The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Revelation 13

Rev 13:1

See Lesson, Ten toes, identity.

Cp parallels: Dan 7.

See Lesson, Beasts, heads, and horns.

Vv 1-10: The first beast = Leviathan? Vv 11-18: The second beast = Behemoth? See Lesson, Leviathan -- esp "Last Days".

A BEAST This one beast possesses characteristics of each of Daniel's 4 beasts: ie, its 7 heads = total heads of the 4 beasts (the leopard having 4 heads) (Dan 7:6).

TEN HORNS: (CH) "Nations. Cp Rev 17:12; Jer 48:25; Dan 7:24. The once united Roman Empire became ultimately divided into ten parts by the Huns, Vandals, Visigoths, Burgundians, Gepidae, Lombards, Franks, Suevi, Alans, and Bavarians, who successively invaded the Empire. They were incorporated into the Empire, adopting its laws and submitting to the overlordship of the Emperor who ruled from Constantinople.

"Ultimately they all submitted to the Papal yoke, becoming thus the horns of the beast" (ApEp).

TEN CROWNS ON HIS HORNS: (CH) "Ct Rev 12:3. There the crowns were on the heads of the Dragon, indicating that the prophecy was fulfilled at the period in history prior to the barbarian invasion" (ApEp).

BLASPHEMOUS: Claiming to be what one is not, esp as regards divine things (cp Rev 2:9).

NAME: To have the name of anything named on one is to be identified with it, and invested with its power (Acts 4:7,30; Phi 2:9,10), or to revere it (cp Mic 4:5).

Rev 13:2

THE DRAGON: The old serpent, devil and satan in Rev 20:2. Sin's power in most general form.

THE DRAGON GAVE THE BEAST HIS POWER: Indicating that this vision precedes that of Rev 12:9, since the dragon still has power to give to another.

Rev 13:3

ONE OF THE HEADS OF THE BEAST SEEMED TO HAVE HAD A FATAL WOUND: "Odoacer, king of the Heruli, brought the Empire of the West to and end by waging war on Italy, overthrowing Romulus Augustus, who ruled in Rome, and setting up his own power therein.

"At that time, Rome was divided into two parts, answering to the two legs of the image of Dan 2. Both in Rome and Constantinople there were joint rulers, though the chief power lay with the eastern Emperor. Odoacer enjoyed his power in Rome for only 14 years, at the end of which time, in 493, he was overthrown by Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths. Gothic rule became established in Rome and continued for about 60 years. Thus the 6th head was wounded to death and replaced by the 7th head of the beast, or Gothic rule" (ApEp).

BUT THE FATAL WOUND HAD BEEN HEALED: "The 6th (Imperial) head was revived in a new form, religious in character. When the Goths occupied Rome, they were hostile to the church, and oppressed it. But constant appeals by the bishop of Rome to the military authority of Constantinople ultimately resulted in the invasion of Italy by the eastern Empire, and finally to the ejection of the Goths from power.

"The church greatly benefited through this means, and out of this trouble arose the authority which was eventually conferred upon the Papacy" (ApEp).

Rev 13:4

THE DRAGON... HAD GIVEN AUTHORITY TO THE BEAST: (CH) "Justinian of Constantinople supported Catholic pretensions in fulfillment of the prophecy of Dan 11:38,39. Papal prestige rose as men witnessed it surviving the troubles of the times" (ApEp).

Rev 13:5

Vv 5-7: The beast wars with the saints for 42 months -- Nero's persecution (Nov 64 -- June 68).

FORTY-TWO MONTHS: (CH) "1,260 days. The decree of Justinian, supporting the pretensions of the papacy, date from AD 529-533. 1,260 added to this date brings to 1789-1793, the period of the French Revolution which greatly reduced Papal power.

"The decree of Phocas, which gave added power to the papacy, dates from 606-610. 1,260 added to this brings to 1866-1870 when the temporal power of the papacy was overthrown. Thus, by the decrees of Justinian and Phocas, rulers in the Dragon capital, 'great power was given unto him'" (ApEp).

Rev 13:7

WAR AGAINST THE SAINTS: 1st century: Nero's persecution: Rev 1:9; 2:10,13; 1Pe 3:14-18; 4:12-19; 5:8-10.

Rev 13:8

The Lamb in Rev: his wrath (Rev 6:16); his blood (Rev 7:14); his book of life (Rev 13:8); his song (Rev 15:3); his marriage (Rev 19:7); his supper (Rev 19:9); and his throne (Rev 22:1).

Rev 13:10

"A passage which is puzzling both in its phraseology and in the ms reading behind it. The ancient texts offer a bewildering variety of readings here, but happily doubts are resolved by the OT original in Jer 15:2: 'Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.' It is a prophecy of Israel's tribulation. And the next verse proceeds: 'I will appoint over them... the beast of the earth to devour', thus strengthening the connection with Rev 13.

