Revelation 13:1 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Bible Comments

And I stood upon the sand of the sea - The sand upon the shore of the sea. That is, he seemed to stand there, and then had a vision of a beast rising out of the waters. The reason of this representation may, perhaps, have been that among the ancients the sea was regarded as the appropriate place for the origin of huge and terrible monsters (Prof. Stuart, in loco). This vision strongly resembles that in Daniel 7:2 ff, where the prophet saw four beasts coming up in succession from the sea. See the notes on that place. In Daniel, the four winds of heaven are described as striving upon the great sea Dan 13:2, and the agitated ocean represents the nations in commotion, or in a state of disorder and anarchy, and the four beasts represent four successive kingdoms that would spring up. See the notes on Daniel 7:2. In the passage before us, John indeed describes no storm or tempest; but the sea itself, as compared with the land (see the notes on Revelation 13:11), represents an agitated or unsettled state of things, and we should naturally. look for that in the rise of the power here referred to. If the reference be to the civil or secular Roman power that has always appeared in connection with the papacy, and that has always followed its designs, then it is true that it rose amidst the agitations of the world, and from a state of commotion that might well be represented by the restless ocean. The sea in either case naturally describes a nation or people, for this image is frequently so employed in the Scriptures. Compare, as above, Daniel 7:2, and Psalms 65:7; Jeremiah 51:42; Isaiah 60:5; Revelation 10:2. The natural idea, therefore, in this passage, would be that the power that was represented by the “beast” would spring up among the nations, when restless or unsettled, like the waves of the ocean.

And saw a beast - Daniel saw four in succession Daniel 7:3-7, all different, yet succeeding each other; John saw two in succession, yet strongly resembling each other, Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11. On the general meaning of the word “beast” - θηρίον thērion - see the notes on Revelation 11:7. The beast here is evidently a symbol of some power or kingdom that would arise in future times. See the notes on Daniel 7:3.

Having seven heads - So also the dragon is represented in Revelation 12:3. See the notes on that passage. The representation there is of Satan, as the source of all the power lodged in the two beasts that John subsequently saw. In Revelation 17:9, referring substantially to the same vision, it is said that “the seven heads are seven mountains”; and there can be no difficulty, therefore, in referring this to the seven hills on which the city of Rome was built (compare the notes on Revelation 12:3), and consequently this must be regarded as designed, in some way, to be a representation of Rome.

And ten horns - See this also explained in the notes on Revelation 12:3; compare also the more extended illustration in the notes on Daniel 7:25, following The reference here is to Rome, or the one Roman power, contemplated as made up of ten subordinate kingdoms, and therefore subsequently to the invasion of the Northern hordes, and to the time when the papacy was about to rise. Compare Revelation 17:12; “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings (marg. “kingdoms”), which have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power as kings with the beast.” For a full illustration of this, see the copious notes at the close of the seventh chapter of Daniel.

And upon his horns ten crowns - Greek, “ten diadems.” See the notes on Revelation 12:3. These indicated dominion or authority. In Revelation 12:3, the “dragon is represented as having seven diadems on his head”; here, the beast is represented as having ten. The dragon there represents the Roman domination, as such, the seven-hilled, or seven-headed power, and, therefore, properly described as having seven diadems; the beast here represents the Roman power, as now broken up into the ten dominations which sprung up (see the notes on Daniel as above) from the one original Roman power, and that became henceforward the supporters of the papacy, and, therefore, properly represented here as having ten diadems.

And upon his heads the name of blasphemy - That is, the whole power was blasphemous in its claims and pretensions. The word “blasphemy” here seems to be used in the sense that titles and attributes were claimed by it which belonged only to God. On the meaning of the word “blasphemy,” see the notes on Matthew 9:3; Matthew 26:65. The meaning here is, that each one of these heads appeared to have a frontlet, with an inscription that was blasphemous, or that ascribed some attribute to this power that properly belonged to God; and that the whole power thus assumed was in derogation of the attributes and claims of God. In regard to the propriety of this description considered as applicable to the papacy, see the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

Revelation 13:1

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 namea of blasphemy.