The Seven-Headed Beast.
SUMMARY.--The Beast that Rises Out of the Sea.
Power Given to the Beast by the Dragon.
The Head Wounded to Death and Healed.
Power Given to Continue Forty-two Months.
The Lamb-like Beast that Had the Voice of a Dragon.
His Service to the Seven-Headed Beast.
The Number of the Beast.
1, 2. I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. The
has shown the relentless hostility of the dragon, "the old
serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,"
to the woman, a hostility that has manifested itself in changing forms.
declares his purpose to make war on the seed of the woman. This chapter
is intended to show the organized forms in which he has carried on this
warfare. The apostle sees a beast, a wild savage beast, arising
out of the sea. The restless ocean is a symbol of commotion.
Having seven heads and ten horns. The beast bears the old dragon
of seven heads and ten horns. It must therefore be some manifestation
of the same power. Indeed, it is the dragon who has called the beast
forth from the sea.
On his horns ten crowns. These crowns are diadems (Revision).
They are the sign of royal authority. They represent ten kings or
the seven heads had the diadems; now the horns wear them. There is a
reason for this that we shall see in the
And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. If these heads should
arrogantly claim divine honors, not belonging to them, these would be
names of blasphemy. These heads are said to be seven kings. Sometimes
kings have claimed to be gods, as Alexander, who asserted that he was
the son of Jupiter Ammon, and the Roman Emperors, who all claimed
divine honors and required men to worship their statues and to offer
2. And the beast . . . was like unto a leopard. It was
a composite beast which united the characteristics of the beasts seen
by Daniel in his vision
The animals combined are all cruel, terrible beasts of prey; a terror
And the dragon gave him his power. That is, this beast was
called forth to do the dragon's work, and acted by the dragon's
3, 4. I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death. The
Greek says "slain." This deadly wound of the head was a deadly wound of
the beast itself. See
This wound was given by the sword; that is, by war. See
It is in
suggested that the beast was restored after the wound by the efforts of
the second beast first named in
The symbolism implies that a mortal wound was inflicted on the power
represented by the beast; that when it was dead, or about to perish,
its power was restored by the arts of the second beast.
All the world wondered after the beast. Gave it their wonder and
4. They worshiped the dragon. In following after and obeying the
beast they really gave worship to the dragon which had given the beast
his power. Their worship was, however, directed to the beast itself.
Who is like unto the beast? This language implies giving the
beast superhuman honors. Similar language is often used of God. See
Ps. 113:5; Isa. 40:18.
The dragon, cast down, receives worship through the beast.
5-7. And there was given . . . a mouth speaking great
things. He would make blasphemous claims. Daniel affirms the same
of the beast seen in his vision
Forty and two months. The same period named in
in 11:2, in 11:3, and in Dan. 7:25.
The period referred to here, when the beast shall prevail against the
Church, is one of 1260 years. This is evidently the period of the
world's dominion over the Church.
6. He opened his mouth in blasphemy. Three kinds of blasphemy
are named: (1) against God; (2) against his tabernacle; (3) against
those to whom God has opened his tabernacle. The first would be
accomplished by usurping God's prerogatives; the second by maledictions
upon the true Church, and the third by curses on the true
7. It was given unto him. He had power to make war on the saints
and to overcome them for a long period. Compare
His dominion was also one that seemed universal, and he claimed rule
over all kindreds . . . and nations.
8-10. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him. All
except the true and faithful saints, hidden in obscurity but known
above and recorded in the book of life, shall give him homage.
9. If any man have an ear, let him hear. Let him give heed. The
words to be heeded are in
10. If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goeth.
The meaning is "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
"With what measure a man metes, it shall be measured to him again."
If the beast and his adherents lead the saints captive, they shall
finally be made captive; if they slay with the sword, so shall they be
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. The assurance
that God will, in the end, right all their wrongs gives them faith and
As the monster with seven heads and ten horns is introduced three times
in 13:1, and in 17:3,
one explanation of the meaning of these symbols will suffice for all.
