13:1 23 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and 1 saw a beast rise up 2 out of the sea, having seven heads and 3 ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, 4 and upon his heads 5 the name of blasphemy.
(23) That is, as a mighty tempest he poured out
on the whole world (whose prince he is) to raise the floods and provoke the
nations, that they might with their furious bellows toss up and down, driven
here and there, and finally destroy the Church of Christ with its holy
members. But the providence of God resisted his attempt, that he might save
the Church of the Gentiles, yet tender and green. The rest of this story of
the dragon is excellently presented by the apostle John later in (Revelation
20:1-15). For here the dragon endeavouring to do wickedness, was by God
cast into prison. (1) The apostle having declared
the forming of the Christian Church, and the state of the Church from which
ours takes her beginning, now goes to the story of the progress of it, as is
shown in the beginning of the former chapter. This history of the progress of
the Church and the battles of it, is recorded in this chapter, but distinctly
in two parts, one is of the civil Roman Empire, (Revelation
13:1-10). Another of the ecclesiastic or prophetic body, there to the end
of the chapter. In the first part these things are shown: First the state of
the Empire, in (Revelation
13:1-4) then the acts of it in (Revelation
13:5-7) after the effect: which is exceedingly great glory (Revelation
13:8). Last of all is commended the use: and the instruction of the godly
against the evils that shall come from the same in (Revelation
13:9,10). The history of the state, contains a most ample description of
the beast, first entire in (Revelation
13:1,2) and then restored after harm, (Revelation
13:3,4). (2) On the sand where the devil
stood practising new tempests against the Church, in the verse next before
going: at which time the Empire of Rome was endangered by domestic dissensions
and was mightily tossed, having ever and again new heads, and new emperors.
17:8) (3) Having the same instruments of
power, providence, and most expert government which the dragon is said to have
had, in (Revelation
12:3). (4) We read in (Revelation
12:3) that the dragon had seven crowns set upon seven heads because the
thief claims to be proper lord and prince of the world, but this beast is said
to have ten crowns, set on several, not heads but horns: because the beast is
obligated to the dragon for all; (Revelation
13:2) and does not otherwise reign, then by law of subjection given by
him, namely that he employ his horns against the Church of God. The speech is
taken from the ancient custom and form of dealing in such ease: by which they
that were absolute kings did wear the diadem on their heads: but their vassals
and such as reigned by grace from them, wore the same on their hoods: for so
they might commodiously lay down their diadems when they came into the
presence of their sovereigns, as also the elders are said, when they adored
God which sat upon the throne, to have cast down their crowns before him in (Revelation
(5) Contrary to that which God of old commanded
should be written in the head piece of the high Priest, that is, "Sanctitas
Jehova", Holiness unto the Lord. The name of blasphemy imposed by the
dragon, is that which Paul says in (2 Thessalonians
2:4) "He sits as God and boasts himself to be God" For this name
of blasphemy both the Roman Emperors did then challenge to themselves, as
Suetonius and Dion do report of Caigula and Domitian: and after them the popes
of Rome professed the same of themselves, when they challenged to themselves
sovereignty in holy things of which kind of sayings the sixth book of the
Decretals, the Clementines, and the Extravagants, are very full. For these men
were not content with that which Anglicus wrote in his Poetria, (the beginning
of which is "Papa stupor mundi" The pope is the wonder of the world)
"Nec Deus es, nec homo, sed neuter es inter utrungue." Thou art not
God, nor art thou man, but neuter mixed of both: as the gloss witnesses on the
sixth book: But they were bold to take to themselves the very name of God, and
to accept it given of other: according as almost a hundred and twenty years
since there was made for Sixtus the fourth, when he should first enter into
Rome in his papal dignity, a Pageant of triumph, and cunningly fixed upon the
gate of the city he should enter at, having written upon it this blasphemous
verse: "Oraclo vocis mundi moderaris habenas, Et merito in terrs crederis
esse Deus." That is, By oracle of thine own voice, the world thou
governest all, And worthily a God on earth men think and do thee call. These
and six hundred the like who can impute to that modesty by which good men of
old would have themselves called the servants of the servants of God? Verily
either this is a name of blasphemy, or there is none at all.
