Section 27, Chapter 14
Of the beast with seven heads and of a second beast.
13:1. And I saw a beast coming up out the sea, having seven heads and ten horns: and upon his horns, ten diadems: and upon his heads, names of blasphemy.
A beast. . .This first beast with seven heads and ten horns, is probably the whole company of infidels, enemies and persecutors of the people of God, from the beginning to the end of the world. The seven heads are seven kings, that is, seven principal kingdoms or empires, which have exercised, or shall exercise, tyrannical power over the people of God; of these, five were then fallen, viz.: the Egyptian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, and Grecian monarchies: one was present, viz., the empire of Rome: and the seventh and chiefest was to come, viz., the great Antichrist and his empire. The ten horns may be understood of ten lesser persecutors.
13:2. And the beast which I saw was like to 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 own strength and great power.
13:3. And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death's wound was healed. And all the earth was in admiration after the beast.
One of his heads, etc. . .Some understand this of the mortal wound, which the idolatry of the Roman empire (signified by the sixth head) received from Constantine; which was, as it were, healed again by Julian the Apostate.
13:4. And they adored the dragon which gave power to the beast. And they adored the beast, saying: Who is like to the beast? And who shall be able to fight with him?
13:5. And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies: and power was given to him to do, two and forty months.
13:6. And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven.
His tabernacle, etc. . .That is, his church and his saints.
13:7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.
13:8. And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the world.
Slain from the beginning, etc. . .In the foreknowledge of God; and inasmuch as all mercy and grace, from the beginning, was given in view of his death and passion.
13:9. If any man have an ear, let him hear.
13:10. He that shall lead into captivity shall go into captivity: he that shall kill by the sword must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
13:11. And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth: and he had two horns, like a lamb: and he spoke as a dragon.
Another beast. . .This second beast with two horns, may be understood of the heathenish priests and magicians; the principal promoters both of idolatry and persecution.
13:12. And he executed all the power of the former beast in his sight. And he caused the earth and them that dwell therein to adore the first beast, whose wound to death was healed.
13:13. And he did great signs, so that he made also fire to come down from heaven unto the earth, in the sight of men.
13:14. And he seduced them that dwell on the earth, for the signs which were given him to do in the sight of the beast: saying to them that dwell on the earth that they should make the image of the beast which had the wound by the sword and lived.
13:15. And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast: and that the image of the beast should speak: and should cause that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast should be slain.
13:16. And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand or on their foreheads:
13:17. And that no man might buy or sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
13:18. Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.
Six hundred sixty-six. . .The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number.