Though the form varies somewhat, the ten-horned monster of
Dan. chapter 7
is without doubt the same. Comparing the accounts we learn that "the
seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth" (the
and they are also seven kings or kingdoms. In
these heads have upon them diadems, the crown that always signifies
royalty, but in
there are no diadems upon the heads. This may imply that the heads that
had once worn the crowns were uncrowned in the period which is now
pointed out. The ten horns, however, have diadems. In
they are said to be ten kings or kingdoms which had not yet, when John
wrote, received power, but shall receive it in the period pointed
forward to in the symbols. Still another fact is pointed out in
Of the seven kings five were fallen when John wrote; that is, had
passed away; one of them then existed; one was yet to come; the beast
himself was composed of all the seven and yet assumed such a form that
he became an eighth.
These facts will enable us to point out what is signified. It is some
power that fights against God, that is a deadly enemy of the Church,
that oppresses the Israel of God, that is used as Satan's instrument,
that overcomes the Church for 1260 years, that is blasphemous; that has
existed as seven kings, or kingdoms, for such may be the meaning of the
word, and that shall reappear again to be ten kingdoms. It will be seen
that the form of this beast varies at different times, and we must
expect the power meant to assume various forms. Let us note the great
world powers which have arrayed themselves against God in oppressing
his people during their history. I. Egypt enslaved the Israel of
God, those whom he called "My People," with a grievous bondage. At that
period Egypt was the greatest of the world powers. II. Next
Assyria, many hundred years later, carries the Ten Tribes into
captivity, from whence they never returned. Assyria was the destroyer
of the kingdom of Israel and the oppressor of the kingdom of Judah.
III. Babylon, the great Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, erected on the
ruins of Assyria, conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple,
and carried the people into captivity. IV. Persia overthrew
Babylon, and succeeded to the sway over the remnant of Israel and
Palestine. V. Greece, or rather the
Macedonian Empire of Alexander, overthrew Persia, and the fifth of the
great world powers became the ruler and the oppressor of God's people.
Under the successors of Alexander their sufferings were terrible. Here,
then, we have Five Kingdoms, or great world monarchies, which had been
used by the dragon for oppression, and which had passed away before
John wrote. VI. One now is.
Rome had overthrown all before her and occupied their dominion.
The Roman monarchy existed when John was on Patmos, and he was seen
there by the edict of a Roman Emperor. VII. One was yet to come.
There was to be still another of these world powers, which should
appear after John's time. It is to be an anti-Christian world power. My
opinion is that it refers to the Eastern or Greek Empire, the Roman
Empire in the East, continuing to exist as an Oriental despotism after
the fall of Rome. This Empire was a persecutor also. No Emperor
persecuted more cruelly than Justinian. In
we are also told that there is an "eighth head who is of the seven."
This is the beast. This means that the spirit and power of the whole
beast, embracing all the seven heads, passes to an eighth kingdom or
rule. Wherever we find this rule we find the beast fully manifested.
This signifies the temporal dominion of the Papal power, a sway that
derived its power from the kingdoms of the earth.
The beast with seven heads and ten horns is, then, the great world
power in its opposition to God's people, manifesting itself in the
various great worldly states which have fought against the saints. Of
the heads of the beast Rome was the greatest and the most terrible of
persecutors. Hence, while all the opposing world powers are generally
signified, Rome, Pagan and Papal, is specially pointed out. There can
be no doubt about the allusion of John to the heads signifying also
seven mountains on which the harlot sitteth
No phrase was oftener applied to Rome by Pagan poets and writers, as
well as Christian Fathers than "the seven hilled city." The eighth head
is stated also to be an embodiment of the whole beast. Hence, I believe
we are justified in declaring that Rome is the seat of the beast.
THE MORTAL WOUND THAT WAS HEALED.
It is shown, however, that the beast received a wound on one of its
heads that was mortal. One of the kingdoms was overcome by the sword.
This blow would, in the ordinary nature of things, destroy it and the
beast. In some remarkable way this wound was healed. This was
wonderfully fulfilled. In A. D. 476, the last of the Roman
Emperors of the West was hurled from his throne, and Italy became the
prey of contending barbarian hordes. It seem seem as though the fate of
Rome was forever sealed. Nineveh fell, but it was to rise no more.
Babylon fell before the armies of Cyrus, and after a few generations it
became the abode of "doleful creatures."