13:2 And the beast which I saw was like 6
unto a leopard, and his feet were as [the feet] of a bear, and his mouth as the
mouth of a lion: 7 and the dragon gave
him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
(6) Swift as the leopard, easily grabbing all
things, as the bear does with his foot, and tearing and devouring all things
with the mouth as a lion does. (7) That is, he
lent the same power to the beast to use, when he perceived that he could not
escape, but must be taken by the hand of the angel, and cast into the
bottomless pit; (Revelation
20:1-15) yet he did abandon the same power completely from himself, but
that he might use it as long as he could.
13:3 8 And I
saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was
healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
(8) This is the other place that pertains to the
description of the beast of Rome: that besides that natural dignity, and
breadth of the Roman Empire, which was eluded to in the two former verses,
there was added this also as miraculous, that one head was wounded as it were
to death, and was healed again as from heaven, in the sight of all men. This
head was Nero the Emperor, in whom the race of the Caesars fell from imperial
dignity, and the government of the commonwealth was translated to others: in
whose hands the Empire was so cured and recovered to health, as he seemed to
all so much the more deeply rooted and grounded fast, than ever before. Hence
follows those effects, which are next spoken of: First an admiration of
certain power, as it were, sacred and divine, sustaining the Empire and
governing it: Secondly, the obedience and submission of the whole earth, in
this verse: Thirdly, the adoration of the dragon, and most wicked worshipping
of devils confirmed by the Roman Emperors: Lastly, the adoration of the beast
himself, who grew into so great estimation, as that both the name and worship
of a God was given to him, (Revelation
13:4). Now there were two causes which brought in the minds of men this
religion: the show of excellency, which brings with it reverence: and the show
of power invincible, which brings fear. Who is like (say they) to the beast?
Who shall be able to fight with him?
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and
power was given unto him 10 to continue
forty [and] two months.
(9) The second part containing a history of the
acts of the beast, as I said See Geneva".
The history of them is concluded in two points: the beginning, and the manner
of them. The beginning is the gift of the dragon, who put and inspired into
the beast both his impiety against the godly and those that were of the
household of faith, in (Revelation
13:5) The manner of the acts or actions done, is of two sorts, both
impious in mind, and blasphemous in speech against God, his Church and the
godly in (Revelation
13:6) and also most cruel and injurious in deeds, even such as were done
of most raging enemies, and of most insolent and proud conquerors in (Revelation
(10) Namely his actions, and manner of dealing.
As concerning those two and forty months, I have spoken of them before. See
13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against
God, to blaspheme his name, 11 and his
tabernacle, 12 and them that dwell in
(11) That is, the holy Church, the true house of
the living God.
(12) That is, the godly who as a group hid
themselves from his cruelty. For this bloody beast charged those holy souls
falsely with innumerable accusations for the name of Christ as we read in
Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Arnobius, Minutius, Eusebius, Augustine and others:
whose example the latter times followed most diligently, in destroying the
flock of Christ: and we in our own memory have found by experience, to our
incredible grief. Concerning heaven, see in (Revelation
13:8 And all that dwell upon
the earth shall worship him, 13 whose
names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation
of the world.
(13) That is, such as are not from everlasting
elected in Christ Jesus. For this is that Lamb slain; (Revelation
5:6). These words I do with Aretas, distinguish in this manner: whose
names are not written from the laying of the foundation of the world, in the
book of Life, of the Lamb slain. This distinction is confirmed by a similar
verse in (Revelation
13:9 14 If
any man have an ear, let him hear.
(14) The conclusion of this speech of the first
beast, consisting of two parts, an exhortation to attentive audience, in this
verse: and a foretelling, which partly contains threatenings against the
wicked and partly comfort for those who in patience and faith shall wait for
that glorious coming of our Lord and Saviour Christ; (Revelation
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; 16
and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
(15) The second part of the vision, concerning
the ecclesiastical dominion, which in Rome succeeded that which was politic,
and is in the power of the corporation of false prophets and of the forgers of
false doctrine. Therefore the same beast, and the body or corporation is
called a false prophet by John; (Revelation
16:13,19:20). The form of this beast is first described in this verse,
then his acts in the verses following: and the whole speech is concluded in
the last verse. This beast is by his breed, a son of the earth (as they say)
obscurely born, and little by little creeping up out of his abject estate.
