, from its early origin to its final destruction; there being here premised, however, … that the seventh head visible on the Apocalyptic Beast would be, in order of existence, its eighth (Rev_17:11),” they (five having fallen at the time of the Apocalypse, Rev_17:10) represent (a) Kings, (b) Consuls, (c) Dictators, (d) Decemvirs, (e) Military Tribunes, (f) the óôÝöáíïò crowned Emperors beginning with Augustus (the head then existing), (g) the äéÜäçìá Emperors beginning with Diocletian, (this head received its deadly wound in the edict of Theodosius, suppressing Pagan worship, which edict, according to Gibbon, Rev 28, “inflicted a deadly wound on Paganism,” but revived or sprouted again as an eighth head, viz.;) (h) the Popedom—professedly Christian, but essentially heathen: the ten horns represent the ten kingdoms into which the Western Empire was divided (and which gave their power and strength unto the Beast, Rev_17:12-13), viz., (1) the Anglo-Saxons, (2) the Franks of Central France, (3) Alleman-Franks of Eastern France, (4) the Burgundic Franks of South-eastern France, (5) the Visigoths, (6) the Suevi, (7) the Vandals, (8) the Ostro-Goths in Italy, (9) the Bavarians, (10) the Lombards; (with changes, “the number ten will be found to have been observed on from time to time, as that of the Western Roman or Papal Kingdoms”): the Beast and the ten horns receive their power at one and the same time ( ìßáí ὥñáí , Rev_17:12), i. e., from about A. D. 430–530; three horns plucked up before the Beast (Dan_7:8), the subjection of the Vandals, Ostrogoths and Lombards to the temporal power of the Pope (A. D. 533–755, in which last year was Pepin’s donation of the Exarchate of Ravenna—a donation confirmed and enlarged by Charlemagne, A. D. 774, which completed Peter’s Patrimony); blasphemies, as Christ’s Vicar assuming all his offices as Prophet, Priest and King; worshipped (Rev_13:4, comp. 2Th_2:4), the Pope seats himself “on the day of his consecration upon God’s high Altar under the dome of St. Peter’s, there to receive the adoration of his Cardinals,” and “in the eighth century it was Gregory the Second’s boast to the Greek Emperor, ‘All the kings of the West reverence the Pope as a God on Earth’ ” (Gibbon; see also Secular and Ecc: Histories). The two-horned Beast represents the Papal Clergy united under the Pope in his ecclesiastical character as Western Patriarch, and acting so as to support his usurpation as Vicar of Christ: (1) he has horns like a lamb, and speaks as a dragon, i. e. under pretence of preaching the Gospel, he elaborates a denial of Christ; (2) he exercises all the power and authority of the first Beast before (i. e. as responsible to) him, the grand characteristic (assumed) power of the Pope—that of the keys—is delegated to the clergy; (3) signs, the assumption by the clergy of the power to work miracles; (4) causing them that dwell on the Earth to worship, the entire influence of the clergy exercised to support the usurped claims of the Pope. The Image of the Beast symbolizes the Papal General Councils, which virtually represented the Head of Antichristendom, (1) it was the two-horned Beast (the papal clergy) that said to them who dwelt on the Roman Earth, that they should make the image (constitute a General Council); (2) it was given to this Beast to give breath to the image, etc.—it was the peculiarity of the General Councils that on matters ecclesiastical the clergy should alone have voice; (3) the Image was made to be worshipped—these Councils claimed to pronounce infallibly on questions of religion and faith; (4) the Image caused as many as would not worship it to be put to death—the Councils anathematized and excommunicated all who would not submit to their decrees. The name is, the one suggested by Irenæus, Äáôåéíüò —the numerical value of the constituent letters of which is ( ë , 30 + á , 1+ ô , 300+ å , 5 + é , 10 + í , 50 + ï , 70 + ò , 200=) 666; the imposing on men the mark, etc., is causing the inhabitants of the Roman Earth to devote themselves to the Papal Antichrist, and this both in profession (forehead) and action (hand), even as soldiers to their emperor, slaves to their master, devotees to their god.—The period of the Beast’s continuance as a persecuting power, Rev_13:5, and of the wilderness-state of the Church, Rev_12:6, is twelve hundred and sixty prophetic days or years: the primary terminus a quo of this period is the promulgation of Justinian’s Code and Decretal Epistle to the Pope, A. D.). 529–533; the secondary epoch is the Decree of Phocas, A. D. 604–608; the primary concluding terminus, A. D. 1789–1793, “the epoch by which a blow was dealt to the Papal power from which it has never recovered.” (In reference to the secondary concluding terminus, Elliott calls attention to the fact, that Daniel (Rev_12:11-12) foretells a supplemental period of seventy-five years which he (writing in A. D. 1861) suggested was probably to be added to that terminus in A. D. 1864–8. Writing in A. D. 1868 (Postscript to Preface, Vol. I.), he claims that the Bull of the Pope for the Convocation of an Œcumenical Council, issued in that year, in that it does not invite Sovereigns to sit in that Council, is “an admission of the completed ending of the period of the kings of Western Christendom spiritually subjecting the power of their kingdoms to him; that is, of the completed ending of twelve hundred and sixty years.” The present he regards as the supplemental period, to close about A. D. 1943.

