RPM, Volume 19, Number 17, April 23 to April 29, 2017

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 103

By Albert Barnes




This chapter is closely connected with chap. xii., which is properly introductory to this and to the subsequent portions of the book to chap. xx. See the Analysis of the book. The vision in this chapter is of two distinct "beasts," each with peculiar characteristics, yet closely related, deriving their power from a common source; aiding each other in the accomplishment of the same object, and manifestly relating to the same power under different forms. To see the design of the chapter, it will be necessary to exhibit the peculiar characteristics of the two "beasts," and the points in which they resemble each other, and sustain each other.

I. The characteristics of the beasts.

A. The characteristics of the first beast, Re 13:1-10.

(a) It comes up out of the sea, (Re 13:1)—out of the commotion, the agitation of nations—a new power that springs up from those disturbed elements.

(b) It has seven heads, and ten horns, and upon its horns ten crowns or diadems, Re 13:1.

(c) In its general form, it resembles a leopard; its feet are like those of a bear; its mouth like that of a lion. Its connexion with the great "dragon"—with Satan—is indicated by, the statement that it derives its "power, and its seat, and its authority from him, (Re 13:2;) a striking representation of the fact that the civil or secular Roman power which supported the church of Rome through all its corrupt and bloody progress was the putting forth of the power of Satan on the earth.

(d) One of the heads of this beast is "wounded to death;" that is, with a wound that is in itself mortal. This wound is, however, in some way as yet unexplained, so healed that the vitality yet remains, and all the world pays homage to the beast, Re 13:3. A blow is aimed at this authority which seems to be fatal; and there is some healing or restorative process by which its power is recovered, and by which the universality of its dominion and influence is again restored.

(e) The effect of this is, that the world renders homage really to the "dragon," the source of this power, though in the form of adoration of the "beast," re 13:4. That is, while the outward homage is rendered to the "beast," the real worship is that of the "dragon," or Satan. This beast is regarded as

(1) incomparable—"Who is like unto the "beast?" and
(2) invincible—"Who is able to war with him?"

(f) In this form the beast is endowed with a mouth that "speaks great things and blasphemies," Re 13:5; that is, the power here referred to is arrogant, and reviles the God of heaven.

(g) The time during which he is to continue is "forty and two months;" that is, twelve hundred and sixty days, or twelve hundred and sixty years. See Barnes "Re 11:2".

(h) The characteristics of this beast, and of his dominion, are these:

(1.) He opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, and his church, and all holy beings, Re 13:6.
(2.) He makes war with the saints and overcomes them, Re 13:7.
(3.) He asserts his power over all nations, Re 13:7.
(4.) He is worshipped by all that dwell on the earth, whose names are not in the book of life, Re 13:8.

(i) All are called on to hear—as if the announcement were important for the church, Re 13:9.

(j) The result or issue of the power represented by this monster, Re 13:10. It had led others into captivity, it would itself be made captive; it had been distinguished for slaying others, it would itself feel the power of the sword. Until this is accomplished, the patience and faith of the saints must be sorely tried, Re 13:10.

B. The characteristics of the second beast, Re 13:11-18.

(a) It comes out of the earth, (Re 13:11)—having a different origin from the former; not springing from troubled elements, as of nations at strife, but from that which is firm and established—like the solid earth.

(b) It has two horns like a lamb, but it speaks as a dragon, Re 13:11. It is apparently mild, gentle, lamb-like, and inoffensive; but it is, in fact, arrogant, haughty, and imperative.

(c) Its dominion is co-extensive with that of the first beast, and the effect of its influence is to induce the world to do homage to the first beast, Re 13:12.

(d) It has the power of performing great wonders, and particularly of deceiving the world by the "miracles" which it performs. This power is particularly manifested in restoring what might be regarded as an "image" of the beast which was wounded, though not put to death, and by giving life to that image, and causing those to be put to death who will not worship it, Re 13:13-15.

(e) This beast causes a certain mark to be affixed to all, small and great, and attempts a jurisdiction over all persons, so that none may buy or sell, or engage in any business, who have not the mark affixed to them; that is, the power represented attempts to set up a control over the commerce of the world, Re 13:16,17.

(f) The way by which the power here referred to may be known is by some proper application of the number 666. This is stated in an enigmatical form, and yet with such clearness that it is supposed that it would be sufficient to indicate the power here referred to.

II. Points in which the two beasts resemble or sustain each other. It is manifest on the slightest inspection of the characteristics of the "beasts" referred to in this chapter, that they have a close relation to each other; that, in important respects, the one is designed to sustain the other, and that both are manifestations or embodiments of that one and the same power represented by the "dragon," Re 13:4. He is the great original source of power to both, and both are engaged in accomplishing his purposes, and are combined to keep up his dominion over the earth. The points of resemblance which it is very important to notice are the following:—

(1.) They have the same origin; that is, they both owe their power to the "dragon," and are designed to keep up his ascendency in human affairs, Re 12:3; 13:2,4,12.

(2.) They have the same extent of power and dominion. \-

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST The world wonders after the He exercises all the power of beast, Re 13:3. They worship the first beast, Re 3:12. He the dragon and the beast causes the earth and them which dwell Re 13:4, and all that dwell therein to worship the first beast. upon the earth shall worship him Re 13:12. He has power to give Re 13:8 life unto the image of the beast

Re 13:15. He sets up jurisdiction

over the commerce of the world Re 13:16,17

(3.) They do the same things.

First Beast Second Beast The dragon gives power to the He exercises all the power o beast, ver. 4. There is given unto the first beast, ver. 12. He does him a mouth speaking great things great wonders, ver. 13. He makes and blasphemies, ver. 5. He opens fire come down from heaven in his mouth in blasphemy against the sight of men, ver. 13. He God, ver. 6. It is given him to performs miracles, ver. 14. He make war with the saints, and to causes that as many as would not overcome them, ver. 7. worship the first beast should be killed, ver. 15. He claims dominion over all, vers. 16, 17.

(4.) The one is the means of healing the wounded head of the other, and of restoring its authority.

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST One of his heads is, as it were, Has power to heal the wound wounded to death: a wound that of the first beast, ver. 12; for it would be mortal if it were not is manifest that the healing healed ver. 3. comes from some influence of the second beast.

(5.) The one restores life to the other when dying.

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST Is wounded, ver. 3, and his Causes an "image" of the first power manifestly becomes ex- beast- something that should hausted. resemble that, or be the same power revived, to be made, and to be worshipped, ver. 15.

(6.) They have the same general characteristics.

FIRST BEAST SECOND BEAST Has a mouth given him to speak Speaks like a dragon, ver. 11; great things and blasphemies, ver. deceives those that dwell upon 5; opens his mouth in blasphemy, the earth, ver. 14; is a persecut- ver. 6; blasphemes the name of ing power—causing those who God, and his tabernacle, and his would not worship the image of people, ver. 6; makes war with the the first beast to be killed, ver. saints and overcomes them, ver. 7. 15.

From this comparison of the two beasts, the following things are plain:

(1.) That the same general power is referred to, or that they are both modifications of one general dominion on the earth: having the same origin, having the same locality, and aiming at the same result.

(2.) It is the same general domination prolonged; that is, the one is, in another form, but the continuation of the other.

(3.) The one becomes weak, or is in some way likely to lose its authority and power, and is revived by the other; that is, the other restores its waning authority, and sets up substantially the same dominion again over the earth, and causes the same great power to be acknowledged on the earth.

(4.) The one runs into the other; that is, one naturally produces, or is followed by the other.

(5.) One sustains the other.

(6.) They, therefore, have a very close relation to each other: having the same object; possessing the same general characteristics; and accomplishing substantially the same thing on the earth. What this was, will be better seen after the exposition of the chapter shall have been made. It may be sufficient here to remark, that, on the very face of this statement, it is impossible not to have the Roman power suggested to the mind, as a mighty persecuting power, in the two forms of the civil and ecclesiastical authority, both having the same origin; aiming at the same object; the one sustaining the other; and both combined to keep up the dominion of the great enemy of God and man upon the earth. It is impossible, also, not to be struck with the resemblance, in many particulars, between this vision and that of Daniel, Da 7 and to be impressed with the conviction that they are intended to refer to the same kingdom in general, and to the same events. But this will be made more manifest in the exposition of the chapter.

Verse 1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea. The sand upon the shore of the sea. That is, he seemed to stand there, and then had a vision of a beast rising out of the waters. The reason of this representation may, perhaps, have been that among the ancients the sea was regarded as the appropriate place for the origin of huge and terrible monsters. —Prof. Stuart, in loc. This vision strongly resembles that in Da 7:2, seq., where the prophet saw four beasts coming up in succession from the sea. See Barnes on "Da 7:2".

In Daniel, the four winds of heaven are described as striving upon the great sea, (Da 7:2,) and the agitated ocean represents the nations in commotion, or in a state of disorder and anarchy, and the four beasts represent four successive kingdoms that would spring up. See Barnes on "Da 7:2".

In the passage before us, John indeed describes no storm or tempest, but the sea itself, as compared with the land (See Barnes "Re 13:11") represents an agitated or unsettled state of things, and we should naturally look for that in the rise of the power here referred to. If the reference be to the civil or secular Roman power that has always appeared in connexion with the Papacy, and that has always followed its designs, then it is true that it rose amidst the agitations of the world, and from a state of commotion that might well be represented by the restless ocean. The sea in either case naturally describes a nation or people, for this image is frequently so employed in the Scriptures. Compare as above, Da 7:2; Ps 65:7; Isa 60:5; Re 10:2.

The natural idea, therefore, in this passage, would be that the power that was represented by the "beast" would spring up among the nations, when restless or unsettled, like the waves of the ocean.

And saw a beast. Daniel saw four in succession, (Da 7:3-7,) all different, yet succeeding each other; John saw two in succession, yet strongly resembling each other, Re 13:1,11. On the general meaning of the word beast—yhrion— See Barnes "Re 11:7".

The beast here is evidently a symbol of some power or kingdom that would arise in future times. See Barnes on "Da 7:3".

Having seven heads. So also the dragon is represented in Re 12:3. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

The representation there is of Satan, as the source of all the power lodged in the two beasts that John subsequently saw. In Re 17:9, referring substantially to the same vision, it is said that "the seven heads are seven mountains;" and that there can be no difficulty, therefore, in referring this to the seven hills on which the city of Rome was built, (compare Barnes on "Re 12:3,) and consequently this must be regarded as designed, in some way, to be a representation of Rome.

And ten horns. See this also explained in Barnes on "Re 12:3".

Compare also the more extended illustration in Barnes on "Da 7:25"

seq. The reference here is to Rome, or the one Roman power, contemplated as made up of ten subordinate kingdoms, and therefore subsequently to the invasion of the Northern hordes, and to the time when the Papacy was about to rise. Compare Re 17:12: "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, [marg. kingdoms,] which have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power as kings with the beast." For a full illustration of this, see Barnes on the close of Daniel 7.

And upon his horns ten crowns. Greek, ten diadems. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

These indicated dominion or authority. In Re 12:3, the "dragon is represented as having seven diadems on his head; here, the beast is represented as having ten. The dragon there represents the Roman domination as such, the seven-hilled, or seven-headed power, and, therefore, properly described as having seven diadems; the beast here represents the Roman power, as now broken up into the ten dominations which sprung up (see notes on Daniel as above) from the one original Roman power, and that became henceforward the supporters of the Papacy, and, therefore, properly represented here as having ten diadems. And upon his heads the name of blasphemy. That is, the whole power was blasphemous in its claims and pretensions. The word blasphemy here seems to be used in the sense that titles and attributes were claimed by it which belonged only to God. On the meaning of the word blasphemy, See Barnes "Mt 9:3" See Barnes "Mt 26:65".

The meaning here is, that each one of these heads appeared to have a frontlet, with an inscription that was blasphemous, or that ascribed some attribute to this power that properly belonged to God; and that the whole power thus assumed was in derogation of the attributes and claims of God. In regard to the propriety of this description considered as applicable to the Papacy, See Barnes "2 Th" 2:4".

{a} "beast" Da 7:2

{b} "seven heads" Re 12:3; 17:3,9,12

{1} "name" "names"


Verse 2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard. For a description of the leopard, see Barnes on "Da 7:6".

It is distinguished for bloodthirstiness and cruelty, and thus becomes all emblem of a fierce, tyrannical power. In its general character it resembles a lion, and the lion and the leopard are often referred to together. In this description, it is observable that John has combined in one animal or monster, all those which Daniel brought successively on the scene of action as representing different empires. Thus in Daniel (Da 7:2-7) the lion is introduced as the symbol of the Babylonian power; the bear, as the symbol of the Medo-Persian; the leopard, as the symbol of the Macedonian; and a nondescript animal, fierce, cruel, and mighty, with two horns, as the symbol of the Roman. See Barnes "Da 7:2-7".

In John there is one animal representing the Roman power, as if it were made up of all these: a leopard with the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion, with two horns, and with the general description of a fierce monster. There was an obvious propriety in this, in speaking of the Roman power, for it was, in fact, made up of the empires represented by the other symbols in Daniel, and "combined in itself all the elements of the terrible and the oppressive, which had existed in the aggregate in the other great empires that preceded it." At the same time, there was an obvious propriety in the symbol itself; for the bloodthirstiness and cruelty of the leopard would well represent the ferocity and cruelty of the Roman power, especially as John saw it here as the great antagonistic power of the true church, sustaining the Papal claim, and thirsting for blood.

And his feet were as the feet of a bear. See Barnes on "Da 7:5".

The idea here seems to be that of strength, as the strength of the bear resides much in its feet and claws. At the same time, there is the idea of a combination of fierce qualities—as if the bloodthirstiness, the cruelty, and the agility of the leopard were united with the strength of the bear.

And his mouth as the mouth of a lion. See Barnes on "Da 7:4".

The mouth of the lion is made to seize and hold its prey, and is indicative of the character of the animal as a beast of prey. John has thus brought together the qualities of activity, bloodthirstiness, strength, ferocity, all as symbolical of the power that was intended to be represented. It is hardly necessary to say that this description is one that would apply well, in all respects, to Rome; nor is it necessary to say, that if it be supposed that he meant to refer to Rome, this is such a description as he would have adopted.

And the dragon. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

Gave him his power. Satan claimed, in the time of the Saviour, all power over the kingdoms of the world, and asserted that he could give them to whomsoever he pleased. See Barnes on "Mt 4:8-9".

How far the power of Satan in this respect may extend, it may not be possible to determine; but it cannot be doubted that the Roman power seemed to have such an origin, and that in the main it was such as, on that supposition, it would be. In its arrogance and haughtiness—in its thirst for dominion—in its persecutions—it had such characteristics as we may suppose Satan would originate. If, therefore, as the whole connexion leads us to suppose this refers to the Roman secular power, considered as the support of the Papacy, there is the most evident propriety in the representation.

And the seat. yronon. Hence our word throne. The word properly means a seat; then a high seat; then a throne, as that on which a king sits. Here it refers to this power as exercising dominion on the earth.

And great authority. The authority was great. It extended over a large part of the earth, and alike in its extent and character, it was such as we may suppose Satan would set up in the world.

{c} "was like unto" Da 7:4-7

{d} "dragon" Re 12:9

{e} "seat" Re 16:10


Verse 3. And I saw one of his heads, as it were wounded to death. The phrase "wounded to death" means properly that it received a mortal wound; that is, that the wound would have been mortal if it had not been healed. A blow was struck that would be naturally fatal, but there was something that prevented the fatal result. John does not say, however, by whom the wound was inflicted, nor does he describe farther the nature of the wound. He says that "one of the heads" —that is, one of the seven heads—was thus wounded. In Re 17:9, he says that "the seven heads are seven mountains in which the woman sitteth." In Re 17:10, he says, "there are seven kings." And this would lead us to suppose that there were "seven" administrations, or forms of dominion, or dynasties, that were presented to the eye of John; and that while the number "seven," as applied to to the "heads," so far identified the power as to fix its location on the seven "hills," (Re 17:9) in another respect also the number "seven" suggested forms of administration or dynasties, Re 17:10. What is meant by saying that one of these heads was wounded to death has been among the most perplexing of all the inquiries pertaining to the book of Revelation. The use of the word seven, and the explanation in Re 17:9, make it morally certain that Rome, in some form of its administration, is referred to. Of this there can be no doubt, and in this all are agreed. It is not, however, the Papal power as such that is here referred to; for

(a) the Papal power is designated under the image of the second beast;

(b) the descriptions pertaining to the first beast are all applicable to a secular power; and

(c) there was no form of the Papal spiritual dominion which would properly correspond with what is said in Re 17:10. The reference in this place is, therefore, to Rome considered as a civil or secular power, yet Rome regarded as giving support to the second beast—the Papal power. The general idea here is, that a state of things would exist in regard to that power, at the time referred to, as if one of the seven heads of the monster should receive a wound which would be fatal, if it were not healed in some way. That is, its power would be weakened; its dominion would be curtailed, and that portion of its power would have come to an end, if there had not been something which would, as it were, restore it, and save it from the wrath that was impending, The great point of difficulty relates to the particular application of this; to the facts in history that would correspond with the symbol. On this there have been almost as many opinions as there have been interpreters of the Apocalypse, and there is no impropriety in saying that none of the solutions are wholly free from objection. The main difficulty, so far as the interpretation proposed above is concerned, is, in the fact that "one" of the seven heads is referred to as wounded unto death; as if one-seventh part of the power was endangered. I confess I am not able wholly to solve this difficulty; but, after all, is it certain that the meaning is that just one-seventh part of the power was in peril; that the blow affected just such a portion that it might be described as the one-seventh part? Is not the number seven so used in the Scriptures as to denote a considerable portion—a portion quite material and important? And may not all that is intended here be that John saw a wound inflicted on that mighty power which would have been fatal if it had not been marvellously healed? And was it not true that the Roman civil and secular power was so waning and decaying that it might properly be represented as if one of the seven heads of the monster had received a fatal wound, until its power was restored by the influence of the spiritual domination of the church of Rome? If this be the correct exposition, then what is implied here may be thus stated:

(a) The general subject of the representation is the Roman power, as seen at first in its rigour and strength;

(b) then that power is said to be greatly weakened, as if one of its heads were smitten with a deadly wound;

(c) then the wound was healed—this power was restored—by being brought into alliance with the Papacy; that is, the whole Roman power over the world would have died away, if it had not been restored and perpetuated by means of this new and mighty influence, Re 13:12. Under this new form, Rome had all the power which it had ever had, and was guilty of all the atrocities of which it had ever been guilty: it was Rome still. Every wound that was inflicted on that power by the incursion of barbarians, and by the dividing off of parts of the empire, was healed by the Papacy, and under this form its dominion became as wide and as formidable as under its ancient mode of administration. If a more particular application of this is sought for, I see no reason to doubt that it may be found in the quite common interpretation of the passage given by Protestants, that the reference is to the forms of administration under which this power appeared in the world. The number of distinct forms of government which the Roman power assumed from first to last was the following: kings, consuls, dictators, deceivers, military tribunes, emperors. These seven forms of administration were, at least, sufficiently prominent and marked to be represented by this symbol, or to attract the attention of one contemplating this formidable power—for it was under these forms that its conquests had been achieved, and its dominion set up over the earth. In the time of John, and the time contemplated in this vision, all these had passed away but the imperial. That, too, was soon to be smitten with a deadly wound by the invasion of the Northern hordes; and that would have wholly and for ever ceased if it had not been restored— the deadly wound being healed—by the influence of the Papal power, giving Rome its former ascendency. See Barnes on "Re 13:15".

And his deadly wound was healed. That is, as explained above, the waning Roman secular power was restored by its connexion with the spiritual power—the Papacy. This was

(a) a simple matter of fact, that the waning secular power of Rome was thus restored by connecting itself with the spiritual or ecclesiastical power, thus prolonging what might properly be called the Roman domination far beyond what it would otherwise have been; and

(b) this would be properly represented by just the symbol employed here—the fatal wound inflicted on the head, and the healing of that wound, or preventing what would naturally be the effects. On the fulfilment of this, see Barnes "Re 13:15, at the close.

And all the world wondered after the beast. The word here used— yaumazw—means, properly, to be astonished; to be amazed; then to wonder at; then to admire and follow.—Rob. Lex. In Re 13:4, it is said that the world "worshipped" the beast; and the general idea is, that the beast received such a universal reverence, or inspired such universal awe, as to be properly called worship or adoration. There can be no doubt of the propriety of this, considered as applicable to that secular Roman power which sustained the Papacy. The homage was as wide as the limits of the Roman empire had ever been, and might be said to embrace "all the world."

{1} "wounded" "slain"

{a} "wondered" Re 17:8


Verse 4. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast. See Barnes "Re 12:3" See Barnes "Re 13:2".

That is, they in fact worshipped him. The word worship—troskunew—is not always, however, used in a religious sense. It means, properly, to kiss; to kiss towards any one; that is, to kiss his own hand and to extend it towards a person, in token of respect and homage.— Rob. Lex. Compare Job 31:27. Then it means to show respect to one who is our superior; to kings and princes; to parents; and pre-eminently to God. See Barnes "Mt 2:2".

The word may be used here to mean that homage or reverence, as to a higher power, was rendered to the "dragon;" not strictly that he was openly worshipped in a religious sense as God. Can any one doubt that this was the case under Papal Rome; that the power which was set up under that entire domination, civil and ecclesiastical, was such as Satan approved, and such as he sought to have established on the earth? And can any one doubt that the homage thus rendered, so contrary to the law of God, and so much in derogation of his claims, was in fact homage rendered to this presiding spirit of evil?

And they worshipped the beast. That is, they did it, as is immediately specified, by saying that he was incomparable and invincible; in other words, that he was superior to all others, and that he was almighty. For the fulfilment of this, See Barnes on "2 Th 2:4".

Who is like unto the beast? That is, he is to be regarded as unequalled and as supreme. This was, in fact, ascribing honours to him which belonged only to God; and this was the manner in which that civil and secular power was regarded in the period here supposed to be referred to. It was the policy of rulers and princes in those times to augment in every way possible the respect in which they were held; to maintain that they were the vicegerents of heaven; to claim for themselves sacredness of character and of person; and to secure from the people a degree of reverence which was in fact idolatrous. Never was this more marked than in the times when the Papacy had the ascendency, for it was its policy to promote reverence for the power that sustained itself, and to secure for itself the idolatrous veneration of the people.

Who is able to make war with him? That is, he is invincible. They thus attributed to him omnipotence—an attribute belonging only to God. This found a fulfilment in the honour shown to the civil authority which sustained the Papacy; for the policy was to impress the public mind with the belief that that power was invincible. In fact, it was so regarded. Nothing was able to resist that absolute despotism; and the authority of princes and rulers that were allied with the Papal rule was of the most absolute kind, and the subjugation of the world was complete. There was no civil, as there was no-religious liberty; and the whole arrangement was so ordered as to subdue the world to an absolute and uncontrollable power.

{b} "who is able" Re 17:14


Verse 5. And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things. John does not say by whom this was given; but we may suppose that it was by the "dragon," who is said (Re 13:2) to have given him his power, and seat, and authority. The fulfilment of this is found in the claims set up by the princes and rulers here referred to—that mighty secular power that sustained the Papacy, and that was, in some sort, a part of the Papacy itself. These arrogant claims consisted in the assertion of a Divine right; in the power assumed over the liberty, the property, and the consciences of the people; in the arbitrary commands that were issued; and in the right asserted of giving absolute law. The language here used is the same as that which is found in Daniel (Da 7:8) when speaking of the little horn: "In this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." For and illustration of the meaning of this, see Barnes "Da 7:8".

Compare See Barnes "Da 7:25".

And blasphemies. That is, the whole power represented by the "beast" will be blasphemous. See Barnes "Re 13:1".

Compare See Barnes "Da 7:25".

And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. Three years and a half, reckoned as months; or twelve hundred and sixty days, reckoning thirty days for a month; or twelve hundred and sixty years, regarding the days as prophetic days. For the evidence that this is to be so regarded, see Barnes on "Da 7:25".

This is the same period that we meet with in Re 11:2, and in Re 12:6. See Barnes on "Re 11:2; Re 12:6 ".

This fact proves that the same power is referred to in these places and in Daniel; and this fact may be regarded as a confirmation of the views here taken that the power here referred to is designed to have a connexion in some form with the Papacy. The duration of the existence of this power is the same as that which is everywhere ascribed to the Papacy, in the passages which refer to it; and all the circumstances, as before remarked, show that the same general power is referred to by the two "beasts" which are described in this chapter. If so, the continuance or duration may be supposed to be the same; and this is indicated in the passage before us, where it is said that it would be twelve hundred and sixty years. In regard to the application of this to the Papal power, and the manner in which the calculation is to be made of the duration of that power, see Barnes "Da 7:25"

and the remarks at the end of that chapter. The meaning in the passage before us I take to be, that the Papal power, considered as a civil or secular institution, will have, from the time when that properly commenced, a duration of twelve hundred and sixty years. In the Scriptures there is nothing more definite in regard to any future event than this.

{a} "mouth" Da 7:8,11,25; 11:36

{1} "power" "make war"

{b} "forty and two months" Re 11:2,3; 12:6


Verse 6. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name. By his own arrogant claims; by his assumed authority in matters of conscience; by setting aside the Divine authority; and by impious declarations in derogation of the Divine claims. See Barnes "Re 13:1".

And his tabernacle. Literally, "his tent"—skhnhn. This is the word which is commonly applied to the sacred tent or tabernacle among the Hebrews, in which the ark was kept, and which was the seat of the Jewish worship before the building of the temple. It is thus used to denote a place of worship, considered as the dwelling-place of God, and is in this sense applied to heaven, Heb 8:2; 9:11; Re 15:5.

