Revelation 13:13 - Clarke's commentary and critical notes on the Bible

Bible Comments

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And he doeth great wonders - That we may have the greatest assurance possible that the two-horned beast is the spiritual Latin empire, it is called in Revelation 19:20, a passage illustrative of the one now under consideration, the false prophet, "than which," as Bishop Newton observes, "there cannot be a stronger or plainer argument to prove that false doctors or teachers were particularly designed;" for prophet, in the Scripture style, is not unfrequently used for a preacher or expounder of God's word. See 1 Corinthians 14:1-5. It hence follows that the two-horned beast is an empire of false doctors or teachers.

In order to establish the Latin Church upon a foundation that can never fail, the false prophet doth great wonders - he attempts the most wonderful and prodigious exploits, and is crowned with incredible success. He has the art to persuade his followers that the clergy of the Church of Rome are the only true ministers of Christ; that they have such great influence in the court of heaven as to be able not only to forgive sins, but also to grant indulgences in sin, by paying certain stipulated sums. He persuades them too that they can do works of supererogation. He pretends that an incredible number of miracles have been wrought and are still working by the Almighty, as so many evidences of the great sanctity of the Latin Church; and the false prophet has such an astonishing influence over his flock, as to cause them to believe all his fabulous legends and lying wonders. He pretends also (and is believed!) that his power is not confined to this world; that he is able by his prayers to deliver the souls of the deceased from what he calls purgatory, a place which he has fabled to exist for the purification of sinful souls after their departure from this world. His wonderful exploits, in being able to induce men possessed of reasoning faculties to believe his monstrous absurdities, do not end here; he even: -

Maketh fire come down from heaven - in the sight of men - Fire, in Scripture, when it signifies wrath, represents that species of indignation which is attended with the destruction of whatever is the cause of it. Thus the wrath of God is likened to fire, Psalms 18:7, Psalms 18:8; Jeremiah 4:4. Therefore the fire which the false prophet bringeth down from heaven upon the earth, is the fiery indignation which he causes to come down from the heaven or throne of the Latin empire upon all those of the earth or Latin world who rebel against his authority. All this has been fulfilled in the Romish hierarchy; the Latin clergy have denominated all those that oppose their authority heretics, they have instituted tribunals to try the cause of heresy, and all those that would not submit to their idolatry they have condemned to various kinds of tortures and deaths. It is said of the false prophet that he bringeth fire From Heaven upon the earth; that is to say, he will only try the cause of heresy, and pass the sentence of condemnation; he will not suffer an ecclesiastic to execute the sentence of the court; the destroying fire he causeth to come down from the heaven or throne of the Latin empire; secular princes and magistrates must execute the sentence of death upon all that are capitally condemned by the spiritual power. He Maketh fire come down from heaven; he compels secular princes to assist him against heretics; and if any rebel against his authority he immediately puts them under the ban of the anathema, so that they are deprived of their offices, and exposed to the insults and persecution of their brethren. Thus the false prophet deceives the Latin world by the means of those miracles which he had power try do in the sight of the beast. Under the appearance of great sanctity he persuades men to believe all his lying doctrines, and enforces his canons and decretals with the sword of the civil magistrate.

Revelation 13:13

13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,