Revelation 13

We have seen that Revelation 12 goes back as well as forward, and connects the purpose of God which is to be brought out in the latter day with the Messiah and even with His birth. Thus, while the Lord Jesus Christ is to my mind clearly referred to as the man child, yet it is not His birth merely or historically, but His birth as it is linked with this future plan of God, which the book reveals here. The moment Christ is thus referred to (that is, Christ evidently viewed as the Head, not of the church, but of Israel ruling “all nations with a rod of iron,” and taking the government of the world into His own hands), Satan appears in personal opposition. It is no other than might be looked for; for God Himself had said in the garden of Eden, that He would put enmity between the serpent and the woman, between his seed and her seed. This was revealed at the beginning, and here we have it fulfilled at the very close. Without telling us the least about His humiliation, the man child was caught up to God and to His throne. Thus it is clear that it is not a bare statement of the Lord’s life, but such facts are referred to — the two great cardinal ones of His birth and of His rapture to the presence and throne of God — in order to furnish connecting links with what God has to do by and by with Israel. All the intermediate workings of God in the church are left entirely out, except as we may suppose the church to be involved in the destiny of the man child, who is now hid with God, but is yet to reign. Just as what is said about Christ in the Old Testament is applied to the church or the Christian in the New Testament; but still, most true and blessed as that is, it is an indirect use. Here then we have the Messiah in relation to the future purpose of God as regards Israel.

Then follows the vision of a war in heaven. Not the Lord Jesus Christ, but angelic power is seen used of God to put down the rebel angels, Satan and his host. And from that moment Satan loses his power above (that is to say, the most important part of it, the most serious in itself, the most dishonouring to God, the most dangerous to the people of God) — his power in heavenly places, which is referred to in Ephesians 6 and other passages. Accordingly, when Satan loses that place, there is joy in heaven, and a voice proclaims that “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.” But yet, as far as the earth was concerned, the kingdom was not actually come: only Satan had lost his place above.

So we find a little answering to this, that our Lord alludes to Satan’s fall from heaven in the gospel of Luke; and I notice it because some have thence supposed that Satan had been expelled from the heavens long ago. It is in Rev. 10, when the disciples return to the Lord, full of joy because the devils even were subject to them. The answer is that He “beheld Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven.” Now a person might set the words in the evangelist against the fall of Satan that is described in the Apocalypse as still future. But evidently this would be a misuse of scripture. We may always rest assured that the Bible agrees with itself. It is ignorance and unbelief to set one part of God’s word against another. To an unbiassed mind, I think it is certain that the fall of Satan in the prophecy is described as a prospective event, which is to take place three years and a half (however that may be taken) before the destruction of the beast and the binding of Satan himself. Consequently it is a fall that in St. John’s time at least was yet future. The immediate effect was to be a dreadful persecution against the woman and her seed. Again, I have endeavoured to set forth a variety of considerations, from which it is clear to me that before this event the church must have been taken to heaven. Such the reader will remember has been the uniform deduction I have drawn all through our former chapters (Rev. 4-6); so that the fall of Satan, intimated here, must be an event subsequent to the removal of the glorified saints to heaven. What then does the Lord Jesus Christ mean when He says, “I beheld Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven?” When He sees and hears the effects of the disciples’ service in His name, then the vision of Satan’s catastrophe passes before His eyes, and the full consequences of His power are hailed in the then earnest of it. He looks on to the final crisis and the downfall of the Evil One, when the disciples announced so notable a sample of “the powers of the world to come.” It was the first great blow struck by men at Satan’s power; and therefore He anticipates the end from the beginning, and, so to speak, in a sort of musing, contemplative vision, He beheld the adversary fall from the highest scene of his usurpation.

Nor is this an uncommon thing in scripture. In another gospel, when the Greeks come up to the feast desiring to see Jesus, what does He say? “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.” He was going to the cross and to death; yet He declares that the hour was come that He should be glorified. How was this? If you take it in a mere literal way, it seems to me that the force of the passage is lost. Jesus sees in the Greeks that were before Him a sample of the ingathering of the Gentiles; and the Lord perfectly well knew that the only thing that would draw the Gentiles must be His own cross and His glory in heaven. So that He looks through all the intervening scene that was before Him, for He had to accomplish redemption and to ascend on high. But from this little sample He connects all with His glorification, and speaks of it as of a present fact.

Again when Judas goes out, and the Lord Jesus Christ repeats similar words, it is, I presume, on the same principle. (John 13:31.)

Is not Rev. 5:13 analogous? A remarkable movement was seen in the vision affecting the universe, when the sealed book was taken in hand by the Lamb. It is not merely that we had the living creatures prostrate, and the elders taking up the new song, and the myriads of angels with their loud voice of praise; but there is a chorus in which the whole creation joined. “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” It was like striking a key-note that would never cease to vibrate, till the remotest bounds of creation would be filled with the glory of God and the Lamb. But the time of full blessing was here anticipated; it was in fact the Lamb’s receiving the book of the inheritance which called forth these overflowings of worship and joy. After this followed the opening of the seals, which was but the prelude of the latter-day judgments; and these would go on increasing in severity till Christ Himself comes executing wrath. (Rev. 19.) Not till then would the glory appear, and these anticipations be realised. (Rev. 21, 22.) From the first event, however, that was a link in the chain, the end is welcomed. This is the mind of Christ.

And so it is in Luke 10. The Lord does not there refer to Satan’s fall as a fact actually accomplished then; but He looks on through what was true at that time to his future and more complete humiliation, which we see here. And even this fall of Satan is by no means the last exertion of the power of God against the enemy. For until then Satan had scarcely been touched, save to faith. It is true that in the cross of Christ he had been judged in principle (John 12:31); but, as a literal fact, he was not yet shaken from his throne of the world. Doubtless, in the cross, the great work of God in virtue of which he is to be cast out from heaven was accomplished, so that it only remains a question of time and of the will of God. And first of all, he loses the heavenly part of the power which he has usurped. Then he comes down to the earth in a rage, knowing that he has but a short time. This brings us to Revelation 13; for there we get the detail of the doings of Satan here below, i.e., upon the sea and the earth (the sea, as we have before seen, symbolizing what was not under regular government, and the earth that part of the world which enjoys a state of order). The two together make up the world as a whole, or a given sphere of it, under whatever condition.

The prophet,77 it in said, was set or stood upon the sand of the sea. In a later portion (Rev. 17) he is carried in the Spirit into the wilderness; and afterwards (Rev. 21) to a great and high mountain. Here, as everywhere, all is in keeping with the scene. “I stood upon the sand of the sea.” The reason is manifest. John is about to see a great beast emerging out of the sea, and accordingly he takes in the vision a suited place. “And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea.” You must remember that all these visions were like a great panorama that passed before the eye of the prophet. What the meaning of the symbols used is, we have to find out by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The sea sets forth the unformed mass of the people under a troubled state of the world — people in great agitation, like the restless waves of the deep. It is that which represents a revolutionary condition among men. And it is out of that mass of anarchy and confusion that an imperial power rises. This power is called “the beast,” The same thing appears in Dan. 7; but with this difference. The Jewish prophet sees successively four beasts emerge from the sea; not one merely, as we have in the beginning of Rev. 13. There was the first beast like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, and a fourth beast of a peculiar kind. And then, before the explanation is given, one in the form of a son of man comes with the clouds of heaven, in contrast with the powers that came up from a tumultuous sea. It was a kingdom heavenly in its source, and a king who was to use the power of God which is to be established over the earth in the person of the Lord as Son of man, instead of being left in God’s sovereignty to those successive and ferocious beasts. The rising of the beasts out of the sea, upon which the four winds of heaven strove, portrays probably the vast commotion of peoples that preceded the formation of the four great empires. And it is an interesting fact, that the foundations of those states which afterwards became possessed of the imperial power were all laid about the same time. They emerged from obscurity and political chaos pretty nearly together. God in His sovereignty gave power to each in succession. First, there was the Babylonian, then the Medo-Persian, then the Greek or Macedonian, and lastly the Roman.

In this case John sees but one beast rise. The sea sets forth a troubled state of nations, and the fourth and last beast mentioned by Daniel is seen by the prophet coming out of it. The first three beasts had had their day, and they were gone. The fourth or Roman empire had followed, and was then in being, and power. It was the authority of the Roman beast, which had at this very time cast John into Patmos. It seems to be its final rise, previous to its destruction which John sees here, but what was to take place between its first appearance as an empire and this reappearance is not yet described. There can be no doubt, from the description given, that it is the Roman empire. It is said to have “seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns;” the same things that we saw in Satan (Rev. 12:3), where he was regarded as the possessor of the power of the world, and specially that of Rome. We all may remember how he said to the Lord Jesus, when showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for this is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Now here he gives it to the Roman beast. Satan was, of course, an usurper; but still he was the prince of the world in fact, and as such he has seven heads and ten horns. But as Satan, he does not present himself openly before men. He must have some representative or agent. He must disguise himself, and work through another, and take a human form and instrumentality; even as God was pleased to do the same to accomplish His blessed purposes of grace. And so does Satan — awful counterpart in malice of God’s goodness in Christ! The agent described, through whom he works. is the Roman empire in its last phase. He took advantage of men’s lust for power, because that which is the object of ambition in the world is power. And here you have a vast imperial power, which was at first owned of God. As far as rising out of the sea was concerned, God could still have owned it; but when it is said to arise out of the bottomless pit, the source is in no way providential, but expressly of the enemy.