Barnes: (Rev_12:13-17). Satan (after his failure to destroy the Church through Pagan persecutions, see p. 240), “puts forth his power and manifests his hostility in another form—that of the Papacy… The Church is, however, safe from that attempt to destroy it, for the Woman is represented as fleeing to the wilderness (some place of refuge—possibly the retreats of the Waldenses, deserts, monasteries, etc.), beyond the power of the enemy, and is there kept alive. Still filled with rage, though incapable of destroying the true Church itself, he turns his wrath, under the form of Papal persecutions, against individual Christians.”—(Ch. 13) The first Beast is the one (secular) Roman power contemplated as made up of ten subordinate kingdoms, which “combined in itself all the elements of the terrible and the oppressive, which had existed in the aggregate in the other great empires that preceded it.” The second Beast is the Papacy considered as a spiritual power, putting on the apparent gentleness of the lamb, but at the same time possessing the spirit of the Dragon. The deadly wound of the first Beast indicates that the Roman civil and secular power was so waning (in consequence of the invasion of the Northern hordes) as to be in danger of extinction; the healing symbolizes the restorative and preservative influence of the Church of Rome upon the secular empire. The secular power thus preserved is to continue 1260 prophetic days or years—blaspheming (by its (1) arrogant claims, (2) assumed authority in matters of conscience, (3) setting aside Divine authority, (4) impions declarations in derogation of the Divine claims); persecuting (e. g., the Waldenses, Albigenses, etc.), but at last shall (1) go into captivity, (2) come to an end in blood.—The image of the Beast symbolizes the civil government strongly resembling the old Roman dominion, which the spiritual power of the Papacy caused to exist, depending for its vital energy on the Papacy, and in its turn, lending its aid to support the Papacy.—In reference to the name and mark of the Beast, Barnes agrees with Elliott.

Stuart: (Ch. 13). The first Beast symbolizes the Pagan Roman Empire; the second, the Pagan Priesthood; the deadly wound of one of the heads, the death of Nero, one of the seven Kings of Rev_17:10-11; the restoration, the belief of a reappearance of that emperor(!); the image, the statue erected to him as a god; the forty-two months, the period of the Neronic persecution (from November, A. D. 64 to June, A. D. 68); the name, ðֵøåֹï ÷ֵñַø , the letters of which give the number 666.

Wordsworth: “The Two Wings are emblems of the Two Testaments; … the Church flies on their pinions in her missionary course through the wilderness of this world.” The flood and the help of the earth, he interprets as Elliott.—(Ch. 13) He agrees with Elliott in the exposition of this chapter, with the following exceptions: By the seven heads he understands (Rev_17:10-11) “the kingdoms which were successively absorbed within the circle of the Roman Empire, … the (1) Babylonian, (2) Medo-Persian, (3) Greek, (4) Syrian, (5) Egyptian, (6) Roman Heathen Imperial … (7) Imperial power of Germany.” By the wounding, the ceasing of the imperial power in the abdication of Augustulus—it is not said that the Head was restored, but that the wound of the Beast was healed (Rev_13:12), the Beast lived on in the Papacy. By the image, “the personification of the Papacy, in the visible form of the Pontiff for the time being.”