It seems to be used here in a general sense to denote the place where God was worshipped; and the meaning is, that there would be a course of conduct in regard to the true church—the dwelling-place of God on the earth—which could properly be regarded as blasphemy. Let any one remember the anathemas and excommunications uttered against the Waldenses and Albigenses, and those of kindred spirit that appeared in the long period of the Papal rule, and he will find no difficulty in perceiving a complete fulfilment of all that is here said.

And them that dwell in heaven. The true worshippers; the members of the true church, represented as dwelling in this holy tabernacle. No one acquainted with the reproaches cast on the devoted and sincere followers of the Saviour, during the dark periods of the Papal rule, can fail to see that there was, in that, a complete fulfilment of all that is here predicted.

{c} "tabernacle" Col 2:9; Heb 9:11,24

{d} "that dwell" Heb 12:22,23


Verse 7. And it was given unto him. By the same power that taught him to blaspheme God and his church. See Barnes "Re 12:2,5".

To make war with the saints. See this fully illustrated in See Barnes "Da 7:21, and at the end of that chapter.

And to overcome them. In those wars. This was abundantly fulfilled in the wars with the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and the other sincere followers of the Saviour in the time of the Papal persecutions. The language here used is the same as that which is found in Da 7:21: "The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them."

And power was given him. See Barnes on "Re 13:2".

Over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. For the meaning of these words, see Barnes on "Re 7:9".

The meaning here is, that this dominion was set up over the world. Compare Da 7:25. The fact that so large a portion of the kingdoms of the earth was under the influence of the Papacy, and sustained it; and the claim which it set up to universal dominion, and to the right of deposing kings, and giving away kingdoms, corresponds entirely with the language here used.

{e} "make war" Re 11:7; 12:17; Da 7:21

{f} "power" Lu 4:6


Verse 8. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him. That is, as immediately stated, all whose names are not in the book of life. On the word worship, see Barnes on "Re 13:4".

Whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb. That is, of the Lord Jesus—the Lamb of God. See Barnes on "Php 4:3".

Compare Barnes on "Joh 1:29".

The representation here is, that the Lord Jesus keeps a book or register, in which are recorded the names of all who shall obtain everlasting life.

Slain from the foundation of the world. See Barnes "Re 5:6".

Compare See Barnes "Re 3:5".

The meaning here is, not that he was actually put to death "from the foundation of the world," but that the intention to give him for a sacrifice was formed then, and that it was so certain that it might be spoken of as actually then occurring. See Ro 4:17. The purpose was so certain; it was so constantly represented by bloody sacrifices from the earliest ages, all typifying the future Saviour, that it might be said that he was "slain from the foundation of the world." Prof. Stuart, however, (Com. in loc.,) supposes that this phrase should be connected with the former member of the sentence—" whose names are not written, from the foundation of the world, in the life-book of the Lamb which was slain." Either construction makes good sense; but it seems to me that that which is found in our common version is the most simple and natural.

{g} "book of life" Re 21:27; Da 12:1

{h} "slain from the foundation" Re 17:8


Verse 9. If any man have an ear, let him hear. See Barnes on "Re 2:7".

The idea here is, that what was here said respecting the "beast" was worthy of special attention, as it pertained to most important events in the history of the church.


Verse 10. He that leadeth into captivity. This is clearly intended to refer to the power or government which is denoted by the beast. The form of the expression here in the Greek is peculiar—"if any one leadeth into captivity," etc.—Ei tiv aicmalwsian sunagei. The statement is general, and it is intended to make use of a general or prevalent truth with reference to this particular case. The general truth is, that men will, in the course of things, be dealt with according to their character and their treatment of others; that nations characterized by war and conquest will be subject to the evils of war and conquest—or that they may expect to share the same lot which they have brought on others. This general statement accords with what the Saviour says in Mt 26:52: "All they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword." This has been abundantly illustrated in the world; and it is a very important admonition to nations not to indulge in the purposes of conquest, and to individuals not to engage in strife and litigation. The particular idea here is, that it would be a characteristic of the power here referred to, that it would "lead others into captivity." This would be fulfilled if it was the characteristic of this power to invade other countries, and to make their inhabitants prisoners of war; if it made slaves of other people; if it set up an unjust dominion over other people; or if it was distinguished for persecuting and imprisoning the innocent, or for depriving the nations of liberty. It is unnecessary to say that this is strikingly descriptive of Rome— considered in any and every point of view—whether under the republic or the empire; whether secular or ecclesiastical; whether Pagan or Papal. In the following forms there has been a complete fulfilment under that mighty power of what is here said:

(a) In the desire of conquest, or of extending its dominion, and, of course, leading others captive as prisoners of war, or subjecting them to slavery.

(b) In its persecutions of true Christians—alike pursued under the Pagan and the Papal form of the administration.

(c) Especially in the imprisonments practised under the Inquisition— where tens of thousands have been reduced to the worst kind of captivity. In every way this description is applicable to Rome, as seeking to lead the world captive, or to subject it to its own absolute sway.

Shall go into captivity. As a just recompense for subjecting others to bondage, and as an illustration of a general principle of the Divine administration. This is yet, in a great measure, to be fulfilled; and, as I understand it, it discloses the manner in which the Papal secular power will come to an end. It will be by being subdued, so that it might seem to be made captive, and led off by some victorious host. Rome now is practically held in subjection by foreign arms, and has no true independence; perhaps this will be more and more so as its ultimate fall approaches.

He that killeth with the sword. See Barnes on "Mt 26:52".

There can be no doubt that this is applicable to Rome in all the forms of its administration considered as a Pagan power, or considered as a nominally Christian power; either with reference to its secular or its spiritual dominion. Compute the numbers of human beings that have been put to death by that Roman power; and no better language could have been chosen to characterize it than that which is here used—"killeth with the sword." Compare See Barnes "Da 7:24, seq.

Must be killed with the sword. This domination must be brought to an end by war and slaughter. Nothing is more probable than this in itself; nothing could be more in accordance with the principles of the Divine dealings in the world. Such a power as that of Rome will not be likely to be overcome but by the force of arms; and the probability is, that it will ultimately be overthrown in a bloody revolution, or by foreign conquest. Indeed, there are not a few intimations now that this result is hastening on. Italy is becoming impatient of the secular power swayed in connexion with the Papacy, and sighs for freedom; and it is every way probable that that land would have been free, and that the secular power of the Papacy, if not every form of the Papacy itself, would have come to an end, in the late convulsion (1848) if it had not been for the intervention of France and Austria. The period designated by prophecy for the final overthrow of that power had not arrived; but nothing can secure its continuance for any very considerable period longer.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. That is, the trial of their patience and of their faith. Nowhere on earth have the patience and the faith of the saints been put to a severer test than under the Roman persecutions. The same idea occurs in Re 14:12.

{a} "that leadeth" Isa 33:1

{b} "he that killeth" Ge 9:6

{c} "patience" Heb 6:12


Verse 11. And I beheld another beast. Compare See Barnes "Re 13:1".

This was so distinct from the first that its characteristics could be described, though, there was, in many points, a strong resemblance between them. The relations between the two will be more fully indicated in the Notes.

Coming up out of the earth. Prof. Stuart renders this, "ascending from the land." The former was represented as rising up out of the sea, (Re 13:1;) indicating that the power was to rise from a perturbed or unsettled state of affairs—like the ocean. This, from that which was more settled and stable—as the land is more firm than the waters. It may not be necessary to carry out this image; but the natural idea as applied to the two forms of the Roman power supposed to be here referred to, would be that the former—the secular power that sustained the Papacy—rose out of the agitated state of the nations in the invasions of the Northern hordes, and the convulsions and revolutions of the falling empire of Rome; and that the latter, the spiritual power itself —represented by the beast coming up from the land—grew up under the more settled and stable order of things. It was comparatively calm in its origin, and had less the appearance of a frightful monster rising up from the agitated ocean. Compare See Barnes "Re 13:1".

And he had two horns like a lamb. In some respects he resembled a lamb; that is, he seemed to be a mild, gentle, inoffensive animal. It is hardly necessary to say that this is a most striking representation of the actual manner in which the power of the Papacy has always been put forth—putting on the apparent gentleness of the lamb; or laying claim to great meekness and humility, even when deposing kings, and giving away crowns, and driving thousands to the stake, or throwing them into the dungeons of the Inquisition.

And he spake as a dragon. See Barnes on "Re 12:3".

The meaning here is, that he spake in a harsh, haughty, proud, arrogant tone—as we should suppose a dragon would if he had the power of utterance. The general sense is, that while this "beast" had, in one respect—in its resemblance to a lamb—the appearance of great gentleness, meekness, and kindness, it had, in another respect, a haughty, imperious, and arrogant spirit. How appropriate this is, as a symbol, to represent the Papacy, considered as a spiritual power, it is unnecessary to say. It will be admitted, whatever may be thought of the design of this symbol, that if it was in fact intended to refer to the Papacy, a more appropriate one could not have been chosen.

{d} "another beast" Re 11:7


Verse 12. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him. The same amount of power; the same kind of power. This shows a remarkable relationship between these two beasts; and proves that it was intended to refer to the same power substantially, though manifested in a different form. In the fulfilment of this, we should naturally look for some government whose authority extended far, and which was absolute and arrogant in its character, for this is the power attributed to the first beast. See Barnes "Re 13:2, seq. This description had a remarkable fulfilment in the Papacy, considered as a spiritual dominion. The relation to the secular power is the same as would be indicated by these two beasts; the dominion was as wide-spread; the authority was as absolute and arrogant. In fact, on these points they have been identical. The one has sustained the other; either one would long since have fallen if it had not been upheld by the other. The Papacy, considered as a spiritual domination, was in fact a new power starting up in the same place as the old Roman dominion, to give life to that as it was tending to decay, and to continue its ascendency over the world. These two things, the secular and the spiritual power, constituting the Papacy in the proper sense of the term, are in fact but the continuance or the prolongation of the old Roman dominion—the fourth kingdom of Daniel—united so as to constitute in reality but one kingdom, and yet so distinct in their origin, and in their manifestations, as to be capable of separate contemplation and description, and thus properly represented by the two "beasts" that were shown in vision to John.

And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast. That is, to respect, to reverence, to honour. The word worship here refers to civil respect, and not to religious adoration. See Barnes on "Re 13:4".

The meaning here, according to the interpretation proposed all along in this chapter, is, that the Papacy, considered in its religious influence, or as a spiritual power—represented by the second beast—secured for the civil or secular power—represented by the first beast—the homage of the world. It was the means of keeping up that dominion, and of giving it its ascendency among the nations of the earth. The truth of this, as an historical fact, is well known. The Roman civil power would have long ago lost all its influence and been unknown, if it had not been for the Papacy; and, in fact, all the influence which it has had since the irruption of the Northern barbarians, and the changes which their invasion produced, can be traced to that new power which arose in the form of the Papacy—represented in Daniel (Da 7:8) by the "little horn." That new power gave life and energy to the declining influence of Rome, and brought the world again to respect and honour its authority.

Whose deadly wound was healed. See Barnes on "Re 13:3".

That is, was healed by the influence of this new power represented by the second beast. A state of things occurred, on the rise of that new power, as if a wound in the head, otherwise fatal, was healed. The striking applicability of this to the decaying Roman power—smitten as with a deadly wound by the blows inflicted by the Northern hordes, and by internal dissensions—will occur to every one. It was as if a healing process had been imparted by some life-giving power, and, as a consequence, the Roman dominion—the prolongation of Daniel's fourth kingdom—has continued to the present time. Other kingdoms passed away—the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian; Rome alone, of all the ancient empires, has prolonged its power over men. In all changes elsewhere, an influence has gone forth from the seven-hilled city as wide and as fearful as it was in the brightest days of the republic, the triumvirate, or the empire, and a large part of the world still listens reverently to the mandates which issue from the seat which so long gave law to mankind. The fact that it is so is to be traced solely to the influence of that power represented here by the second beast that appeared in vision to John—the Papacy.

{e} "wound was healed" Re 13:3


Verse 13. And he doeth great wonders. Signs—shmeia—the word commonly employed to denote miracles, See Barnes on "Ac 2:19" and the representation here is, that the power referred to by the second beast would found its claim on pretended miracles, and would accomplish an effect on the world as if it actually did work miracles. The applicability of this to Papal Rome no one can doubt. See Barnes on "2 Th 2:9". Compare Re 13:14.

That he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. That is, he pretends to do this; he accomplishes an effect as if he did it. It is not necessary to suppose that he actually did this, any more than it is to suppose that he actually performed the other pretended miracles referred to in other places. John describes him as he saw him in the vision; and he saw him laying claim to this power, and actually producing an effect as if by a miracle he actually made fire descend from heaven upon the earth. This is to be understood as included in what the apostle Paul (2 Th 2:9) calls "signs and lying wonders," as among the things by which the "man of sin and the son of perdition" would be characterized, and by which he would be sustained. See Barnes on "2 Th 2:9".

Why this particular pretended miracle is specified here is not certain. It may be because this would be among the most striking and impressive of the pretended miracles wrought—as if lying beyond all human power—as Elijah made fire come down from heaven to consume the sacrifice, (1 Ki 18:37-38,) and as the apostles proposed to do on the Samaritans, (Lu 9:54,) as if fire were called down on them from heaven. The phrase "in the sight of men" implies that this would be done publicly, and is such language as would be used of pretended miracles designed for purposes of ostentation. Amidst the multitudes of pretended miracles of the Papacy, it would probably not be difficult to find instances in which the very thing here described was attempted, in which various devices of pyrotechnics were shown off as miracles. For an illustration of the wonders produced in the dark ages in reference to fire, having all the appearance of miracles, and regarded as miracles by the masses of men, the reader is referred to Dr. Brewster's Letters on Natural Magic, particularly Letter xii.

{a} "great wonders" Mt 24:24; 2 Th 2:9,10


Verse 14. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles. Nothing could possibly be more descriptive of the Papacy than this. It has been kept up by deception and delusion, and its pretended miracles have been, and are to this day, the means by which this is done. Any one in the slightest degree acquainted with the pretended miracles practised at Rome, will see the propriety of this description as applied to the Papacy. The main fact here stated, that the Papacy would endeavour to sustain itself by pretended miracles, is confirmed by an incidental remark of Mr. Gibbon, when, speaking of the pontificate of Gregory the Great, he says, "The credulity, or the prudence of Gregory, was always disposed to confirm the truths of religion by the evidence of ghosts, miracles, and resurrections."—Dec. and Fall. iii. 210. Even within a month of the time that I am writing, (October 5, 1850,) intelligence has been received in this country of extraordinary privileges conferred on some city in Italy, because the eyes of a picture of the Virgin in that city have miraculously moved—greatly to the "confirmation of the faithful." Such things are constantly occurring; and it is by these that the supremacy of the Papacy has been and is sustained. The "Breviary" teems with examples of miracles wrought by the saints, For instance: St. Francis Xavier turned a sufficient quantity of salt water into fresh to save the lives of five hundred travellers who were dying of thirst, enough being left to allow a large exportation to different parts of the world, where it wrought astonishing cures. St. Raymond de Pennaloft laid his cloak on the sea, and sailed from Majorca to Barcelona, a distance of a hundred and sixty miles, in six hours. St. Juliana lay on her death-bed; her stomach rejected all solid food, and in consequence she was prevented from receiving the Eucharist. In compliance with her earnest solicitations, the consecrated wafer was laid on her breast; the priest prayed; the wafer vanished, and Juliana expired. Many pages might be filled with accounts of modern miracles, of the most ridiculous description, yet believed by Roman Catholics—the undoubted means by which Papal Rome "deceives the world," and keeps up its ascendency in this age. See Forsyth's Italy, ii. pp. 154-157; Rome in the Nineteenth Century, i. p. 40, 86, ii. p. 356, iii. pp. 193-201; Lady Morgan's Italy, ii. p. 306, iii. p. 189; Graham's Three Months' Residence, etc., p. 241.

Saying to them that dwell on the earth. That is, as far as its influence would extend. This implies that there would be authority, and that this authority would be exercised to secure this object.

That they should make an image to the beast. That is, something that would represent the beast, and that might be an object of worship. The word rendered image—eikwn—means properly

(a) an image, effigy, figure, as an idol image or figure;

(b) a likeness, resemblance, similitude. Here the meaning would seem to be, that, in order to secure the acknowledgment of the beast, and the homage to be rendered to him, there was something like a statue made, or that John saw in vision such a representation; that is, that a state of things existed as if such a statue were made, and men were constrained to acknowledge this. All that is stated here would be fulfilled if the old Roman civil power should become to a large extent dead, or cease to exert its influence over men, and if then the Papal spiritual power should cause a form of domination to exist, strongly resembling the former in its general character and extent, and if it should secure this result—that the world would acknowledge its sway, or render it homage as it did to the old Roman government. This would receive its fulfilment if it be supposed that the first "beast" represented the ancient Roman civil power as such; that this died away—as if the head had received a fatal wound; that it was again revived under the influence of the Papacy; and that, under that influence, a civil government strongly resembling the old Roman dominion was caused to exist, depending for its vital energy on the Papacy, and, in its turn, lending its aid to support the Papacy. All this in fact occurred in the decline of the Roman power after the time of Constantine, and its final apparent extinction, as if "wounded to death," in the exile of the last of the emperors, the son of Orestes, who assumed the names of Romulus and Augustus, names which were corrupted, the former by the Greeks into Momyllus, and the latter by the Latins "into the contemptible diminutive Augustulus." See Gibbon, ii, 381. Under him the empire ceased, until it was revived in the days of Charlemagne. In the empire which then sprung up, and which owed much of its influence to the sustaining aid of the Papacy, and which seems to have been made to sustain the Papacy, we discern the "image" of the former Roman power; the prolongation of the Roman ascendency over the world. On the exile of the feeble son of Orestes, (A.D. 476,) the government passed into the hands of Odoacer, "the first Barbarian who reigned in Italy," (Gibbon;) and then the authority was divided among the sovereignties which sprang up after the conquests of the Barbarians, until the "empire" was again restored in the time and the person of Charlemagne. See Gibbon, iii. 344, seq.

Which had the wound by a sword, and did live. Which had a wound that was naturally fatal, but whose fatal consequences were prevented by the intervention of another power. See Barnes "Re 13:3".

That is, according to the explanation given above, the Roman imperial power was "wounded with a fatal wound" by the invasions of the Northern hordes—the sword of the conquerors. Its power, however, was restored by the Papacy, giving life to that which resembled essentially the Roman civil jurisdiction—the "image" of the former beast; and that power, thus restored, asserted its dominion again, as the prolonged Roman dominion—the fourth kingdom of Daniel—over the world. See Barnes "Da 7:19" seq.

{b} "wound" Re 13:3,12


Verse 15. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast. That is, that image of the beast would be naturally powerless, or would have no life in itself. The second beast, however, had power to impart life to it, so that it would be invested with authority, and would exercise that authority in the manner specified. If this refers, as is supposed, to the Roman civil power—the power of the empire restored —it would find a fulfilment in some act of the Papacy by which the empire that resembled in the extent of its jurisdiction, and in its general character, the former Roman empire, received some vivifying impulse, or was invested with new power. That is, it would have power conferred on it through the Papacy which it would not have in itself, and which would confirm its jurisdiction. How far events actually occurred corresponding with this, will be considered in the Notes at the close of this verse.

That the image of the beast should both speak. Should give signs of life; should issue authoritative commands. The speaking here referred to pertains to that which is immediately specified, in issuing a command that they who "would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."

And cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast. Would not honour it, or acknowledge its authority. The "worship" here referred to is civil, not religious homage, See Barnes "Re 13:4".

The meaning is, that what is here called the "image of the beast" had power given it, by its connexion with the second "beast," to set up its jurisdiction over men, and to secure their allegiance on pain of death. The power by which this was done was derived from the second beast; the obedience and homage demanded was of the most entire and submissive character; the nature of the government was in a high degree arbitrary; and the penalty enforced for refusing this homage was death. The facts that we are to look for in the fulfilment of this are,

(1.) that the Roman imperial power was about to expire—as if wounded to death by the sword;

(2.) that this was revived in the form of what is here called the "image of the beast"—that is, in a form closely resembling the former power;

(3.) that this was done by the agency of the Papal power, represented by the second beast;

(4.) that the effect of this was to set up over men a wide-extended secular jurisdiction, of a most arbitrary and absolute kind, where the penalty of disobedience to its laws was death, and where the infliction of this was, in fact, to be traced to the influence of the second beast— that is, the Papal spiritual power. The question now is, whether facts occurred that corresponded with this emblematic representation. Now, as to the leading fact, the decline of the Roman imperial power —the fatal wound inflicted on that by the "sword" there can be no doubt. In the time of "Augustulus," as above stated, it had become practically extinct—"wounded as it were to death," and so wounded that it would never have been revived again had it not been for some foreign influence. It is true also, that, when the Papacy arose, the necessity was felt of allying itself with some wide-extended civil or secular dominion, that might be under its own control, and that would maintain its spiritual authority. It is true, also, that the empire was revived—the very "image" or copy, so far as it could be, of the former Roman power, in the time of Charlemagne, and that the power which was wielded in what was called the "empire," was that which was, in a great measure, derived from the Papacy, and was designed to sustain the Papacy, and was actually employed for that purpose. These are the main facts, I suppose, which are here referred to, and a few extracts from Mr. Gibbon will show with what propriety and accuracy the symbols here employed were used, on the supposition that this was the designed reference.

(a) The rise, or restoration of this imperial power in the time and the person of Charlemagne. Mr. Gibbon says, (iii. 362,) "It was after the Nicene synod, and under the reign of the pious Irene, that the Popes consummated the separation of Rome and Italy [from the Eastern empire] by the translation of the empire to the less orthodox Charlemagne. They were compelled to choose between the rival nations; religion was not the sole motive of their choice; and while they dissembled the failings of their friends, they beheld with reluctance and suspicion the Catholic virtues of their foes. The difference of language and manners had perpetuated the enmity of the two capitals, [Rome and Constantinople;] and they were alienated from each other by the hostile opposition of seventy years. In that schism, the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the Popes of sovereignty: their submission would have exposed them to the revenge of a jealous tyrant, and the revolution of Italy had betrayed the importance as well as the tyranny of the Byzantine court." Mr. Gibbon then proceeds to state reasons why Charlemagne was selected as the one who was to be placed at the head of the revived imperial power, and then adds, (p. 343,) "The title of patrician was below the merit and greatness of Charlemagne; and it was only by reviving the Western empire that they could pay their obligations, or secure their establishment. By this decisive measure they would finally eradicate the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement of a provincial town the majesty of Rome would be restored; the Latin Christians would be united under a supreme head in their ancient metropolis; and the conquerors of the West would receive their crown from the successors of St. Peter. The Roman church would acquire a zealous and respectable advocate; and, under the shadow of the Carlovingian power, the bishop might exercise, with honour and safety, the government of the city." All this seems as if it were a designed commentary on such expressions as these: "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast, and causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed," "saying to them that dwell on the earth 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 unto the image of the beast," etc.

(b) Its extent. It is said, (Re 13:12,) "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." Compare Re 13:14-15. That is, the extent of the jurisdiction of the revived power, or the restored empire, would be as great as it was before the wound was inflicted. Of the extent of the restored empire under Charlemagne, Mr. Gibbon has given a full account, iii. pp. 546-549. The passage is too long to be copied here in full, and a summary of it only can be given. He says, "The empire was not unworthy of its title; and some of the fairest kingdoms of Europe were the patrimony or the conquest of a prince who reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary.

I. The Roman province of Gaul had been transformed into the name and monarchy of FRANCE, etc.

II. The Saracens had been expelled from France by the grandfather and father of Charlemagne, but they still possessed the greatest part of Spain, from the rock of Gibraltar to the Pyrenees. Amidst their civil divisions, an Arabian emir of Saragossa implored his protection in the diet of Paderborn. Charlemagne undertook the expedition, restored the emir, and, without distinction of faith, impartially crushed the resistance of the Christians, and rewarded the obedience and service of the Mohammedans. In his absence he instituted the Spanish March, which extended from the Pyrenees to the river Ebro: Barcelona was the residence of the French governor; he possessed the counties of Rousillon and Catalonia; and the infant kingdoms of Navarre and Arragon were subject to his jurisdiction.

III. As king of the Lombards, and patrician of Rome, he reigned over the greatest part of ITALY, a tract of a thousand miles from the Alps to the borders of Calabria, etc.

IV. Charlemagne was the first who united GERMANY under the same sceptre, etc.

V. He retaliated on the Avars, or Huns of Pannonia, the same calamities which they had inflicted on the nations: the royal residence of the Chagan was left desolate and unknown; and the treasures, the rapine of two hundred and fifty years, enriched the victorious troops, or decorated the churches of Italy and Gaul. "If we retrace the outlines of the geographical picture," continues Mr. Gibbon, "it will be seen that the empire of the Franks extended, between the east and the west, from the Ebro to the Elbe, or Vistula; between the north and the south, from the duchy of Beneventum to the river Eyder, the perpetual boundary of Germany and Denmark. Two-thirds of the Western empire were subject to Charlemagne, and the deficiency was amply supplied by his command of the inaccessible or invincible nations of Germany."