But besides these seven heads and ten horns, there were upon the latter ten crowns. Let me just say that I have no doubt the ten horns ought to be mentioned before the heads: “having ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads names of blasphemy” (verse 1). Not that one would attach undue importance to the order, save that we ought always to be right; but the two clauses of the verse agree in putting the horns first, perhaps because the beast is regarded here as having these powers in actual exercise, whereas Satan had them virtually only. Blasphemy, not mere heathenism, characterizes his heads.

“And the beast which I saw was like a leopard.” This was the general resemblance of its body, and it refers to the Macedonian empire, so notoriously marked by its swiftness of conquest. “His feet were as the feet of a bear,” which refers to the Persian, and implies great tenacity of grasp; “and his mouth as the mouth of a lion” denoting its voraciousness, as in Nebuchadnezzar’s career and kingdom. Thus the Roman empire. in its last stage at least, would unite in itself the several characteristics of the former empires. And indeed such was the ordinary policy of the Romans. They did not interfere with what they found in the various nations they conquered. They endeavoured to incorporate into their own system whatever had helped on the power of those nations. They did not force their own customs upon others, but cultivated whatever they found advantageous, and turned it to their own use. So this beast, as we see here, was made up of the diverse qualities of power that had given weight to its imperial predecessors.

But there is one remarkable difference from all of them, and even from its own original condition. “The dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority” (verse 2). This notable distinction is subsequent to Satan’s fall from heaven. He wants to have a medium for acting universally upon men, in the centre of the world’s civilisation and activity, for the short time that he is allowed to do as he pleases on earth. Accordingly, to the Roman beast which had imperial authority providentially from God he gives his own peculiar dragon power. This is a thing that has never yet been seen on the earth in the full sense of the word — this union of the imperial authority with the positive impartation of Satanic energy. But the prophet sees more than this connected with the beast’s investiture by the dragon. “And [I saw] one of his heads as it were slain to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and the whole earth wondered after the beast” (verse 3). I am inclined to think that the wounded head was the imperial form of government. (Comp. Rev. 17:10.) The heads that were, as we have seen, connected with the dragon (Rev. 12:3) as well as with the beast, represent the different forms of power which had existed successively. Of these one was to be lost, as it were wounded to death, but at this time was to be revived again through Satanic agency. All the world is surprised, and no wonder. They will be seized with extreme astonishment at the revival of the Roman empire, with more than its ancient splendour.

And now, if we look at Daniel, we find a remarkable fact introduced there, connected with its divided state at the close, and of course also with its previous divisions after it had ceased to exist as an empire. The image in Dan. 2 has got feet, “part of iron and part of clay.” There is weakness consequently. That metal represents the original Roman element in its strength, while the clay was a foreign ingredient, which brought in weakness when it sought to coalesce with the iron.78 “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay” (verse 43). This exactly accounts for the state of things found in Western Europe. The history of this part of the world was completely changed by the inroads of the barbarians about the fifth century after Christ. There was a time when one vast consolidated power had universal and undisputed sway — the iron power of Rome. But at the epoch named swarms of barbarians, near about the same time and from the north and east, came down on the empire and assailed it at almost every point. It fell. But mighty as these barbarians were in overthrowing, they could only establish little separate kingdoms; and since then no hand has been able to gather up the broken fragments and put them firmly together again. It has not been for want of the disposition to do so; for, on the contrary, all sorts of expedients have been tried — sometimes the sword, sometimes policy, sometimes intermarriage-but in vain. And thus it has remained under the providence of God. There has been no unity, so that the prevailing and favourite expression of modem policy has been and is “the balance of power.” It means really keeping a respectable distance among the scattered members of what was once a united body. Mutual jealousies and the spirit of independence in each have ever effectually hindered re-union. The ordinary aim has been, by the formation of parties among the powers, to cheek and prevent the preponderance of any one.

But though that wound seemed to be unto death, it was healed notwithstanding. “I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed.” That is, at the period of which the vision speaks, the Roman power is to be consolidated afresh: not as formerly, with God’s good hand over it and controlling all, whatever might have been the ways of individual emperors; but all is abandoned to the will of the beast as the immediate instrument of Satan. Satan can no longer accuse the saints before God, but now he is at work on the earth to produce open blasphemy against God. And this is first done by means of political influence. There is the Roman empire reorganised, and the imperial power revived, and a head over it that gathers everything under his own control, so that all the world wonders after the beast to whom the dragon had given his power, and throne, and great authority. In the next verse we have not merely this; but “they worshipped the beast saying, Who is like the beast? and who is able to make war with him?” (verse 4.)

What a fickle thing is man! No doubt, just before there had been a state of anarchy and confusion, and thence the beast arose and becomes an object of wonder and worship to men weary of all their previous turmoil, and strife, and insecurity. Something like it was seen in a neighbouring country. Men were convulsed by a revolution which tore up all the landmarks and filled their minds with anxiety and restlessness. And what came out of that? A strong hand takes the reins, a military despotism, a quasi-imperial power. And what was enacted on a small scale, because in one country only, will prevail in all the western powers of Europe. So that instead of men having things to themselves, some vigorous chief will take the rule. but it will not be the hand of man merely, but the dragon’s power. God will permit him to have his own way; and so for a short time he is allowed to do his very worst. Then, besides distinct governments and rulers, each over his own country, there will be an imperial unity under one great head, who will wield their power and preside over all. Thus will be accomplished those desires of men that have hitherto proved but idle dreams, or at most abortive efforts.

There is a passage in an early epistle I would briefly notice, which refers to what has hindered, and hinders still, the development of this and other allied wickedness. It is in 2 Thess. 2:6, 7: “And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one who now letteth until he be taken out of the way. And then shall the lawless one be revealed,” etc. There is a restraint that God puts upon the lawlessness of the world; and I conceive the Holy Ghost who acts here below is the One spoken of here as “he who now letteth” or hindereth. Still, after the church has been taken away, God will carry on a testimony, though of another sort, and Satan will be kept in cheek for a season at least. This restraint will be maintained by the operation of the Holy Ghost in a providential way. When this dealing of God ceases, the Holy Ghost will no longer “let,” as the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth; that is, the power which the Holy Ghost exerts over the world, and not merely in the church, will no longer be put forth as now to keep Satan under. “He who now letteth” will “be taken out of the way.” People do not know how much they owe to this restraint of Satan from doing his worst. But the time will come when God will cease to hinder; and then Satan will for a season carry all before him on the earth. He raises up a person as head, and men are charmed with the grandeur of his energy, exercised as it will be without conscience towards God — charmed with the comparative ease that will result from having one person supreme over all. In short, they will have in many ways what is suited to meet the idolatry and pride of the heart. For men are, like children, constantly disappointed with their own schemes and even successes. Besides, having refused the love of the truth, they will readily fall into whatever snare Satan may put before them. So that, after a previous storm of revolutions, they will gladly fall down and worship the beast and the dragon that gave him his power. But further, the worship of the beast in the day that is coming will be of a different character from common idolatry. They will not merely be adorers of him, along with gods many and lords many, as the heathen of old. There will be an utter denial of any god above the one who is adored as such on earth. This miserable being whom Satan fills will be the object of their worship; and the dragon shares it.

“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemy: and power was given unto him to practise [or continue] 79forty-two months” (verse 5). Nobody doubts, I suppose, that this is connected with Dan. 7. The same kind of language is heard applying to and for the same time. If we examine that chapter, some of the thoughts I have uttered will be found to be confirmed. It is said (Dan, 7:7) that the fourth beast differs from all its predecessors. “It had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up another little horn” (verse 8). There is nothing of this in the Revelation. The little horn, at least as such, is not mentioned there. But this is not all. Before him “were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” He takes possession of the territory of three of the horns, so that but seven remain out of the ten. “In this horn were eyes like the eyes of man,” — the symbol of intelligence, “and a mouth speaking great things,” — the utterance of pride and blasphemy against God. (Compare verse 25.) This is what brings on judgment from God — not of course the white-throne judgment of the dead, but the judgment of the quick, and of the habitable world. And so it is written in the eleventh verse: “I beheld, then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.” Now observe that there is this difference between Daniel’s prophecy and John’s — what Daniel says about the little horn John says about the beast. (Compare Rev. 13:5, 6, with Dan. 7:8, 25.) The reason is this: John gives us the character or principle, and Daniel the detail of historical facts. The fact was to be, that in the Roman empire there should arise ten kings, three80 of whom disappear before the force or fraud of another king, the little horn — a power obscure in its first origin, but acquiring actual possession of three kingdoms, and then becoming the real director of all the rest. In the Revelation (where of course it is assumed that what had been disclosed in Daniel is already known), the Holy Ghost does not go back to the historical details, but speaks as if the emperor and the empire were one.

We are bound to acknowledge “the powers that be;” but when Satan has given the beast his authority, it is another thing altogether: we owe no allegiance to Satan. In point of fact, he is the one who leads on the beast into all his own depths and heights of sin. For the beast “opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, [and]81 them that dwell in heaven” (verse 6). The Roman empire is the chariot, so to speak, in which this furious rider is driving.

