Revelation 13:1 - Ellicott's Commentary On The Whole Bible

Bible Comments

And I... — Better, And he (not “I stood,” as in English version, but he, i.e., the dragon) stood upon the sand of the sea. Some make this sentence a separate verse, and insert it as the closing verse of Revelation 12. It is true that the sentence has a connection with that chapter, but it is also closely linked with what follows. The way in which the dragon carries out his plan of war is described. Like Milton’s “superior fiend,” he stands upon the shore and summons his legions (Par. Lost, Book I.) to another form of war. Two monsters, one distinguished by more brutal, the other by more subtle power, rise at his bidding.

And saw... — Translate, And I saw a wild beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. — The wild beast rises out of the sea. In the vision of Daniel (Revelation 7) the beasts rose out of the sea upon which the four winds strove. The sea represents the great, restless mass of human kind; or, as it is expressed in Revelation 17:15, “peoples and multitudes.” St. James represented an undecided man as a wave driven by the wind (James 1:6). The individuals, like larger and smaller waves, make up this great ocean-like mass of men, swayed by impulse or passion. Out of the sea rises a wild beast. The word is not the same as that used in Revelation 4:7 (see Note there), but is a word which implies the predominance of the beast nature. Whatever power rises is one which rules not by love or right, but by fear and wilfulness. It is the great force of the world-power, which in every age has been antagonistic to the power of right. The wild beast is always the figure of the kingdoms of this world — i.e., the kingdoms which are founded on passion or selfishness. They are seven in number, as the beast had seven heads. We read afterwards of seven mountains. These world-powers are spoken of as mountains for their strength and stability; as heads of the wild beast because, though separate, they are inspired by the dragon spirit, the spirit of utter enmity to the rule of the Righteous King. The seven kingdoms, or heads of the wild beast, are more distinctly explained in Revelation 17:10. There we read that five are fallen, one was in possession of power, and the seventh had not yet arisen. The key is thus placed in our hands. The sixth head is imperial Rome, the successor of those great world-powers which were, one and all, founded in unrighteousness — i.e., in violation of the law of brotherly kindness and faith. The heads carry the names of blasphemy. The spirit of arrogant self-sufficiency characterised all the world-powers. Illustrations would be too numerous for our space. It is enough to refer to the spirit in Babylon: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” The words were Nebuchadnezzar’s (Daniel 4:30). He became a beast in uttering them; but the spirit of them went through all the world-powers, from the days of Lamech (Genesis 4:23-24) and Babel (Genesis 11:4) to the days when Roman poets prostituted their pens in abject flattery of emperors, and a degraded people welcomed them as gods, and put those to death who refused to offer frankincense and wine to the images of those who wore the purple.

Ten horns. — The beast has, besides seven heads, ten horns, which are explained further on (Revelation 17:12) as “the kings which have received no kingdom as yet,” but which, when they rise, will draw their strength from the dragon and be members of the wild beast.

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.