Tyre fell, and on the bare rock, which was once the seat of a mighty
city, "the fisherman spreads his nets." Other cities have fallen and
lost their glory, their dominion, their existence, and have been
converted into heaps of ruins, where wild beasts have lurked, serpents
hidden, and desert winds howled; but in the case of Rome, the deadly
wound was healed. Mysteriously, wonderfully, the captive city, by
the development of a new power, binds her conquerors in the chains of
superstition, and by establishing a spiritual dominion over the souls
of men, she yet succeeds in holding the secular authority over a vast
portion of the world. The sway of Rome under the Popes became, in spite
of her conquest, mightier than her sway under the Cæsars.
It yet remains to consider the period during which it shall be given
this dominion to have power over the saints. We have found that this
period of 1260 years, since a day is a symbol of a year, has been
several times mentioned. The "Holy City," the true Church, is trodden
down by the Gentiles for forty-two months; the two witnesses prophesy
in sackcloth for one thousand two hundred and three score days; the
woman, or the true Church, is driven by the dragon into the wilderness
for twelve hundred and sixty days, and the beast exercises power for
forty-two months, which is the same period once more. There can be no
doubt that the treading down of the Holy City, the two witnesses in
sackcloth, the flight and sojourn of the Church in the wilderness, and
the power of the beast, all take place during the same period, begin at
the same time, are different parts of the same history, and end at the
same epoch. It has been already found
that this period began in 533. The period, then, of the greatest power
and glory of this "eighth head," which is the beast himself, would end
about 1793, or about the beginning of this century. At this time there
is certainly an exaltation of the two witnesses, a return of the Church
from the wilderness. There is also a fatal shock to the temporal power
of Rome. In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte effected the conquest of Italy, and
the Pope, a prisoner, was a supplicant at his feet. In 1804, he ordered
the Pope, who was now his puppet, to come France to crown him emperor
of the French. In 1805, he assumed the title of King of Italy. During
the years of his power he ruled the Pope with an iron hand, broke up
the old European system, emancipated the nations from the terror of
Rome, and when he fell, the temporal authority of Rome had received a
fatal wound. The influence of the Pope in the politics of the world was
broken. Since then Rome has been occupied as the capital of free Italy,
and the Pope has become "The Prisoner of the Vatican."
THE LAMB-LIKE DRAGON.
11, 12. I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth. John
sees this second monster coming up out of the earth, a beast that has
two horns like a lamb, and a voice like the voice of a dragon. There is
a close connection existing between the ten-horned and the two-horned
beast. The latter (1) exercises the power of the first beast before
him, (2) causeth the earth to worship the first beast, (3) says to the
earth that it should make an image of the first beast
(4) gives life unto the image of the first beast, and (5) causes those
who will not worship the image to be slain
These statements show that there exists a close connection between the
two, and that the last is the supporter and restorer of the first. We
have found the first to be a symbolical representation of the temporal
power of Rome. Most Protestant commentators see in the second beast the
spiritual power of Rome, the power which gave life to, and built up,
the temporal dominion of the Papacy. The Papal claims are two-fold,
both of spiritual and temporal dominion. St. Peter with the sword and
the keys is always represented as the symbol of the Papal power; the
sword of temporal sway, and the keys of the kingdom. The Pope not only
claims to be the vicar of Christ, but the rightful ruler of the kings
of the earth, and in this capacity, in the days of his greatness, has
made and deposed kings, and granted kingdoms.
Two horns like a lamb . . . spake like a dragon. There
is a similitude like the Lamb of God; a counterfeit representation; but
a voice like the old dragon of pagan Rome. Both features show
themselves. It professes to be Christian power. Sometimes its servants
do a really lamb-like work, but then again we hear the dragon's voice.
It can hardly be necessary to state that symbolism could choose no
language more appropriate to represent the harsh, arrogant utterances
of Rome when she puts forth her power, or asserts her authority.
Whoever has heard the harsh orders of the priest to his flock, has
heard the dragon's voice. How appropriately this language describes the
bulls of Popes, or the fulminations of anathemas and excommunications
against their enemies!