But let us look further at Daniel 7. “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them (verse 21). . . . And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the high [places], and shall think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hands until a time, and times, and the dividing of times.” It is the same period of forty-two months that we have here in Rev. 13: — “a time,” which means “year;” and “times,” two years; “and the dividing of time,” half a year. I have no question that it is the person referred to in Daniel, under the name of the little horn, who here appears under that of the beast. There he is the “horn,” because Daniel gives us the gradual succession of the history, and adds the special Jewish part, the gift of times and laws into his hand; here, because he is viewed as having all the power and authority of the imperial system, he is called “the beast.” He opens his mouth “in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and them that tabernacle in heaven.” For this was the great object of Satan, who uses the beast as his mouthpiece. It was from heaven he had been cast out; and God in heaven, and those whom He calls into relationship with Himself there are peculiarly odious to Satan and to this self-exalting beast. “They that dwell in heaven” are unbearable to them. There is no one thing that stirs the world even now so much as this. It does not always dislike godliness when connected with things on the earth: it can appreciate love in a measure, for men can selfishly profit by it. But the moment there is a godliness which cares not for the things of the earth — not merely in the refusal of evil things, for they could understand this — but in deliberate separation even when men are doing their best, (i.e., seeking to be religious and to honour God in their own way,) nothing so excites men’s hatred now; much more so when that day comes. For then Satan will have lost all power and place in heaven, and have only the earth to work in, and the thought of blessedness above is hateful to him. He endeavours to make men think that the beast is God, and takes advantage, I suppose, of the prophecies in scripture to make them believe that the predicted good time is arrived, that God is come back to the world, that men have nothing to do but to enjoy all the blessings of the earth and of the day spoken of when God was to scatter His enemies. Satan seeks that men should antedate this under himself and without God. He will know what is at hand and his own torment when that day arrives. He will endeavour to turn to account the very promises of God, for cheating the world into the belief that these times of chiefest evil are the days of heaven on the earth. This is the time described here, when conscience towards God will be completely null and void, and what was true of Pharaoh on a small scale will be verified in entire Christendom. It will be given up to judicial hardening and then destroyed. It is just what the Spirit shows us in 2 Thess. 2:11, 12, when God, grieved with this world because of their rejection of the truth, will allow man and Satan to do their worst together. “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And I most fully believe not only that God will do so righteously, but that the righteousness of it will be apprehended by any soul who is subject to His word.

Here, then, we have the means by which Satan accomplished his purposes. He has given his vast power to the beast, and now he makes him an object of worship. “And it was given unto him to make wax with the saints and to overcome them: and authority was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him of whom the name is not written in the book of life of the slain Lamb, from the foundation of the world” (verses 7, 8). Here is the same distinction that I have alluded to before. “All that dwell on the earth” are a worse class than the tribes, peoples, tongues, and nations, meaning those that have abandoned heaven and heavenly hopes, and are fully committed to the latter-day delusions. In the case of “every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation,” authority was given to the beast over them; but as to “those that dwell on the earth,” they are completely subject to him and to his malignant influence. “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.” That is not said about the others, but these are completely given up. When it says, “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” the idea is. not that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, though people commonly draw from it the inference, as in 1 Peter 1:19, 20, of the purpose of God. But the true meaning of the verse, I apprehend, is that their names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of the slain Lamb. And, comparing this with Rev. 17:8, we find that the Spirit has left out a portion, which makes all clear by removing any doubt of the true connection. “And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.” The Holy Spirit has left out “of the Lamb that was slain,” and puts together the writing in the book of life, with “from the foundation of the world.” The language of Peter, etc., (1 Peter 1:20,) where he speaks of the Lord Jesus as an unblemished, spotless lamb, “who verily was ordained before the foundation of the world,” has quite another bearing.

Then comes a solemn word of warning, on which I need not dwell at length. “If any man hath an ear, let him hear.” If any man leadeth into captivity, into captivity he goeth: if any man killeth with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (verses 9, 10). That is a general maxim, true of any one; true even for the beast. If he has been leading others into captivity, he is to go into that or worse himself: if he has killed with the sword, he must also be killed, But it is specially intended for the guidance of the saints, who might naturally infer, from the wickedness of the beast, and his league with the dragon, that they were at liberty to resist him. And there is, I believe, the reason why this is said, lest the saint should be tempted to forget his place or God’s supremacy and sure judgment. Their place was not to take the sword in their own defence. If they did so, what would be the result? Even then, whatever their character, whatever the beast’s, God would hold to His principles. They must expect what they sought to inflict. It is the law of God’s retributive government. The apostle Paul, in Eph. 6, does not scruple to use the voice of the law as to the honour due to a parent. “Honour thy father and mother . . . . that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Of course he does not mean that a Christian should look forward to living on the earth as a reward for honouring parents. It was a principle laid down of old by God, and the apostle, referring to the earthly promise, merely shows that even under the law there was a special blessing attached to it. It was the first commandment with promise. So here the Spirit of God gives a general principle, true at all times, applicable alike to foes and friends. “If any man,” etc. — it does not matter who. It is a false position for the Christian to assume the place of power in the world. What makes it the more striking is that the saints spoken of here are Jewish, who of all others might think it very right to resist with all their might. If the beast blasphemed and persecuted grievously, they might say, “Surely we are entitled to stand up in defence of our religion and our lives.” But says the Lord, “If any man have an ear, let him hear . . . . he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” If He lets him have his way for a season, what is our calling? “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” — faith as regards God, and patience as regards the enemy. Thus God will so much the more appear on behalf of His sufferers. And if the place of faith and patience belongs to those Jewish saints who have a comparatively earthly position, how much more to us who have nothing but a heavenly one? (Comp. Matt. 26:52.)

Our great business, next to enjoying Christ and delighting in His love, should be to cultivate what is according to His will: so that we should not give a false witness of what He is and has done for us. We are not of the world; and the moment we fall back upon the resources of nature, upon our own personal power, influence, or authority, we have deserted Christian ground. In family relationships, to act according to our place of authority is a perfectly right thing. Nor will the blessing of God be with those who do not maintain the relative place that God has set them in: as of a father or child, a husband or wife, etc. The affections, most important as they are, are not everything. God is to be respected in the order that He establishes and sanctions. These are things which are not touched by our heavenly place; on the contrary, this gives us an opportunity of showing we have got in Christ a fresh power for every legitimate relation. But to take our part as having an interest in this world is quite another thing, and not the place of the Christian; but rather to pass lightly over it, as those that know their portion with God in heaven. Christ is coming to judge the world, which God regards as guilty of the blood of His Son, and only ripening for judgment. This truth habitually before our souls would preserve us from much that dishonours the Lord in us as Christians.

May all we learn be used to our blessing in separating us from what is to end so dismally! The outward effects of conduct are not enough. The church is regarded as having the mind of Christ, and we are responsible to God to keep out of the secret snares and springs by which Satan is bringing about this evil. For we have to do with his working in a still more subtle way than his acts in the world. May we not forget what God is to us for the present claims of His glory! We have the most blessed opportunity of being faithful to Christ now. It is vain to look wistfully at others, and to imagine what we could do if in their circumstances. God is equal to all the difficulty of our own position and time, and would give us the needed strength if we waited on Him. The only reason why we are apt to magnify the strangeness, etc., of circumstances, is because our eye is not single to Christ. When we see Him in everything, the danger, difficulty, and temptation are all at an end.

Verses 11-18. The rise of the second beast is strongly distinguished from that of the one already noticed. First, there was the beast out of the sea; now we read, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth.” The earth we have seen, all through the Revelation, to be the symbol of that which politically is established and in order — the proper scene of the testimony and ways of God and of settled human government. Its privileges may be abused; it may lapse into a state of frightful moral darkness; for it is just where there is any blessing from above that there is the danger of corruption and apostacy. The sea on the contrary is a loose, disorganised aspect of the world. Chronologically, too, this might intimate that the rise of the second beast is subsequent to that of the first. When the seven-headed monster rises, all is in a state of agitation; but when and where the second beast comes up, things are consolidated after a fashion. The land now is spoken of — no longer the water, the sport of every wind. But the personage described as “coming up out of the earth” is not a mere individual. It is a political, oppressing power that acts without conscience toward God — a beast.82 It may be, and I doubt not this is, one particular individual that exercises the power, as with the first beast. But “beast,” as a symbol, does not mean an individual as such, but an imperial power, sometimes with revolting satellites subject to itself.

Next, this beast was evidently of an extraordinary kind; for it is characterized by an imitation of Christ. It has “two horns like a lamb.” The Lord, we must have observed, through the Revelation, is often spoken of as the “Iamb.” While seated upon the throne of God, while described as Himself the great Sufferer, actively sympathizing with the suffering people of God, He is seen as a “Lamb.” But when the saints slip out of and abandon their proper lot of earthly rejection, the Lord ceases to be thus symbolized. He seems ashamed of them and retreats to a distance, and is seen as an angel and not any longer as a Lamb. The extraordinary thing that we see here is that this beast assumes to be like Christ. He has two horns like a lamb. He makes a sort of pretension to be like Christ in official power. While the horn is used as a symbol of a king, it may also mean simply power. It was so used when speaking of David, “the horn of his anointed,” etc.; but still more is this meaning of it apparent if we look at the Lord Jesus, who is seen in this book as having seven horns and seven eyes. Clearly the seven horns there cannot be seven kings; so that the horns, according to the context, either might mean kings, or they might be simply power. In the former beast we are told they signify kings; but per se they need not, and here they seem not to mean more than power. It is not the perfection of power as seen in the Lamb, but only pretension to it; there were two horns. The Spirit of God has been pleased to show us in chapter 17 of this book, that the ten horns of the first beast are ten kings. (Rev. 17:12.)