(c) The dependence of this civil or revived secular power on the Papacy. "His deadly wound was healed." "And causeth the earth to worship the first beast." "Saying to them that dwell on the earth that they should make an image to the beast." "He had power to give life unto the image of the beast." Thus Mr. Gibbon (iii. 343) says, "From the debasement of a provincial town, the majesty of Rome would be restored; the Latin Christiana would be united under a supreme head, in their ancient metropolis; and the conquerors of the West would receive their crown from the successors of St. Peter." And again (iii. 344) he says, "On the festival of Christmas, the last year of the eighth century, Charlemagne appeared in the church of St. Peter; and to gratify the vanity of Rome, he exchanged the simple dress of his country for the habit of a patrician. After the celebration of the holy mysteries, Leo suddenly placed a precious crown on his head, and the dome resounded with the acclamations of the people, 'Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by God the great and pacific emperor of the Romans!' The head and body of Charlemagne were consecrated by the royal unction; his coronation oath represents a promise to maintain the faith and privileges of the church; and the first-fruits are paid in rich offerings to the shrine of the apostle. In his familiar conversation the emperor protested his ignorance of the intentions of Leo, which he would have disappointed by his absence on that memorable day. But the preparations of the ceremony must have disclosed the secret; and the journey of Charlemagne reveals his knowledge and expectation; he had acknowledged that the imperial title was the object of his ambition, and a Roman senate had pronounced that it was the only adequate reward of his merit and services." So again Mr. Gibbon, (iii. 360,) speaking of the conquests of Otho, (A.D. 962,) and of his victorious march over the Alps, and his subjugation of Italy, says, "From that memorable era, two maxims of public jurisprudence were introduced by force, and ratified by time.

I. That the prince who was elected by the German diet, acquired from that instant the subject kingdoms of Italy and Rome.

II. But that he might not legally assume the titles of emperor and Augustus, till he had received the crown from the hands of the Roman pontiff." In connexion with these quotations from Mr. Gibbon, we may add, from Sigonius, the oath which the emperor took on the occasion of his coronation: "I, the Emperor, do engage and promise, in the name of Christ, before God and the blessed apostle Peter, that I will be a protector and defender of this holy Church of Rome, in all things wherein I can be useful to it, so far as Divine assistance shall enable me, and so far as my knowledge and power can reach." Quoted by Prof. Bush, Hieroph. Nov. 1842, p. 141. We learn, also, from the biographers of Charlemagne that a commemorative coin was struck at Rome under his reign, bearing this inscription, "Renovatio Imperil Romani."— "Revival of the Roman Empire," ibid. These quotations, whose authority will not be questioned, and whose authors will not be suspected of having had any design to illustrate these passages in the Apocalypse, will serve to confirm what is said in the Notes of the decline and restoration of the Roman secular power; of its dependence on the Papacy to give it life and rigour; and of the fact that it was designed to sustain the Papacy, and to perpetuate the power of Rome. It needs only to be added, that down to the time of Charles the Fifth— the period of the Reformation—nothing was more remarkable in history than the readiness of this restored secular power to sustain the Papacy and to carry out its designs; or than the readiness of the Papacy to sustain an absolute civil despotism, and to make the world subject to it by suppressing all attempts in favour of civil liberty.

{1} "life" "breath" {a} "worship the beast" Re 16:2


Verse 16. And he caused all. He claims jurisdiction, in the matters here referred to, over all classes of persons, and compels them to do his will. This is the second beast, and, according to the interpretation given above, it relates to the Papal power, and to its claim of universal jurisdiction.

Both small and great. All these expressions are designed to denote universality—referring to various divisions into which the human family may be regarded as divided. One of those divisions is into "small and great;" that is, into young and old; those small in stature and those large in stature; those of humble, and those of elevated rank.

Rich and poor. Another way of dividing the human race, and denoting here, as in the former case, all—for it is a common method, in speaking of mankind, to describe them as "the rich and poor."

Free and bond. Another method still of dividing the human race embracing all—for all the dwellers upon the earth are either free or bond. These various forms of expression, therefore, are designed merely to denote, in an emphatic manner, universality. The idea is, that, in the matter referred to, none were exempt, either on account of their exalted rank, or on account of their humble condition; either because they were so mighty as to be beyond control, or so mean and humble as to be beneath notice. And if this refers to the Papacy, every one will see the propriety of the description. The jurisdiction set up by that power has been as absolute over kings as over the feeble and the poor; over masters and their slaves; alike over those in the humblest and in the most elevated walks of life.

To receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. The word here rendered mark—caragma—occurs only in one place in the New Testament except in the book of Revelation, (Ac 17:29,) where it is rendered graven. In all the other places where it is found, (Re 13:16-17; 14:9,11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4) it is rendered mark, and is applied to the same thing—the "mark of the beast." The word properly means something graven or sculptured; hence

(a) a graving, sculpture, sculptured work, as images or idols;

(b) a mark cut in or stamped—as the stamp on coin. Applied to men, it was used to denote some stamp or mark on the hand or elsewhere—as in the case of a servant on whose hand or arm the name of the master was impressed; or of a soldier on whom some mark was impressed denoting the company or phalanx to which he belonged. It was no uncommon thing to mark slaves or soldiers in this way; and the design was either to denote their ownership or rank, or to prevent their escaping so as not to be detected. (Among the Romans, slaves were stigmatized with the master's name or mark on their foreheads. So Valerius Maximus speaks of the custom for slaves "literatum notis inuri;" and Plautus calls the slave "literatus." Ambrose (De Obit. Valentin.) says, Charactere Domini inscribuntur servuli. Petronius mentions the forehead as the place of the mark: Servitia ecce in frontibus cernitis. In many cases, soldiers bore the emperor's name or mark imprinted on the hand. Actius says, Stigmata vocant quae in facie, vel in alia parte corporis, inscribuntur; qualia sunt militum in manibus. So Ambrose says, Nomine imperatoris signantur milites. Compare See Barnes "Ga 6:17".

Most of us have seen such marks made on the hands or arms of sailors, in which, by a voluntary tattooing, their names, or the names of their vessels, were written, or the figure of an anchor, or some other device, was indelibly made by punctures in the skin, and by inserting some kind of colouring matter. The thing which it is here said was engraven on the hand or the forehead was the "name" of the beast, or the "number" of his name, Re 13:17. That is, the "name" or the "number" was so indelibly inscribed either on the hand or the forehead, as to show that he who bare it appertained to the "beast," and was subject to his authority—as a slave is to his master, or a soldier to his commander. Applied to the Papacy, the meaning is, that there would be some mark of distinction; some indelible sign; something which would designate, with entire certainty, those persons who belonged to it, and who were subject to it. It is hardly necessary to say that, in point of fact, this has eminently characterized the Papacy. All possible care has been taken to designate with accuracy those who belong to that communion, and all over the world it is easy to distinguish those who render allegiance to the Papal power. Compare See Barnes on "Re 7:3".

{1} "receive a mark" "give them"


Verse 17. And that no man might buy or sell. That is, this mighty power would claim jurisdiction over the traffic of the world, and endeavour to make it tributary to its own purposes. Compare Re 18:11-13,17-19.

This is represented by saying that no one might" buy or sell" except by its permission; and it is clear that where this power exists of determining who may "buy and sell," there is absolute control over the wealth of the world.

Save he that had the mark. To keep it all among its own friends; among those who showed allegiance to this power.

Or the name of the beast. That is, the "mark" referred to was either the name of the beast, or the number of his name. The meaning is, that he had something branded on him that showed that he belonged to the beast—as a slave had the name of his master; in other words, there was something that certainly showed that he was subject to its authority.

Or the number of his name. In regard to what is denoted by the number of the beast, See Barnes on "Re 13:18".

The idea here is, that that "number;" whatever it was, was so marked on him as to show to whom he belonged. According to the interpretation here proposed, the meaning of this passage is, that the Papacy would claim jurisdiction over traffic and commerce; or would endeavour to bring it under its control, and make it subservient to its own ends. Traffic or commerce is one of the principal means by which property is acquired, and he who has the control of this has, to a great degree, the control of the wealth of a nation; and the question now is, whether any such jurisdiction has been set up, or whether any such control has in fact been exercised, so that the wealth of the world has been subject to Papal Rome. For a more full illustration of this I may refer to See Barnes "Re 18:11, seq.; but at present it may be sufficient to remark that the manifest aim of the Papacy in all its history has been to control the world, and to get dominion over its wealth, in order that it might accomplish its own purposes. But, besides this, there have been numerous specified acts more particularly designed to control the business of "buying and selling." It has been common in Rome to prohibit, by express law, all traffic with heretics. Thus a canon of the Lateran council, under Pope Alexander III., commanded that no man should entertain or cherish them in his house or land, or traffic with them.—Hard, vi. it. 1684. The synod of Tours, under the same Pope Alexander, passed the law that no man should presume to receive or assist the heretics, no, not so much as to exercise commerce with them in selling or buying. And so, too, the Constance council, as expressed in Pope Martin's bull.—Elliott, iii. 220, 221.

{a} "number of his name" Re 15:2


Verse 18. Here is wisdom. That is, in what is stated respecting the name and the number of the name of the beast. The idea is, either that there would be need of peculiar sagacity in determining what the "number" of the "beast" or of his "name" was, or that peculiar "wisdom" was shown by the fact that the number could be thus expressed. The language used in the verse would lead the reader to suppose that the attempt to make out the "number" was not absolutely hopeless, but that the number was so far enigmatical as to require much skill in determining its meaning. It may also be implied that, for some reason, there was true "wisdom" in designating the name by this number, either because a more direct and explicit statement might expose him who made it to persecution, and it showed practical wisdom thus to guard against this danger; or because there was "wisdom" or skill shown in the fact that a number could be found which would thus correspond with the name. On either of these suppositions, peculiar wisdom would be required in deciphering its meaning.

Let him that hath understanding. Implying

(a) that it was practicable to "count the number of the name;" and

(b) that it would require uncommon skill to do it. It could not be successfully attempted by all; but still there were those who might do it. This is such language as would be used respecting some difficult matter, but where there was hope that, by diligent application of the mind, and by the exercise of a sound understanding, there would be a prospect of success.

Count the number of the beast. In Re 13:16, it is "the number of his name." The word here rendered "count"— qhfisatw—means, properly, to count or reckon with pebbles, or counters; then to reckon, to estimate. The word here means compute; that is, ascertain the exact import of the number, so as to identify the beast. The "number" is that which is immediately specified, "six hundred threescore and six"—666. The phrase "the number of the beast" means, that somehow this number was so connected with the beast, or would so represent its name or character, that the "beast" would be identified by its proper application. The mention in Re 13:17 of "the name of the beast," and "the number of his name," shows that this "number" was somehow connected with his proper designation, so that by this he would be identified. The plain meaning is, that the number 666 would be so connected with his name, or with that which would properly designate him, that it could be determined who was meant by finding that number in his name or in his proper designation. This is the exercise of the skill or wisdom to which the writer here refers: substantially that which is required in the solution of a riddle or a conundrum. If it should be said here that this is undignified and unworthy of an inspired book, it may be replied

(a) that there might be some important reason why the name or designation should not be more plainly made;

(b) that it was important, nevertheless, that it should be so made that it would be possible to ascertain who was referred to;

(c) that this should be done only in some way which would involve the principle of the enigma—"where a known thing was concealed under obscure language"—Webster's Dic.;

(d) that the use of symbols, emblems, hieroglyphics, and riddles was common in the early periods of the world; and

(e) that it was no uncommon thing in ancient times, as it is in modern, to test the capacity and skill of men by their ability to unfold the meaning of proverbs, riddles, and dark sayings. Compare the riddle of Samson, Jud 14:12, seq. See also Ps 49:4; 78:2; Eze 17:2-8

Pr 1:2-6; Da 8:23 It would be a sufficient vindication of the method adopted here if it was certain or probable that a direct and explicit statement of what was meant would have been attended with immediate danger, and if the object could be secured by an enigmatical form.

For it is the number of a man. Various interpretations of this have been proposed. Clericus renders it, "The number is small, or not such as cannot be estimated by a man." Rosenmuller, "The number indicates a man, or a certain race of men." Prof. Stuart, "The number is to be computed more humano, not more angelico;" "it is a man's number." De Wette, "It is such a number as is commonly reckoned or designated by men." Other interpretations may be seen in Poole's Synopsis. That which is proposed by Rosenmuller, however, meets all the circumstances of the case. The idea is, evidently, that the number indicates or refers to a certain man, or order of men. It does not pertain to a brute, or to angelic beings. Thus it would be understood by one merely interpreting the language, and thus the connexion demands.

And his number is six hundred threescore and six. The number of his name, Re 13:17. This cannot be supposed to mean that his name would be composed of six hundred and sixty-six letters; and it must, therefore, mean that somehow the number 666 would be expressed by his name in some well-understood method of computation. The number here—six hundred and sixty-six—is, in Walton's Polyglott, written out in full: Exakosioi exakonta ex. In Wetstein, Griesbach, Hahn, Tittmann, and the common Greek text, it is expressed by the characters cxv=666. There can be no doubt that this is the correct number, though, in the time of Ireneaus, there was in some copies another reading—civ=616. This reading was adopted by the expositor Tychonius; but against this, Ireneaus inveighs.—Lib, v. c. 30. There can be no doubt that the number 666 is the correct reading, though it would seem that this was sometimes expressed in letters, and sometimes written in full. Wetstein supposes that both methods were used by John; that in the first copy of his book he used the letters, and in a subsequent copy wrote it in full. This inquiry is not of material consequence.

It need not be said that much has been written on this mysterious "number," and that very different theories have been adopted in regard to its application. For the views which have been entertained on the subject, the reader may consult, with advantage, the article in Calmet's Dic., under the word Antichrist. It was natural for Calmet, being a Roman Catholic, to endeavour to show that the interpretations have been so various, that there could be no certainty in the application, and especially in the common application to the Papacy. In endeavouring to ascertain the meaning of the passage, the following general remarks may be made, as containing the result of the investigation thus far:

(a) There was some mystery in the matter—some designed concealment—some reason why a more explicit statement was not adopted. The reason of this is not stated; but it may not be improper to suppose that it arose from something in the circumstances of the writer, and that the adoption of this enigmatical expression was designed to avoid some peril to which he or others might be exposed if there were a more explicit statement.

(b) It is implied, nevertheless, that it could be understood; that is, that the meaning was not so obscure that, by proper study, the designed reference could not be ascertained without material danger of error.

(c) It required skill to do this; either natural sagacity, or particular skill in interpreting hieroglyphics and symbols, or uncommon spiritual discernment.

(d) Some man, or order of men, is referred to that could properly be designated in this manner.

(e) The method of designating persons obscurely by a reference to the numerical signification of the letters in their names was not very uncommon, and was one that was not unlikely, in the circumstances of the case, to have been resorted to by John. "Thus, among the Pagans, the Egyptian mystics spoke of Mercury, or Thouth, under the name 1218, because the Greek letters composing the word Thouth, when estimated by their numerical value, together made up that number. By others, Jupiter was invoked under the mystical number 717; because the letters of 'H APXH—Beginning, or First Origin, which was a characteristic of the supreme deity worshipped as Jupiter, made up that number. And Apollo under the number 608, as being that of huv or uhv, words expressing certain solar attributes. Again, the pseudo-Christian or semi-Pagan Gnostics, from St. John's time and downwards, affixed to their gems and amulets, of which multitudes remain to the present day, the mystic word abrasax [abrasax] or abraxav [abraxas] under the idea of some magic virtue attaching to its number 365, as being that of the days of the annual solar circle," etc. See other instances referred to in Elliott, iii. 205. These facts show that John would not be unlikely to adopt some such method of expressing a sentiment which it was designed should be obscure in form, but possible to be understood. It should be added here, that this was more common among the Jews than among any other people.

(f) It seems clear that some Greek word is here referred to, and that the mystic number is to be found in some word of that language. The reasons for this opinion are these:

(1) John was writing in Greek, and it is most natural to suppose that this would be the reference;

(2) he expected that his book would be read by those who understood the Greek language, and it would have been unnatural to have increased the perplexity in understanding what he referred to by introducing a word of a foreign language;

(3) the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and not those of the Hebrew, are expressly selected by the Saviour, to denote his eternity—

"I am Alpha and Omega," Re 1:8,11; and

(4) the numerals by which the enigma is expressed—cxv— are Greek. It has indeed been supposed by many that the solution is to be found in the Hebrew language, but these reasons seem to me to show conclusively that we are to look for the solution in some Greek word.

The question now is, whether there is any word which corresponds with these conditions, and which would naturally be referred to by John in this manner. The exposition thus far has led us to suppose that the Papacy in some form is referred to; and the inquiry now is, whether there is any word which is so certain and determinate as to make it probable that John meant to designate that. The word Lateinov—Lateinos, the Latin [Man]—actually has all the conditions supposed in the interpretation of this passage. From this word the number specified—666—is made out as follows:—

30< >1< > 300< > 5< > 10< > 50< > 70< > 200< > = < >666.

In support of the opinion that this is the word intended to be referred to, the following suggestions may be made:

(a) It is a Greek word.

(b) It expresses the exact number, and corresponds in this respect with the language used by John.

(c) It was early suggested as the probable meaning, and by those who lived near the time of John; who were intimately acquainted with the Greek language; and who may be supposed to have been familiar with this mode of writing. Thus it was suggested by Irenaeus, who says, "It seems to me very probable; for this is a name of the last of Daniel's four kingdoms; they being Latins that now reign." It is true that he also mentions two other words as those which may be meant—euanyav, a word which had been suggested by others, but concerning which he makes no remarks and which, of course, must have been destitute of any probability in his view; and teitan; which he thinks has the clearest claims for admission— though he speaks of the word Lateinos as having a claim of probability.

(d) This word would properly denote the Roman power, or the then Latin power, and would refer to that dominion as a Latin dominion—as it properly was; and if it be supposed that it was intended to refer to that, and, at the same time, that there should be some degree of obscurity about it, this would be more likely to be selected than the word Roman, which was better known; and

(e) there was a special propriety in this on the supposition that it was intended to refer to the Papal Latin power. The most appropriate appellation, if it was designed to refer to Rome as a civil power, would undoubtedly have been the word Roman; but if it was intended to refer to the ecclesiastical power, or to the Papacy, this is the very word to express the idea. In earlier times the more common appellation was Roman. This continued until the separation of the Eastern and Western empires, when the Eastern was called the Greek, and the Western the Latin; or when the Eastern empire assumed the name of Roman, and affixed to the Western kingdoms one and all that were connected with Rome the appellation of Latin. This appellation, originally applied to the language only, was adopted by the Western kingdoms, and came to be that by which they were best designated. It was the Latin world, the Latin kingdom, the Latin church, the Latin patriarch, the Latin clergy, the Latin councils. To use Dr. Mores words, "They Latinize everything: mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, canons, decretals, bulls, are conceived in Latin. The Papal councils speak in Latin, women themselves pray in Latin. The Scriptures are read in no other language under the Papacy than Latin. In short, all things are Latin." With what propriety, then, might John, under the influence of inspiration, speak, in this enigmatical manner, of the new power that was symbolized by the beast as Latin.

The only objection to this solution that has been suggested is that the orthography of the Greek word is latinov—Latinos—and not lateinov—Lateinos—giving the number 616, and not 666; and Bellarmine asserts that this is the uniform method of spelling in Greek authors. All that is necessary in reply to this, is to copy the following remark from Prof. Stuart, vol. it. p. 456: "As to the form of the Greek word lateinov [Lateinos,] viz., that ei** is employed for the Latin long i it is a sufficient vindication of it to cite sabeinov, fausteinov, pauleinov, lntwneinov, lteiliov, meteiliov, papeeriov, oueibiov, etc. Or we may refer to the custom of the more ancient Latin, as in Plautus, of writing i by ei; e.g., solitei, Diveis, captivei, preimus, Lateina, etc." See this point examined further, in Elliott, iii. 210-213.

As a matter of historical interest, it may be observed that the solution of the difficulty has been sought in numerous other words, and the friends of the Papacy, and the enemies of the Bible, have endeavoured to show that such terms are so numerous that there can be no certainty in the application. Thus Calmet, (Dic., art. Antichrist,) after enumerating many of these terms, says, "The number 666 is found in names the most sacred, the most opposite to Antichrist. The wisest and best way is to be silent."

We have seen that, besides the name Lateinos, two other words had been referred to in the time of Irenaeus. Some of the words in which the mysterious number has been since supposed to be found are the following:—

Neron Caesar = 50+200+6+50, and 100+60+200 = ................ 666
Diocles Augustus (Dioclesian) = ............................. DCLXVI.
C. F. Julianus Ceasar Atheus (the Apostate) = ................ DCLXVI.
Luther —HEB = 200+400+30+6+30 = ................................. 666
Lampetis, lampetiv = 30+1+40+80+5+300+10+200 = .............. 666
h latinh basileia = 8+30+1+300+10+50+8+2+1+200+10+30+5+10+1 = 666
italika ekklhsia = 10+300+1+30+10+20+1+5+20+20+30+8+200+10+1= 666
lpostathv (the Apostate) = 1+80+70+6+1+300+8+200 = .......... 666

HEB (Roman, sc. Sedes) = 200+6+40+10+10+400 = ................. 666
HEB (Romanus, sc. Man) = 200+40+70+50+6+300 = ................. 666

It will be admitted that many of these, and others that might be named, are fanciful, and perhaps had their origin in a determination, on the one hand, to find Rome referred to somehow, or in a determination, on the other hand, equally strong, not to find this; but still it is remarkable how many of the most obvious solutions refer to Rome and the Papacy. But the mind need not be distracted, nor need doubt be thrown over the subject, by the number of the solutions proposed. They show the restless character of the human mind, and the ingenuity of men; but this should not be allowed to bring into doubt a solution that is simple and natural, and that meets all the circumstances of the case. Such a solution, I believe, is found in the word lateinov—Lateinos, as illustrated above; and as that, if correct, settles the case, it is unnecessary to pursue the matter further. Those who are disposed to do so, however, may find ample illustration in Calmer, Dict., Art. Antichrist; Elliott, Horoe Apoca. iii. 207-221; Prof. Stuart, Com. vol. ii., Excursus, iv.; Bibiotheca Sacra, i. 84-86; Robert Fleming on the Rise and Fall of the Papacy, 28, seq.; De Wette, Exegetisches Handbuch, 37. T., iii. 140-142; Vitringa, Com. 625-637, Excursus, iv.; Nov. Tes. Edi. Koppianoe, vol. x. b, pp. 235-265; and the Commentaries generally.




IN the previous chapters (12,13) there is a description of the woes and sorrows which, for a long period, would come upon the church, and which would threaten to destroy it. It was proper that this gloomy picture should be relieved, and accordingly this chapter, having much of the aspect of an episode, is thrown in to comfort the hearts of those who should see those troublous times. There were bright scenes beyond, and it was important to direct the eye to them, that the hearts of the sad might be consoled. This chapter, therefore, contains a succession of symbolical representations designed to show the ultimate result of all these things—"to hold out the symbols of ultimate and certain victory."—Prof. Stuart. Those symbols are the following:—

(1.) The vision of the hundred and forty-four thousand on Mount Zion, as emblematic of the final triumph of the redeemed, Re 14:1-5. They have the Father's name in their foreheads, Re 14:1; they sing a song of victory, Re 14:2,3; they are found without fault before God's representatives, in this respect, of all that will be saved, Re 14:4,5.

(2.) The vision of the final triumph of the gospel, Re 14:6,7. An angel is seen flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to all that dwell upon the earth, and announcing that the end is near: a representation designed to show that the gospel will be thus preached among all nations; and when that is done, the time will draw on when the affairs of the world will be wound up.

(3.) The fall of Babylon, the mighty Antichristian power, Re 14:8. An angel is seen going forth announcing the glad tidings that this mighty power is overthrown, and that, therefore, its oppressions are come to an end. This, to the church in trouble and persecution, is one of the most comforting of all the assurances that God makes in regard to the future.

(4.) The certain and final destruction of all the upholders of that Antichristian power, Re 14:9-12. Another angel is seen making proclamation that all the supporters and abettors of this formidable power would drink of the wine of the wrath of God; that they would be tormented with fire and brimstone; and that the smoke of their torment would ascend up for ever and ever.

(5.) The blessedness of all those who die in the Lord; who, amidst the persecutions and trials that were to come upon the church, would be found faithful unto death, Re 14:13. They would rest from their labours; the works of mercy which they had done on the earth would follow them to the future world, securing rich and eternal blessings there.

(6.) The final overthrow of all the enemies of the church, Re 14:14-20. This is the grand completion; to this all things are tending; this will be certainly accomplished in due time. This is represented under various emblems:

(a) The Son of man appears seated on a cloud, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle—emblem of gathering in the great harvest of the earth, and of his own glorious reign in heaven, Re 14:14.

(b) An angel is seen coming out of the temple, announcing that the time had come, and calling on the great Reaper to thrust in his sickle, for the harvest of the world was ripe, Re 14:15.

(c) He that has the sickle thrusts in his sickle to reap the great harvest, Re 14:16.

(d) Another angel is seen representing the final judgment of God on the wicked, Re 16:17-20. He also has a sharp sickle; he is commanded by an angel that has power over fire to thrust in his sickle into the earth; he goes forth and gathers the clusters of the vine of the earth, and casts them into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.

This whole chapter, therefore, is designed to relieve the gloom of the former representations. The action of the grand moving panorama is stayed that the mind may not be overwhelmed with gloomy thoughts, but that it may be cheered with the assurance of the final triumph of truth and righteousness. The chapter, viewed in this light, is introduced with great artistic skill, as well as great beauty of poetic illustration; and, in its place, it is adapted to set forth this great truth, that, to the righteous, and to the church at large, in the darkest times, and with the most threatening prospect of calamity and sorrow, there is the certainty of final victory, and that this should be allowed to cheer and sustain the soul.