(16) That is, in show he resembled the Lamb (for
what is more mild or more humble then to be the servant of the servants of
God?} but indeed he played the part of the dragon, and of the wolf; (Matthew
7:15). For even Satan changes himself into an angel of light; (2 Corinthians
11:14) and what should his honest disciples and servants do?
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the
earth and them which dwell therein 18 to
worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
(17) The history of the acts of this beast
contains in sum three things, hypocrisy, the witness of miracles and tyranny:
of which the first is noted in this verse, the second in the three verses
following: the third in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses. His hypocrisy is
most full of lies, by which he abuses both the former beast and the whole
world: in that though he has by his cunning, as it were by line, made of the
former beast a most miserable skeleton or anatomy, usurped all his authority
to himself and most impudently exercises the same in the sight and view of
him: yet he carries himself so as if he honoured him with most high honour,
and did truly cause him to be reverenced by all men.
(18) For to this beast of Rome, which of civil
Empire is made an ecclesiastical hierarchy, are given divine honours, and
divine authority so far, as he is believed to be above the scriptures, which
the gloss upon the Decretals declares by this devilish verse. "Articulos
solvit, synodumque facit generalem" That is, "He changes the
Articles of faith, and gives authority to general Councils."
Which is spoken of the papal power. So the beast is by birth, foundation,
feat, and finally substance, one: only the Pope has altered the form and
manner of it, being himself the head both of that tyrannical empire, and also
of the false prophets: for the empire has he taken to himself, and to it added
this cunning device. Now these words, "whose deadly wound was cured"
are put here for distinction sake, as also sometimes afterwards: that even at
that time the godly readers of this prophecy might by this sign be brought to
see the thing as present: as if it were said, that they might adore this very
empire that now is, whose head we have seen in our own memory to have been cut
off, and to be cured again.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the
earth in the sight of men,
(19) The second point of the things done by the
beast, is the credit of great wonders or miracles, and pertaining to the
strengthening of this impiety: of which signs some were given from above, as
it is said, that fire was sent down from heaven by false sorcery, in this
verse. Others were shown here below in the sight of the beast, to establish
idolatry, and deceive souls: which part John sets forth, beginning (as they
say) at that which is last, in this manner: First, the effect is declared in
these words, "He deceives the inhabitants of the earth". Secondly,
the common manner of working, in two sorts: one of miracles, "for the
signs which were given him to do in the presence of the beast", the other
of the words added to the signs, and teaching the idolatry by those signs
"saying to the inhabitants of the earth, that they should make an image
to the beast, which etc." Thirdly, a special manner is declared,
"That it is given to him to put life into the image of the beast"
and that such a type of quickening, that the same both speaks by answer to
those that ask counsel of it, and also pronounces death against all those that
do not obey nor worship it: all things which oftentimes by false miracles
through the procurement and inspiration of the devil, have been effected and
wrought in images. The histories of the papists are full of examples of such
miracles, the most of them false, many also done by the devil in images, as of
old in the serpent; (Genesis
3:5). By which example is confirmed, not the authority of the beast, but
the truth of God and these prophecies.
13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by
[the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the
beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an 20
image to the 21 beast, which had the
wound by a sword, and did live.
(20) That is, images, by "enallage" or
change of the number: for the worship of them ever since the second Council of
Nicea, has been ordained in the Church by public credit and authority,
contrary to the Law of God.
(21) In the Greek the word is in the Dative case,
as much to say, as to the worship, honour and obeying of the beast: for by
this maintenance of images, this pseudo-prophetical beast mightily profits the
beast of Rome, of whom long ago he received them. Wherefore the same is
hereafter fittingly called the image of the beast, for images have their
beginning from the beast, and have their form or manner from the will of the
beast, and have their end and use fixed in the profit and commodity of the
And he had power to give a life unto the
image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause
that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
(22) The papists books are full of these miracles
of the images of the beast, (that is, which the beast ordained to establish
idolatry) which miraculously speak, and give judgment, or rather
astonishingly, by the fraud of the false prophets.