So far, then, all is plain about this second beast. It is a corporate power that grows up when all was formed and orderly, and consequently arising after the appearance of the first beast. More than that. He arrogates to himself the power of Christ (he has two horns like a lamb); but his speech betrays him — he speaks as a dragon. Out of the abundance of the heart, we know, the mouth speaks. Whatever he may appear to be outwardly, when he does give utterance to the real sentiments of his heart, it is the voice of the dragon. Of this the draconic voice is the expression. It is the great active power of evil in the latter day; and this is one difference between these beasts. The first beast is the one for show: it catches the profane world through the display of power and glory. The second beast is much the more energetic of the two. It is the one that most takes the place of Christ — is a false Christ, or rather is antichrist — i.e., the very expression of Satan in his direct opposition to Christ. When Satan was seen (Rev. 12) waiting to devour the man child as soon as it was born, he is not as the serpent, but as the dragon. And here, in order to the ripening of his last designs, this beast speaks as a dragon.

But it may be interesting to look at some of the scriptures that apply to the second beast, for there is often a good deal of confusion about them; and it is not to be wondered at, for these two beasts are so closely bound together in the last days, that it is a difficult matter to determine which of them is the antichrist. The word “Antichrist” is only found in the Epistles of John. And there we must look if we would see what is implied in that name. In 1 John 2 the Holy Ghost writes as to this to the babes of God’s family. For it is not at all a true principle that the young in Christ are only to know Him for the salvation of their own souls. The reason, I suppose, for thus writing to them was, because they were in special danger from the snares and deceits of the enemy; and the Lord, while He preserves, does not want us to be kept blindfold. Christian guidance is not unintelligent. It is not the blind leading the blind, nor even the seeing leading the blind; but it is the seeing leading the seeing. God does give help and instruction; but the Holy Ghost takes particular pains to show that He appeals not to the saints’ ignorance, but to their knowledge of the truth. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that the antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” There we learn with certainty what was working from and in the time of the Apostle John, what has been increasing ever since, and bearing a terrible harvest up to the present time, though the fruit of it, the antichrist, may not yet be fully ripe. “Even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time.” That was the proof — not good, as men think, but the deep evil of antichrist spreading. “They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” What a solemn thing!

The persons displaying the spirit of antichrist were individuals that had once professed the name of Christ. In fact, there could not be an antichrist unless there had been some previous profession of Christ. There must necessarily be some truth; for Satan cannot invent. He can imitate; he can corrupt God’s truth, and use it for his own purposes, and put it in new and evil forms, so as to give the appearance of truth to what is positive error: “for no lie is of the truth. Thus the great antichrist is to come: but even then were there many antichrists. These persons, painful to say, had once been in the family of God. There they had been, outwardly in the place of children, but not of course in reality. Then “they went out form us, but they were not of us.” Next he says, “Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?” But he goes farther. To deny that Jesus is the Christ is the first feature. But there are greater abominations. “He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” There are two states spoken of here. First, there is the denial that Jesus is the Messiah, the last degree of that infidelity which every unbelieving Jew shows who rejects Christ from that day to this. But the terrible thing is, that it is found in those who had once taken their place in confessing Jesus to be the Christ. Of him who will finally be the leader in giving it up and renouncing, it is said, “he is a liar.” But more than that. He is not only a liar, but an antichrist “that denieth the Father and the Son.” Jesus was the Messiah, and much more: the Father was displayed in Him. If I look at the Messiah as suck, I do not necessarily and fully see the Father there. In Him is the truth of the kingdom of God; in Him the display of His power and faithfulness to His people. But there is something far more blessed than the kingdom; for when I have the thought of the Father, I rise not merely into the region of divine power, but into that of the highest, holiest, most intimate affections. It is evident that what we know in the presence of God now is an infinitely nearer thing than the glory that He will give or display by and by. This will tell others what His feelings are toward us, proving the love we are brought into now. We do not wait for the kingdom to know this; but by the Holy Ghost we draw near to God now, in the most blessed way in which He here reveals Himself. Of course when in heaven we shall have a more unalloyed knowledge of His love, an enjoyment never interrupted by the workings of a carnal mind or by worldly influences. Every hindrance will be removed — all idols will vanish; for every present thing which becomes an object to the mind, instead of Christ, is really an idol. We shall be out of and above all this when we are taken to be with the Lord. But the love of the Father is just as true and perfect now, and we by the Holy Ghost are privileged to enjoy it. We shall enter more fully into the love then, but the love itself is the same even now. It is the rejection, then, not merely of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus, but of His divine glory as the Son, that brings in antichrist. All the love of the Father has come out in Christ, witnessed by the Holy Ghost. That involves, not merely the Jewish revelation, but the Christian; and it supposes too that Messiah has not only come and been rejected, but has brought out all His divine and heavenly glory. For His being the Son of the Father has nothing to do with the earth. His eternal Sonship is evidently a truth transcending entirely His Messianic rights and position. It would have been equally true if there had been no earth or providential dealings. It was His eternal relation and glory; and therefore, when the Holy Ghost wants to bring us into our full place of blessedness, it is the Father that He brings out. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings.” Where? Here? Not at all. “In heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” So that the seat of our blessing is entirely outside and above the whole scene of the lower creation. And if a man utterly rejects and despises that, renouncing His glory whom he had once owned, what is he? An antichrist. What he does on a small scale, the antichrist will do on a larger one.

I refer to the Epistles of John, because there we have the antichrist mentioned, not as a beast as in the Revelation, but as the end and chief of those who had once been in the family of God outwardly, had gone out from it, abandoning and denying the blessed truth about the Father and the Son, which they seemed to have received. “He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” On the other hand, we read, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” God always makes the utmost account of His Son. If you deny the Son, everything is gone; whereas “he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” When I possess the Son of God and my heart finds satisfaction in Him, I know the Father. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also.”

Then, after exhorting them to let that abide in them which they had heard from the beginning, that so they might continue in the Son and in the Father, John closes the matter thus: “These things have I written unto you concerning them which seduce you.” It was an evil that was at work from the very beginning. And what mercy is there even in this! As the evil did exist, and must be manifested at some time or another, God allowed it to break out then, so as to put His own revealed sentence upon it. We should never have dared to have said such strong things of those whom we had even known as friends or as brethren so-called. Call them liars! How shocking and uucharitable! men would say. But the moment that any men set themselves against (or rather deny) the full revelation of the Son of God, the Holy Ghost knows no quarter; and I believe that we ought not. If the heart is unprepared for this, you will find another thing that goes along with it. Wherever unbroken self-love, sensitiveness, and tenacity reign about what touches ourselves, there is but little care for the Lord Jesus. You cannot have two master affections. When the heart is single to Christ, He lifts us above personal feelings; but where the heart’s care is for ourselves, there will not be found much devotedness to Him, nor jealousy for His name.

In 1 John 4 the apostle refers to the spirit of the evil. “Every spirit that confesseth not Jesus Christ come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.” Why does the Holy Ghost introduce it here? There are many false prophets, as had been said in the first verse, gone out into the world: and so I believe there are now. But it is a most difficult thing to realize it at the time in which we live. We can see it in times that are past; but the great difficulty is the discerning of what is at work now. We are in the very same circumstances that the saints were in then. For as surely as the Holy Ghost continues to work, so surely will the subtle power of Satan be there to oppose. “Every spirit that confesseth not,” etc. Such is the power or principle of antichrist “whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.” It is not the antichrist fully developed yet, but the spirit of it working among men, just as much as the Holy Ghost was working also. The earliest sphere is not in the profane world; it must begin with those who had once borne the name of Christ. Satan could not forge such a rebellion against God, but among those who profess to believe the truth.

Again, there is a notice of this in the second Epistle of John, where it is said that “many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not Jesus Christ come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” It is no longer a question of justification by faith simply, or of the law, but a more serious thing still. It is Satan, not only attacking the work of Christ and seeking to get persons to add something, and so to take away from its glory, but deprecating and denying the person of the Son. Important as the work of Christ is to us, the person of Christ is the centre and substance of all truth and glory. In presence of such a theme, I desire not to discuss but to worship. The reason why persons care more for the work of Christ is because they rightly feel they cannot be saved without it; but once we have got peace of conscience, Christ’s person becomes the most precious object of our hearts. He is God’s delight; and what is most precious to Him, we shall find to be the most blessed, and full of blessing for us. It is not merely he that denies Jesus Christ come in the flesh, but he that does not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh: this is a deceiver and an antichrist. The Holy Ghost becomes, if we may so say, bolder in His statements. Does He lower the standard, because Satan apparently gains ground, and becomes more and more audacious against Christ? And are we to say, “We must not be so particular now, because there is so much evil;” and “there is no hope, because the church is in ruins?” On the contrary the Spirit, making provision for the latest time, uses stronger language than ever. He says (verse 10), “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him good speed [greeting].” We are to have nothing to say to him. Not only was he not to be received into the church, the house of the living God, but not even into a Christian’s house. He must have no sanction nor footing among the saints; for the Christian’s house ought to be a fortress for the name of the Lord, a reflection of what the Lord loves and produces — where He is owned and honoured. Even ordinary greeting is to be refused. No matter if it be only to the lady that he is writing — one who is not called to teach or to rule. But when it is a question of Christ, it is in vain to talk about her being a woman, as an excuse for laxity. She wants Christ; she owes all to Christ; and if she is a woman, is she not bound to make Christ the first question, the object of her soul? Therefore, if any person touches Christ, no matter who or what she may be, her allegiance to Christ calls for promptness and decision. That at once becomes the governing motive to faith, and the one grand responsibility of her soul. Whether it be persons who have the spirit of antichrist, or the great antichrist himself that is coming, antagonism to Christ is there; and this decides all to a true heart.

