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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Revelation 13



Other Authors
Verse 1

Beast ( θηρίον )

Properly rendered. See remarks on ζῶα living creatures, Revelation 4:6.

Rise up ( ἀναβαῖνον )

Rev., better, coming up, thus giving the force of the participle.

Ten horns

Compare Daniel 7:7.

Crowns ( διαδήματα )

Compare Revelation 12:3. See on Revelation 2:10.

The name ( ὄνομα )

Read ὀνόματα namesOn each head a name.

Verse 2

A leopard ( παρδάλει )

The ancients do not seem to have distinguished between the leopard, the panther, and the ounce. The word stands for either. Leopard is leo-pard, the lion-pard, which was supposed to be a mongrel between a panther and a lioness. Compare Daniel 7:6.


Compare Daniel 7:5.


Compare Daniel 7:4.

Verse 3

I saw ( εἶδον )

Omitted in the best texts.

Wounded ( ἐφαγμένην )

Lit., slain. See on Revelation 5:6. The Rev. smitten is questionable. The word occurs eight times in Revelation, and in seven of these it must be rendered slain or slaughtered. Professor Milligan rightly observes that the statement is the counterpart of that in Revelation 5:6, where we read of the lamb as though it had been slaughtered. In both cases there had been actual death, and in both revival. The one is a mocking counterpart of the other.

Deadly wound ( πληγὴ τοῦ θανάτου )

Lit., stroke of death. Rev., death-stroke.

After the beast ( ὀπίσω τοῦ θηρίου )

A pregnant construction for wondered at and followed after.

Verse 4

Which gave ( ὁς ἔδωκεν )

The correct reading is ὅτι because he gave.”

Who is like unto the beast?

A parody on a similar ascription to God. See Isaiah 40:18, Isaiah 40:25; Isaiah 46:5; Psalm 113:5; Micah 7:18; Jeremiah 49:19. Compare Revelation 18:18.

Verse 5

To continue forty and two months ( ποιῆσαι μῆνας τεσσεράκοντα δύο )

Lit., to make forty and two months. Similarly, Acts 15:33, ποιήσαντες χρόνον havingtarried a space; lit., having made a time. See on continued there a year, James 4:13. The best expositors, however, render ποιῆσαι absolutely, to work, and the following accusative as the accusative of duration, “during forty and two months.” Rev., margin to do his works during, etc. See Daniel 11:28.

Verse 6

In blasphemy ( εἰς βλασφημίαν )

Read βλασφημίας blasphemiesRev., giving the force of εἰς more correctly, “for blasphemies.”

And them that dwell in heaven ( καὶ τοὺς ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ σκηνοῦντας )

The best texts omit καὶ andmaking the following words in apposition with ὄνομα and σκηνὴν nameand tabernacle. Thus the literal sense would be to blaspheme the name and tabernacle which dwell in heaven. “The meaning is to enhance the enormity of the blasphemy by bringing out the lofty nature of God's holy name and dwelling-place” (Alford). The word dwell is, literally, tabernacle. See on Revelation 12:12.

Verse 7

The saints ( τῶν ἁγίων )

See on Acts 26:10.

All kindreds ( πᾶσαν φυλὴν )

Rev., more literally and correctly, every tribe. See on Revelation 1:7; see on Revelation 5:9. After tribe insert καὶ λαὸν andpeople. See on 1 Peter 2:9.

Nation ( ἔθνος )

See on 1 Peter 2:9.

Verse 8

From the foundation of the world

These words may be construed with slain or with written. In favor of the latter is Revelation 18:8; of the former, 1 Peter 1:19, 1 Peter 1:20. Alford, pertinently as I think, urges the position of the words in favor of the connection with slain, and says that had it not been for the apparent difficulty of the sense thus conveyed, no one would have thought of going so far back as to hath been written for a connection. Render, as Rev., the lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world. Καταβολή foundationis literally a throwing or laying down, from καταβάλλω tothrow down; hence a laying down of a foundation.

Verse 10

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity ( εἴ τις αἰχμαλωσίαν συνάγει, εἰς αἰχμαλωσίαν ὑπάγει )

Lit., if any one assemble captivity (i.e., bring together captives) into captivity he goeth away. The best texts insert εἰς intobefore the first captivity, and omit assemble, thus reading if any man is for captivity into captivity he goeth. So Rev. See on dispersion, John 7:35. Compare Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 43:11. The persecutors of the Church shall suffer that which they inflict on the saints.

Sword ( μαχαὶρῃ )

See on Revelation 6:4.


In the thought that God judgeth in the earth.

