Revelation 13:1 - Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Bible Comments

Revelation 13:1. a beast coming up out of the sea: cf. the vision of the four great beasts that come up out of the sea in Daniel 7:3. As the beasts in Daniel represent empires, we may suppose that this beast also stands for an empire. ten horns: the horns represent emperors, either beginning with Julius Cæ sar and ending with Titus or beginning with Augustus and ending with Vespasian, or if we omit some or all of the three usurpers (Galba, Otho, Vitellius) we may end with Domitian, Nerva, or even Trajan. [Perhaps the seven heads are emperors (Augustus to Titus), and the ten horns provincial governors or dependent kings, cf. Revelation 17:12 *, p. 939. A. J. G.] names of blasphemy: possibly the name Augustus, which means worthy of worship, or the title God, which, as we know from the inscriptions, many of these kings assumed.

Revelation 13:2. leopard. bear. lion: in Daniel 7:4-6, the lion, the bear, and the leopard are distinct. Here the qualities of all three animals are ascribed to a single beast. the dragon: the power of the beast was derived from Satan.

Revelation 13:3. one of the heads. smitten: note the point of contact between this description of the boast and the description of the Lamb as it had been slain (Revelation 5:6). This phrase must be interpreted in the light of Revelation 17:8, and doubtless refers to the legend of Nero redivivus (Revelation 17:8 *).

Revelation 13:5. Cf. the description of Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 7:8-20. forty and two months: the length of the persecution of Antiochus, 3½ years (cf. Revelation 11:2 f.*, Revelation 11:9; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 12:6).

Revelation 13:6. If, with the best MSS, we omit even the words them that dwell in the heaven define and explain the term tabernacle of God.

Revelation 13:8. shall worship him: i.e. the beast, a reference to Emperor-worship, which was so prevalent at this time (p. 775). book of life: Revelation 3:5 *. from the foundation of the world: the connexion of this clause is uncertain. Most people attach it to the Lamb slain, and make it indicate the eternal character of the sacrifice of Christ. The parallel passage in Revelation 17:8, written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, strongly suggests that a similar connexion of the words ought to be understood here.

Revelation 13:10. Cf. Jeremiah 15:2; Matthew 26:52. The text and meaning of this verse are uncertain. The AV renders He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. The faith of the Christian Church is sustained by the belief that acts of persecution will recoil upon the heads of the persecutors, and vengeance will be meted out to them by God. The RV, following a more reliable text, modifies the first clause, If any man is for captivity into captivity he goes, but keeps the second clause practically unaltered. There is an ambiguity about this second clause. It may have the meaning of the AV, but it may also mean If any man shall kill with the sword, with the sword must he (i.e. the murdered man) be killed. The former rendering is much more natural, but it completely spoils the parallelism between the two clauses and brackets together two incommensurate ideas. It is essential that the parallelism of the clauses should be maintained even at the cost, as Hort suggests, of emending the text. The passage is probably based on Jeremiah 15:2, Such as are for death to death and such as are for the sword to the sword. The words seem to inculcate the Christian duty of acquiescing in the will of God even though persecution and martyrdom were involved. It was by accepting the suffering which might come upon him that the Christian exemplified his loyalty and faith. Failing this interpretation of the passage, it will be necessary to fall back upon the weaker text of the AV. The RV cannot be right unless the second clause is explained as above.

Revelation 13:1-10

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.

2 And 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.

3 And I saw one of his heads as it were woundedb to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

4 And 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?

5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continuec forty and two months.

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And 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.

8 And 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.

9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

10 He 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.