In the Revelation antichrist is described, not merely as a deceiver, but as a “beast,” as an earthly power which has a subject kingdom — an imperial system. in fact, rather than a purely spiritual malignant influence, as in the Epistles of John. If we look a little at some of the Jewish prophets, we shall find more about him. I refer more particularly to Daniel 11. Towards the close (verse 36) we read these words: “The king shall do according to his will; . . . . and he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods.” Who can deny you have a self-exalting personage in the land of Judea? This is very plain; for lower down it is said that “in his estate shall he honour the god of forces: a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strongholds with a strange god, etc. . . . . . And he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.” Now, I think that wherever the Holy Ghost speaks of a land in this way, as the land, it refers to the land of Israel. He speaks of it as the Lord’s own land. This is confirmed a verse or two afterwards (verse 41). “He [the king of the north] shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown.” Thus a great northern antagonist is to come against the king (verse 40) “like a whirlwind, with chariots and with horsemen,” etc. Most evidently, then, the glorious land spoken of here is the very country which “the king” had been distributing to his favourites. In short, he is a king in the land of Judea, and it is expressly said that the period, policy, and conflicts described are “at the time of the end.” Then “shall the king of the south push at him [the king in Judea]; and the king of the north shall come against him,” etc.

If this be so, several points are cleared in these verses. First of all a king, who does according to his own will, establishes himself in the land of Palestine. But while you may find the moral features that link him with the “antichrist” of John, he is viewed here as an earthly power, and is thus connected with one of the beasts of the Revelation. But more than that, he is to exalt and magnify himself above every god. This was a novel feature. The Roman emperors had honours paid to them in life and after death as divine; yet never above every god. But “the king” shall magnify himself supremely; and this in a land that was specially Jehovah’s above all others, and amongst a people whom God had called out to be a witness against all idolatry; and yet this man claims a new and most audacious worship, as the Most High in God’s land and temple. (Compare 2 Thess. 2.) For bad as Israel had been of old, enflaming themselves “with idols under every green tree,” here we have the sight, hitherto unknown, of a man setting himself up as the supreme God. And yet he has an object of worship himself: for man must have an idol which enslaves him, unless he is truly exalted, as alone he can be in bowing down before the true God. In reality he is most elevated when most subject to God. For man, unlike God, cannot suffice in and for himself without another. He must either raise his eyes to the true God, or degrade them on a false one. Even the very person who will try to get all beneath him, as supreme object of worship, will himself have something to which he is subject. And so we find (verse 37) that while he does not regard the God of his fathers (which confirms his being a Jew), nor the desire of women (which probably refers to the Messiah), nor regard any god, for he shall magnify himself above all; yet the Spirit of God shows us this apparent self-contradiction (verse 38). “In his estate shall he honour the god of forces.” All others are to honour him, but he has this false god whom he himself honours “with gold, and silver, and precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory . . . . . And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him, and the king of the north shall come against him. He shall enter also into the glorious land.”

Now here plainly we have Palestine. The kings of the south and north are so called with reference to the land of Judea. The king of the north, described as coming against him with this large force, is the enemy so familiar in the prophets, while the king of the south is the then sovereign of Egypt.

These two powers come up against “the king,” who, I apprehend, is the antichrist of scripture. The Holy Ghost does not here describe his rise. There was no need to say who he was, but he is brought in quite abruptly. Thus, if verse 35 be examined, one sees clearly that it speaks of some who had understanding, referring to what took place in the time of the Maccabees, when a celebrated and most wicked prince, Antiochus Epiphanes, persecuted the Jews, many of whom then withstood him in a remarkable way. There might have been a good deal of nature and the spirit of the world in their feelings and actions; nevertheless they resisted all efforts to turn them away from Jehovah to idols. Some of them fell, and this was in order to try others, and “to purge and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.”

Here precisely comes in the space where the Spirit of God drops the past history. He first gives us the struggle between Antiochus and his adversaries, followed by the exploits and the sufferings of those who had understanding in Israel. The history of Israel is then in abeyance, and we are at once carried on to “the time of the end.” Between these two points there is a suspension of their history.

What is the next thing? “And the king shall do according to his will.” We are not here told anything about his origin or progress; we hear nothing whence he comes; we have only that peculiar phrase, “the king,” as if this would be intimation enough who was intended. Nor is it the only place in Scripture where “the king” is spoken of. Look at the close of Isaiah 30 and you will find “the king” introduced there in no less singular a manner. The reason, I believe, is this; that the Jews, while they were looking for Christ, were also looking for antichrist, a great prince who should trample down the godly among them in their final tribulation. It was plain in prophecy and so understood by them. In this ch. 30 the Spirit of God describes two enemies of Israel. First in verse 31 it is said, “For through the voice of Jehovah, shall the Assyrian be broken down which smote with a rod.” This is the king of the north that figures in Daniel, typified in the early prophet perhaps by Sennacherib, who was the Assyrian of that day, but of course only a foreshadow of the great northern enemy at the close. Then again it is said, “And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which Jehovah shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps; and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.” Thus, although there will be such sorrow and trial, there will be joy too: “it shall be with tabrets and harps.” “For Tophet is ordained of old: for the king also it is prepared.” This I believe to be the force of it — “for the king also.” Thus, if the statement made be correct, you have at the closing scene the judgment of God on these two great enemies of Israel — the Assyrian, and “the king” who is introduced here without a word of preparation.

In Isaiah 57 the same thing appears. I refer to it the more, as some might argue that in Isa. 30 “the Assyrian” and “the king” are identical. But in Isa. 57 it would be impossible to maintain this. The prophet has just been describing the appalling moral evil of the last days among the Jews. Then suddenly he says (ver. 9), “Thou wentest to the king with ointment,” etc. It is plain from this, that “the king” is some special antagonist of God, not attacking the Jews from without like the Assyrian, but setting himself up within as king over the people of God. It was not necessary to define what king, because it was a familiar idea to Israel, so that the Holy Ghost could introduce him without a word of preface. They knew there was the terrible king to come — the last great enemy of God and the Jews in the land. The Assyrian is an enemy of God and of Israel too, but not in the land; for he fights against “the king” who is reigning there. The last wilful king is the object of attack to the last mighty Assyrian. Outrageously wicked as both are to be, they do not at all agree in their wickedness. They stand in each other’s way. There never can be lasting peace between them, and this is exactly what Daniel 11 shows us. The forty-first verse is not at all a description of “the king.” He seems to be lost to view, and there follows the account of the proud king of Assyria. The Holy Ghost presses on to the end of the Assyrian’s career, leaving that of “the king.”

Looking now at the New Testament, we shall find some new features about this king. In 2 Thess. 283 we have the fullest account of him that the Epistles of St. Paul afford. In verse 3 it is said, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come,] except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” There is first the falling away, that is the special apostacy. The man of sin is another and subsequent thing. The apostacy prepares the way for the revelation of the man of sin. Thus the French revolution answers to the apostacy rather than Romanism, which confesses truths, but all of them put out of their right place. There will be a further and more terrible development of the apostacy, though this illustrates it. But there is to be more than that — the man of sin. Who is he? The Lord Jesus Christ was the man of righteousness. This is the antagonist — the man of sin — “the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.” Just the Fame sort of moral features that we see in Daniel about “the king,” we have in this man of sin. “So that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Here we have another point. He is evidently one reigning at Jerusalem. He sits “in the temple of God,” which, I see no reason to doubt, means the literal and well-known temple there.† At the same time, if anybody likes to apply the principle of this scripture to one who may pervert the place of the church, and make it an engine and sphere for exalting himself in now, I have nothing to object. I dare say that it may legitimately be so applied — at least in part; but I think that it looks on to a person who arrogates to himself the honour due only to the true God. “Remember ye not,” the apostle says, “that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.” Only there is one that hinders. When that hindrance is removed, the lawless one will immediately be seen, and in due time his judgment come when the Lord appears.

Bp. Ellicott avoids the error of Mr. Elliott, who doubts whether ὑπέρ ever bears what he calls the “adjurative sense;” but, while admitting that it is “grammatically tenable,” he contends that it is by no means “exegetically probable,” and that it is without precedent in the New Testament. But the latter is an unreasonable objection; because there in no other instance in the New Testament, that I know, of ἐρωτὰω, or an equivalent word, with this preposition (save 2 Cor. 5:20, which Wahl takes as = per, Mr. Green as “on behalf of,” which is inapplicable here; but I wave this as doubtful); and therefore we must be regulated by its ordinary force in such constructions. But we have frequently ἐπ. with περί there, which carries a sense entirely different.

Again, the real source of the difficulty is owing to the exegetical mistake that the presence of the Lord is the same thing as His day. It would be most unnatural, as Dean Alford argues, that the apostle should conjure them by that concerning which he was about to teach them. But the apostle does no such thing; on the contrary, he entreats them by “the coming” of Christ with all its cheering associations and its bright hope — the gathering of the saints to their Lord, that they should not be agitated by the terrors of “the day,” which false teachers pretended was actually present. Both the Dean of Canterbury and Bishop of Bristol agree with me that ενέστηκεν means “is already come,” not merely “at hand,” as very faultily represented in the English Bible. St. Paul in the first Epistle had already taught the Thessalonians their hope, as he had also in his oral ministry respecting the man of sin, and the hindrance which actually operated against his manifestation. He now puts these truths in their order, and beseeches them by Christ’s coming, as a known motive on account of which they should not be moved by the false alarm that this familiar and dreaded day of trouble was arrived. It is the presence ( παρουσία) of the Lord which gathers the saints to meet Him above; it is the epiphany or shining forth of His presence which destroys the lawless one below — a manifestly subsequent event, spite of Bengel, as appears beyond a doubt from comparing it with Rev. 19. The saints are already with Christ, and follow Him out of heaven for the judgment of the beast and the false prophet and their adherents. The document on which the errorists rested was a pretended letter of the apostle, not the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, as some wrongly assert: and the feeling they sought to excite was not the hope of Christ’s coming, but the fear of His day. The criticism and the doctrine of the Horae Apoc. as to this are unfounded.