Verse 14

An image to the beast ( εἰκόνα τῷ θηρίῳ )

Εἰκών is a figure or likeness. Thus Matthew 22:20, of the likeness of Caesar on the coin. Romans 1:24, an image of men, birds, beasts, etc. Colossians 3:10, “the image of Him that created him;” i.e., the moral likeness of renewed men to God. Christ is called the image of God (Colossians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Besides the idea of likeness, the word involves the idea of representation, though not of perfect representation. Thus, man is said to be the image of God (1 Corinthians 11:7). In this it resembles χαρακτήρ imagein Hebrews 1:3. Caesar's image on the coin, the reflection of the sun in the water (Plato, “Phaedo,” 99); and the statue or image of the beast in this passage, are εἰκών .

The word also involves the idea of manifestation. Thus, Colossians 1:15, where, in the image there is an implied contrast with the invisible God. Hence Philo applied the term to the Logos. See on John 1:1.

The word played an important part in the Arian controversy, in which the distinction was sharply emphasized between εἰκών imageas assuming a prototype, and therefore as properly representing the relation of the Son to the Father, and ὁμοίωμα likenessas implying mere similitude, and not embodying the essential verity of the prototype. The image involves the likeness, but the likeness does not involve the image. The latter may imply only an accidental resemblance, while the former is a veritable representation. Christ is therefore the εἰκών of God.

The image of the beast occurs ten times in Revelation; four times in this chapter, and in Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4.

Verse 15


This is supposed by some to refer to the tricks of pagan priests in making pictures and statues appear to speak.

Verse 16

A mark ( χάραγμα )

The word occurs frequently in Revelation, and only once elsewhere (Acts 17:29) on which see note. Commentators find illustrations in the brand set upon slaves by their masters, or upon soldiers by their monarchs, and in the branding of slaves attached to certain temples. Herodotus describes a temple to Hercules at the Canopic mouth of the Nile, and says: “If a slave runs away from his master, and taking sanctuary at this shrine gives himself up to the God, and receives certain sacred marks upon his person, whosoever his master may be, he cannot lay hand on him” (ii., 113). In the treatise “concerning the Syrian goddess” falsely attributed to Lucian, it is said of the slaves of the temple, “all are branded, some upon the wrist and some upon the neck.” Paul, in Galatians 6:17, applies the word for these brands, στίγματα , to the marks of Christ's service which he bears in his body. In Leviticus href="/desk/?q=le+19:28&sr=1">Leviticus 19:28, the Israelites are forbidden to make cuttings in their flesh for the dead and to print marks ( γράμματα στικτὰ ) upon themselves.

Verse 17

The number

The method of mystic numbering obtained alike among pagan Greeks, Gnostics, Christian Fathers, and Jewish Cabbalists. Jupiter was invoked under the number 717 contained in the letters Ἡ ἉΡΧΗ thebeginning. The Gnostics affixed to their gems and amulets the mystic word ἀβρασαξ or ἀβραξας , under the idea of some virtue attaching to its number, 365, as being that of the days of the solar cycle. Barnabas and Clement of Alexandria speak of the virtue of the number 318 as being that of IHT, the common abbreviation for Jesus crucified. In the pseudo-Sybilline verses, written by Christians, about the end probably of the second century, are found versified enigmas giving the number and requiring the name. The translation of one of these on the word Jesus is as follows: “He will come upon earth clothed with flesh like mortal men. His name contains four vowels and two consonants: two of the former being sounded together. And I will declare the entire number. For the name will exhibit to incredulous men eight units, eight tens, and eight hundreds.”

Verse 18

Here is wisdom

Directing attention to the challenge which follows.

Count ( ψηφισάτω )

See on Luke 14:28.

The number of a man

It is counted as men usually count. Compare Revelation 21:17, and a man's pen, Isaiah 8:1. Some explain, a symbolical number denoting a person.

Six hundred threescore and six ( χ. ξ. ς ')

Each letter represents a component of the whole number: χ = 600; ξ = 60; ς ' = 6. In the earlier MSS: it is written in full, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἐξ . The method of reading generally adopted is that known as the Ghematria of the Rabbins, or in Greek, ἰσοψηφία numerical equality, which assigns each letter of a name its usual numerical value, and gives the sum of such numbers as the equivalent of the name. Thus, in the Epistle of Barnabas, we are told that the name Ἱησοῦς Jesus is expressed by the number 888. Ι = 10; η = 8; σ = 200; ο = 70; υ = 400; σ = 200. The majority of the commentators use the Greek alphabet in computation; others, however, employ the Hebrew; while a third class employ the Roman numerals.

The interpretations of this number form a jungle from which escape is apparently hopeless. Reuss says: “This famous number has been made to yield almost all the historical names of the past eighteen centuries: Titus, Vespasian, and Simon Gioras; Julian the Apostate and Genseric; Mahomet and Luther; Benedict IX. and Louis XV.; Napoleon I. and the Duke of Reichstadt; and it would not be difficult, on the same principles, to read in it one another's names.” Some of the favorite names are Λατεῖνος , Latinus, describing the common character of the rulers of the former pagan Roman Empire: Nero Caesar; Diocletian; χς ' the name of Christ abridged, and ξ the emblem of the serpent, so that the sublimated sense is the Messiah of Satan.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 13:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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