Alford: (Rev_12:13-17.) The figure of the wings is taken from Old Testament expressions in reference to the flight of Israel from Egypt (Exo_19:4; Deu_32:11). “We must not understand (by) the Woman, the invisible spiritual Church of Christ, nor (by) her flight into the wilderness, the withdrawal of God’s true servants from the eyes of the world… I own that considering the analogies and the language used (in reference to Israel in the desert), I am much more disposed to interpret the persecution of the Woman by the Dragon, of the various persecutions by Jews which followed the Ascension, and her flight into the wilderness, of the gradual withdrawing of the Church and her agency from Jerusalem and Judea, finally consummated by the flight to the mountains on the approaching siege… And then the river … might be variously understood—of the Roman armies which threatened to sweep away Christianity—or of the persecutions which followed the Church into her retreats, but eventually became absorbed by the civil power turning Christian—or of the Jewish nation itself, banded together against Christianity wherever it appeared, but eventually itself becoming powerless against it by its dispersion and ruin—or, again, of the influx of heretical opinions from the Pagan philosophies which tended to swamp the true faith. I confess that not one of these seems to me satisfactorily to answer the conditions; nor do we gain any thing by their combination.… As to the time indicated by the 1260 days, or 3½ years, the interpretations given have not been convincing, nor even specious.” See also the extract from Alford on p. 242. He concludes his section with the words: “This latter part of the vision yet waits its clearing up.”—Chap. 13) The first Beast is one with the four Beasts of Daniel and that of Revelation 17; he symbolizes the aggregate of the empires of this world as opposed to Christ and His Kingdom; the seven heads are (1) Egypt, (2) Nineveh, (3) Babylon, (4) Persia, (5) Græcia, (6) Rome, (7) the Christian Empire beginning with Constantine; the wounding (with Auberlen), the conversion of the empire to Christianity, by virtue of which the Beast in his proper essence, in the fullness of his opposition to God and His saints, ceases to be; the worship, etc., “are a sort of parody on ascriptions of praise to God (Exo_15:11; Psa_35:10; Psa_71:19; Isa_40:18; Isa_40:25; Isa_46:5, etc.): they represent to us the relapse into all the substantial elements of Paganism of the resuscitated empire;” the forty-two months, the well-known period of the agency of Antichrist. The second Beast, identical with the false Prophet of Rev_19:20, is the reviver and upholder of the first; in reference to the first, he is (1) identical as to genus, (2) diverse in origin, (3) subsidiary in zeal and action; he symbolizes the sacerdotal persecuting power, Pagan and Christian, which, gentle in its aspect and professions, was yet cruel in its actions. The Image, the statue of the Emperor, which every where men were made to worship; “it is not so easy to assign a meaning to the giving life and speech to the Image… The allusion probably is to some lying wonders permitted to the Pagan priests to try the faith of God’s people. We cannot help, as we read, thinking of the moving images, and winking and speaking pictures, so often employed for purposes of imposture by their far less excusable Papal successors.” Rev_13:16-17 point to the commercial and spiritual interdicts which have, both by Pagan and by Papal persecutors, been laid on non-conformity. Concerning the name and number, he writes in the Prolegomena, §5, Rev 32: “It ( Äáôåéíüò ) is beyond question the best solution that has been given; but that it is not the solution, I have a persuasion amounting to a certainty.” (See also in loc.)

Lord: (Rev_12:13-17.) “The Dragon who followed the Woman symbolizes the Pagan priests and their abettors;.. their following after her denotes their attempt to join her society by a profession of Christianity.” “The Serpent … was not the Devil who fought with Michael, but the Monster Dragon of seven heads (see p. 242), … it represents the rulers of the Roman Empire from the elevation of Constantine.” The gift to the Woman of the wings, denotes that supernatural aids were granted her, viz.: graces that formed a part of herself; the river, the flood of false doctrines and superstitious rites introduced by Constantine and his successors; the earth, the people generally, who eagerly embraced the adulterated religion, and who by their exulting reception of it so occupied the attention of the rulers as to allow the dissentients to escape; the retreat from the face of the serpent, the flight of the true Church to a place unknown (the Waldenses, etc.); the anger of the serpent, the continued disposition to destroy; the making war with the remnant, the persecution of isolated dissentients; the time, times, and half a time, twelve hundred and sixty years.—(Ch. 13) The first Beast symbolizes “the Gothic rulers who established governments in the Western Empire during the Fifth century, and their successors and subjects to the present time;” the symbols of the first part of Rev_13:2, that this government unites in itself the agility of the leopard, the strength of the bear, and the mercilessness and voracity of the lion; the head receiving the wound was the last—the wounding denotes the slaughter of all Christian heirs to the throne and the accession of Julian the apostate; the recovery, the restoration of the Christian succession in Jovian; the worship, etc., of Rev_13:3-4, that the populace (1) entertained for their rulers awe and admiration, (2) and, regarding them as having acquired the rights of the old Roman Emperors, acquiesced in their assumptions in matters of religion; the great things and blasphemy, usurpations of authority over Divine rights, laws, etc.; Rev_13:7, the persecutions of the Albigenses, Waldenses, etc.; Rev_13:9-10 predict the slaughter and vassalage of all who should attempt to deliver themselves from religious tyranny by force (exemplified in the history of all persecuted peoples); the forty-two months denotes 1260 years of domination (the terminus a quo being about A. D. 597 or somewhat later). The second Beast indicates the “hierarchy of the Italian Catholic Church within the Papal dominions;” the earth whence he came, the population of the empire under a settled government; the two horns, twofold rule (civil and military)—lamb-like (apparently for ornament and defence), dragon-like (aggressive, insatiable, merciless); Rev_13:12 (first part), that it exercises the same power (civil and military) as the first Beast, and contemporaneously (issuing and executing decrees, making war, etc.); Rev_13:12 (second part), the leading of the populace to submit to blasphemous usurpations of the emperors; Rev_13:13-14, the pretended miracles of the priesthood. The Image symbolizes the Papal Kingdom which the priesthood established—“the union of their several national churches into a single hierarchy, and subjection of them to the Pope as their supreme legislative and judicial head, after the model of the ancient civil Empire under Constantine,” etc. The Name is Äáôåéíüò , whose letters give the number 666. Rev_13:16; Rev_13:18 indicate excommunication and outlawry for non-conformity.