Others are no better. Schleusner who is quoted writes loosely; and the words of Hesychius (vol. i. col. 1233, ed. Alberti) do not warrant the inference that the same word in the same tense means either present or future; for προκείμενον seems only a following up of πάροντα, not another variety of signification. The verb is generally used for what lies stretched before, as (meats) ready laid, the question in hand, things already settled and agreed on. I am not aware of its ever distinctly meaning the future. But so emphatically the contrary is ἐνεστώς that, as is well known, grammarians have selected it as the proper term for the present tense ( χρόνος ἐνεστώς). The latest (sixth) edition of Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon shows their statement modified as to this; as in fact none of the three instances cited from classical authors (Ar. Nub. 779, Isaeus, 88. 40, Dem. 896. 49) necessarily means impending, Lat. imminens. Dr. Scott has himself acknowledged to me that they may all, as I believe they all do, mean “present,” and thus harmonize instead of clashing with the regular force of the word everywhere else, both in the Sept. (including the Apocrypha) and the New Testament. Thus the passage in the Clouds means “while one suit was still pending,” i.e., actually going on, not impending or future. Again, Mr. E. does not appear to have hit the force of Isaeus on the estate of Hagnias; and here, though I have no doubt whatever, I prefer for obvious reasons to cite from the celebrated Sir W. Jones’s version, p. 139 (London, 1779). “Moreover the inheritance of Hagnias is not yet well secured to me, since some actions brought against the witnesses for perjury will make it necessary for me to obtain a second adjudication,” This is a very different thing from an “impending trial;” and confirms the general rule instead of being an exception for which we have to account. In the demurrer in reference to Apaturius, the third alleged exception, the suits were already begun when they came to arbitration.

So the argument on πάρεστιν, John 11:28-30, is invalid for Mr. E. and rather strengthens what he contends against. For our Lord had actually quitted the place where He was when the news of the sickness of Lazarus arrived, traversed the considerable intervening distance, and was only just outside the village. Πάρεστιν is strictly true there, and in no way modifies ἐνέστηκεν in our text. If the false teachers at Thessalonica taught that the Lord had left the right hand of God and begun the judgments of “that day,” without having yet caught up the saints in Thessalonica or anywhere else, it would be quite parallel to the case of John 11. The word therefore retains here also and everywhere its characteristic sense.

†The allusion is obvious and undeniable to Dan. 11, which has the Jews and their land in view, not the church. This I consider entirely confirmed by Matt. 24:15, which certainly refers to a thing and time subsequent to Christ’s rejection by the Jews and His rejection of them; but as clearly, to my mind, looks on to a time when He will again have a godly remnant, in the midst of an unbelieving generation governed by a false king under Roman influence. If, under such circumstances, the temple can be called the “holy place,” why way it not be also “the temple of God?” The reasoning from what the house of God is now, while the church abides here, is quite nugatory. Compare also “the holy city” in Matt. 27:53. God’s purpose is not revoked, spite of Israel’s guilt.

Just as the apostle John says, “Even now are there many antichrists;” so here the mystery of iniquity was already working: only one was holding things in abeyance just now. “He who now letteth [will let] until he be taken out of the way.” I do not the least doubt that the hinderer is the power of the Spirit of God, not merely dwelling in the church, but acting in the way of control in the world, as the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. If it were simply the Holy Ghost dwelling in the church, the moment the church was taken away, the man of sin would be revealed. But it appears that the lawless one will not arrive at his full stature and manifestation immediately on the rapture of the saints. There will be an interval and a testimony which God will give. When this testimony disappears, or is put down by violence, the man of sin comes out full-blown. This seems to be the hour when the Holy Ghost ceases to restrain. He lets men show out then just what they are; and all their wickedness comes forth. The Holy Ghost thus no longer controlling the earth, Satan will be allowed to mature his worst plans for a very brief moment.

This, I think, is the time, and such its character, when the hinderer or hindrance will be taken out of the way. The early Christians used for many years to pray for the continuance of the Roman empire, because they thought it was the letting thing; that gone, they expected the lawless one to be revealed forthwith. And as its diabolical form is assuredly to arise after a previous existence and extinction, there was a certain measure of truth in their thought. But the Roman empire has long been extinct, and yet the man of sin in his full development has not yet been revealed. The re-appearance of the empire, not its extinction, is the critical epoch; and that will depend on the Holy Ghost’s ceasing to restrain. When it does take place, all the evil of man and of Satan comes out without measure or disguise. “Only he who now letteth [will let] until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that lawless one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the shining forth of his presence.”

Revelation 19 describes this destruction. In that chapter (verse 20), after a previous description of the coming of the Lord in judgment, it is said, “The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him . . . . These both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” They are, without doubt, the same systems or persons already characterized as the beasts from the sea and the earth in Rev. 13. Now it is plain that one or other of these two beasts is antichrist. The question still remains, which of them is that man of sin? Is it the great power of the world, the beast that rises out of the sea? Or is it the other energetic beast that rises out of the earth, imitating Christ in royal and prophetic power? Disposed to think it is the latter,84 I can frankly allow that I see difficulties, and believe it is not a thing to be dogmatized upon. Indeed these beasts are so closely linked together in their actions and objects, and also in their final doom, that we cannot be surprised if many find it hard to decide, or if intelligent minds come to different conclusions. But the more that I weigh what is said in St. Paul about the man of sin, and in St. John’s Epistles about the antichrist, my mind looks out for the beast that has most appearance of rivalling and opposing Christ. This I find emphatically in the beast that rises out of the earth.

Let us now consider a little what the chapter further gives us, bringing the light that we have gathered from other parts of the scriptures to bear upon our enquiry. After the description of the beast in verse 11, we read of the exercise of his power (verse 12). “He exerciseth all the authority of the first beast before him,” that is, in his presence. He is the energetic power, the one that cares much more for real influence and energy than for outward show which was what the first beast most valued. “He caused the earth and those that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Observe again here that those that dwell on the earth are abandoned to his delusive power.

Some, seeing that the second beast works to procure worship for the first beast, have conceived that 2 Thess. 2 negatives the idea that the second beast is the same as the man of sin; because there he is represented as allowing no other object of worship than himself. But it is manifest that there are three persons who are closely connected together in this scene — the dragon, the world-power or first beast, and the politico-religious or second beast. It appears from Rev. 13:4, that the dragon is worshipped as well as the first beast; so that whether we suppose the first beast or the second to be the antichrist and man of sin, the difficulty would remain nearly the same. In either case the worship is shared by another. In point of fact, they are the anti-trinity, and find their bond in the unseen power of Satan.

The second beast is very important. He is the really active power in the Holy Land. The beast out of the sea has his dominion over the west, with large influence beyond it; but Palestine or Jerusalem is not his sphere, save that he destroys the witnesses and falls there. It is the second beast that is the great power known to the Holy Land. “He doeth great signs, so that he maketh even fire come down from heaven unto the earth in the sight of men” (verse 13). What imparts such deep and painful interest to the miracle is this: it was the special sign whereby Elijah confounded the false prophets of Baal. When the whole question lay between God and Baal, what was the turning-point that decided the claims of Jehovah against the false god? It was this very thing — fire coming down from heaven. It had been a familiar token in Israel, and one that they might justly connect with the direct approval and power of God. For He had caused fire to come down from heaven at various times, as a signal proof of His approbation. Fire came out from before the Lord when the priests were consecrated; the same thing too when the temple was built and hallowed by Solomon. (2 Chron. 7.) “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.” It was the crowning evidence of Jehovah’s presence connected with Israel — of His presence filling the scene and accepting their sacrifices.

Here then is this frightful imitator and antagonist of the Lord Jesus, who sets himself up to be the God of Israel as well as the Christ. The true Messiah was the God of Israel, and here we find His majesty and claims and power emulated; the antichrist too must cause fire to come down from heaven. I do not say fire really from heaven, but the appearance of it; in the sight of men it was fire coming from heaven. As Satan could imitate, so here was this wicked power, whose presence was after the working of Satan, doing apparently what Elijah had done. The same proof that Elijah had given for Jehovah, against Baal is the one that he offers here in his own name. It is an awful scene, and still more so if compared with the passage in 2 Thess. 2:9. For, sad to say, the very same words that are used in speaking of the miracles of Christ, in Acts 2:22, are applied here by the Holy Ghost to the man of sin. “Jesus of Nazareth,” said St. Peter, “a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs.” So in 2 Thess. the lawless man is one “whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders.” The peculiar signs of Christ, that men should know the truth, are imitated by this impostor. He performs for falsehood similar things, and men are completely taken in and deceived.