Verse 1 And I looked. My attention was drawn to a new vision. The eye was turned away from the beast and his image to the heavenly world—the Mount Zion above.

And, lo, a Lamb. See Barnes on "Re 5:6".

Stood on the mount Sion. That is, in heaven. See Barnes "Heb 12:22".

Zion, literally the southern hill in the city of Jerusalem, was a name also given to the whole city; and, as that was the seat of the Divine worship on earth, it became an emblem of heaven—the dwelling-place of God. The scene of the vision here is laid in heaven, for it is a vision of the ultimate triumph of the redeemed, designed to sustain the church in view of the trials that had already come upon it, and of those which were yet to come.

And with him an hundred forty and four thousand. These are evidently the same persons that were seen in the vision recorded in Re 7:3-8, and the representation is made for the same purpose—to sustain the church in trial, with the certainty of its future glory. See Barnes "Re 7:4".

Having his Father's name written in their foreheads. Showing that they were his. See Barnes "Re 7:3" See Barnes "Re 13:16".

In Re 7:3, it is merely said that they were "sealed in their foreheads" The passage here shows how they were sealed. They had the name of God so stamped or marked on their foreheads as to show that they belonged to him. Compare Barnes on "Re 7:3, seq.

{a} "a Lamb" Re 5:12

{b} "one hundred and forty-four thousand" Re 7:4

{c} "Father's name" Re 3:12


Verse 2. And I heard a voice from heaven. Showing that the scene is laid in heaven, but that John in the vision was on the earth.

As the voice of many waters. As the sound of the ocean, or of a mighty cataract. That is, it was so loud that it could be heard from heaven to earth. No comparison could express this more sublimely than to say that it was like the roar of the ocean.

As the voice of a great thunder. As the loud sound of thunder.

And I heard the voice of harpers. In heaven: the song of redemption accompanied with strains of sweet instrumental music. For a description of the harp. See Barnes "Isa 5:12".

Harping with their harps. Playing on their harps. This image gives new beauty to the description. Though the sound was loud and swelling, so loud that it could be heard on the earth, yet it was not mere shouting, or merely a tumultuous cry. "It was like the sweetness of symphonious harps." The music of heaven, though elevated and joyous, is sweet and harmonious; and perhaps one of the best representations of heaven on earth is the effect produced on the soul by strains of sweet and solemn music.

{d} "voice" Re 19:6

{e} "harping" Re 5:8,9


Verse 3. And they sung as it were a new song. See Barnes on "Re 5:9".

It was proper to call this "new," because it was on a new occasion, or pertained to a new object. The song here was in celebration of the complete redemption of the church, and was the song to be sung in view of its final triumph over all its foes. Compare Barnes on "Re 7:9" See Barnes "Re 7:10".

Before the throne. The throne of God in heaven. See Barnes "Re 4:2".

And before the four beasts. See Barnes on "Re 4:6-8".

And the elders. See Barnes on "Re 4:4".

And no man could learn that song, etc. None could understand it but the redeemed. That is, none who had not been redeemed could enter fully into the feelings and sympathies of those who were. A great truth is taught here. To appreciate fully the songs of Zion; to understand the language of praise; to enter into the spirit of the truths which pertain to redemption; one must himself have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. He must have known what it is to be a sinner under the condemnation of a holy law; he must have known what it is to be in danger of eternal death; he must have experienced the joys of pardon, or he can never understand, in its true import, the language used by the redeemed. And this is only saying what we are familiar with in other things. He who is saved from peril; he who is rescued from long captivity; he who is pardoned at the foot of the scaffold; he who is recovered from dangerous illness; he who presses to his bosom a beloved child just rescued from a watery grave, will have an appreciation of the language of joy and triumph which he can never understand who has not been placed in such circumstances: but of all the joy ever experienced in the universe, so far as we can see, that must be the most sublime and transporting which will be experienced when the redeemed shall stand on Mount Zion above, and shall realize that they are saved.

{f} "new song" Re 15:3

{g} "one hundred and forty-four thousand" Re 14:1


Verse 4. These are they. In this verse, and in the following verse, the writer states the leading characteristics of those who are saved. The general idea is, that they are chaste; that they are the followers of the Lamb; that they are redeemed from among men; and that they are without guile.

Which were not defiled with women. Who were chaste. The word defiled here determines the meaning of the passage, as denoting that they were not guilty of illicit intercourse with women. It is unnecessary to show that this is a virtue everywhere required in the Bible, and everywhere stated as among the characteristics of the redeemed. On no point are there more frequent exhortations in the Scriptures than on this; on no point is there more solicitude manifested that the professed friends of the Saviour should be without blame. Compare Barnes on "Ac 15:20; Ro 1:24-32; 1 Co 6:18; Heb 13:4".

See also 1 Co 5:1; 6:13; Ga 5:19; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Th 4:3, This passage cannot be adduced in favour of celibacy, whether among the clergy or laity, or in favour of monastic principles in any form; for the thing that is specified is that they were not "defiled with women," and a lawful connexion of the sexes, such as marriage, is not defilement. See Barnes on "Heb 13:4".

The word here rendered defiled—emolunyhsan, from molunw—is a word that cannot be applied to the marriage relation. It means properly to soil, to stain, to defile. 1 Co 8:7: "Their conscience being weak, is defiled." Re 3:4: "Which have not defiled their garments." The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, except in the passage before us, and it will be seen at once that it cannot be applied to that which is lawful and proper, and consequently that it cannot be construed as an expression against marriage and in favour of celibacy. It is a word that is properly expressive of illicit intercourse—of impurity and unchastity of life—and the statement is, that they who are saved are not impure and unchaste.

For they are virgins. paryenoi. This is the masculine form, but this form is found in the later Greek and in the Christian fathers. See Suidas and Suicer, Thes. The meaning of the word, when found in the feminine form, is well understood. It denotes a virgin, a maiden, and thence it is used to denote that which is chaste and pure: virgin modesty; virgin gold; virgin soil; virgin blush; virgin shame. The word in the masculine form must have a similar meaning as applied to men, and may denote

(a) those who are unmarried;

(b) those who are chaste and pure in general. The word is applied by Suidas to Abel and Melchizedek. "The sense," says De Wette, in loc., "cannot be that all these 144,000 had lived an unmarried life; for how could the apostle Peter, and others who were married, have been excluded? But the reference must be to those who held themselves from all impurity— unkeuschheit und hurerei—which, in the view of the apostles, was closely connected with idolatry." Compare Bleek, Beitr. i. 185. Prof. Stuart supposes that the main reference here is to those who had kept themselves from idolatry, and who were thus pure. It seems to me, however, that the most obvious meaning is the correct one, that it refers to the redeemed as chaste, and thus brings into view one of the prominent things in which Christians are distinguished from the devotees of nearly every other form of religion, and, indeed, exclusively from the world at large. This passage, also, cannot be adduced in favour of the monastic system, because

(a) whatever may be said anywhere of the purity of virgins, there is no such commendation of it as to imply that the married life is impure;

(b) it cannot be supposed that God meant in any way to reflect on the married life as in itself impure or dishonourable;

(c) the language does not demand such an interpretation; and

(d) the facts in regard to the monastic life have shown that it has had very little pretensions to a claim of virgin purity.

These are they which follow the Lamb. This is another characteristic of those who are redeemed—that they are followers of the Lamb of God. That is, they are his disciples; they imitate his example; they obey his instructions; they yield to his laws; they receive him as their counsellor and their guide. See Barnes on "Joh 10:3, See Barnes "Joh 3:27".

Whithersoever he goeth. As sheep follow the shepherd. Compare Ps 23:1-2. It is one characteristic of true Christians that they follow the Saviour wherever he leads them. Be it into trouble, into danger, into difficult duty; be it in Christian or heathen lands; be it in pleasant paths, or in roads rough and difficult, they commit themselves wholly to his guidance, and submit themselves wholly to his will.

These were redeemed from among men. This is another characteristic of those who are seen on Mount Zion. They are there because they are redeemed, and they have the character of the redeemed. They are not there in virtue of rank or blood, (Joh 1:13;) not on the ground of their own works, (Tit 3:5;) but because they are redeemed unto God by the blood of his Son. See Barnes on "Re 5:9" See Barnes "Re 5:10".

None will be there of whom it cannot be said that they are "redeemed;" none will be absent who have been truly redeemed from sin.

Being the first-fruits unto God. On the meaning of the word first-fruits, see Barnes on "1 Co 15:20".

The meaning here would seem to be, that the hundred and forty-four thousand were not to be regarded as the whole of the number that was saved, but that they were representatives of the redeemed. They had the same characteristics which all the redeemed must have; they were a pledge that all the redeemed would be there. Prof. Stuart supposes that the sense is, that they were, as it were, "an offering peculiarly acceptable to God." The former explanation, however, meets all the circumstances of the case, and is more in accordance with the usual meaning of the word.

And to the Lamb. They stood there as redeemed by him, thus honouring him as their Redeemer, and showing forth his glory.

{h} "virgins" So 1:3; 6:8; 2 Co 11:2

{a} "follow the lamb" Joh 10:27

{1} "redeemed" "bought" 1 Co 6:20

{b} "first fruits" Jas 1:18


Verse 5. And in their mouth was found no guile. No deceit, fraud, hypocrisy. They were sincerely and truly what they professed to be—the children of God. This is the last characteristic which is given of them as redeemed, and it is not necessary to say that this is always represented as one of the characteristics of the true children of God. See Barnes "Joh 1:47".

For they are without fault before the throne of God. The word here rendered without fault—amwmoi—means, properly, spotless, without blemish, 1 Pe 1:19. See Barnes on "Col 1:22".

This cannot be construed as meaning that they were by nature pure and holy, but only that they were pure as they stood before the throne of God in heaven—"having washed their robes, and made them pure in the blood of the Lamb." See Barnes on "Re 7:14".

It will be certainly true that all who stand there will be, in fact, pure, for nothing impure or unholy shall enter there, Re 21:27.

The design of this portion of the chapter was evidently to comfort those to whom the book, was addressed, and, in the same way, to comfort all the children of God in times of persecution and trial. Those living in the time of John were suffering persecution, and, in the previous chapters, he had described more fearful trials yet to come on the church. In these trials, therefore, present and prospective, there was a propriety in fixing the thoughts on the final triumph of the redeemed—that glorious state in heaven where all persecution shall cease, and where all the ransomed of the Lord shall stand before his throne. What could be better fitted than this view to sustain the souls of the persecuted and the sorrowful? And how often since in the history of the church—in the dark times of religious declension and of persecution—has there been occasion to seek consolation in this bright view of heaven! How often in the life of each believer, when sorrows come upon him like a flood, and earthly consolation is gone, is there occasion to look to that blessed world where all the redeemed shall stand before God; where all tears shall be wiped away from every face; and where there shall be the assurance that the last pang has been endured, and that the soul is to be happy for ever!

{c} "no guile" Ps 32:2

{d} "without fault" Eph 5:27; Jude 1:24


Verse 6. And I saw another angel. This must, of course, mean a different one from some one mentioned before; but no such angel is referred to in the previous chapters, unless we go back to Re 12:7. It is not necessary, however, to suppose that John refers to a particular angel immediately preceding this. In the course of these visions he had seen many angels; and now, accustomed to these visions, he says that he saw "another" one employed in a remarkable embassy, whose message was fitted to cheer the hearts of the desponding, and to support the souls of the persecuted and the sad—for his appearing was the pledge that the gospel would be ultimately preached to all that dwell upon the earth. The design of this vision is, therefore, substantially the same as the former—to cheer the heart, and to sustain the courage and the faith of the church, in the persecutions and trials which were yet to come, by the assurance that the gospel would be ultimately triumphant.

Fly in the midst of heaven. In the air; so as to appear to be moving along the face of the sky. The scene cannot be in heaven, as the gospel is not to be preached there; but the word must denote heaven as it appears to us— the sky. Prof. Stuart renders it correctly, "mid-air." He is represented as flying, to denote the rapidity with which the gospel would spread through the world in that future period referred to. Compare See Barnes "Isa 6:2".

Having the everlasting gospel. The gospel is here called everlasting or eternal,

(a) because its great truths have always existed, or it is conformed to eternal truth;

(b) because it will for ever remain unchanged—not being liable to fluctuation like the opinions held by men;

(c) because its effects will be everlasting—in the redemption of the soul and the joys of heaven. In all the glorious eternity before the redeemed, they will be but developing the effects of that gospel on their own hearts, and enjoying the results of it in the presence of God.

To preach unto them that dwell on the earth. To all men—as is immediately specified. Compare Mt 28:19; Mr 16:15.

And to every nation, and kindred, etc. To all classes and conditions of men; to all men, without any distinction or exception. See Barnes "Re 7:9".

The truth here taught is, that the gospel is to be preached to all men as on an equality, without any reference to their rank, their character, or their complexion; and it is implied also, that at the time referred to this will be done. When that time will be the writer does not intimate farther than that it would be after the beast and his adherents had attempted to stay its progress; and for the fulfilment of this, therefore, we are to look to a period subsequent to the rise and fall of that great Antichristian power symbolized by the beast and his image. This is in entire accordance with the prediction in Daniel. See Barnes on "Da 7:19, seq.

{e} "everlasting gospel" 2 Sa 23:5; Isa 40:8

{f} "to every nation" Eph 3:9


Verse 7. Saying with a loud voice. As if all the nations were summoned to hear.

Fear God. That is, reverence, honour, obey God. Render homage not to the beast, to his image, or to any idol, but to the only true God. This is the substance of the gospel—its end and design— to turn men from all forms of idol worship and superstition, to the worship of the only true God.

And give glory to him. To give glory to him is to acknowledge him as the only true God; to set up his pure worship in the heart; and to praise him as the great Ruler of heaven and earth.

For the hour of his judgment is come. His judgment on the beast and on those who worship him. The imagery here is substantially the same as in Da 7:9-10,14,26-27, and there can be no doubt that there is reference to the same subject. See Barnes on "Da 7:9, seq. The main idea is, that when God shall be about to cause his gospel to spread through the world, there will be, as it were, a solemn judgment on that Antichristian power which had so long resisted his truth and persecuted his saints, and that on the fall of that power his own kingdom will be set up on the earth; that is, in the language of Daniel, "the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High."

And worship him that made heaven, and earth, etc. The true God, the Creator of all things. As already remarked, this is the ultimate design of the gospel, and, when this is accomplished, the great end for which it was revealed will be reached.

The design of this portion of the chapter, (Re 14:6-7,) also, was to comfort those to whom the book was addressed, and in the same way to comfort the church in all the persecution and opposition Which the truth would encounter. The ground of consolation then was, that a time was predicted when the "everlasting gospel" would be made to fly speedily through the earth, and when it would be announced that a final judgment had come upon the Antichristian power which had prevented its being before diffused over the face of the world. The same ground of encouragement and consolation exists now, and the more so as we see the day approaching; and in all times of despondency we should allow our hearts to be cheered as we see that great Antichristian power waning, and as we see evidence that the way is thus preparing for the rapid and universal diffusion of the pure gospel of Christ.

{g} "the hour" Re 15:4


Verse 8. And there followed another angel. That is, in the vision. It is not necessary to suppose that this would, in the fulfilment, succeed the other in time. The chapter is made up of a number of representations, all designed to illustrate the same general thing, and to produce the same general effect on the mind—that the gospel would be finally triumphant, and that, therefore, the hearts of the troubled and the afflicted should be comforted. The representation in this verse, bearing on this point, is, that Babylon, the great enemy, would fall to rise no more.

Babylon. This is the first time that the word Babylon occurs in this book, though it is repeatedly mentioned afterwards, Re 16:19; 17:5; 18:2,10,21.

In reference to the literal Babylon, the word is used, in the New Testament, in, Mt 1:11-13; Ac 7:43; 1 Pe 5:13.

Babylon was a well-known city on the Euphrates, and was, in the days of its pride and glory, the head of the heathen world. In reference to the meaning of the word in this place, it may be remarked.

(1) that the general characteristics of Babylon were, that it was proud, haughty, insolent, oppressive. It was chiefly known and remembered by the Hebrew people as a power that had invaded the Holy Land; that had reduced its capital and temple to ruins; that had destroyed the independence of their country, subjecting it to the condition of a province, and that had carried away the inhabitants into a long and painful captivity. It became, therefore, the emblem of all that was haughty and oppressive, and especially of all that persecuted the church of God.

(2.) The word must be used here to denote some power that resembled the ancient and literal Babylon in these characteristics. The literal Babylon was no more; but the name might be properly used to denote a similar power. We are to seek, therefore, in the application of this, for some power that had the same general characteristics which the literal Babylon had.

(3.) In inquiring, then, what is referred to here by the word Babylon, we may remark

(a) that it could not be the literal Babylon on the Euphrates, for the whole representation here is of something future, and the literal Babylon had long since disappeared, never, according to the prophecies, to be rebuilt. See Barnes "Isa 13:20, seq.

(b) All the circumstances require us to understand this of Rome—at some period of its history: for Rome, like Babylon, was the seat of empire, and the head of the heathen world; Rome was characterized by many of the same attributes as Babylon, being arrogant, proud, oppressive; Rome, like Babylon, was distinguished for its conquests, and for the fact that it made all other nations subject to its control; Rome had been, like Babylon, a desolating power, having destroyed the capital of the Holy Land, and burnt its beautiful temple, and reduced the country to a province. Rome, like Babylon of old, was the most formidable power with which the church had to contend. Yet

(c) it is not, I suppose, Rome considered as Pagan that is here meant; but Rome considered as the prolongation of the ancient power in the Papal form. Alike in this book and in Daniel, Rome, Pagan and Papal, is regarded as one power, standing in direct opposition to the gospel of Christ; resisting its progress in the world; and preventing its final prevalence. See Barnes on Daniel 7. When that falls, the last enemy of the church will be destroyed, and the final triumph of the true religion will be speedy and complete. See Da 7:26-27.

(d) So it was understood among the early Christians. Mr. Gibbon, speaking of the expectations of the early Christians about the end of the world, and the glory of the literal reign of the Messiah, says, "While the happiness and glory of a temporal reign were promised to the disciples of Christ, the most dreadful calamities were denounced against an unbelieving world. The edification of the New Jerusalem was to advance by equal steps with the destruction of the mystic Babylon; and as long as the emperors who reigned before Constantine persisted in the profession of idolatry, the epithet of Babylon was applied to the city and to the empire of Rome," i. p. 263.

Is fallen. That is, an event appeared in vision, as if a mighty city fell to rise no more.

Is fallen. This is repeated to give emphasis to the declaration, and to express the joyousness of that event.

That great city. Babylon in its glory was the largest city of the world; Rome, in its turn, also became the largest; and the expression used here denotes that the power here referred to would be properly represented by cities of their magnitude.

Because she made all nation, drink of the wine. This language is probably taken from Jer 51:7: "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunk of the wine, therefore the nations are mad." Babylon here, in accordance with the usual custom of the sacred writers when speaking of cities, (see Barnes on "Isa 1:8") is represented as a female-here a female of abandoned character, holding in her hand a cup of wine to attract her lovers; that is, she allures and intoxicates them. This a beautiful image to denote the influence of a great and corrupt city, and especially a city corrupt in its religion, and devoted to idolatry and superstition—and may well be applied either to Babylon or Rome, literal or mystical.

Of the wrath. There seems an incongruity in the use of this word here, and Prof. Stuart proposes to render it "the inflammatory wine of her fornication;" that is, inebriating wine; wine that excited the passions and that led to uncleanness. He supposes that the word here used— yumov—means heat, inflammation, corresponding to the Hebrew, ?. There are no instances, however, in the New Testament, in which the word is used in this sense. The common and proper meaning is mind, soul; then mind agitated with passion, or under the influence of desire—a violent commotion of mind, as wrath, anger, indignation.—- Rob. Lex. The ground of the representation here seems to be, that Jehovah is often described as giving to the nations in his wrath an intoxicating cup, so that they should reel and stagger to their destruction. Compare Jer 25:15; 51:7. The meaning here is, that the nations had drunk of that cup, which brought on the wrath of God on account of her "fornication." Babylon is represented as a harlot, with a cup of wine in her hand, and the effect of drinking that cup was to expose them to the wrath of God, hence called "the wine of the wrath of her fornication:" the alluring cup that was followed by wrath on account of her fornication.

Of her fornication. Due to her fornication. The word "fornication" here is used to denote spiritual uncleanness; that is, heathen and superstitious rites and observances. The term is often used in the Scriptures as applicable to idolatry and superstition. The general meaning here is, that Rome—Papal Rome—would employ all forms of voluptuous allurements to bring the nations to the worship of the beast and his image, and that the "wrath" of God would be poured out on account of these abominations. The design of this verse, also, is to impart consolation by the assurance that this great enemy—this mighty, formidable, persecuting power—would be entirely overthrown. This is everywhere held up as the brightest hope of the church; for with this will fall its last great enemy, and the grand obstruction to the final triumph of the gospel on earth will be removed.

{a} "Babylon" Re 18:2,3; Isa 21:9; Jer 51:7,8


Verse 9. And the third angel followed them. This was a new vision designed to represent the removal of all the obstructions to the final prevalence of the gospel. We are not necessarily to suppose that this event would succeed those mentioned before, in the order of time, though this would be the natural construction. The design of this is to show that the worshippers of the beast and his image would be certainly and finally destroyed.

Saying with a loud voice. Making a loud proclamation. Re 14:7.

If any man worship the beast and his image. See Barnes on "Re 13:4, seq. This declaration is universal, affirming of all who thus render idolatrous reverence to the power represented by the beast and his image, that they should drink of the wine of the wrath of God. The general meaning is, that they were guilty of idolatry of a gross form; and wherever this existed, they who were guilty of it would come under the denunciations in the Scriptures against idolaters. And why should not such denunciations fall on idolaters under the Papacy as well as on others? Is it not true that there is as real idolatry there as in the heathen world? Is not the idolatry as gross and debasing? Is it not attended with as real corruption in the heart and the life? Is it not encompassed with as many things to inflame the passions, corrupt the morals, and alienate the soul from God? And is it not all the worse for being a perversion of Christianity, and practised under the forms of the religion of the Saviour? On what principle should idolatry be denounced and condemned anywhere, if it is not in Papal Rome? Compare See Barnes "2 Th 2:4".

And receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand. See Barnes "Re 13:16".

The word "receive" here implies that there was, on their part, some degree of voluntariness: it was not a mark impressed by force, but a mark received. This is true in respect to all idolatry; and this lays the ground for condemnation. Whatever art is used to induce men to worship the beast and his image, it is still true that the worshippers are voluntary, and that, being voluntary, it is right that they should be treated as such. It is on this ground only that any idolaters, or any sinners of any kind, can be, in the proper sense of that term, punished.

{b} "any man" Re 13:14-16


Verse 10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God. See Barnes "Re 14:8".

The "wine of the wrath of God" is the cup in the hand of the Lord, which when drunk makes them reel and fall. The image would seem to have been taken from the act of holding out a cup of poison to a condemned man that he might drink and die. See the sentiment here expressed illustrated in See Barnes "Isa 51:17".

Which is poured out without mixture. Without being diluted with water; that is, in its full strength. In other words, there would be no mitigation of the punishment.

Into the cup of his indignation. The cup held in his hand and given them to drink. This is expressive of his indignation, as it causes them to reel and fall. The sentiment here is substantially the same, though in another form, as that which is expressed in 2 Th 2:12. See Barnes "2 Th 2:12".

And he shall be tormented. Shall be punished in a manner that would be well represented by being burned with fire and brimstone. On the meaning of this word, see Barnes on "Re 9:5, See Barnes "Re 11:10".

Compare also Re 18:7,10,15; 20:10; Mt 8:29

Mr 5:7; Lu 8:28. The word commonly denotes severe torture.

With fire and brimstone. As if with burning sulphur. See Barnes on "Lu 17:28, seq. Compare Ps 11:6 Job 18:15 Isa 30:33; Eze 38:22. The imagery is taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Ge 19:24. The common representation of the punishment of the wicked is, that it will be in the manner here represented, Mt 5:22; 13:42; 18:9; 25:41; Mr 9:44-48; 2 Pe 3:7; Jude 1:7

Re 20:14. Compare See Barnes "Mt 5:22" See Barnes "Mr 9:44".

In the presence of the holy angels. This may mean either

(a) that the angels will be present at their condemnation, (Mt 25:31,) or

(b) that the punishment will be actually witnessed by the angels— as it is most probable it will be. Compare Isa 66:24; Lu 16:23-26.

And in the presence of the Lamb. The Lamb of God—the final Judge. This also may mean either that the condemnation will occur in his presence, or that the punishment will be under his eye. Both of these things will be true in regard to him; and it will be no small aggravation of the punishment of the wicked that it will occur in the very presence of their slighted and rejected Saviour.

{a} "drink of the wine" Ps 75:8

{b} "fire and brimstone" Re 19:20


Verse 11. And the smoke of their torment. The smoke proceeding from their place of torment. This language is probably derived from the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Ge 19:28: "And he [Abraham] looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." The destruction of these cities is regarded as an emblem of the destruction of the wicked, and the smoke that ascended from them as a representation of that which ascends from the place where the wicked suffer for ever. See Barnes "Jude 1:7".

Ascendeth up. Continually rises from that world of woe.

For ever and ever. See Barnes "Jude 1:7".