Glasgow: (Rev_12:13-17.) Rev_13:13. When Satan could not prevent the external prosperity of the Church, he diffused the poison of heresy. Rev_13:14. The second flight of the Woman; the great eagle is the fourth Æῶá of chap. 4; the flight to the desert indicates expatriation (in the valleys of Piedmont, etc.); the time, etc., the prophetic period of 1260 years (beginning about A. D. 607). Rev_13:15-17, as Elliott.

(Revelation 13) This is not a new vision, but a continuation of the preceding—the Dragon that sank down in the sea (Rev 12:18)(Rev_13:1) emerges in a new form and with a new name; this Beast (see p. 242) emerges from the sea, i. e., “of the Arian Goths and northern Pagans, and remanent Pagans of the Empire.” For his expositions of the heads, see p. 242; in his interpretation of the horns he agrees with Elliott, p. 259. The wounding denotes the fall of the Western Empire, partially in A. D. 476, and more completely A. D. 493—this fall did not imply a total cessation of the imperial power; the imperial laws and principles were so adopted by the barbarian conquerors that ultimately a new Roman Empire sprang to life from the contused head of the old (the restoration). The transition of the Beast from the Dragon-form spanned over the time from Constantine to Justinian; the forty-two months were allotted to him after the healing of the mortal stroke, and their beginning (A. D. 529–532) was marked by the institution of the Benedictine Order, and the publication of the Code of Justinian. The second Beast is the Papal hierarchy (generally on this subject he agrees with Elliott). The Image—(sic)—“this we at once recognize in the temporal power of the Pope, and the territory called Peter’s Patrimony, granted by Pepin in A. D. 754; to which may be added the creation of cardinals, who are at once priests and temporal lords;” (this image of the monster has not the term of 1260 prophetic days assigned to it; the giving of spirit to it was fulfilled in the summoning of Western Councils—by these it both spoke and acted. The Name and number, Äáôåéíüò , is one, though not the sole, solution of the problem. (He presents the following, all bearing on the Latin Church: B Âíåäéêôüò , Ἰôáëéêὴ ἐêêëçóßá , Åὐðïñßá , ÐáñÜäïóéò , Ἕóðåñïò ἀââᾶ , øàùׁ ì÷äì , Vicarius Filii Dei, Vicarius generalis Dei in terris, etc.).

Auberlen: (Ch. 13) This writer in many points agrees with Elliott, and his views have to a considerable extent been adopted by Alford, Glasgow and others. According to him: The first Beast represents the world-power; the seven heads, (1) Egypt, (2) Assyria, (3) Babylon, (4) Medo-Persia, (5) Greece, (6) Rome, (7) the Germanic-Sclavonic Empire; the wounding, the conversion to Christianity of the seventh head; the healing, the apostatizing of the Christian head (this is the eighth head of Rev_17:11, the Antichristian Kingdom, in the strict sense; probably a person); the ten horns denote ten kingdoms into which the last head is to be divided (this division is still future). The second Beast is identical with the False Prophet of Rev_19:20, and with the human eyes of the little horn of Dan_7:8; the first Beast is a physical, politicalthis a spiritual power, the power of doctrine an