12. He maketh the earth . . . to worship the first
beast. The spiritual power of Rome is exercised before, or in the
presence of, the temporal power. They have dwelt together, and it is
the spiritual power that has made those that dwell upon the earth
regard and pay homage to the temporal. If an earthly ruler refused to
heed the mandates of the Pope, his subjects were absolved from
allegiance and bidden to depose him. If they refused, the whole kingdom
was laid under interdict, the churches were closed, religious rites
were suspended, the dead were not buried in the consecrated grounds,
and a superstitious population soon demands deliverance by submission.
It was by the terrors of the spiritual power that the earth was brought
into subjection to the imperial temporal sway of the Popes. The second
beast has made men worship the first.
13, 14. The second beast did great wonders, pretended to perform
miracles, and thus "deceived them that dwell upon the earth."
Rome has claimed the possession of miraculous power in all ages, and no
fact in history is better established than that she has continually
resorted to lying miracles.
14. And deceiveth . . . by reason of those miracles.
The object of these false miracles was to rivet the chains of the
spiritual dominion, so as to build up the temporal sway of the papacy.
The dragon-lamb commanded men to make an image of the beast, and to
offer it homage.
15-17. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast.
The image of the beast, of the old Pagan power, this eighth head, which
is the beast and of the seven, is not a lifeless image. The arts of the
dragon lamb gave it life. The spiritual power built up the temporal and
gave it imperial and despotic dominion. It had power to slay all who
would not worship it. The awful dragonnades in Southern France, the
frightful work of the Inquisition, the merciless persecution in
Holland, the scenes of blood and death caused by Rome in many lands,
are the fulfillment.
16. He causeth all . . . to receive a mark. The mark
of the beast is some stamp or sign, by which all its worshipers should
be known. In ancient days slaves were sometimes branded, as cattle are
in our own age. The brand or mark of the beast would be some indelible
sign which would designate with certainty those who were subject to his
authority. A mark in the hand is supposed by some to represent the
practice, while a mark in the forehead indicates the profession of
life. It is remarkable, however, that a mark on the forehead, the sign
of the cross made with water, converts a person into a Roman Catholic,
and without this mark none are regarded as heirs of salvation.
17. No man might buy or sell, etc. It has been common for
Catholics to be forbidden to patronize those who were not loyal to the
Pope. At least three councils are named, those of Tours, of Constance
and the Lateran, which have expressly forbidden business intercourse
THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST.
18. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the
speaks of the name of the beast. It has, then, a name. It also
speaks of the number of its name. Its name, then, is some
number. We wish to discover its name, and if we can count the number,
we will find its name. "The number of the beast," that is, the "number
of its name"
is the number of a man, and that number is six hundred and
sixty-six. It is, then, plain that the number six hundred and
sixty-six is the number of the name of the beast, and this is the man's
name. Six hundred sixty-six is English. John did not write in English,
hence those words in English will not give the word we seek. 666 are
the Arab characters for the numbers, but they were unknown until many
hundred years after John wrote, and hence afford no help. John wrote in
the Greek language for readers who understood that tongue. The number
is evidently, then, to be expressed in Greek characters. The Greeks did
not express numbers by figures, but by letters, just as among the
Romans, X stood for ten and C for one hundred. Six hundred and
sixty-six could be expressed by spelling out the words in the Greek
language, or by using the letters which were symbols for various
quantities. Let us try the latter method: 30=L, 1=a, 300-t, 5=e, 10=i,
50=n, 70=o, 200=s. 666=Lateinos. And what is this name? The number of
a man; the Greek method of spelling the name of Latinus, the reputed
founder of the Latin race. The Romans were a Latin race and spoke the
Latin language. The Romish Church is continually officially called the
Latin Church, to distinguish it from the Greek Church, the other branch
of the great ancient schism; the Catholic sacred books are written in
the Latin tongue; the worship is conducted in every country in the
Latin alone, and when a Catholic council convenes, all its conferences
are conducted in the tongue of the ancient Latins. There is, then, a
Latin Church, whose official and sacred speech is the Latin language,
which has for its
seat the ancient Latin capital. That Church is the great Apostate
Church, upon whose head the names of blasphemy have been written, which
has claimed universal dominion upon the earth, and has slain the saints
of the Most High. Its name is the number of the beast, and that name,
Lateinos, the name or number of a man, is 666. It does not destroy the
force of this that these numerals and letters can be so combined as to
spell out other names. This name is one that at once points to a power
which has displayed every mark which is assigned to the beast.