This does not indeed affirm that their individual sufferings would be eternal—since it is only a declaration that "the smoke of their torment ascends;" but it is such language as would be used on the supposition that they would suffer for ever, and as can be explained only on that supposition. It implies that their torments continued, and were the cause of that ascending smoke; that is, that they were tormented while it ascended, and as this is declared to be "for ever and ever," it implies that the sufferings of the wicked will be eternal: and this is such language as would not and could not have been used in a revelation from God, unless the punishment of the wicked is eternal. Compare See Barnes "Mt 25:46".

And they have no rest day nor night. "Day and night" include all time; and hence the phrase is used to denote perpetuity—always. The meaning here is, that they never have any rest—any interval of pain. This is stated as a circumstance strongly expressive of the severity of their torment, Here, rest comes to the sufferer. The prisoner in his cell lies down on his bed, though hard, and sleeps; the over-worked slave has also intervals of sleep; the eyes of the mourner are locked in repose, and for moments, if not hours, he forgets his sorrows; no pain that we endure on earth can be so certain and prolonged that nature will not, sooner or later, find the luxury of sleep, or will find rest in the grave. But it will be one of the bitterest ingredients in the cup of woe, in the world of despair, that this luxury will be denied for ever, and that they who enter that gloomy prison sleep no more; never know the respite of a moment— never even lose the consciousness of their heavy doom. Oh, how different from the condition of sufferers here! And oh, how sad and strange that any of our race will persevere in sin, and go down to those unmitigated and unending sorrows!

Who worship the beast and his image. See Barnes on "Re 13:4,15".

And whosoever receiveth the mark of his name See Barnes on "Re 13:17".

The meaning here is, that such worshippers will receive the punishment which other idolaters and sinners do. No exception will be made in favour of an idolater, though he worships idols under the forms of an abused Christianity; none will be made in favour of a sinner because he practised iniquity under the garb of religion.

{c} "smoke" Isa 34:10

{d} "no rest" Isa 57:20,21


Verse 12. Here is the patience of the saints. See Barnes on "Re 13:10".

Here are they that keep the commandments of God. That is, in exercising such patience. Those who exercise that "patience" in these long-continued persecutions and trials, will show that they belong to those who keep the commandments of God, and are his true children. Or perhaps the meaning may be, "Here is a disclosure respecting the final destiny of these persecutors, which is adapted to comfort and sustain the saints in the trials which they will endure; an encouragement to constancy in obeying the commands of God, and in evincing the meek faith of the gospel."

And the faith of Jesus. To encourage persevering faith in the Saviour. In these times of trial it will be shown who are the friends of the Saviour; and in the prospect of the certain overthrow of all the enemies of God and his cause, there is a ground of encouragement for continued attachment to him.

The design of this portion of the chapter (Re 14:9-12) is to encourage Christians in their trials by the assurance that this formidable Antichristian power would be overthrown, and that all the enemies of God would receive their just doom in the world of despair. Fearful as that doctrine is, and terrible as is the idea of the everlasting suffering of any of the creatures of God, yet the final overthrow of the wicked is necessary to the triumph of truth and holiness, and there is consolation in the belief that religion will ultimately triumph. The desire for its triumph necessarily supposes that the wicked will be overthrown and punished; and indeed it is the aim of all governments, and of all administrations of law, that the wicked shall be overthrown, and that truth and justice shall prevail. What would be more consolatory in a human government than the idea that all the wicked would be arrested and punished as they deserve? For what else is government instituted? For what else do magistrates and police-officers discharge the functions of their office?


Verse 13. And I heard a voice from heaven. A voice that seemed to speak from heaven.

Saying unto me, Write. Make a record of this truth. We may suppose that John was engaged in making a record of what he saw in vision; he was now instructed to make a record of what he heard. This passage may be referred to as a proof that he wrote this book while in Patmos, or as the heavenly disclosures were made to him, and not afterwards from memory.

Blessed are the dead. That is, the condition of those who die in the manner which is immediately specified is to be regarded as a blessed or happy one. It is much to be able to say of the dead that they are "blessed." There is much in death that is sad; we so much dread it by nature; it cut us off from so much that is dear to us; it blasts so many hopes; and the grave is so cold and cheerless a resting-place, that we owe much to a system of religion which will enable us to say and to feel that it is a blessed thing to die. Assuredly we should be grateful for any system of religion which will enable us thus to speak of those who are dead; which will enable us, with corresponding feeling, to look forward to our own departure from this world.

Which die in the Lord. Not all the dead; for God never pronounces the condition of the wicked who die, blessed or happy. Religion guards this point, and confines the declaration to those who furnish evidence that they are prepared for heaven. The phrase "to die in the Lord" implies the following things:

(1.) That they who thus die are the friends of the Lord Jesus. The language "to be in the Lord" is often used to denote true attachment to him, or close union with him. Compare Joh 15:4-7 Ro 16:13,22; 1 Co 4:17; 7:39; Php 1:14; Col 4:7.

The assurance, then, is limited to those who are sincere Christians; for this the language properly implies, and we are authorized to apply it only as there is evidence of true religion.

(2.) To "die in the Lord" would seem also to imply that there should be, at the time, the evidence of his favour and friendship. This would apply

(a) to those who die as martyrs, giving their lives as a testimony to the truth of religion, and as an evidence of their love for it; and

(b) to those who have the comforting evidence of his presence and favour on the bed of death.

From henceforth. aparti. This word has given no little perplexity to expositors, and it has been variously rendered. Some have connected it with the word blessed—"blessed henceforth are the dead who die in the Lord;" that is, they will be ever-onward blessed: some with the word die, referring to the time when the apostle was writing—"blessed are they who after this time die in the Lord;" designing to comfort those who were exposed to death, and who would die as martyrs: some as referring to the times contemplated in these visions—"blessed will they be who shall die in those future times." Witsius understands this as meaning that from the time of their death they would be blessed, as if it had been said, immediately after their dissolution they would be blessed. Doddridge renders it, "henceforth blessed are the dead." The language is evidently not to be construed as implying that they who had died in the faith before were not happy, but that in the times of trial and persecution that were to come, they were to be regarded as peculiarly blessed who should escape from these sorrows by a Christian death. Scenes of woe were indeed to occur, in which many believers would die. But their condition was not to be regarded as one of misfortune, but of blessedness and joy, for

(a) they would die in an honourable cause;
(b) they would emerge from a world of sorrow; and
(c) they would rise to eternal life and peace. The design, therefore, of the verse is to impart consolation and support to those who would be exposed to a martyr's death, and to those who, in times of persecution, would see their friends exposed to such a death. It may be added that the declaration here made is true still, and ever will be. It is a blessed thing to die in the Lord.

Yea, saith the Spirit. The Holy Spirit; "the Spirit by whose inspiration and command I record this."—Doddridge.

That they may rest from their labours. The word here rendered labour —kopov—means properly wailing, grief, from koptw, to beat, and hence a beating of the breast as in grief. Then the word denotes toil, labour, effort, Joh 4:38; 1 Co 3:8; 15:58 2 Co 6:5; 10:15; 2 Co 11:23,27.

It is here used in the sense of wearisome toil in doing good, in promoting religion, in saving souls, in defending the truth. From such toils the redeemed in heaven will be released; for although there will be employment there, it will be without the sense of fatigue or weariness. And in view of such eternal rest from toil, we may well endure the labours and toils incident to the short period of the present life, for, however arduous or difficult, it will soon be ended.

And their works do follow them. That is, the rewards or the consequences of their works will follow them to the eternal world, the word works here being used for the rewards or results of their works. In regard to this, considered as an encouragement to labour, and as a support in the trials of life, it may be remarked,

(a) that all that the righteous do and suffer here will be appropriately recompensed there.

(b) This is all that can follow a man to eternity. He can take with him none of his gold, his lands, his raiment; none of the honours of this life; none of the means of sensual gratification. All that will go with him will be his character, and the results of his conduct here, and, in this respect, eternity will be but a prolongation of the present life.

(c) It is one of the highest honours of our nature that we can make the present affect the future for good; that by our conduct on the earth we can lay the foundation for happiness millions of ages hence. In no other respect does man appear so dignified as in this; nowhere do we so clearly see the grandeur of the soul as in the fact that what we do today may determine our happiness in that future period, when all the affairs of this world shall have been wound up, and when ages which cannot now be numbered shall have rolled by. It is then a glorious thing to live, and will be a glorious thing to die. Compare Barnes on "1 Co 15:58".

{c} "die" 1 Th 4:14,16

{1} "the Lord from henceforth" "from henceforth saith the Spirit, Yea"


Verse 14. And I looked. See Barnes on "Re 14:1".

His attention is arrested by a new vision. The Son of man himself comes forth to close the scene, and to wind up the affairs of the world. This, too, is of the nature of an episode, and the design is the same as the previous visions—to support the mind in the prospect of the trials that the church was to experience, by the assurance that it would be finally triumphant, and that every enemy would be destroyed.

And behold a white cloud. Bright, splendid, dazzling—appropriate to be the seat of the Son of God. Compare See Barnes "Mt 17:5" See Barnes "Re 1:7".

See also Mt 24:30; 26:64; Lu 20:27; Ac 1:9; 1 Th 4:17; Re 10:1.

And upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man. Compare See Barnes "Re 1:13; Da 7:13".

It is probable that there is here a designed reference to the passage in Daniel (Da 7:13). The meaning is, that one appeared on the cloud in a human form, whom John at once recognised as he to whom the appellation of "the Son of man" peculiarly belonged—the Lord Jesus. The meaning of that term had not been fixed in the time of Daniel, (Da 7:13;) subsequently it was appropriated by the Saviour, and was the favourite term by which he chose to speak of himself, Mt 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8,32,40, et al.

Having on his head a golden crown. Appropriate to him as king. It was mainly in virtue of his kingly power and office that the work was to be done which John is now about to describe.

And in his hand a sharp sickle. The word sickle here—drepanon— means a crooked knife or scythe for gathering the harvest, or vintage, by cutting off the clusters of grapes. See Re 14:17. The image of a harvest is often employed in the New Testament to describe moral subjects, Mt 9:37-38; 13:30,39; Mr 4:29 Lu 10:2; Joh 4:35. Here the reference is to the consummation of all things, when the great harvest of the world will be reaped, and when all the enemies of the church will be cut off—for that is the grand idea which is kept before the mind in this chapter. In various forms, and by various images, that idea had already been presented to the mind, but here it is introduced in a grand closing image, as if the grain of the harvest-field were gathered in— illustrating the reception of the righteous into the kingdom—and the fruit of the vineyard were thrown into the wine-press, representing the manner in which the wicked would be crushed, Re 14:19-20.

{a} "like unto the Son" Eze 1:26; Da 7:13


Verse 15. And another angel. The fourth in order, Re 14:6,8-9.

Came out of the temple. See Barnes on "Re 11:19".

Came, as it were, from the immediate presence of God; for the temple was regarded as his peculiar dwelling-place.

Crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud. To the Messiah, Re 14:14. That is, the command was borne directly from God by the angel to the Messiah, to go forth and reap the great harvest of the world. It is not a command of the angel, but a command from God the Father to the Son. This is in accordance with all the representations in the New Testament, that the Son as Messiah or Redeemer is subordinate to the Father, and performs the work which has been given him to do. See Joh 3:16-17; 5:19; 10:18; Joh 12:49; 14:31. Compare See Barnes "Re 1:1".

Thrust in thy sickle, and reap. Into the great harvest of the world.

For the time is come for thee to reap. That is, "the harvest which thou art to reap is ripe; the seed which thou hast sown has grown up; the earth which thou hast cultivated has produced this golden grain, and it is fit that thou shouldst now gather it in." This language is appropriately addressed to the Son of God, for all the fruits of righteousness on the earth may be regarded as the result of his culture.

For the harvest of the earth is ripe. The "harvest" in reference to the righteous—the fruit of the good seed sown by the Saviour and his apostles and ministers. The time alluded to here is the end of the world, when the affairs of earth shall be about to be wound up. The design is to state that the Redeemer will then gather in a great and glorious harvest, and by this assurance to sustain the hearts of his people in times of trial and persecution.

{b} "Thrust in" Joe 3:13

{c} "harvest" Jer 51:33; Mt 13:39

{1} "ripe" "dried"


Verse 16. And he that sat on the cloud. The Saviour, Re 14:14.

Thrust in his sickle on the earth. To cut down the harvest; that is, to gather his people to himself.

And the earth was reaped. So far as the righteous were concerned. The end had come; the church was redeemed; the work contemplated was accomplished; and the results of the work of the Saviour were like a glorious harvest.


Verse 17. And another angel. The fifth in order. This angel came for a different purpose—with reference to the cutting off of the enemies of God, represented by the gathering of a vintage. Compare Mt 13:41; 24:31.

Came out of the temple which is in heaven. Sent or commissioned by God. See Barnes "Re 14:15".

He also having a sharp sickle. On the word sickle, see Barnes "Re 14:14".


Verse 18. And another angel. The sixth in order. He came, like the angel in Re 14:15, with a command to him who had the sickle to go forth and execute his commission.

Came out from the altar. This stood in the front of the temple, (see Barnes "Mt 21:12" compare See Barnes "Mt 5:23-24,) and was the place where burnt-sacrifices were made. As the work now to be done was a work of destruction, this was an appropriate place in the representation.

Which had power over fire. As if he kept the fire on the altar. Fire is the usual emblem of destruction; and as the work now to be done was such, it was proper to represent this angel as engaged in it.

And cried with a loud cry, etc. See Re 14:15. That is, he came forth as with a command from God, to call on him who was appointed to do the work of destruction, now to engage in performing it. The time had fully come.

Thrust in thy sharp sickle. Re 14:15.

And gather the clusters of the vine of the earth. That portion of the earth which might be represented by a vineyard in which the grapes were to be gathered and crushed. The image here employed occurs elsewhere to denote the destruction of the wicked. See the very beautiful description in Isa 63:1-6, respecting the destruction of Edom and Barnes on "Isa 63:1-6".

For her grapes are fully ripe. That is, the time has come for the ingathering; or, to apply the image, for the winding up of human affairs by the destruction of the wicked. The time here, as in the previous representation, is the end of the world; and the design is to comfort the church in its trials and persecutions, by the assurance that all its enemies will be cut off.

{a} "saying" Re 14:15


Verse 19. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth. That is, into that part of the earth which might be represented by a vineyard; or the earth considered as having been the abode of wicked men.

And cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. See Isa 63:1-6. That is, the wine-press where the grapes are crushed, and where the juice, resembling blood, flows out, may be used as a symbol to denote the destruction of the wicked in the last day; and as the numbers will be immensely great, it is called the "great wine-press of Divine wrath." The symbol appears to be used here alike with reference to the colour of the wine resembling blood, and the pressure necessary to force it out; and thus employed it is one of the most striking emblems conceivable to denote the final destruction of the wicked.

{b} "winepress" Re 19:15


Verse 20. And the wine-press was trodden without the city. The representation was made as if it were outside of the city; that is, the city of Jerusalem, for that is represented as the abode of the holy. The word trodden refers to the manner in which wine was usually prepared, by being trodden by the feet of men. See Barnes "Isa 63:2".

The wine-press was usually in the vineyard—not in a city—and this is the representation here. As appearing to the eye of John, it was not within the walls of any city, but standing without. And blood came out of the wine-press. The representation is, that there would be a great destruction which would be well represented by the juice flowing from a wine-press.

Even unto the horse-bridles. Deep—as blood would be in a field of slaughter where it would come up to the very bridles of the horses. The idea is, that there would be a great slaughter.

By the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. That is, two hundred miles; covering a space of two hundred miles square—a lake of blood. This is designed to represent a great slaughter; but why the space here employed to describe it was chosen is unknown. Some have supposed it was in allusion to the length of Palestine. Prof. Stuart supposes that it refers to the breadth of Italy, and that the allusion is to the attack made on the city of the beast. But it is impossible to determine why this space was chosen, and it is unnecessary. The idea is, that there would be a slaughter so great, as it were, as to produce a lake or sea of blood; that the enemies of the church would be completely and finally overthrown, and that the church, therefore, delivered from all its enemies, would be triumphant.

The design of this, as of the previous representations in this chapter, is to show that all the enemies of God will be destroyed, and that, therefore, the hearts of the friends of religion should be cheered and consoled in the trials and persecutions which were to come upon it. What could be better fitted to sustain the church in the time of trial, than the assurance that every foe will be ultimately cut off? What is better fitted to sustain the heart of the individual believer than the assurance that all his foes will be quelled, and that he will be ere long safe in heaven?

{c} "trodden" Isa 63:3

{d} "without" Heb 13:11,12

{e} "blood" Isa 34:7

{f} "even unto" Re 19:14




THIS chapter has a close connexion in design with the previous chapter. In that, pledges and assurances had been given that all the enemies of religion would be cut off, and that the church would be ultimately triumphant, and particularly that that formidable Antichristian power represented by the "beast" would be destroyed. This chapter commences the statement in regard to the manner in which these pledges would be accomplished, and the statement is pursued through the subsequent chapters, giving in detail what is here promised in a general manner. The vision in this chapter may be thus described:—

I. The writer sees a new sign or wonder in heaven. Seven angels appear, having the seven last plagues that fill up or complete the wrath of God; representing the wrath that is to come upon the beast, or the complete overthrow of this formidable Antichristian power, yet. 1.

II. Those who in former times had "gotten the victory over the beast," now appear standing on a sea of glass, rejoicing and rendering thanks for the assurance that this great enemy of the church was now to be destroyed, and that now all nations were to come and worship before God, Re 15:2-4.

III. The writer sees the interior of the temple opened in heaven, and the seven angels, having the seven plagues, issuing forth to execute their commission. They come clothed in pure and white linen, and girded with golden girdles. One of the four beasts before the throne forthwith gives them the seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, to empty them upon the earth—that is, to bring upon the beast the predicted destruction. The temple is immediately filled with smoke, so that no one might enterS; that is, no one could now approach to make intercession, and the destruction of this great enemy's power is now certain, Re 15:5-8.

This chapter, therefore, is merely introductory to what follows, and its interpretation is attended with no particular difficulty. It is a beautiful scenic representation preparatory to the infliction of predicted judgments, and designed to introduce the account of those judgments with suitable circumstances of solemnity.

Verse 1. And I saw another sign in heaven. Another wonder or extraordinary symbol. The word sign here—shmeion—is the same which in Re 12:1,3; 13:13, is rendered wonder and wonders, and in Re 13:14; 16:14; 19:20, miracles. The word is not elsewhere found in the book of Revelation, though it is of frequent occurrence in other parts of the New Testament. See it explained in Barnes on "Re 12:1".

Here it is used to denote something wonderful or marvellous. This is represented as appearing in heaven, for the judgments that were to fall upon the world were to come thence. Compare Re 11:19; Re 12:1; 14:1,6,13-14,17.

Great and marvellous. Great and wonderful, or fitted to excite admiration—yaumaston. The subsequent statements fully justify this, and show that the vision was one of portentous character, and that was fitted to hold the mind in astonishment.

Seven angels. Compare Barnes on "Re 1:4".

Having the seven last plagues. The article here, "the seven last plagues," would seem to imply that the plagues referred to had been before specified, or that it would be at once understood what is referred to. These plagues, however, have not been mentioned before, and the reason why the article is used here seems to be this: the destruction of this great Antichristian power had been distinctly mentioned, Revelation 14. That might be spoken of as a thing now well known, and the mention of it would demand the article; and as that was well known, and would demand the article, so any allusion to it, or description of it, might be spoken of in the same manner, as a thing that was definite and fixed, and hence the mention of the plagues by which it was to be accomplished would be referred to in the same manner. The word plagues—plhgav, from plhgh—means properly a wound caused by a stripe or blow, and is frequently rendered stripe and stripes, Lu 12:48; Ac 16:23,33; 2 Co 6:5; 11:23.

It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament except in the book of Revelation. In this book it is rendered wound in Re 13:3,12,14; and plagues in Re 9:20; 11:6; 15:1,6,8; 16:9,21; 18:4,8; 21:9; 22:18.

It does not occur elsewhere. The secondary meaning of the word, and the meaning in the passage before us, is a stripe or blow inflicted by God; calamity or punishment. The word "last" means those under which the order of things here referred to would terminate; the winding up of the affairs respecting the beast and his image—not necessarily the closing of the affairs of the world. Important events were to occur subsequent to the destruction of this Antichristian power, (Chapters 19-22) but these were the plagues which would come finally upon the beast and his image, and which would terminate the existence of this formidable enemy.

For in them is filled up the wrath of God. That is, in regard to the beast and his image. All the expressions of the Divine indignation towards that oppressive and persecuting power will be completed or exhausted by the pouring out of the contents of these vials. Compare Barnes on "Re 10:7, where the word rendered filled up— etelesyh—is rendered finished.

{g} "wrath" Re 14:10


Verse 2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass. In Re 4:6, a similar vision is recorded—"And before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto a crystal." See Barnes on "Re 4:6".

The sea of glass here means a sea, clear, pellucid, like glass: an expanse that seemed to be made of glass. There it was entirely clear; here it is mingled with fire.

Mingled with fire. That is, a portion of the sea was red like fire. It was not all clear and pellucid, as in Re 4:6, but it was, as it were, a tesselated expanse, composed in part of what seemed to be glass, and in part of a material of a red or fiery colour. In the former case, (Re 4:6,) the emblem was designed to represent the pure worship of heaven without reference to any other symbolic design, and hence the sea is wholly clear and pellucid; here, in connexion with the purpose of furnishing an appropriate symbol of the Divine Majesty, there is united the idea of punishment on the foes of God, represented by the fiery or red colour. If it is proper, from conjecture, to suggest the meaning of this as an emblem, it would be that the foundation—the main element—of all the Divine dealings is justice or holiness—represented by the portion of the sea that seemed to be glass; and that there was, in this case, intermingled with that, the image of wrath or anger—represented by the portion that was fiery or red. The very sight of the pavement, therefore, on which they stood when worshipping God, would keep before their minds impressive views of his character and dealings. And them that had gotten the victory over the beast. Re 13:11. That is, they who had gained a victory in times of persecution and temptation; or they whom the "beast" had not been able, by arts or arms, to subdue. The persons referred to here, I suppose, are those who in the long dominion of the Papal power, and amidst all its arts and corruptions—its threats and persecutions—had remained stedfast in the truth, and who might thus be said to have gained a victory—for such victories of piety, virtue, and truth, amidst the corrupting influences of sin and error, and the intimidations of power, are the most important that are gained in this world.

And over his image. See Barnes "Re 13:14-15" The meaning is, that they had not been led to apostatize by the dread of the power represented here by the "image of the beast." In all the attempts of that power to subdue them—to intimidate them—to induce them to give up their attachment to the truth as it is in Jesus—they had remained stedfast in the faith, and had triumphed.

And over his mark. See Barnes "Re 13:16".

Over all the attempts of the beast to fix his mark upon them, or to designate them as his own.

And over the number of his name. See Barnes on "Re 13:17, See Barnes "Re 13:18".

Over all the attempts to fix upon them that mysterious number which expressed his name. The general sense is, that in times of general error and corruption; when the true friends of Christ were exposed to persecution; when every effort was made to induce them to become the followers of the "beast," and to yield to the corrupt system represented by the "beast," they remained unmoved, and adhered firmly to the truth. The number of such in the aggregate was not small; and with great beauty and propriety they are here represented as rejoicing and giving thanks to God on the overthrow of that corrupt and formidable power.

Stand on the sea of glass. That is, before God. They are now seen in heaven, redeemed and triumphant.

Having the harps of God. Harps that pertained to the worship of God; harps to be employed in his praise. See Barnes on "Re 14:2".

{a} "sea" Re 4:6

{b} "fire" Isa 4:4,5

{c} "the beast" Re 13:15-17

{d} "harps" Re 14:2


Verse 3. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God. A song of thanksgiving and praise, such as Moses taught the Hebrew people to sing after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage See Exodus 15. The meaning here is not that they would sing that identical song, but that as Moses taught the people to celebrate their deliverance with an appropriate hymn of praise, the redeemed would celebrate their delivery and redemption in a similar manner. There is an obvious propriety here in referring to the "song of Moses," because the circumstances are very similar; the occasion of the redemption from that formidable Antichristian power here referred to had a strong resemblance to the rescue from Egyptian bondage.

And the song of the Lamb. The hymn which is sung in honour of the Lamb, as their great deliverer. Compare Barnes on "Re 5:9, seq.

Saying, Great and marvellous are thy works. See Barnes on "Re 15:1".

The meaning is, that great power was evinced in redeeming them; and that the interposition of the Divine goodness in doing it was marvellous, or was such as to excite wonder and admiration.

Lord God Almighty. This would seem to mean the same thing as the expression so common in the Old Testament, "Jehovah, God of hosts." The union of these appellations gives solemnity and impressiveness to the ascription of praise, for it brings into view the fact that he whose praise is celebrated is Lord—the JEHOVAH—the uncreated and eternal One; that he is God—the creator, upholder, and sovereign of all things; and that he is Almighty—having all power in all worlds. All these names and attributes are suggested when we think of redemption; for all the perfections of a glorious God are suggested in the redemption of the soul from death. It is the Lord—the Ruler of all worlds; it is God— the Maker of the race, and the Father of the race, who performs the work of redemption; and it is a work which could be accomplished only by one who is Almighty. Just and true. The attributes of justice and truth are brought prominently into view also in the redemption of man. The fact that God is just, and that in all this work he has been careful to maintain his justice, (Ro 3:26;) and the fact that he is true to himself, true to the creation, true to the fulfilment of all his promises, are prominent in this work, and it is proper that these attributes should be celebrated in the songs of praise in heaven.

Are thy ways. Thy ways or dealings with us, and with the enemies of the church. That is, all the acts or "ways" of God in the redemption of his people had been characterized by justice and truth.