What prepares the way for such an end is the dissatisfaction that men will feel with Christendom as it is. I acknowledge that they justly speak evil against the state into which Christianity has got. When it loses its heavenly separateness, and is mingled with worldly principles, confusion is the result. They forget that Satan is the god of this world. Hence he has blinded them entirely as to what the church of God is, and what is due to the name of His Son here below. Christ is plainly left out of the question, and even the truthfulness is wanting which would be required by men in the commonest things of this life. It is not that one would desire to say a word against others; but God forbid that we should not judge, with all heart and conscience, a thing that is even beneath common honesty in the things of this life. When the church, or the individual Christian, ceases to judge, or if it condemn in heart, allows in practice, in the holiest things, that which a natural man does not in human and social relations; so that even the very world can see that what clothes itself with the name of Christ is all wrong; — when such a time as this arrives, can God longer refrain? Judgment is coming apace; and what a mercy it is that God has given us something sweet as our hope and happiness, and not the perpetual dark foreboding of most certain judgment! Our portion is outside the sphere of the world. Judgment there must be before the world, can be fully blest. If a person were merely to dwell on evil and its judgment, do you think it would give Power to act for good? It is not the showing up of what is wrong, but bringing grace and truth to act on our souls which gives power: otherwise it might only be getting out of one form of evil to fall into another. The only real security is the getting near to Christ: we help other souls just so far as we put them in contact with Him.

We have seen, then, that this great enemy of God will be permitted to do wonders in imitation of the power of Christ, and in support of his claim to be Jehovah. It is not surprising that he deceives those that dwell on the earth. And what rapidly prepares the way, and ripens men for all, is that they are now listening to Satan, who has been dissolving confidence in the miracles of Christ, and the scriptures which relate them. Thus, when men not only review but see the horrors of what has taken place in Christendom under their eyes, and when they are left without the love of the truth in their hearts, they will be at the mercy of Satan. Then, when men’s desires are gratified without conscience, and God Himself in righteous retribution sends strong delusion that they should believe the lie, (saying to them, so to speak, “You have refused the truth that you might be saved: now, then, have all you like,”) — then this personage comes forward, and these wonders are done that affect to be signs from heaven. Is it amazing that they fall down and worship the beast and his image?

It is Satan, of course, who is behind the scenes; but his slave, the second beast, “deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast: saying to them that dwell on the earth,85 that they should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword and did live. And he had power to give life [or breath] . . . that the image of the beast should both speak and cause86 that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (verses 14, 15).

Observe, by the way, a further proof that this second beast is after the final rise of the first beast; for he causes an image to be made “to the beast which had the wound by a sword and did live.” “And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive87 a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (verses 16, 17). That mark was a seal of subjection or slavery to the beast.

“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and his number [is] 666” (verse 18). I do not pretend to solve any, such question as this. It would be easy to repeat what others have thought. Some of the early Christians, especially the pious Bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus, supposed that it was “the Latin man.” Others have found various names, in accordance with their polemics and prejudices. Romanists discovered in it the enigma of Luther Protestants, the name of more than one Pope. Mahomet in ancient, and Napoleon in modern times have been imagined. But are such notions better than conundrums? It is not the way of the Spirit to occupy God’s people with reckoning letters or numbers after this vague fashion. May we not be satisfied that this is one of the points of detail left for “the wise” of the latter day, and that when the time comes the clue will be given, and all the light that may be required? For there is in the ways of God a sort of economy, at least when we come to matters of detail and application. Just as He does not give a saint the strength to bear him through a special trial till it is at the doors, so the Lord may only vouchsafe the needed instruction about this number when the man himself appears.

The application of the prophecy to a particular person will be the point then. It seems premature and useless to discuss such a question till the parties are on the stage. The wise shall understand then, and all will be as clear as day to them, but not to the wicked. (See Dan. 12.) The general truth, however, is plain. There is this second “beast,” the active, energetic power that opposes Christ; but when the day of reckoning comes, and the judgment of the Lord is upon him, he will be no longer spoken of as a beast, but as the “false prophet” that wrought miracles. (Rev. 19:20.) Supposing the second beast to be antichrist, I am inclined to think that there is a spurious imitation of Christ in his causing the first beast to be worshipped. The Lord Jesus spake and wrought for the purpose of exalting God the Father, while the Father Himself makes Christ the special object. “Let all the angels of God worship him” [the Son]; and again, “that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” So it is with the beast. He will help to exalt the great world-power; but withal he equally, and yet more in spiritual things, exalts himself. He has horns like a lamb. That is, he pretends to the power of Christ. But he speaks as a dragon (i.e., the expression of his mind is Satanic). Being a beast, it is intimated that he is invested with temporal authority; while he is also expressly designated a false prophet. Thus it is a personal antagonist of what Christ was and will be, rather than of what He is. Popery — Anti-Christendom, if you will — is a travesty of Christ’s priesthood, and will perish with all that partakes its sin in the gainsaying of Korah. But here (when Christ, having closed His heavenly work, is about to assume His earthly royal dignity) is one who opposes and exalts himself in the city of the great king. For it is the Holy Land that is the central seat of his power and deceits. He is, I think, the person that the Lord Jesus referred to in contrast with Himself in a passage just quoted in part, where He sums up all in a few little words ( John 5:43); “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” The Jews would not have Him who came from the Father. His sent One and servant, though His equal in honour and power, had so come and been refused. But there was one whom they are to receive, one who will flatter and exalt man in sin; for he will own no authority higher than his own, and this is the echo of man’s will. Him I believe to be the personage we have here — one who, as to actual territorial dominion and external splendour, may have a superior, but who in point of spiritual energy and weight is pre-eminent.

Having already given so fully that which seems to me the true view of the very important chapter which has just occupied us, I need not say much of counter-expositions, many grounds of which have been already set aside by anticipation. Mr. Elliott is perhaps more than usually confident in his hypothesis that the beast from the sea represents the character and history of the Roman Popes and Papal Christendom, and the two-horned beast the Papal clergy, with the image of the beast as the Papal councils. It is impossible to call this, at least, the Protestant interpretation. For even Luther made the first beast to be the Latin secular, the second the spiritual, power; while Bullinger viewed the former as the Pagan Roman empire, as did Foxe. Brightman, no doubt, was even more zealous than Mr. E., for he makes both beasts to set forth the Popes. But what is of more consequence, the learned Joseph Mede, and, as far as I can collect, Dr. Cressener, Jurieu and Daubuz certainly rejected these notions, regarding the first beast as the Roman secular empire, and the second as the ecclesiastical beast, though with characteristic points of difference. So, in the main, Sir I. Newton. If we enquire of their successors nearer our own day, the case is no better by Mr. Elliott’s own account. “The explanation of this first beast as the secular Emperor and Empire of Western Christendom, and of the second beast as the Pope and Pontifical Empire, so as most of our modern English expositors have taken it; (e.g., Faber, Cuninghame, Bickersteth, etc.;) but I conceive to have been one of the most plain, as well as most fatal, of Protestant expository errors” (vol. iii. p. 109, note 2). Surely then, if so plain and fatal, Mr. E.’s elaborate array of evidence, and acute correction of the Protestant expository error, have been successful with every fair mind! Alas! no. Perhaps the chief independent exposition, since the Horae Apoc., is the Rationale Apocalypticum of Mr. Alfred Jenour (2 vols. 8vo, 1852); and there I read that the wild beast from the sea “must symbolize an empire about to rise after the ancient Heathen empire had been destroyed, and which would be, as it were, that empire revived. It must represent too, I think, obviously a secular empire, not a spiritual or ecclesiastical dominion. There is nothing to indicate that it partakes in any degree of a spiritual or ecclesiastical character. And I cannot, therefore, but express my astonishment that so many commentators should have acquiesced in the interpretation which makes this sea-born wild beast the Papacy. There is not a single feature in the description of the beast itself that can with propriety be so applied. It is, as I have said, a secular not a spiritual power we have here delineated” (vol. ii. p. 75).

On the one hand, then, I agree with Mr. Elliott that it is impossible fairly to interpret the beast from the sea of the empire founded by Clovis and completed by Charlemagne. Neither the seven heads nor the ten horns, neither the dragon-character, nor in any sense the duration, can bear a reasonable application to it. On the other hand, I am compelled to agree with the earliest down to the latest, and including some of the very ablest of Protestants, that not the Papacy is meant but the secular Roman Empire. The conclusion is irresistible. Allowing an inconclusive accomplishment in the Papacy and its clerical supports, I steadily adhere to the conviction that the future alone can exhibit the fulfilment of all the features predicted, without constraint and in all their strength.

It is not true that the Papacy has the command of the Western powers which is here supposed, still less practises for 1260 years with such unlimited dominion. It is not true that the Pope has authority given him over every kindred and people and tongue and nation, even if you confound this with (instead of distinguishing it from) the dwellers in the Roman world. It is not true that the Pope is the object of all the world’s wonder, nor that the confession is extorted, “Who is able to make war with him?” Nor do all, save the elect, in Western Christendom worship him. Need I show how palpably inapplicable is the second beast to those wolves in sheep’s clothing, the Papal clergy? Do they exercise the enormous power, all the power, of the first beast? And in what fair sense do they perform great miracles or signs, so as to make fire come down from heaven in men’s sight? Is it possible that any person, save blinded by system, could be content with such an accomplishment as the wicked and idolatrous figment of the mass, or the lightnings of the Vatican?

The Lord grant that we may deny ungodliness and worldly 1usts, and this not only for wrath, but for conscience’ sake! Yea, may we be separated to Christ in a spirit of heavenly grace! How base to think we can take care when the time comes? Baser still, if possible, to plead that the church of God will be previously taken out of the way to heaven — that because all will be right then, we can afford to do wrong now! Remember, that Meanwhile, as the apostle said, are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time. Now, if you are allowing the spirit of the world, or are trifling with any of the influences of antichrist at the present moment, what would you do if exposed to all the fearful persecutions on the one hand, and to all the temptations on the other, of the day when the man of sin will be revealed? God’s grace might strengthen me to face all danger, and to refuse every blandishment, rather than abjure the true and worship the false God and Christ. But is it not most solemn and humbling if I join (no matter what the motive) in any fellowship with known evil?