(a) To give life, as Jannes and Jambres imitated
the miracles that Moses did.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to
receive 24 a b
mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
(23) The third point is a cruel exercise of
power, as was said before, usurped over men, in this verse: and over their
goods and actions, in the next verse. For he is said, to bring on all persons
a cruel slavery, that as bondslaves they might serve the beast. Also he is
said to exercise over all their goods and actions, an abuse of indulgences and
dispensations (as they term them) among their friends and against others, to
use most violent prohibitions, and to curse, even in natural and civil,
private and public contracts, in which all good faith ought to have place.
(24) That is their consecrated oil, by which in
the ordinance (as they call it) of confirmation, they make servants for
themselves, the persons and doings of men, signing them in their forehead and
hands. They make the sign left by Christ, see (Revelation
7:3) and the ordinance of baptism useless. For whom Christ has joined to
himself as signified by baptism this beast challenges with his greasy
consecrated oil, which he does not hesitate to prefer over baptism, both in
authority and value.
(b) The mark of the name of the beast.
13:17 And that no man might 25
buy or sell, save he that had the 26
mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
(25) That is, have any trade or dealings with
men, but only those who have this annointing and consecration of Clearkely
shaving of the head, as they call it, read Gratian "de Consecratione,
distincione tertia.c.omnes.cap spiritus, etc." of these matters.
(26) Here the false prophets require three
things, set down in the order of their greatness, a character, a name, and the
number of the name. The meaning is, that man that does not have their first
annointing and clerical shaving of the head: secondly holy orders, by which is
communicated the name of the beast: or finally has not attained that high
degree of pontifical knowledge, and of the law (as they call it) canonical,
and has not made up in account and cast the number of the mysteries of it: for
in these things consists the number of the name of the beast. This is
excellently set forth in the next verse.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
for it is the 28 number of a man; and
his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.
(27) That is, in this number of the beast
consists that popish wisdom, which to them seems the greatest of all others.
In these words John expounds the saying that went before the number of the
beast, what it has above his distinctive mark and his name. These things, says
John, the mark and the name of the beast, is wisdom: that is, only the wise
and such as have understanding, can come by that number: for they who would
attain it must be knowledgeable doctors, as the words following declare.
(28) How great and of what denomination this
number of the beast is by which the beast accounts his wisdom, John declares
in these words, "Do you demand how great it is?" It is so great,
that it occupies the whole man: he is always learning, and never comes to the
knowledge of it: he must be a man in deed that does attain to it. You ask what
denomination it is? Truly it is six throughout, all the parts of it in their
denominations (as they term them) it stands of six by units, tens, hundreds,
etc. There is not one part in the pontifical learning and order, which is not
either referred to the head, the top of it, or contained in the same: so fitly
do all things in this hierarchy agree with one another, and with their head.
Therefore that cruel beast Boniface the eighth, does commend by the number of
six those Decretals which he perfected: in the sixth book. "Which book
(he says) being to be added to five other books of the same volume of
Decretals, we thought good to name Sextum the sixth: that the same volume by
addition of it, containing a senary, or the number of six books (which is a
number perfect) may yield a perfect form of managing all things, and perfect
discipline of behaviour." Here therefore is the number of the beast, who
empowers from himself all his parts, and brings them all back to himself by
his discipline in most wise and cunning manner. If any man desires more of
this, let him read the gloss on that place. I am not ignorant that other
interpretations are given in this place; but I thought it my duty, with the
good favour of all, and without the offence of any, to propound my opinion in
this point. For this cause especially, since it seemed to me neither
profitable, nor likely to be true, that the number of the beast, or the name
of the beast should be taken as the common interpreters take it. This number
of the beast teaches, gives out, imprints, as a public mark of those who are
his, and esteems that mark above all others, as the mark of those whom he
loves best. Now those other expositions seem to be far removed from this
property and condition of that number: whether you respect the name Latinus,
or Titan, or any other. For these the beast does not teach, nor give forth,
nor imprint, but most diligently forbids to be taught, and audaciously denies:
he does not approve them, but reproves them: and hates those that think so of
this number, with a hatred greater then that of Vatinius.