Thou King of saints. King of those who are holy; of all who are redeemed and sanctified. The more approved reading here, however, is King of nations—o basileuv twn eynwn—instead of King of saints—twn agiwn. So it is read in the critical editions of Griesbach, Tittmann, and Hahn. The sense is not materially affected by the difference in the reading.

{e} "Moses" Ex 16:1-19; De 32:1-43

{f} "Lamb" Re 14:3

{g} "Thy ways" Re 14:3

{1} "saints" "nations" or "ages"


Verse 4. Who shall not fear thee, Lord. Reverence and adore thee; for the word fear, in the Scriptures, is commonly used in this sense when applied to God. The sense here is, that the judgments about to be inflicted on the beast and his image should and would teach men to reverence and adore God. There is, perhaps, included here also the idea of awe, inasmuch as this would be the effect of punishment.

And glorify thy name. Honour thee—the name being put for the person who bare it. The sense is, that, as a consequence of these judgments, men would be brought to honour God, and to acknowledge him as the Ruler of the earth.

For thou only art holy. That is, in these judgments he would show himself to be a holy God; a God hating sin, and loving righteousness and truth. When it is said that he "only" is holy, the expression is used, of course, in a comparative sense. He is so pure that it may be said that, in comparison with him, no one else is holy. Compare Barnes on "Job 4:18; Job 15:15 ".

For all nations shall come and worship before thee. That is, as the result of these punishments inflicted on this dread Antichristian power, they shall come and worship thee. Everywhere in the New Testament the destruction of that power is connected with the promise of the speedy conversion of the world.

For thy judgments are made manifest. To wit, on the beast. That formidable power is overthrown, and the grand hindrance to the universal spread of the true religion is now taken away! Compare See Barnes "Isa 26:9".

{h} "who" Jer 10:7

{i} "thou only art holy" 1 Sa 2:2

{k} "all nations" Isa 14:23


Verse 5. And after that I looked. After I had seen in vision the redeemed thus referred to, celebrating the praises of God, I saw the preparation made for the execution of these purposes of judgment.

And, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony. Not the whole temple, but only that part to which this name was given, The word tabernacle—skhnh—means properly a booth, hut, tent, and was the name commonly given to the tent or tabernacle that was erected in the wilderness for the service of God. See Barnes on "Ac 7:44".

The same word came naturally to be applied to the temple that was reared for the same purpose in Jerusalem. It is called the "tabernacle of testimony," because it was a testimony or witness of the presence of God among the people—that is, it served to keep up the remembrance of him. See Barnes on "Ac 7:44, where the same Greek phrase is used as here-rendered there "tabernacle of witness." The word temple here—naov—does not refer to the whole of the building called the "temple," but to the holy of holies. See Barnes on "Heb 9:3".

This was regarded as the peculiar dwelling-place of God; and it was this sacred place, usually closed from all access, that now seemed to be opened, implying that the command to execute these purposes came directly from God himself.

In heaven. That is, that part of heaven which corresponds to the most holy place in the temple was opened; to wit, that which is the peculiar residence of God himself.

Was opened. Was thrown open to the view of John, so that he was permitted to look, as it were, upon the very dwelling-place of God. From his holy presence now came forth the angels to execute his purposes of judgment on that Antichristian power which had so long corrupted religion and oppressed the world.


Verse 6. And the seven angels. See Barnes on "Re 15:1".

Came out of the temple. Were seen to come from the temple; that is, from the immediate presence of God.

Having the seven plagues. See Barnes on "Re 15:1".

Each one entrusted with a single "plague" to be executed upon the earth. The meaning here is, that they were designated or appointed to execute those plagues in judgments. The symbols of their office—the golden vials—were given to them afterwards, Re 15:7.

Clothed in pure and white linen. The emblem of holiness—the common representation in regard to the heavenly inhabitants. See Barnes on "Re 3:4; Re 7:13 ".

Compare Mt 17:2; Lu 9:29; Mr 16:5.

And having their breasts girded with golden girdles. See Barnes on "Re 1:13".

The meaning is, that they were attired in a manner befitting their rank and condition.


Verse 7. And one of the four beasts. See Barnes on "Re 4:6-7".

Which one of the four is not mentioned. From the explanation given of the design of the representation of the "four beasts," or living creatures, in Barnes on "Re 4:6-7, it would seem that the meaning here is, that the great principles of that Divine government would be illustrated in the events which are now to occur. In events that were so closely connected with the honour of God and the triumph of his cause on the earth, there was a propriety in the representation that these living creatures, symbolizing the great principles of Divine administration, would be particularly interested.

Gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials. The word here used—fialh—means, properly, "a bowl or goblet, having more breadth than depth."—Rob. Lex. Our word vial, though derived from this, means rather a thin, long bottle of glass, used particularly by apothecaries and druggists. The word would be better rendered by bowl or goblet, and probably the representation here was of such were bowls as used in the temple service. See Barnes on "Re 5:8".

They are called, in Re 16:1, "vials of the wrath of God;" and here they are said to be "full of the wrath of God." The allusion seems to be to a drinking cup or goblet filled with poison, and given to persons to drink— an allusion drawn from one of the methods of punishment in ancient times. See Barnes on "Re 14:10".

These vials or goblets thus became emblems of Divine wrath to be inflicted on the beast and his image. Full of the wrath of God. Filled with that which represented his wrath; that is, they seemed to be filled with a poisonous mixture, which being poured upon the earth, the sea, the rivers, the sun, the seat of the beast, the river Euphrates, and into the air, was followed by severe Divine judgments on this great Antichristian power. See Re 16:2-4,8,10,12,17.

Who liveth for ever and ever. The eternal God. The particular object in referring to this attribute here appears to be, that though there may seem to be delay in the execution of his purposes, yet they will be certainly accomplished, as he is the ever-living and unchangeable God. He is not under a necessity of abandoning his purposes, like men, if they are not soon accomplished.


Verse 8. And the temple was filled with smoke. The usual symbol of the Divine presence in the temple. See Barnes on "Isa 4:6; Isa 6:4 ".

From the glory of God. From the manifestation of the Divine Majesty. That is, the smoke was the proper accompaniment of the Divine Being when appearing in majesty. So on Mount Sinai he is represented as appearing in this manner: "And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly," Ex 19:18. The purpose here seems to have been partly to represent the smoke as the proper symbol of the Divine presence, and partly to represent it as so filling the temple that no one could enter it until the seven plagues were fulfilled.

And from his power. Produced by his power; and the symbol of his power.

And no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. Till those vials had been poured out, and all that was indicated by them was accomplished. The meaning here seems to be, that no one would be permitted to enter to make intercession-to turn away his wrath—to divert him from his purpose. That is, the purpose of punishment had been formed, and would certainly be executed. The agents or instrumentalities in this fearful work had been now sent forth, and they would by no means be recalled. The mercy-seat, in this respect, was inaccessible; the time of judgment on the great foe had come, and the destruction of the grand enemy of the church was certain. The point, therefore, at which this vision leaves us, is that where all the preparations are made for the infliction of the threatened punishment on the grand Antichristian power which had so long stood up against the truth; where the agents had prepared to go forth; and where no intercession will ever avail to turn away the infliction of the Divine wrath. The details follow in the next chapter.

{b} "filled" Isa 6:4

{c} "glory of God" Ps 29:9




THE previous chapter had described the preparation for the last plagues that were to come upon that mighty Antichristian power to which this series of prophetic visions refers. All is now ready; and this chapter contains the description of those seven last "plagues" under which this power would reel and fall. These" plagues" are described as if they were a succession of physical calamities that would come upon this Antichristian power, and bring it to an end; though, perhaps, it is not necessary to look for a literal infliction of such calamities. The course of the exposition thus far will lead us to regard this chapter as a description of the successive blows by which the Papacy will fall. A part of this is still undoubtedly future, though perhaps not far distant; and, in reference to this, and to some portions of the remainder of the book, there may be more difficulty in satisfying the mind than in the portions Which pertain to past events. The chapter comprises statements on the following points:—

A command is issued from the temple to the seven angels, to go and execute the commission with which they were entrusted, Re 16:1.

The first angel pours out his vial upon the earth—followed by a plague upon those who had worshipped the beast and his image, Re 16:2.

The second angel pours out his vial upon the sea followed by the death of all that were in the sea, Re 16:3.

The third angel pours out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they become blood. This is followed by an ascription of praise from the angel of the waters, because God had given to those who had shed the blood of the saints blood to drink, with a response from the altar that this was just, Re 16:4-7.

The fourth angel pours out his vial upon the sun, and an intenser heat is given to it to scorch men. The consequence is, that they blaspheme the name of God, but repent not of their sins, Re 16:8,9.

The fifth angel pours out his vial upon the very seat of the beast, and his kingdom is full of darkness. Men still blaspheme the name of God, and repent not of their sins, Re 16:10,11.

The sixth angel pours out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. The consequence is, that the waters of the river are dried up, so that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared. The writer sees also, in this connexion, three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, that go forth into all the earth to gather all nations to the great day of the battle of God Almighty, Re 16:12-16.

The seventh angel pours out his vial into the air, and a voice is heard answering that "it is done:" the time of the consummation has come—the formidable Antichristian power is to come to an end. The great city is divided into three parts; the cities of the nations fall; great Babylon thus comes up in remembrance before God to receive the punishment which is her due. This terrific scene is accompanied with voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, and with great hail—a tempest of wrath beating upon that formidable power that had so long stood up against God, Re 16:17-21. The detail of the actual destruction of this power is carried forward in the subsequent chapters.

Verse 1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple. A loud voice out of the temple as seen in heaven, (Barnes on "Re 11:19,) and that came, therefore, from the very presence of God.

Saying to the seven angels. That had the seven vials of wrath. Barnes on "Re 15:1,7".

Go your ways. Your respective ways, to the fulfilment of the task assigned to each.

And pour out the vials of the wrath of God. Empty those vials; cause to come upon the earth the plagues indicated by their contents. The order in which this was to be done is not intimated. It seems to be supposed that that would be understood by each.

Upon the earth. The particular part of the earth is not here specified, but it should not be inferred that it was to be upon the earth in general, or that there were any calamities in consequence of this pouring out of the vials of wrath, to spread over the whole world. The subsequent statements show what parts of the earth were particularly to be affected.

{a} "angels" Re 15:1,7


And the first went. Went forth from heaven, where the seat of the vision was laid.

And poured out his vial upon the earth. That is, upon the land, in contradistinction from the sea, the rivers, the air, the seat of the beast, the sun, as represented in the other vials. In Re 16:1, the word earth is used in the general sense to denote this world as distinguished from heaven; in this verse it is used in the specific sense, to denote land as distinguished from other things. Compare Mr 4:1; 6:47; Joh 6:21; Ac 27:29,43-44.

In many respects there is a strong resemblance between the pouring out of these seven vials, and the sounding of the seven trumpets, in chapters 8 and 9, though they refer to different events. In the sounding of the first trumpet, (Re 8:7,) it was the earth that was particularly affected, in contradistinction from the sea, the fountains, and the sun: "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were east upon the earth." Compare Re 8:8,10,12.

In regard to the symbolical meaning of the term earth, considered with reference to Divine judgments, see Barnes "Re 8:7".

And there fell a noisome and grievous sore. The judgment here is specifically different from that inflicted under the first trumpet, Re 8:7. There it is said to have been that "the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." Here it is that there fell upon men a noisome and grievous sore." The two, therefore, are designed to refer to different events, and to different forms of punishment. The word rendered sore properly denotes a wound, (Hom. Il. xi. 812,) and then, in later writers, an ulcer or sore. It is used in the New Testament only in the following places: Lu 16:21, "the dogs came and licked his sores;" and in Re 16:2, 11, where it is rendered sore, and sores. It is used in the Septuagint, in reference to the boils that were brought upon the Egyptians, in Ex 9:9-12, and probably De 28:27; in reference to the leprosy, Le 13:18-20,23; in reference to the boil, ulcer, or elephantiasis brought upon Job, Job 2:7; and in reference to any sore or ulcer, in De 28:35. In all these places it is the translation of the word —Shehhin—rendered in our English version boil, Ex 9:9-11; Le 13:18-20,23; 2 Ki 20:7; Job 2:7

Isa 38:21; and botch, De 28:27,35. The proper meaning, therefore, is that of a sore, ulcer, or boil of a severe and painful character; and the most obvious reference in the passage, to one who was accustomed to the language of Scripture, would be to some fearful plague like that which was sent upon the Egyptians. In the case of Hezekiah, (2 Ki 20:7; Isa 38:21,) it was probably used to denote a plague-boil, or the black leprosy. See Barnes on "Isa 38:21".

The word "noisome" —kakon, evil, bad—is used here to characterize the plague referred to as being peculiarly painful and dangerous. The word grievous—ponhron, bad, malignant, hurtful—is further used to increase the intensity of the expression, and to characterize the plague as particularly severe. There is no reason to suppose that it is meant that this would be literally inflicted, any more than it is in the next plague, where it is said that the "rivers and fountains became blood." What is obviously meant is, that there would be some calamity which would be well represented or symbolized by such a fearful plague. Upon the men. Though the plague was poured upon "the earth," yet its effects were seen upon "men." Some grievous calamity would befall them, as if they were suddenly visited with the plague.

Which had the mark of the beast. Barnes on "Re 13:16-17".

This determines the portion of the earth that was to be afflicted. It was not the whole world; it was only that part of it where the "beast" was honoured. According to the interpretation proposed in chapter 13, this refers to those who are under the dominion of the Papacy.

And upon them which worshipped his image. See Barnes on "Re 13:14,15".

According to the interpretation in chapter 13, those are meant who sustained the civil or secular power to which the Papacy gave life and strength, and from which it, in turn, received countenance and protection.

In regard to the application or fulfilment of this symbol, it is unnecessary to say that there have been very different opinions in the world, and that very different opinions still prevail. The great mass of Protestant commentators suppose that it refers to the Papacy; and of those who entertain this opinion, the greater portion suppose that the calamity referred to by the pouring out of this vial is already past, though it is supposed by many that the things foreshadowed by a part of these" vials" are yet to be accomplished. As to the true meaning of the symbol before us, I would make the following remarks:—

(1.) It refers to the Papal power. This application is demanded by the results which were reached in the examination of chapter 13. See the remarks on the "beast" in Barnes on "Re 13:1-2,11, and on the "image of the beast" in Barnes on "Re 13:14-15".

This one mighty power existed in two forms closely united, and mutually sustaining each other—the civil or secular, and the ecclesiastical or spiritual. It is this combined and consolidated power— the Papacy as such—that is referred to here, for this has been the grand Antichristian power in the world.

(2.) It refers to some grievous and fearful calamity which would come upon that power, and which would be like a plague-spot on the human body—something which would be of the nature of a Divine judgment resembling that which came upon the Egyptians for their treatment of the people of God.

(3.) The course of this exposition leads us to suppose that this would be the beginning in the series of judgments which would terminate in the complete overthrow of that formidable power. It is the first of the vials of wrath, and the whole description evidently contemplates a series of disasters which would be properly represented by these successive vials. In the application of this, therefore, we should naturally look for the first of a series of such judgments, and should expect to find some facts in history which would be properly represented by the vial "poured upon the earth."

(4.) In accordance with this representation, we should expect to find such a series of calamities gradually weakening, and finally terminating the Papal power in the world, as would be properly represented by the number seven.

(5.) In regard now to the application of this series of symbolical representations, it may be remarked that most recent expositors—as Elliott, Cunninghame, Keith, Faber, Lord, and others, refer them to the events of the French revolution, as important events in the over- throw of the Papal power; and this, I confess, although the application is attended with some considerable difficulties, has more plausibility than any other explanation proposed. In support of this application, the following considerations may be suggested:—

(a) France, in the time of Charlemagne, was the kingdom to which the Papacy owed its civil organization and its strength—a kingdom to which could be traced all the civil or secular power of the Papacy, and which was, in fact, a restoration or re-construction of the old Roman power—the fourth kingdom of Daniel. See Barnes on "Da 7:24-28" and compare Barnes on "Re 13:3,12-14".

The restoration of the old Roman dominion under Charlemagne, and the aid which he rendered to the Papacy in its establishment as to a temporal power, would make it probable that this kingdom would be referred to in the series of judgments that were to accomplish the overthrow of the Papal dominion.

(b) In an important sense, France has always been the head of the Papal power. The king of France has been usually styled, by the popes themselves, "the eldest son of the church." In reference to the whole Papal dominion in former times, one of the principal reliances has been on France, and, to a very large extent, the state of Europe has been determined by the condition of France. "A revolution in France," said Napoleon, "is sooner or later followed by a revolution in Europe."—Alison. Its central position; its power; its direct relation to all the purposes and aims of the Papacy, would seem to make it probable that, in the account of the final destruction of that power, this kingdom would not be overlooked.

(c) The scenes which occurred in the times of the French revolution were such as would be properly symbolized by the pouring out of the first, the second, the third, and the fourth vials. In the passage before us—the pouring out of the first vial—the symbol employed is that of "a noisome and grievous sore"—boil, ulcer, plague-spot- "on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image." This representation was undoubtedly derived from the account of the sixth plague on Egypt, (Ex 9:9-11;) and the sense here is, not that this would be literally inflicted on the power here referred to, but that a calamity would come upon it which would be well represented by that, or of which that would be an appropriate emblem. This interpretation is further confirmed by Re 11:8, where Rome is referred to under the name of Egypt, and where it is clear that we are to look for a course of Divine dealing in regard to the one resembling that which occurred to the other. See Barnes on "Re 11:8".

Now this "noisome and grievous sore" would well represent the moral corruption, the pollution, the infidelity, the atheism, the general dissolution of society that preceded and accompanied the French revolution; for that was a universal breaking out of loathsome internal disease—of corruption at the centre—and in its general features might be represented as a universal plague-spot on society, extending over the countries where the beast and his image were principally worshipped. The symbol would properly denote that "tremendous outbreak of social and moral evil, of democratic fury, atheism, and vice, which was specially seen to characterize the French revolution: that of which the ultimate source was in the long and deep-seated corruption and irreligion of the nation; the outward vent, expression, and organ of its Jacobin clubs, and seditious and atheistic publications; the result, the dissolution of all society, all morals, and all religion; with acts of atrocity and horror accompanying, scarce paralleled in the history of men; and suffering and anguish of correspondent intensity throbbing throughout the social mass and corroding it; that which, from France as a centre, spread like a plague throughout its affiliated societies to the other countries of Papal Christendom, and was, wherever its poison was imbibed, as much the punishment as the symptoms of the corruption within." Of this sad chapter in the history of man, it is unnecessary to give any description here. For scenes of horror, pollution, and blood, its parallel has never been found in the history of our race, and as an event in history it was worthy of a notice in the symbols which portrayed the future. The full details of these amazing scenes must be sought in the histories which describe them, and to such works as Alison's History of Europe, and Burke's Letters on a Regicide Peace, the reader must be referred. A few expressions copied from those letters of Mr. Burke, penned with no design of illustrating this passage in the Apocalypse, and no expectation that they would be ever so applied, will show with what propriety the spirit of inspiration suggested the phrase, "a noisome and grievous sore" or plague-spot, on the supposition that the design was to refer to these scenes. In speaking of the revolutionary spirit in France, Mr. Burke calls it "the fever of aggravated Jacobinism," "the epidemic of atheistical fanaticism," "an evil lying deep in the corruptions of human nature," "the malignant French distemper," "a plague, with its fanatical spirit of proselytism, that needed the strictest quarantine to guard against it," whereof though the mischief might be "skimmed over" for a time, yet the result, into whatever country it entered, was "the corruption of all morals," "the decomposition of all society," etc. But it is unnecessary to describe those scenes farther. The "world has them by heart," and they can never be obliterated from the memory of man. In the whole history of the race, there has never been an outbreak of evil that showed so deep pollution and corruption within.

(d) The result of this was to affect the Papacy—a blow, in fact, aimed at that power. Of course, all the infidelity and atheism of the French nation, before so strongly Papal, went just so far in weakening the power of the Papacy; and in the ultimate result it will perhaps yet be found that the horrid outbreaks in the French revolution were the first in the series of providential events that will result in the entire overthrow of that Antichristian power. At all events, it will be admitted, I think, that on the supposition that it was intended that this should be descriptive of the scenes that occurred in Europe at the close of the last century, no more expressive symbol could have been chosen than has been employed in the pouring out of this first vial of wrath.

{b} "Earth" Re 8:7

{c} "sore" Ex 9:8-11

{d} "mark" Re 13:15-17


Verse 3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea. So the second trumpet, (Re 8:8,) "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood." For the meaning of this as a symbol, see Barnes on "Re 8:8".

And it became as the blood of a dead man. "Either very bloody, like a mangled corpse, or else coloured, as it were, with the dark and almost black blood of a dead man."—Prof. Stuart, in loc. The latter would seem to be, most probably, the meaning; implying that the ocean would become discoloured, and indicating that this was the effect of blood shed in great quantities on its waters. In Re 8:8 it is, "the sea became blood;" here the allusion to the blood of a dead man would more naturally suggest the idea of naval conflicts, and of the blood of the slain poured in great quantities into the deep.

And every living soul died in the sea. In Re 8:9, it is said that "the third part of the creatures that were in the sea died, and the third part of the ships were destroyed." Here the destruction is more general; the calamity is more severe and awful. It is as if every living thing—pasa quch zwsa—had died. No emphasis should be put on the word soul here, for the word means merely a creature, a living thing, an animal, Ac 2:43; 3:23; Ro 13:1; 1 Co 15:45.

See Rob. Lex. sub voce, c. The sense here is, that there would be some dreadful calamity, as if the sea were to be changed into dark blood, and as if every living thing in it were to die. In inquiring into the proper application of this, it is natural to look for something pertaining to the sea, or the ocean, (see Barnes "Re 8:8-9,) and we should expect to find the fulfilment in some calamity that would fall on the marine force, or the commerce of the power that is here referred to—that is, according to the interpretation all along adopted, of the Papal power; and the proper application, according to this interpretation, would be the complete destruction or annihilation of the naval force that contributed to sustain the Papacy. This we should look for in respect to the naval power of France, Spain, and Portugal, for these are the only Papal nations that have had a navy. We should expect, in the fulfilment of this, to find a series of naval disasters, reddening the sea with blood, which would tend to weaken the power of the Papacy, and which might be regarded as one in the series of events that would ultimately result in its entire overthrow. Accordingly, in pursuance of the plan adopted in explaining the pouring out of the first vial, it is to be observed that immediately succeeding, and connected with, the events thus referred to, there was a series of naval disasters that swept away the fleets of France, and that completely demolished the most formidable naval power that had ever been prepared by any nation under the Papal dominion. This series of disasters is thus noticed by Mr. Elliott, iii. 329; 330: "Meanwhile the great naval war between France and England was in progress; which, from its commencement in February, 1793, lasted for above twenty years, with no intermission but that of the short and delusive peace of Amiens; in which war the maritime power of Great Britain was strengthened by the Almighty Providence that protected her to destroy everywhere the French ships, commerce, and smaller colonies; including those of the fast and long-continued allies of the French, Holland and Spain. In the year 1793, the greater part of the French fleet at Toulon was destroyed by Lord Hood; in June, 1794, followed Lord Howe's great victory over the French off Ushant; then the taking of Corsica, and nearly all the smaller Spanish and French West India islands; then, in 1795, Lord Bridport's naval victory, and the capture of the Cape of Good Hope; as also soon after of a French and Dutch fleet, sent to retake it; then, in 1797, the victory over the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent, and that of Camperdown over the Dutch; then, in succession, Lord Nelson's three mighty victories—of the Nile in 1798, of Copenhagen in 1801, and, in 1805, of Trafalgar. Altogether in this naval war, from its beginning in 1793, to its end in 1815, it appears that there were destroyed near 200 ships of the line, between 300 and 400 frigates, and an almost incalculable number of smaller vessels of war and ships of commerce. The whole history of the world does not present such a period of naval war, destruction, and bloodshed." This brief summary may show, if this was referred to, the propriety of the expression, "The sea became as the blood of a dead man;" and may show also that, on the supposition that it was intended that these events should be referred to, an appropriate symbol has been employed. No language could more strikingly set forth these bloody scenes.

{a} "sea" Re 8:8

{b} "blood" Ex 7:17-20


Verse 4. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters. This coincides also with the account of the sounding of the third trumpet, (Re 8:10-11:) "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven burning as a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters." As to the meaning of the phrase, "rivers and fountains of waters," see Barnes on "Re 8:10-11".

We found, it was supposed, in the application of that passage, that the invasion of the Roman empire by Attila, king of the Huns, was referred to, affecting mainly those parts of the empire where the rivers and streams had their origin. The analogy would lead us, in the fulfilment of the passage before us, to look for some similar desolations on those portions of Europe. See Barnes on "Re 16:7".

And they became blood. This would properly mean that they became as blood, or became red with blood; and it would be fulfilled if bloody battles were fought near them so that they seemed to run blood.

{a} "waters" Re 8:10


Verse 5. And I heard the angel of the waters say. The angel who presides over the element of water; in allusion to the common opinion among the Hebrews that the angels presided over elements, and that each element was committed to the jurisdiction of a particular angel. Compare Barnes on "Re 7:1".

Thou art righteous, O Lord. In view of the judgments that reddened these streams and fountains with the blood of men, the angel ascribes righteousness to God. These judgments seemed terrible—the numbers slain were so vast—the bloody stream indicated so great slaughter, and such severity of the Divine judgment; yet the angel sees in all this only the act of a righteous God bringing just retribution on the guilty.