"Thus the words of Rev 13:10 imply the finality of Israel's opportunity of repentance. Another OT prophecy chimes in here with the same meaning. In Hos 13:13 there is reference to Israel, reproved and afflicted by their God as a travailing woman in the wilderness (Rev 12:2,6): 'Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe (ie stalk) them; I will meet them as a bear bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them' (vv 7,8). Here is the composite Beast of the Abyss (Rev 13:2) brought in judgement against the people of Israel. Yet in the end (v 14), 'I will ransom them from the power of the grave (the resurrection of the witnesses?), I will redeem them from death: O death, I will by thy plagues: O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.' These words Paul applies to the resurrection of the dead (1Co 15:54)" (WRev).

Rev 13:11

ANOTHER BEAST, COMING OUT OF THE EARTH: "The religion of Islam, which will certainly be fully re-instated in Jerusalem when the Arabs (with their Russian ally?) overrun Israel. This is the religion of the False Prophet. And there is appropriateness about the description of this Beast coming up out of the earth -- the Land -- for Mohammedanism has had roots in Palestine for long centuries. The oppression of Jews both religiously and economically by this False Prophet would be axiomatic...

"There is another interpretation of the Beast, which would harmonize marvellously well with the Islam suggestion just made. This, which has been in the mind of the present writer for several years as a distinct possibility, is that the Beast represents the resurgence of the Palestinians to a position of dominance in Arab anti-Jewish politics. It will be recalled that the little horn of Dan 7, the equivalent of this beast of Rev 13, uproots three of the ten horns. It will be a test of the validity of this interpretation if the Palestinian movement takes over three Arab states -- Jordan, Lebanon, Syria? From this point of view the deadly wound which is healed would signify the astonishing rise to world significance of the wretched, helpless refugees from the three wars between Jews and Arabs, or, even more likely, King Hussein's ruthless repression of the Palestinians in 1971... One can only bear in mind the possibilities and keep a watchful eye on developing events" (WRev).

CH: "This new power was not limited to territory around the Mediterranean as was the Beast of the Sea (v 1), but included Central Europe. It was brought into being by the Pope having to seek new allies. A rift had developed between Rome and Constantinople brought about by the 'Great Controversy' over the use of images. The church in Constantinople opposed them; that of Rome supported them.

"The controversy led to division, and the Greek Orthodox Church came into existence independent of the Roman Catholic Church. Meanwhile, the Lombards had invaded Italy, had expelled the Exarch of Ravenna, and brought Rome and the Pope subject to their power. Rome found itself deserted of its eastern ally, the 'dragon' of v 4, and turned to the rising power of Pepin in Europe, seeking his support. Pepin Emperor of the Franks, marched against the Lombards and defeated them. The Lombards again attacked Rome, but were again overthrown, this time by Charlemagne, son of Pepin.

"This was in the year 774. It illustrated to the Pope that he could obtain in Charlemagne a more effective support than from the Emperor of Constantinople.

"In 787 Rome separated from Constantinople, and became allied to the growing power of Charlemagne. On Christmas Day 799, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Augustus and Emperor, and the union of church and state was made absolute.

"The Holy Roman Empire had come into existence. Meanwhile, the controversy with the church in Constantinople over images continued, and was finally decided by Theodora in 842 when he threatened to put out the eyes of all those who opposed their use in the churches" (ApEp).

TWO HORNS: The ram of Dan 8:3,7 had 2 horns -- ref Media and Persia.

LIKE A LAMB, BUT HE SPOKE LIKE A DRAGON: (CH) "The Holy Roman Empire claimed to be Christian... but revealed its true character. The 'dragon' is the symbol of paganised Imperialism. The Holy Roman Empire (it was neither 'holy', 'Roman', or an 'empire', as one critic pointed out) was founded on the Imperialistic ambitions of Charlemagne. It developed into the Germanic Federation of States of Central Europe, the chief of which, by the year 962, automatically acquired the subject kingdoms of Italy and Rome, but could not legally assume the titles of Emperor or Augustus, until he had received the Crown from the hands of the Pope" (ApEp).

Rev 13:13

FIRE TO COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN: A miracle Jesus forbade (Luk 9:54,55). Fire from heaven = nuclear weapons? A rival miracle to Rev 11:5?

FIRE: Sym anger, war, destruction, persecution (Isa 42:25; 66:15; Ezek 22:20-22; Zec 13:9; 1Pe 1:7, 4:12).

Rev 13:14

DECEIVED: "Strong delusion... to believe a lie" (2Th 2:6-11).

Rev 13:16

Also in Rev 14:9,11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4. Ct saints, "sealed in foreheads" (Rev 7:3).

Rev 13:17

THE MARK... OF THE BEAST: See Lesson, Mark of the beast.

Rev 13:18

666: See Lesson, 666.

Neron Kaisar yields 666. Nero Kaisar yields 616 (mg reading). See also list, Spk 4:697-699. "666" = talents of gold brought to Solomon, a great trader -- ie, mercantile power (1Ki 10:14; 2Ch 9:13), in partnership with Tyre (Eze 27; 28) -- trading many of the commodities listed in Rev 18:11-14.

(CH) "The numerical value of Lateinos in Greek is 666, thus: L (30), A (1), T (300), E (5), I (10), N (50), O (70), S (200). It is remarkable that about the year 666, Pope Vilation decreed that Latin be the language of religion" (ApEp).
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