And here is the great, moral, present value of prophecy. I see the frightful fall at the end, and can trace the stream that runs down to it. Perhaps the way is long and winding, and the river does not seem so perilous; but look a little lower down, where the word of God lifts up the misty veil which shrouds the future, and behold the fatal speed with which all, who float there are engulfed to their utter destruction! There are many currents connected with the world, and I may not see in their sources and first flowings the full extent of the evil which is the inevitable result. In prophecy God graciously shows me the end from the beginning; so that, if I heed it not, I am dishonouring the warning of His love, who would have me “knowing these things before.” Let us also beware not merely of one evil, but of its every form: especially let us not meddle with it wherever it assumes a Christ-like form in association with the world. Here we have the end of the open, blasphemous power, as well as of the more active and subtle spiritual evil of the crisis.88 Men will be caught in one or other of these snares-the bold infidelity or the religious pravity of the last days. However they may differ in appearance, they are found in the strictest, saddest, most fatal union at the close. The Lord grant that our hearts may be kept looking to Christ and waiting for Him from heaven! There is no full comfort or blessing, except so far as the eye is single to Him.

77 The reader should know that this is one of the most contested readings in the book. The difference in Greek is but a letter more or less; but in the one case John is meant, in the other the dragon. The Alexandrian, Paris, anti Porphyrian uncials, with the Middlehill and Montfort MSS., are confirmed by most of the ancient versions and two old Latin commentators in the latter sense; and all other known MSS., including the Sinai and Vatican uncials, with the Coptic, etc., and the Greek commentators, give the former. Modern editors and commentators are not less divided. The comparison of our text with Rev. 10:5-10 will perhaps suffice to show that there is no internal incongruity in assigning such a position to John. Dan. 10:4, 5, Dan. 12:5, ought to be borne in mind. On the other hand, if it be “he stood,” I do not see that it attributes providential power to Satan, which would be very objectionable.

78 Dr. M’Causland (Latter Days of Jerusalem and Rome, pp. 336, 353) interprets the miry clay of the spiritual power exercised by the Papacy, and the iron of the temporal power of Rome; but this is, for obvious and conclusive reasons to my mind, wholly untenable.

79 Grammatically speaking the authorised version is good here. Compare Acts 15:33; Acts 18:23; Acts 20:3. The Hebraistic absolute sense is according to the analogy of Dan. 8:12, 24, and Dan 11 passim. Bengel, Griesbach, and others, doubted as to the word in any sense, and considered it probably an interpolation from verse 7. I believe, on the contrary, that the peculiarity of the expression, to those that did not bear in mind the phraseology of Daniel, led some of the scribes to insert πόλεμον before or after ποιῆσαι, as B, most MSS. (14 πολεμῆσαι), and led other authorities, as the Armenian version, Irenaeus, etc., to omit ποιῆσαι. 4 Dionysius Alex. (ap. Euseb.) has καὶ μῆνες. On the whole I conceive that Erasmus and R. Stephens rightly read ποιῆσαι, and that the Complutensian editors and the Elzivers wrongly admitted πόλεμον. The true sense appears to be to practise, work, act, or do, rather than merely “continue.” The ancient versions are singularly vague, but to my mind they indicate action more or less energetic or specific, and not bare continuance; and so, it seems to me, the great majority of the best modern translators. Dr. M’Causland (pp. 300, 361) prefers “to make forty-two months,” i.e., to drive out the Jew into the wilderness for that period. This may be a “literal” version; but I cannot commend its “propriety.” Is it not plain that the acting of the beast is in contradistinction to his speaking? He blasphemes God in every possible way, His name, His tabernacle, and those that dwell in heaven; and more than this, license is given him to carry all out practically for forty-two months.

80 Even Mr. E. gives up the popular notion, sanctioned by Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, etc., that this was fulfilled in the subjection of Rome, part of Lombardy, and Ravenna, to the Pope. But is his own theory much better? How can the destruction of the Vandals in Corsica and Sardinia, or of the Ostrogoths in Italy by Justinian’s general Belisarius, and of the Lombards long after by Pepin and Charlemagne, answer to the little horn’s subduing three kings? Even of this petty territory, which is so strangely exaggerated into three kingdoms, the Pope has long possessed but a portion: if all the parts remained, they would scarce make one real kingdom. The little horn, on the contrary, conquers for himself, and becomes pre-eminently great.

81 It is not correct to say, with the author of the Horae Apocalypticae, that the conjunction is wanting in all the critical editions, for Griesbach, Knapp, Scholz, Tischendorf, etc., retain it with the Vatican, Porphyrian, and uncials, a good many MSS., and almost all the ancient versions, save the Syriac. Still there is grave authority ( A C, twenty-eight cursives, etc.) against kaiv, which is therefore dropped by some excellent editors, as Matthaei, Lachmann, etc. I have, accordingly, thought it right to bracket the word, though my opinion is in favour of receiving it.

82 Mr. Elliott considers the two-horned lamb-like beast to represent the papal clergy, secular and regular, united under the Pope, as the western patriarch, and supporting him in his loftier character of Christ’s vicar or antichrist. Matt. 7:15, he thinks, almost precludes the possibility of error in thus interpreting the symbol of the anti-christian clerical body. But does not a “beast,” in prophetic imagery, always imply a political corporation or civil power, never (certainly elsewhere) a priestly class however organised? Ought such an element to be left out in interpreting the chapter?

83 I take the opportunity of stating my conviction, which I have reason to know Mr. Birks shares, that the auth. ver. is quite justified in giving “by the coming (or presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ,” rather than “with regard to.” So it is in the AEthiopic probably, the Arabic, Gothic, Syriac, and Vulgate. Mr. Elliott, and the commentators he follows, have overlooked the most important elements for deciding the true meaning. It is not a question of ὑπέρ only, but of ὑπέρ with a verb of entreating, which yields regularly the sense “for the sake of” or “by.” (Matthiae’s Gr. Gram. vol. ii. § 582; Jelf, vol. ii. § 630.)

84 So Hippolytus Romanus, a martyr under Maximin or Decius, and said by Photius to have been a disciple of Irenaeus. It would seem from Jerome that he wrote formally on the Apocalypse, beside the short treatise still extant περὶ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. καὶ περί τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου. In this last (§ 49) he thus speaks of the second beast: τὸ μὲν οὖν θηρίον ἀναβαῖνον ἐκ τῆς γῆς τὴν βασιλείαν τὴν τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου ἐσομένην λέγει.

85 I am not prepared to affirm that “the abomination of desolation,” of which our Lord speaks in Matt. 24, referring to Daniel 12:11, is the same as “the image” before us. It is absurd to suppose that our Lord alluded to the defilement of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. (Dan. 11:31.) This was long past; whereas He is warning of another abomination yet future and final. Hence too it may be observed that the phrase given by the evangelist answers exactly (not to Dan. 11:31, but) to Dan. 12:11 in the LXX. In Dan. 8:13 it is another thing, “the transgression of desolation;” and in Dan. 9:27, though there may be a link of connection it is, I think, “because of the wing, i.e. (the protection) of abominations [them shall be] a desolator;” a very distinct statement, even if it be allowed to refer to the same time. The sense is that antichrist sets up idolatry in the temple, because of which a desolator appears in the person of the great northern enemy of Israel. The effort to apply it to the Romans under Titus, or to the Pope, is utterly vain. The former is probably due to the error of confounding Matt. 24:15, etc., with Luke 21:21. It is the latter only who brings in the Roman siege and captivity, as he alone treats of the times of the Gentiles. Matthew on the other hand, equally inspired of God, leaves out this part of our Lord’s great prophecy, and dwells at length on the closing crisis, in answer to the question of the end of the age, which Luke accordingly omits.

86 †It is possible that the meaning may be, “that the image of the beast should both speak and act [or practise]; in order that as many,” etc. If so, the statement attributes to the beast’s image the same things which characterise the beast it) verse 5.

87 Literally, “that they should give them,” i.e., that a mark should be given them. Compare Rev. 10:11, “they say to me,” i.e., it is said. (See Luke 6:38; Luke 12:20; Luke 16:9, for a similar usage, the first and especially the last of which am often misunderstood.)

88 It is not surprising that those who are greatly occupied with present things feel the deepest amazement and abhorrence, not at the antichrist as futurists depict it, but at Popery as it has been and is, with its recognition of so much revealed truth, and withal its destruction of the efficacy of redemption and of all immediate relationship with God, not to speak of its hideous idolatries and its systematic persecution of those who do not bow to it, let them be saints or not. But the more such minds bring out its subtle hypocrisy, the more they seem to prove that Romanism corresponds with the mystery of iniquity. Of course, its working in apostolic days was but a germ of what afterwards went on, till it issued in that frightful corruption which Protestants have done faithful service in exposing with unquestionable vigour and earnestness. Hence, in Rev. 17 it is the corrupt woman (not the ravening beast) whose name is “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” And observe, it was the sight of the woman which caused John to wonder so exceedingly. Still, “the apostacy,” as I read scripture, implies the public renunciation of Christian truth, not an orthodox maintenance of the cardinal facts, at any rate, of the gospel, such as Romanism holds up; and the session and worship of the man of sin in the temple of God implies a defiance of Jehovah, under the false expectation of Israel, which looks onward to another and more daring form of Satan’s power.