Which art, and wast, and shalt be. That is, who art eternal— existing now; who hast existed in all past time; and who will exist ever onward. See Barnes on "Re 1:8".

The reason why this attribute of God is here referred to, seems to be that the mind of the angel adverts to it in the changes and desolations that were occurring-around him. In such overturnings among men—such revolutions of kingdoms—such desolations of War—the mind naturally turns to one who is unchanging; to one whose throne is from everlasting to everlasting.

Because thou hast judged thus. Hast suffered these wars to occur that have changed rivers and fountains to blood.

{b} "righteous" Re 16:4


Verse 6. For they have shed the blood of saints. The nations here referred to. They have been engaged in scenes of bloody persecution, and this is a just recompense.

And prophets. Teachers of religion; ministers of truth. It is not necessary to understand the word prophets here in its technical sense as denoting those who are raised up by God and sent forth as inspired men, but it may be understood in its more common signification in the New Testament as denoting teachers of religion in general. See Barnes on "Ro 12:6; 1 Co 14:1".

And thou hast given them blood to drink. To wit, by turning the streams and fountains into blood, Re 16:4. Blood had been poured out in such abundance that it seemed to mingle with the very water that they drank. This was a recompense for their having, in those very regions, poured out so much blood in persecuting the saints and prophets— the pious private members of the church, and the public teachers of religion.

For they are worthy. That is, they deserve this; or, this is a just recompense for their sins. It is not intended that those who would thus suffer had been individually guilty of this, or that this was properly a punishment on them; but it is meant that in those countries there had been bloody persecutions, and that this was a fit recompense for what had there occurred.

{c} "thou hast" De 32:42,43; Isa 49:26


Verse 7. And I heard another. Evidently another angel, though this is not specified.

Out of the altar. Either the angel of the altar—that is, who presided over the altar, (Prof. Stuart;) or an angel whose voice seemed to come from the altar. The sense is essentially the same. The writer seemed to hear a voice coming from the altar responding to what had just been said in regard to the judgment of God, or to his righteousness in bringing the judgment upon men, Re 16:5. This was evidently the voice of some one who was interested in what was occurring, or to whom these things particularly appertained; that is, one who was particularly connected with the martyrs referred to, whose blood was now, as it were, to be avenged. We are naturally reminded by this of the martyr-scene in Re 6:9-11, in the opening of the fifth seal, though it cannot be supposed that the same events are referred to. There "the souls of those that had been slain for the word of God" are represented as being "under the altar," and as crying to God to "avenge their blood on them who dwelt on the earth." Here a voice is heard with reference to martyrs, as of one interested in them, ascribing praise to God for having brought a righteous judgment on those who had shed the blood of the saints. They are both, for similar reasons, connected with the "altar," and the voice is heard proceeding from the same source. In regard to the meaning of the word altar here, and the reason why the martyrs are represented in connexion with it, see Barnes "Re 6:9".

True and righteous are thy judgments. Responding to what is said in Re 16:5. That is, God is "true" or faithful to his promises made to his people, and "righteous" in the judgments which he has now inflicted. These judgments had come upon those who had shed the blood of the martyrs, and they were just.

In regard to the application of this, there are several things to be said. The following points are clear:

(a) That this judgment would succeed the first mentioned, and apparently at a period not remote.

(b) It would occur in a region where there had been much persecution.

(c) It would be in a Country of streams, and rivers, and fountains.

(d) It would be a just retribution for the bloody persecutions which had occurred there. The question now is, where we shall find the fulfilment of this, assuming that the explanation of the pouring out of the first vial is correct. And here, I think; there can be no mistake in applying it to the events bearing on the Papacy, and the Papal powers, which followed the French revolution. The next material event, after that revolution, was the invasion of Italy, where Napoleon began his career of victories, and where he first acquired his fame. At this stage of my examination of this passage, I looked into Alison's History of Europe, to see what events, in fact, the followed the scenes of confusion, crime, blood, atheism, and pollution in French revolution, and I found that the next chapters in these eventful scenes were such as would be well represented by the vial poured upon the rivers and fountains, and by their being turned into blood. The detail would be too long for my limits, and I can state merely a summary of a few of the chapters in that History. Chapter 19 contains the "History of the French Republic from the fall of Robespierre to the establishment of the Directory"— comprising properly the closing scenes of "the Reign of Terror," Chapter 20 contains an account of the campaign in Italy in 1796, embracing, as stated in the summing up of contents in this chapter, the "Battles of Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego; the passage of the bridge of Lodi, and fall of Milan; the siege of Mantua, and the battle of Castiglione; the battles of Caldero and Arcola; and the battles of Rivoli and Mantua." This is followed (chapter 23) With an account of the campaign of 1797, which closed with the fall of Venice; and this is followed (chapter 26) with an account of the Invasion of Switzerland etc. It is unnecessary to dwell on the details of the wars which followed the French revolution, on the Rhine, the Po, and the Alpine streams of Piedmont and Lornhardy. The slightest acquaintance with that history will show the propriety of the following remarks:

(a) These wars occurred in regions under the influence of the Papacy, for these were all Papal states and territories.

(b) These scenes followed closely on the French revolution, and grew out of it as a natural consequence, and would be properly represented as a second "vial" poured out immediately after the first.

(c) The country is such as here supposed—"of rivers and fountains"— for, being mostly a mountainous region, it abounds with springs, and fountains, and streams. Indeed, on the supposition that this is the land referred to, a more appropriate description could not have been given of it than is found in this passage. One has only to look upon a map of Northern Italy to see that there is no other portion of the world which would more naturally be suggested when speaking of a country abounding in "rivers and fountains of water." The annexed admirable Map of this region, for which I am indebted to the work of Dr. Alexander Keitk, on the Signs of the Time, will clearly illustrate this passage, and the corresponding passage in Re 8:10-11. Let any one look at the Po and its tributaries on the Map, and then read with attention the twentieth chapter of Alison's History of Europe, (vol. i, pp. 391-424,) and he will be struck with the appropriateness of the description on the supposition that this portion of the book of Revelation was designed to refer to these scenes; for he cannot but see that the battles there described were fought in a country in every way corresponding with the statement here,

(d) This country corresponds with the description here given in another respect. In Re 16:5-6, there is a tribute of praise rendered to God, in view of these judgments, because he was righteous in bringing them upon a land where the blood of saints and prophets had been shed—a land of martyrs. Now this is applicable to the circumstances supposed, not of only in the sense that Italy in general had been the land where the blood martyrs had been shed—the land of Roman persecution, alike under Paganism and the Papacy—but true in a more definite sense from the fact that this was the very region where the persecutions against the Waldenses and the Albigenses had been carried on—the valleys of Piedmont. In the times of Papal persecution these valleys had been made to flow with the blood of the saints; and it seemed, at least, to be a righteous retribution that these desolations of war, these conflagrations, and these scenes of carnage, should occur in that very land, and that the very fountains and streams which had before been turned into blood by the slaughter of the friends of the Saviour, should now be reddened with the blood of men slain in battle. This is, perhaps, what John saw in vision: a land where persecution had raged, and the blood of the holy had flowed freely, and then the same land brought under the awful judgments of God, and the fountains and streams reddened with the blood of the slain. There was a propriety, therefore, that a voice should be heard ascribing righteousness to God for avenging the blood of the saints, (Re 16:5-6,) and that another voice should be heard from the "altar" of the martyrs (Re 16:7) responding and saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."

(e) It may be added, to show the propriety of this, that this was one of the series of events which will be found in the end to have contributed to the overthrow of the Papal power: for a blow was struck in the French invasion of Italy from which Rome has never recovered, and sentiments were diffused as the result in favour of liberty which it has been difficult ever since to suppress, and which are destined yet to burst out in favour of freedom, and to be one of the means of the final destruction of the power. Compare Alison's History of Europe, vol. i. p. 403.

{d} "Lord God Almighty" Re 15:3; 19:2


Verse 8. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun. Toward the sun, or so as to reach the sun. The effect was as if it had been poured upon the sun, giving it an intense heat, and thus inflicting a severe judgment upon men. This corresponds also with the fourth trumpet, (Re 8:12,) where it is said that the "third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars." For the general meaning of this symbol, see Barnes on "Re 8:2" that place. The idea is, that a scene of calamity and woe would occur as if the sun should be made to pour forth such intense heat that men would be "scorched." It cannot be supposed that the sun would be literally made hotter, or that the exact nature of these calamities would be that men would be consumed by its rays.

And power was given unto him. To the sun. The meaning is, that a calamity would follow as if such an increased power should be given to its rays.

To scorch men with fire. Literally, "And it was given him to scorch men with fire;" that is, with heat so great that it seemed to be fire. The Greek word—kaumatisai—meaning to burn, to scorch—is used in the New Testament only in Mt 13:6; Mr 4:6; Re 16:8-9, in all which places it is rendered scorch and scorched. Compare, however, the use of the word kauma, in Re 7:16; 16:9; kausiv, in Heb 6:8; kausow, in 1 Pe 3:10,12; and kauswn, in Mt 20:12; Lu 12:55; Jas 1:11.

The notion of intense or consuming heat is implied in all the forms of the word; and the reference here is to some calamity that would be well represented by such an increased heat of the sun.

{a} "sun" Re 8:12

{b} "fire" Re 9:17


Verse 9. And men were scorched with great heat. That is, as above expressed, calamity came upon them which would be well represented by such heat. It is said that this calamity would come upon men, and we are to suppose that it would be such that human life would be particularly affected; and as that heat of the sun must be exceedingly intense which would cut down men, we are to suppose that the judgment here referred to would be intensely severe.

And blasphemed the name of God. The effect would be to cause them to blaspheme God, or to reproach him as the author of these calamities; and in the fulfilment of this we are to look for a state of things when there would be augmented wickedness and irreligion, and when men would become worse and worse, notwithstanding the woes that had come upon them.

Which hath power over these plagues. Who had brought these plagues upon them, and who had power to remove them.

And they repented not. The effect was not to produce repentance, though it was manifest that these judgments had come upon them on account of their sins. Compare See Barnes "Re 9:21".

To give him glory. To turn from sin; to honour him by lives of obedience. Compare See Barnes "Joh 9:24".

In regard to the application of this, the following things may be remarked:

(a) That the calamity here referred to was one of the series of events which would precede the overthrow of the "beast," and to contribute that—for to this all these judgments tend.

(b) In the order in which it stands, it is to follow, and apparently to follow soon, the third judgments the pouring of the vial upon the fountains and streams.

(c) It would be a calamity such as if the sun, the source of light and comfort to mankind, were smitten, and became a source of torment.

(d) This would be attended by a great destruction of men, and we should naturally look in such an application for calamities in which multitudes of men would be, as it were, consumed.

(e) This would not be followed, as it might be hoped it would, by repentance, but would be attended with reproaches of God, with profaneness, with a great increase of wickedness.

Now, on the supposition that the explanation of the previous passages is correct, there can be no great difficulty in supposing that this refers to the wars of Europe following the French Revolution; the wars that preceded the direct attack on the Papacy, and the overthrow of the Papal government. For these events had all the characteristics here referred to.

(a) They were one of a series in weakening the Papal power in Europe—heavy blows that will yet be seen to have been among the means preliminary to its final overthrow.

(b) They followed in their order the invasion of Northern Italy—for one of the purposes of that invasion was to attack the Austrian power there, and ultimately through the Tyrol to attack Austria itself Napoleon, after his victories in Northern Italy, above referred to, (compare chapter twenty of Alison's History of Europe,) thus writes to the French Directory: "Coni, Ceva, and Alexandria are in the hands of our army; if you do not ratify the convention, I will keep their fortresses and march upon Turin. Meanwhile, I shall march to-morrow against Beaulieu, and drive him across the Po; I shall follow close at i. his heels, overawe Lombardy, and in a month be in the Tyrol, join the army of the Rhine, and carry our united forces into Bavaria. The design is worthy of you, of the army, and of the destinies of France."—Alison, 401.

(c) The campaign in Germany in 1796 followed immediately this campaign in Italy. Thus, in chapter twenty of Alison's History, we have an account of the campaign in Italy; in chapter twenty-one we have the account of the campaign in Germany; and the other wars in Europe that continued so long, and that were so fierce and bloody, followed in quick succession—all tending, in their ultimate results, to weaken the Papal power, and to secure its final overthrow.

(d) It is hardly necessary to say here that these wars had all the characteristics here supposed. It was as if the sun were smitten in the heavens, and power were given to scorch men with fire. Europe seemed to be on fire with musketry and artillery, and presented almost the appearance of the broad blaze of a battle-field. The number that perished was immense. These wars were attended with the usual form. And consequences— blasphemy, profaneness, and reproaches of God in every yet there was another effect wholly in accordance with the statement here, that none of these judgments brought men to "repentance, that they might give God the glory." Perhaps these remarks, which might be extended to great length, will show that, on the supposition that it was intended to refer to those scenes by the outpouring of this vial, the symbol was well-chosen and appropriate.

{1} "scorched" "burned"

{c} "blasphemed" Re 16:11,21

{d} "they repented not" Re 9:20


Verse 10. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast. The previous judgments had been preparatory to this. They all had a bearing on this, and were all preliminary to it; but the "seat"— the home; the centre of the power of the beasts had not yet been reached. Here, however, there was a direct blow aimed at that power, still not such yet as to secure its final overthrow, for that is reserved for the pouring out of the last vial, Re 16:17-21. All that is represented here is a heavy judgment which was merely preliminary to that final overthrow, but which affected the very seat of the beast. The phrase "the seat of the beast"— ton yronon tou yhriou—means the seat or throne which the representative of that power occupied; the central point of the Antichristian dominion. Compare Barnes on "Re 13:2"

See also Re 2:13. I understand this as referring to the very seat of the Papal powers Rome—the Vatican.

And his kingdom was full of darkness. Confusion—disorder—distress; for darkness is often the emblem of calamity, Isa 59:9-10; Jer 13:16 Eze 30:18; 32:7-8; 34:12; Joe 2:2.

And they gnawed their tongues for pain. This is a "most significant expression of the writhings of anguish." The word rendered gnawed does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, nor is the expression elsewhere used in the Bible; but its meaning is plain—it indicates deep anguish.

{e} "seat of the beast" Re 13:2-4

{f} "darkness" Re 9:2


Verse 11. And blasphemed the God of heaven. The same effect which it was said would be produced by the pouring out of the fourth vial, Re 16:9.

Because of their pains and their sores. Of the calamities that had come upon them.

And repented not of their deeds. See Barnes on "Re 16:9". Compare Re 9:21.

In regard to the fulfilment and application of this, the following general remarks may be made here:

(a) It would succeed, at no great interval probably, what is referred to under the previous "vials," and would be one in the series tending to the same result.

(b) It would fall directly on the seat of the authority of the "beast" —on the central power of the Papacy, according to the interpretation of the other symbols; and we should look, therefore, for some calamity that would come upon Rome itself, and still more specifically upon the Pope himself, and those immediately around him.

(c) This would be attended with deep distress and darkness in the Papal dominions.

(d) There would be an increase of what is here called "blasphemy;" that is, of impiety and reproaches of the Divine Being.

(e) There would be no repentance produced. There would be no reformation. The system would be as corrupt as it was before, and men would be as much under its influence. And

(f) we should not expect that this would be the final overthrow of in the system. That is reserved for the outpouring of the seventh and last vial the series, (Re 16:17-21,) and under that the system would be overthrown, and would come to an end. This is distinctly stated in the account of that "vial" and therefore we are not to expect to find, in the application of the fifth "vial," that the calamity brought upon "the seat of the beast" would be such that it would not recover for a time, and maintain apparently, in some good degree, its former power and influence. With this view of what we are to expect, and in connexion with the explanations of the previous symbols, it seems to me that there can be no hesitation in applying this to the direct attacks on the Papal power and on the pope himself, as one of the consequences of the French Revolution, and to the calamities that were thus brought upon the Papal states. In order to show the appropriateness of this application, I will state a few facts which will show that, on the supposition that it was the intention in this symbol to refer to the Papal power at that time, the symbol has been well chosen, and has been fulfilled. And, in doing this, I will merely copy from Alison's History of Europe (vol. i. pp. 542-546) a few statements, which, like many that have been quoted from Mr. Gibbon in the former part of these Notes, would seem almost to have been penned in view of this prophecy, and with a view to record its fulfilment. The statement is as follows:

The Ecclesiastical States were the next objects of attack. It had long been an avowed object of ambition with the Republican government to revolutionize the Roman people, and plant the tricolour flag in the city of Brutus, and fortune at length presented them with a favourable opportunity to accomplish the design.

The situation of the pope had become, since the French conquests in Italy, in the highest degree precarious. Cut off by the Cisalpine republic from any support from Austria; left by the treaty of Campo Formio entirely at the mercy of the French republic; threatened by the heavings of the democratic spirit within his own dominions; and exposed to all the contagion arising from the complete establishment and close vicinity of republican governments in the north of Italy the was almost destitute of the means of resisting so many seen and unseen enemies. The pontifical treasury was exhausted by the immense payments stipulated by the treaty of Tolentino; while the activity and zeal of the revolutionary clubs in all the principal towns of the Ecclesiastical States was daily increasing with the prospect of success. To enable the government to meet the enormous demands of the French army, the principal Roman families, like the pope, had sold their gold, their silver, their jewels, their horses, their carriages— in a word, all their valuable effects; but the exactions of the republican agents were still unabated. In despair, they had recourse to the fatal expedient of issuing a paper circulation; but that, in a country destitute of credit, soon fell to an inconsiderable value, and augmented rather than relieved the public distress. Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon, had been appointed ambassador at the court of Rome; but as his character was deemed too honourable for political intrigue, Generals Duphot and Sherlock were sent along with him, the former of whom had been so successful in effecting the overthrow of Genoese aristocracy. The French embassy, under their direction, soon became the centre of the revolutionary action; and those numerous ardent characters with which the Italian cities abound, flocked there as to a common focus, from whence the next great explosion of democratic power was to be expected. In this extremity, Pins VI., who was above eighty years of age, and sinking into the grave, called to his counsels the Austrian general Provera, already distinguished in the Italian campaigns; but the Directory soon compelled the humiliated pontiff to dismiss that intrepid counsellor. As his recovery then seemed hopeless, the instructions of government to their ambassador were to delay the proclamation of a republic till his death, when the vacant chair of St. Peter might be overturned with little difficulty; but such was the activity of the revolutionary agents, that the train was ready to take fire before that event took place, and the ears of the Romans were assailed by incessant abuse of the ecclesiastical government, and vehement declamations in favour of republican freedom.

The resolution to overturn the Papal government, like all the other ambitious projects of the Directory, received a very great impulse from the reascendent of Jacobin influence at Paris, by the results of the revolution of 18th Fructidor. One of the first measures of the new government was to despatch an order to Joseph Bonaparte at Rome, to promote, by all the means in his power, the approaching revolution in the Papal states; and, above all things, to take care that at the pope's death no successor should be elected to the chair of St. Peter. Napoleon's language to the Roman pontiff became daily more menacing. Immediately before setting out for Rastadt, he ordered his brother Joseph to intimate to the pope that three thousand additional troops had been forwarded to Ancona; that if Provera was not dismissed within twenty-four hours, war would be declared; that if any of the revolutionists who had been arrested were executed, reprisals forthwith would be exercised on the cardinals; and that, if the Cisalpine republic was not instantly recognised, it would be the signal for immediate hostilities. At the same time ten thousand troops of the Cisalpine republic advanced to St. Leon, in the Papal duchy of Urbino, and made themselves masters of that fortress; while at Ancona, which was still garrisoned by French troops, notwithstanding its stipulated restoration by the treaty of Tolentino to the Holy See, the democratic party openly proclaimed 'the Anconite Republic.' Similar revolutionary movements took place at Corneto, Civita Vecchia, Pesaro, and Senigaglia; while at Rome itself, Joseph Bonaparte, by compelling the Papal government to liberate all persons confined for political offences, suddenly vomited forth upon the capital several hundreds of the most heated republicans in Italy. After this great addition, measures were no longer kept with the government. Seditious meetings were constantly held in every part of the city; immense collections of tricolour cockades were made to distinguish the insurgents, and deputations of the citizens openly waited on the French ambassador to invite him to support the insurrection, to which he replied, in ambiguous terms—'The fate of nations, as of individuals, being buried in the womb of futurity, it is not given to me to penetrate its mysteries.'

In this temper of men's minds, a spark was sufficient to occasion an explosion. On the 27th of December, 1798, an immense crowd assembled, with seditious cries, and moved to the palace of the French ambassador, where they exclaimed, 'Vive la Republique Romaine!' and loudly invoked the aid of the French to enable them to plant the tricolour flag on the Capitol. The insurgents displayed the tricolour cockade, and evinced the most menacing disposition; the danger was extreme; from similar beginnings the overthrow of the governments of Venice and Genoa had rapidly followed. The Papal ministers sent a regiment of dragoons to prevent any sortie of the revolutionists from the palace of the French ambassador; and they repeatedly warned the insurgents that their orders were to allow no one to leave the precincts. Duphot, however, indignant at being restrained by the pontifical troops, drew his sword, rushed down the staircase, and put himself at the head of one hundred and fifty armed Roman democrats, who were now contending with the dragoons in the courtyard of the palace. He was immediately killed by a discharge ordered by the sergeant commanding the patrol of the Papal troops; and the ambassador himself, who had followed to appease the tumult, narrowly escaped the same fate. A violent scuffle ensued; several persons were killed and wounded on both sides; and, after remaining several hours in the greatest alarm, Joseph Bonaparte, with his suite, retired to Florence.

This catastrophe, however, obviously occasioned by the revolutionary schemes which were in agitation at the residence of the French ambassador, having taken place within the precincts of his palace, was, unhappily, a violation of the law of nations, and gave the Directory too fair a ground to demand satisfaction. But they instantly resolved to make it the pretext for the immediate occupation of Rome and overthrow of the Papal government. The march of troops out of Italy was countermanded, and Berthier, the commander-in-chief, received orders to advance rapidly into the Ecclesiastical States. Meanwhile, the democratic spirit burst forth more violently than ever at Ancona and the neighbouring towns, and the Papal authority was soon lost in all the provinces on the eastern slope of the Appenines. To these accumulated disasters the pontiff could only oppose the fasts and prayers of an aged conclave—weapons of spiritual warfare little calculated to arrest the conquerors of Arcola and Lodi.

Berthlet, without an instant's delay, carried into execution the orders of the Directory. Six thousand Poles were stationed at Rimini to cover the Cisalpine Republic; a reserve was established at Tolentino; while the commander-in-chief, at the head of eighteen thousand veteran troops, entered Ancona. Having completed the work of revolution in that turbulent district, and secured the fortress, he crossed the Appenines; and, advancing by Foligno and Nami, appeared on the 10th of February before the Eternal City. The pope, in the utmost consternation, shut himself up in the Vatican, and spent night and day at the foot of the altar in imploring the Divine protection.

Rome, almost defenceless, would have offered no obstacle to the entrance of the French troops; but it was part of the policy of the Directory to make it appear that their aid was invoked by the spontaneous efforts of the inhabitants. Contenting himself, therefore, with occupying the castle of St. Angelo, from which the feeble guards of the pope were soon expelled, Berthier kept his troops for five days encamped without the walls. At length, the revolutionists having completed their preparations, a noisy crowd assembled in the Campo Vaccino, the ancient Forum; the old foundations of the Capitol were made again to resound with the cries, if not the spirit, of freedom, and the venerable ensigns, S. P. Q. R., after the lapse of fourteen hundred years, again floated in the winds. The multitude tumultuously demanded the overthrow of the Papal authority; the French troops were invited to enter; the conquerors of Italy, with a haughty air, passed the gates of Aurelian, defiled through the Piazza del Popolo, gazed on the indestructible monuments of Roman grandeur, and, amid the shouts of the inhabitants, the tricolour flag was displayed from the summit of the Capitol.

But while part of the Roman populace were surrendering themselves to a pardonable intoxication upon the faneled recovery of their liberties, the agents of the Directory were preparing for them the sad realities of slavery. The pope, who had been guarded by five hundred soldiers ever since the entry of the Republicans, was directed to retire into Tuscany; his Swiss guard relieved by a French one, and he himself ordered to dispossess himself of all his temporal authority. He replied, with the firmness of a martyr, 'I am prepared for every species of disgrace. As supreme pontiff, I am resolved to die in the exercise of all my powers. You may employ force—you have the power to do so; but know that, though you may be masters of my body, you are not so of my soul. Free in the region where it is placed, it fears neither the events nor the sufferings of this life. I stand on the threshold of another world; there I shall be sheltered alike from the violence and impiety of this.' Force was soon employed to dispossess him of his authority; he was dragged from the altar in his palace, his repositories all ransacked and plundered, the rings even torn from his fingers, the whole effects in the Vatican and Quirinal inventoried and seized, and the aged pontiff conducted, with only a few domestics, amid the brutal jests and sacrilegious songs of the French dragoons, into Tuscany, where the generous hospitality of the grand duke strove to soften the hardships of his exile. But, though a captive in the hands of his enemies, the venerable old man still retained the supreme authority in the Church. From his retreat in the convent of Chartreuse, he yet guided the counsels of the faithful; multitudes fell on their knees wherever he passed, and sought that benediction from a captive which they would, perhaps, have disregarded from a triumphant pontiff.

