REVELATION CHAPTER 13 Revelation 13:1-10 A beast with seven heads and ten horns riseth out of the sea, to whom the dragon giveth his power, wherewith he blasphemeth God, and vexeth the saints. Revelation 13:11-17 Another beast cometh up out of the earth, which supporteth the worship of the former beast. Revelation 13:18 The number of the beast. Chapter Introduction God is now coming to show his prophet that grand enemy of his church, who is emphatically called antichrist; after the determination of whose time of one thousand two hundred and sixty years, the kingdom of Christ shall begin, whether in the day of judgment, or in some period of time before that, and here upon the earth, I dare not determine. The rise, power, and prevalency of this adversary, is described in this chapter; the opposition made to him by Christ and his followers, Revelation 14:1-20; his fall, Revelation 15:1-18:24; for which praise is given to God, Revelation 19:1-21. This enemy of the church is showed to John by the symbol or representation of two beasts; the one having the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion; the other having two horns like a lamb, but speaking like a dragon, Revelation 13:11. The reader must understand, that the rise of these beasts, their rage, and prevalency, was contemporaneous with some of the six trumpets, mentioned Revelation 8:1-13 and Revelation 9:1-21. For, Revelation 9:15, upon the sounding of the seventh trumpet antichrist began to fall; whose gradual fall we shall find more fully described in Revelation 16:1-21, by pouring out of the vials; only (as was before said) there is from Revelation 12:1-17 a more particular description of what should happen to and in the church under the first six trumpets. The best interpreters, by these two beasts, understand the antichrist, (for in a larger sense there are more antichrists than one), and by the antichrist they understand the pope, as armed both with a secular and ecclesiastical power; yet I durst not conclude from that notion, the civil magistracy of the Roman empire, who either helped the pope into his chair, or held him there. The greatest loss we are at, is to determine the time when the papacy began: it could not be before the pagan empire was thrown down, that was about the year 325, nor before the silence in heaven for half an hour was over, which (if that by it the rest be meant which the church enjoyed in the time of Constantine and Theodosius) was about the year 390, or 400; but if we fix the rise of the papacy there, I know no ground for it, and it would, besides, have been determined in the year 1660, or thereabouts. I think, therefore, we must distinguish between the rise and reign of antichrist. It doth not seem to me reasonable to make his reign to commence higher than the year 600, or 606, when he arrogated to himself the primacy; and that was confirmed to Boniface the Third by Phocas, in requital of Boniface's kindness to him, who had got the empire by the base murder of Mauritius his master, and of all his children, and stood in need of the pope's help to support him. From that time, I judge, the one thousand two hundred and sixty years should be counted; but Nemo repente fit pessimus, we must allow the papacy some time to come to this virile estate from his cradle. And I see no great harm of allowing the two hundred years, from the year 400 to 600, for this. So that I do think that in this chapter is shortly revealed what should happen to the church from about the year 400, or the space of forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty years, the time of the beast's reign. And I stood upon the sand of the sea: the place of John's present residence was Patmos, which was an island, Revelation 1:9. He was yet in a vision, but thought he was upon the sea-shore, either in Patmos, or elsewhere. And saw a beast rise up out of the sea; that is, as I should think, unexpectedly; for who would expect to see a leopard rise from thence? Having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns: this beast is described like the dragon, Revelation 12:3, (only that is described with but seven crowns), by which we understand the devil in the heathen emperor's of Rome; and we shall find it, Revelation 13:2, so answering Daniel's vision of the four monarchies, that I cannot but think the Roman emperors, after the time of Theodosius, are meant, several of which were Arians, as also were the Goths and Vandals, (many of them), who from the year 402 invaded the empire, and were not beaten out till 564, little above forty years before Boniface was confirmed in his primacy. And upon his heads the name of blasphemy: the Arians denying the eternal existence of Christ as God, may well be said to have the name of blasphemy upon them, or upon their heads: but whether by these ten heads be meant the ten sorts of governors made use of in the empire, or the ten governments into which the Goths and Vandals divided the empire, is not easy to determine, nor, possibly, much material. There are other notions about this beast: some would have it to be the devil, but he is plainly distinguished, Revelation 12:2,4, from the dragon. Some would have it to be the Turk; but we read of the worshipping of this beast, which is what we read not done to the Turkish emperors, who also began not till above the year 1200, (though indeed the Saracens began five hundred years before), but Rome, which never was the Turk's seat, is made the seat of this beast. Some would have it to be idolatry itself; this was Grotius's notion: see the reasons against it in Mr. Pool's Synopsis Latina. Some would have it the pagan empire of Rome; but John never saw the first rise of that. This is a beast that rose after the dragon was cast down; which must be the Roman empire under the dominion of the papacy, in which respect only it is now one beast again; for otherwise in civil respects it is divided into ten crowned horns, i.e. distinct, independent kingdoms or principalities.
Related Commentaries of 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.