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Revelation 13 Commentary
Summary: Read Revelation 13 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
Revelation 13 KJV
1And 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.
13:1 This beast is similar to the dragon from Revelation 12. They both have “seven heads and ten horns.” Revelation 17:10 shows us that the seven heads are seven consecutive world powers- earthly governments Satan uses to persecute God’s faithful church. The dragon is Satan working through pagan religions, the occult and spiritualism, while the beast symbolizes Satan working in disguise, using the corrupted Christian church to do his work. In verse 5 we see that the beast continues “forty and two months” (the 1,260 year period of Papal dominance). In verse 7 it makes “war with the saints,” persecuting Christ’s true followers who struggled to maintain the truth of God’s Word. This beast is none other than the Papal church system. It arose as predicted among the populated nations of Europe, symbolized by “the sea” and the “ten horns.” Revelation 17:15.
2And 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.
13:2 This beast has the characteristics of a leopard, a bear and a lion, the same beast powers mentioned in Daniel 7—the leopard of Greece, the bear for Medo-Persia and the lion for Babylon. This beast represents the Papacy, the same religious-political power portrayed by the little horn of Daniel 7.
The dragon gives this beast “his power, and his seats, and great authority.” Pagan Rome gave all these things to Papal Rome, and apostates Christianity replaced paganism as the means through which Satan persecuted God’s faithful people for hundreds of years.
3And 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.
4And 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?
13:3-4 In 1798 the French General Berthier under the commands of Napoleon took the Pope prisoner and attempted to completely eliminate the Papacy as an institution. It seems to the world that the Papacy was “wounded to death.” However, the prophecy says that the wound “was healed.” In 1929 the Papacy regained its civil power with the creation of the Vatican State, and the wound began to heal. At some point in the near future the Roman Catholic Church system will completely cover her former glory and will have more power and prominence than ever before. “And the entire world wondered after the beast.” See also vs. 8.
5And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7And 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.
8And 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.
9If any man have an ear, let him hear.
13:8-9 In the last days, nearly the whole world, those “whose names are not written in the book of life,” with “worship” this beast. The day is coming soon when the majority of humankind will obey a few supporting the authority of the Papacy above the commands of God, and will thus worship the beast. See notes on Revelation 13:11-15. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s “Book of Life” will stay true to God. This book records the names of all the saved from every generation of Earth’s history. Revelation 20:12, 15.
10He 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.
13:10 This prediction was fulfilled when the Pope was taken into captivity and this persecuting power received its deadly wound.
11And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12And 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.
13And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14And 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.
15And 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.
13:11-15 The next beast in the vision comes up “out of the earth: and is described as having “two horns like a lamb. This beast represents the United States of America. Here are five clues which help us to accurately determine its identity:
1. It comes to power around 1798 as the Papacy is going into captivity and receiving its deadly wound. At that time the United States was just “coming up” as a youthful nation. The United States declared its independence on July 4, 1776, and by 1790 all thirteen colonies had ratified the constitution. This nation was quickly drawn into world politics and today is a world superpower.
2. The “sea” represents “multitudes and nations.” Revelation 17:15. The beasts that arise from the sea usually do so amid the strife of war. By contrast, this one comes “out of the earth," representing a relatively peaceful emergence in a comparatively unpopulated area. This is exactly the manner in which The United States came to power.
3. This beast with “two horns like a lamb” represents a nation of youth, innocence and gentleness, which is based on the two great principles of civil and religious liberty (“for where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” 2 Corinthians 2:17). At its inception, the United States had the strength of its form of government, and of its people’s religion. Republicanism and Protestantism were the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. It is strong because the government and the church are separate, without one controlling the other.
4. It is noteworthy that this beast lacks any crowns. The United States of America is a grand experiment in government that serves its people rather than enslaving them, and in religion that allows freedom of conscience and expression. It is a country that has government without a king and religion without a pope.
5. It becomes a world power, strong enough to force the world, on pain of death, to worship the image of the beast, vss. 12-17.
This beast will speak “as a dragon” and exercise “all the power of the first beast before him.” The “first beast,” as an agent of the dragon, used its “power” in state affairs to enforce religious laws, resulting in the persecution of the “heretics” who would not submit. For America to do this and “give life unto the image of the beast” it would have to abandon the principles of religious freedom, repudiate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and discard the fundamental beliefs that have made this great nation what it is. When America uses its power to enforce religious laws and persuades other governments to do the same, it creates an “image of the beast” and it gives life, reflecting the intolerance and persecutions of the medieval Papal Church.
In the near future the United States will speak like a dragon and impose a religious law enforcing the worship of the first beast. Protestants in America will reject God’s law, and His power will be withdrawn from the churches and His protection from the nation. Society will become increasingly evil and violent, and at the same time the judgements of God will descend on the United States and on the world. Instead of embracing repentance and inward heart change, Protestant America will demand that the government enforce religious laws to “bring this nation back to God.” First of all a law will be enacted making Sunday a day of rest as all its citizens. This will be a further rejection of God’s law and of His seventh-day Sabbath in the fourth commandment. As world conditions continue to deteriorate, economic sanctions will be legislated against those who refuse to comply with this new Sunday law, and they will be unable to buy or sell. Finally a death decree will be issued against them, and the United States will “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Christ’s return to save His faithful interrupts the death decree.
The United States will deceive the world into making “an image of the first beast” through the use of “great wonders” and “miracles.” In Revelation 19:20 this beast is called “the false prophet,” and in Revelation 16:13, 14 he is said to work these miracles through “the spirits of devils.” Matthew 14:23-27 indicates that false Christ will add such strength to those deceptions as to make them very nearly overpowering; 2 Corinthians 11:14 adds that Satan himself is capable of masquerading as “an angel of light.”
16And 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:
17And 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.
18Here 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.
13:16-18 The beast causes his followers to receive a “mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell” without the “mark,” or the “name,” or the “number of the name of the first beast.
The mark of the beast will be the observance of a religious law, enforced by the United States and other governments around the world, endorsing the authority of the Papacy. Those who receive the mark in their foreheads believe that this “Sunday law” is necessary to regain God’s favor, while those marked in the hand obey only out of fear of death. This mark is Satan’s counterfeit of the seal God places in the forehead of His followers. Revelation 7:3. God’s seal is His name, character and law written in His people’s hearts and minds and is seen in His seventh-day Sabbath commandment, which identifies Him as our Creator. See note on Revelation 7:2-3. In Revelation 14:12 those who resist the mark of the beast are those who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
What is the significance of the number 666? We know that the beast, whose number this is, symbolizes the Roman Papacy, and that it’s “the number of a man.” One of the pope’s titles is said to be Vicarius Filii Dei, “Vicar of the Son of God.” In Latin, the language of Catholicism, some of the letters double as numbers, and the numerical value of Vicarius Filii Dei adds up to 666, and a great many Bible scholars believe that this is how 666 is to be interpreted.
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