The subsequent treatment of this venerable man was as disgraceful to the republican government as it was honourable to his piety and constancy as the head of the Church. Fearful that from his virtues and sufferings he might have had too much influence on the continent of Italy, he was removed by their orders to Leghorn, in Hatch, 1799, with the design of transferring him to Cagliari in Sardinia; and the English cruisers in the Mediterranean redoubled their vigilance, in the generous hope of rescuing the father of an opposite church from the persecution of his enemies. Apprehensive of losing their prisoner, the French altered his destination; and forcing him to traverse, often during the night, the Appenines and the Alps in a rigorous season, he at length reached Valence, where, after an illness of ten days, he expired, in the eighty-second year of his age, and the twenty-fourth of his pontificate. The cruelty of the Directory increased as he approached their dominions, all his old attendants were compelled to leave him, and the father of the faithful was allowed to expire, attended only by his confessor. Yet even in this disconsolate state he derived the highest satisfaction from the devotion and reverence of the people in the provinces of France through which he passed. Multitudes from Gap, Vizelle, and Grenoble, flocked to the road to receive his benediction; and he frequently repeated, with tears in his eyes, the words of Scripture, 'Verily, I say unto you, I have not seen such faith, no, not in Israel.'

But long before the pope had sunk under the persecution of his oppressors, Rome had experienced the bitter fruits of republican fraternization. Immediately after the entry of the French troops commenced the regular and systematic pillage of the city. Not only the churches and the convents, but the palaces of the cardinals and of the nobility were laid waste. The agents of the Directory, insatiable in the pursuit of plunder, and merciless in the means of exacting it, ransacked every quarter within its walls, seized the most valuable works of art, and stripped the Eternal City of those treasures which had survived the Gothic fire and the rapacious hands of the Spanish soldiers. The bloodshed was much less, but the spoil collected incomparably greater, than at the disastrous sack which followed the death of the constable Bourbon. Almost all the great works of art which have since that time been collected throughout Europe, were then scattered abroad. The spoliation exceeded all that the Goths or Vandals had effected. Not only the palaces of the Vatican, and the Monte Cavallo, and the chief nobility of Rome, but those of Castel Gandolfo, on the margin of the Alban Lake, of Terraelna, the Villa Albani, and others in the environs of Rome, were plundered of every article of value which they possessed. The whole sacerdotal habits of the pope and cardinals were burned, in order to collect from the flames the gold with which they were adorned. The Vatican was stripped to its naked walls; the immortal frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo remained in solitary beauty amid the general desolation. A contribution of four millions in money, two millions in provisions, and three thousand horses, was imposed on a city already exhausted by the enormous exactions it had previously undergone. Under the direction of the infamous commissary Hailer, the domestic library, museum, furniture, jewels, and even the private clothes of the pope were sold. Nor did the palaces of the Roman nobility escape devastation. The noble galleries of the cardinal Braschi, and the cardinal York, the last relic of the Stuart line, underwent the same fate. Others, as those of the Chigi, Borghese, and Doria palaces, were rescued from destruction only by enormous ransoms. Everything of value that the Tolentino had left in Rome became the prey of republican cupidity, and the very name of freedom soon became odious, from the sordid and infamous crimes which were committed in its name.

Nor were the exactions of the French confined to the plunder of palaces and churches. Eight cardinals were arrested and sent to Civita Casteliana, while enormous contributions were levied on the Papal territory, and brought home the bitterness of conquest to every poor man's door. At the same time, the ample territorial possessions of the church and the monasteries were confiscated, and declared national property; a measure which, by drying up at once the whole resources of the affluent classes, precipitated into the extreme of misery the numerous poor who were maintained by their expenditure, or fed by their bounty. All the respectable citizens and clergy were in fetters; and a base and despicable faction alone, among whom, to their disgrace be it told, were found fourteen cardinals, followed in the train of the oppressors; and, at a public festival, returned thanks to God for the miseries they had brought upon their country." (In this connexion, I may insert here the remarkable calculation of Robert Fleming, in his work entitled Apocalyptical Key or the pouring out of the Vials, first published m 1701. It is in the following words: "The fifth vial, (Re 16:10-11,) which is to be poured out on the seat of the beast, or the dominions which more immediately belong to and depend on the Roman see; that, I say, this judgment will probably begin about the year 1794, and expire about A.D. 1848; or that the duration of it upon this supposition will be the space of fifty-four years. For I do suppose that seeing the Pope received the title of Supreme Bishop no sooner than A.D. 606, he cannot be supposed to have any vial poured upon his seat immediately (so as to ruin his authority so signally as this judgment must be supposed to do) until the year @1848, which is the date of the twelve hundred and sixty years in prophetical account when they are reckoned from A.D. 606. But yet we are not to imagine that this will totally destroy the Papacy, (though it will exceedingly weaken it,) for we find that still in being and alive when the next vial is poured out," [pp. 124, 125, Cobbin's edition.] It is a circumstance remarkably in accordance with this calculation, that in the year 1848 the Pope was actually driven away to Gaeta, and that at the present time (1851) he is restored, though evidently with diminished power.)

{a} "sores" Re 16:8


Verse 12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. On the situation of that river, and the symbolical meaning of this language, see Barnes on "Re 9:14-21".

The reference there was supposed to be to the Turkish power, and the analogy of interpretation would seem to require that it should be so understood here. There is every reason, therefore, to suppose that this passage has reference to something in the future history of the Turkish dominions, and to some bearing of the events which are to occur in that history on the ultimate downfall of the Antichristian power referred to by the "beast."

And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. That is, as the effect of pouring out the vial. There is an allusion here, undoubtedly, to the dividing of the waters of the Red Sea, so that the children of Israel might pass. See Ex 14:21-22. Compare Barnes on "Isa 11:15".

In this description, the Euphrates is represented as a barrier to prevent the passage of "the kings of the East" on their way to the West for some purpose not yet specified; that is, applying the symbol of the Euphrates as being the seat of the Turkish power, the meaning is, that that power is such a hindrance, and that in some way that hindrance is to be removed as if the waters of an unbridged and unfordable river were dried up so as to afford a safe and easy passage through. Still there are several inquiries as to the application of this which is not easy, and as it refers to what is still future, it may be impossible to answer. The language requires us to put upon it the following interpretation:

(a) The persons here referred to as "kings of the East" were ready to make a movement towards the West, over the Euphrates, and would do this if this obstruction were not in their way. Who these "kings of the East" are is not said, and perhaps cannot be conjectured. The natural interpretation is, that they are the kings that reign in the East, or that preside over the countries of the eastern hemisphere. Why there was a proposed movement to the West is not said. It might have been for conquest, or it might have been that they were to bring their tribute to the spiritual Jerusalem, in accordance with what is so often said in the prophets, that under the gospel kings and princes would consecrate themselves and their wealth to God. See Ps 72:10-11, "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall clown before him." So also Isa 60:4-6,9,11, "Thy sons shall come from far.—The forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.—All they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense.—The isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them.—Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought." All that is fairly implied in the language used here is, that the kings of the east would be converted to the true religion, or that they were at the time referred to in a state of readiness to be converted if there were no hindrance or obstruction.

(b) There was some hindrance or obstruction to their conversion; that is, as explained, from the Turkish power: in other words, they would be converted to the true faith if it were not for the influence of that power.

(c) The destruction of that power, represented by the drying up of the Euphrates, would remove that obstruction, and the way would thus be "prepared" for their conversion to the true religion. We should most naturally, therefore, look in the fulfilment of this for some such decay of the Turkish power as would be followed by the conversion of the rulers of the East to the gospel.

{a} "Euphrates" Re 9:14

{b} "dried up" Isa 42:15; Jer 50:38; 51:36


Verse 13. And I saw three unclean spirits. They assumed a visible form which would well represent their odiousness—that of frogs—but still they are spoken of as "spirits." They were evil powers, or evil influences, (Re 16:14, "spirits of devils,") and the language here is undoubtedly designed to represent some such power or influence, which would, at that period, proceed from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet,

Like frogs. batracoiv. This word does not occur in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. It is properly translated frogs. The frog is here employed clearly as a symbol, and it is designed that certain qualities of the "spirits" here referred to should be designated by the symbol. For a full illustration of the meaning of the symbol, the reader may consult Bochart, Hieroz. P. II. lib. v. cap. Iv. According to Bochart, the frog is characterized, as a symbol,

(1) for its rough, harsh, coarse voice;

(2) on this account as a symbol of complaining or reproaching;

(3) as a symbol of empty loquacity;

(4) as a symbol of heretics and philosophers-as understood by Augustine;

(5) because the frog has its origin in mud, and lives in mud, as a symbol of those who are born in sin, and live in pollution;

(6) because the frog endures all changes of the season—cold and heat, summer, winter, rain, frost—as a symbol of monks who practise self-denial;

(7) because the frog, though abstemious of food, yet lives in water and drinks often, as a symbol of drunkards;

(8) as a symbol of impudence;

(9) because the frog swells his size, and distends his cheeks, as a symbol of pride. See the authorities for these uses of the word in Bothart. How many or few of these ideas enter into the symbol here, it is not easy to decide. We may suppose, however, that the spirits referred to would be characterized by pride arrogance, impudence, assumption of authority; perhaps impurity and vileness, for all these ideas enter into the meaning of the symbol. They are not here probably symbols of persons, but of influences or opinions which would be spread abroad, and which would characterize the age referred to. The reference is to what the "dragon," the "beast," and the "false prophet" would do at that time in opposing the truth, and in preparing the world for the great and final conflict.

Out of the mouth of the dragon. One of which seemed to issue from the mouth of the dragon. On the symbolic meaning of the "dragon," see Barnes "Re 12:3".

It, in general, represents Satan, the great enemy of the church; perhaps here Satan under the form of Heathenism or Paganism, as in Re 12:3-4. The idea then is, that, at the time referred to, there would be some manifestation of the power of Satan in the heathen nations, which would be bold, arrogant, proud, loquacious, hostile to truth, and which would be well represented by the hoarse murmur of the frog.

And out of the mouth of the beast. The Papacy as above explained, chapter thirteen. That is, there would be some putting forth of arrogant pretensions; some loud denunciation or complaining; some manifestation of pride and self-consequence, which would be well represented by the croaking of the frog. We have seen above, Barnes on "Re 6:5"

See Barnes "Re 6:6, that although the fifth vial was poured upon "the seat of the beast," the effect was not to crush and overthrow that power entirely. The Papacy would still survive, and would be finally destroyed under the outpouring of the seventh vial, Re 16:17-21. In the passage before us we have a representation of it as still living; as having apparently recovered its strength; and as being as hostile as ever to the truth, and able to enter into a combination, secret or avowed, with the "dragon" and the "false prophet," to oppose the reign of truth upon the earth.

And out of the mouth of the false prophet. The word rendered false prophet—qeudoprofhtou—does not before occur in the book of Revelation, though the use of the article would seem to imply that some well-known power or influence was referred to by this. Compare Barnes on "Re 10:3".

The word occurs in other places in the New Testament, Mt 7:15; 24:11,24; Mr 13:22; Lu 6:26; Ac 13:6; 2 Pe 2:1; 1 Jo 4:1; and twice elsewhere in the book of Revelation, with the same reference as here, Re 19:20; 20:10. In both these latter places it is connected with the "beast." "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet." "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are." It would seem then to refer to some power that was similar to that of the beast, and that was to share the same fate in the overthrow of the enemies of the gospel. As to the application of this, there is no opinion so probable as that it alludes to the Mohammedan power—not strictly the Turkish power, for that was to be "dried up" or to diminish; but to the Mohammedan power as such, that was still to continue for awhile in its rigour, and that was yet to exert a formidable influence against the gospel, and probably in some combination, in fact, if not in form, with Paganism and the Papacy. The reasons for this opinion are,

(a) that this was referred to in the former part of the book is one of the formidable powers that would arise, and that would materially affect the destiny of the world—and it may be presumed that it would be again referred to in the account of the final consummation- see Re 9:1-11;

(b) the name "false prophet" would better than any other describe has that power, and would naturally suggest it in future times—for to no one that ever appeared in our world could the name be so properly applied as to Mohammed; and

(c) what is said will be found to agree with the facts in regard to that power, as, in connexion with the Papacy and with Paganism, constituting the sum of the obstruction to the spread of the gospel around the world.

{a} "dragon" Re 12:3,9

{b} "beast" Re 13:2

{c} "false prophet" Re 19:20


Verse 14. For they are the spirits of devils. On the meaning of the word used here, see Barnes on "Re 9:20".

It is used here, as it is in Re 9:20, in a bad sense as denoting evil spirits. Compare Barnes on "Mt 4:1-2,24".

Working miracles. Working what seemed to be miracles; that is, such wonders as to deceive the world with the belief that they were miracles. See Barnes on "Re 13:13-14, where the same power is ascribed to the "beast."

Which go forth unto the kings of the earth. Which particularly affect and influence kings and rulers. No class of men have been more under the influence of Pagan superstition, Mohammedan delusion, or the Papacy, than kings and princes. We are taught by this passage that this will continue to be so in the circumstances referred to.

And of the whole world. That is, so far that it might be represented as affecting the whole world—to wit, the Heathen, the Mohammedan, and the Papal portions of the earth. These still embrace so large a portion of the globe, that it might be said that what would affect those powers now would influence the whole world.

To gather them. Not literally to assemble them all in one place, but so to unite and combine them that it might be represented as an assembling of the hosts for battle.

To the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Not the day of judgment, but the day which would determine the ascendency of true religion in the world—the final conflict with those powers which had so long opposed the gospel. It is not necessary to suppose that there would be a literal "battle," in which God would be seen to contend with his foes; but there would be that which might be properly represented as a battle. That is, there would be a combined struggle against the truth, and in that God would appear by his Providence and Spirit on the side of the church, and would give it the victory. It accords with all that has occurred in the past, to suppose that there will be such a combined struggle before the church shall finally triumph in the world.

{d} "devils" 1 Ti 4:1

{e} "miracles" 2 Th 2:9

{f} "whole world" 1 Jo 5:19

{g} "battle" Re 19:19


Verse 15. Behold, I come as a thief. That is, suddenly and unexpectedly. See Barnes on "Mt 24:43; 1 Th 5:2".

This is designed evidently to admonish men to watch, or to be in readiness for his coming —since, whenever it would occur, it would be at a time when men were not expecting him.

Blessed is he that watcheth. Compare Mt 24:42-44. The meaning here is, that he who watches for these events, who marks the indications of their approach, and who is conscious of a preparation for them, is in a better and happier state of mind than he on whom they come suddenly and unexpectedly.

And keepeth his garments. The allusion here seems to be to one who, regardless of danger, or of the approach of an enemy, should lay aside his garments and lie down to sleep. Then the thief might come and take away his garments, leaving him naked. The essential idea, therefore, here, is the duty of vigilance. We are to be awake to duty and to danger; we are not to be found sleeping on our post; we are to be ready for death—ready for the coming of the Son of man.

Lest he walk naked. His raiment being carried away while he is asleep.

And they see his shame. Compare Barnes on "Re 3:18".

The meaning here is, that, as Christians are clothed with the garments of righteousness; they should not lay them aside, so that their spiritual nakedness should be seen. They are to be always clothed with the robes of salvation; always ready for any event, however soon or suddenly it may come upon them.

{a} "thief" 2 Pe 3:16

{b} "naked" Re 3:4,18


Verse 16. And he gathered them together. Who gathered them? Prof. Stuart renders it, "they gathered them together," supposing that it refers to the "spirits"—pneumata—in Re 16:13, and that this is the construction of the neuter plural with a singular verb. So De Wette understands it. Hengstenberg supposes that it means that God gathered them together; others suppose that it was the sixth angel; others that it was Satan; others that it was the beast; and others that it was Christ. See Poole's Synopsis in loc. The authority of De Wette and Prof. Stuart is sufficient to show that the construction which they adopt is authorized by the Greek, as indeed no one can doubt, and perhaps this accords better with the context than any other construction proposed. Thus, in Re 16:14, the spirits are represented as going forth into the whole world for the purpose of gathering the nations together to the great battle, and it is natural to suppose that the reference is to them here as having accomplished what they went forth to do. But who are to be gathered together? Evidently those who in Re 16:14 are described by the word "them"—the "king of the earth, and the whole world;" that is, there will be a state of things which would be well described by a universal gathering of forces in a central battle-field. It is by no means necessary to suppose that what is here represented will literally occur. There will be a mustering of spiritual forces; there will be a combination and a unity of opposition against the truth; there will be a rallying of the declining powers of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism, as if the forces of the earth, marshalled by kings and rulers, were assembled in some great battle-field where the destiny of the world was to be decided.

Into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. The word Armageddon—armageddwn—occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is not found in the Septuagint. It seems to be formed from the Hebrew ? Har Megiddo—Mountain of Megiddo. Compare 2 Ch 35:22, where it is said that Josiah "came to fight in the valley of Megiddo." Megiddo was a town belonging to Manasseh, although within the limits of Issachar, Jos 17:11. It had been originally one of the royal cities of the Canaanites, (Jos 12:21,) and was one of those of which the Israelites were unable for a long time to take possession. It was rebuilt and fortified by Solomon, (1 Ki 9:15,) and thither Ahaziah king of Judah fled when wounded by Jehu, and died there, 2 Ki 9:27. It was here that Deborah and Barak destroyed Sisera and his host, (Jud 5:19;) and it was in a battle near this that Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-nechoh, 2 Ki 23:29-30; 2 Ch 35:20-25. From the great mourning held for his loss, it became proverbial to speak of any grievous mourning as being "like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon," Zec 12:11. It has not been found easy to identify the place, but recent searches have made it probable that the vale or plain of Megiddo comprehended, if it was not wholly composed of, the prolongation of the plain of Esdra-elon towards Mount Carmel; that the city of Megiddo was situated there; and that the waters of Megiddo, mentioned in Jud 5:19, are identical with the stream Kishon in that part of its course. See Biblical Repository, i. 602, 603. It is supposed that the modern town called Lejjun occupies the site of the ancient Megiddo.—Robinson's Biblical Researches, iii. 177-180. Megiddo was distinguished for being the place of the decisive conflict between Deborah and Sisera, and of the battle in which Josiah was slain by the Egyptian invaders, and hence it became emblematic of any decisive battle-field—just as Marathon, Leuctra, Arbela, or Waterloo is. The word "mountain" in the term Armageddon—" Mountain of Megiddo"— seems to have been used because Megiddo was in a mountainous region, though the battles were fought in a valley adjacent. The meaning here is, that there would be, as it were, a decisive battle which would determine the question of the prevalence of true religion on the earth What we are to expect as the fulfilment of this would seem to be, that there will be some mustering of strength —some rallying of forces—some opposition made to the kingdom of God in the gospel by the powers here referred to which would be decisive in its character, and which would be well represented by the battles between the people of God and their foes in the conflicts in the valley of Megiddo. As this constitutes, according to the course of the exposition by which we have been conducted, an important division in the book of Revelation, it may be proper to pause here, and make a few remarks. The previous parts of the book, according to the interpretation proposed, relate to the past, and thus far we have found such a correspondence between the predictions and facts which have occurred as to lead us to suppose that these predictions have been fulfilled. At this point, I suppose, we enter on that part which remains yet to be fulfilled, and the investigation must carry us into the dark and unknown future. The remaining portion comprises a very general sketch of things down to the end of time, as the previous portion has touched on the great events pertaining to the church and its progress for a period of more than one thousand eight hundred years. A few general remarks, therefore, seem not inappropriate at this point.

(a) In the previous interpretations we have had the facts of history by which to test the accuracy of the interpretation. The plan pursued has been, first, to investigate the meaning of the words and symbols, entirely independent of any supposed application, and then to inquire whether there have been any facts that may be regarded as corresponding with the meaning of the words and symbols as explained. Of this method of testing the accuracy of the exposition we must now take our leave. Our sole reliance must be in the exposition itself, and our work must be limited to that.

(b) It is always difficult to interpret a prophecy. The language of prophecy is often apparently enigmatical; the symbols are sometimes obscure; and prophecies relating to the same subject are often in detached fragments, uttered by different persons at different times, and it is necessary to collect and arrange them, in order to have a full view of the one subject. Thus the prophecies respecting the Messiah were many of them obscure, and indeed apparently contradictory, before he came; they were uttered at distant intervals, and by different prophets; at one time one trait of his character was dwelt upon, and at another another; and it was difficult to combine these so as to have an accurate view of what he would be, until he came. The result has shown what the meaning of the prophecies was; and at the same time has demonstrated that there was entire consistency in the various predictions, and that to one who could have comprehended all, it would have been possible to combine them so as to have had a correct view of the Messiah, and of his work, even before he came. The same remark is still more applicable to the predictions in the book of Revelation, or to the similar predictions in the book of Daniel, and to many portions of Isaiah. It is easy to see how difficult it would have been, or rather how impossible by any human powers, to have applied these prophecies in detail before the events occurred; and yet, now that they have occurred, it may be seen that the symbols were the happiest that could have been chosen, and the only ones that could with propriety have been selected to describe the remarkable events which were to take place in future times.

(c) The same thing we may presume to be the case in regard to events which are to occur. We may expect to find

(1) language and symbols that are, in themselves, capable of clear interpretation, as to their proper meaning;

(2) the events of the future so sketched out by that language and by those symbols, that we may obtain a general view that will be accurate; and yet

(3) an entire impossibility of filling up beforehand the minute details.

In regard, then, to the application of the particular portion now before us, Re 16:12-16, the following remarks may be made:—

(1) The Turkish power, especially since its conquest of Constantinople under Mohammed II. in 1453, and its establishment in Europe, has been a grand hindrance to the spread of the gospel. It has occupied a central position; it has possessed some of the richest parts of the world; it has, in general, excluded all efforts to spread the pure gospel within its limits; and its whole influence has been opposed to the spread of pure Christianity. Compare Barnes on "Re 9:14-21".

"By its laws, it was death to a Mussulman to apostatize from his faith, and become a Christian; and examples, not a few, have occurred in recent times to illustrate it." It is not until quite recently, and that under the influence of missionaries in Constantinople, that evangelical Christianity has been tolerated in the Turkish dominions.

(2.) The prophecy before us implies that there would be a decline of that formidable power—represented by the "drying up of the great river Euphrates." See Barnes on "Re 16:12".

And no one can be insensible to the fact that events are occurring which would be properly represented by such a symbol; or that there is, in fact, now such a decline of that Turkish power, and that the beginning of that decline closely followed, in regard to time, if not in regard to the cause, the events which it is supposed were designed by the previous vials— those connected with the successive blows on the Papacy and the seat of the beast. In reference, then, to the decline of that power, we may refer to the following things:

(a) The first great cause was internal revolt and insurrection. In 1820, Ali Pasha asserted his independence, and by his revolt precipitated the Greek insurrection which had been a long time secretly preparing—an insurrection so disastrous to the Turkish power.

(b) The Greek insurrection followed. This soon spread to the AEgean isles, and to the districts of Northern Greece, Epirus, and Thessaly; while at the same time the standard of revolt was raised in Wallachia and Moldavia. The progress and issue of that insurrection are well known. A Turkman army of 30,000 that entered the Morea to reconquer it was destroyed in 1823 in detail, and the freedom of the peninsula was nearly completed by the insurgents. By sea the Greeks emulated their ancestors of Salamis and Mycale; and, attended with almost uniform success, encountered and vanquished the superior Turkish and Egyptian fleets. Meanwhile the sympathies of Western Christendom were awakened in behalf of their brother Christians struggling for independence; and just when the tide of success began to turn, and the Morea was again nearly subjected by Ibrahim Pasha, the united fleets of England, France, and Russia (in contravention of all their usual principles of policy) interposed in their favour; attacked and destroyed the Turco-Egyptian fleets in the battle of Novatiao, (September, 1827,) and thus secured the independence of Greece. Nothing had ever occurred that tended so much to weaken the power of the Turkish empire.

(c) The rebellion of the great Egyptian Pasha, Mehemet Ali, soon followed. The French invasion of Egypt had prepared him for it, by having taught him the superiority of European discipline, and thus this event was one of the proper results of those described under the first four vials. Mehemet Ali, through Ibrahim, attacked and conquered Syria; defeated the Sultan's armies sent against him in the great battles of Hems, of Nezib, and of Iconium; and, but for the intervention of the European powers of England, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, by which he was driven out of Syria, and forced back to his proper Pashalie Egypt, he would probably have advanced to Constantinople and subdued it.

(d) There has been for centuries a gradual weakening of the Turkish power. It has done nothing to extend its empire by arms. It has been resting in inglorious ease, and, in the meantime, its wealth and its strength have been gradually decreasing. It has lost Moldavia, Wallachia, Greece, Algiers, and, practically, Egypt; and is doing nothing to recruit its wasted and exhausted strength. Russia only waits for a favourable opportunity to strike the last blow on that enfeebled power, and to put an end to it for ever.

(e) The general condition of the Turkish empire is thus described by the Rev. Mr. Walsh, chaplain to the British Ambassador to Constantinople: "The circumstances most striking to a traveller passing through Turkey is its depopulation. Ruins where villages had been built, and fallows where land had been cultivated, are frequently seen with no living thing near them. This effect is not so visible in larger towns, though the cause is known to operate there in a still greater degree. Within the last twenty years, Constantinople has lost more than half its population. Two conflagrations happened while I was in Constantinople, and destroyed fifteen thousand houses. The Russian and Greek wars were a constant drain on the janisaries of the capital; the silent operation of the plague is continually active, though not always alarming; it will be no exaggeration to say that, within the period mentioned, from three to four hundred thousand persons have been swept away in one city in Europe by causes which were not operating in any others—conflagration, pestilence, and civil commotion. The Turks, though naturally of a robust and vigorous constitution, addict themselves to such habits as are very unfavourable to population— the births do little more than exceed the ordinary deaths, and cannot supply the waste of casualties. The surrounding country is, therefore, continually drained to supply this waste in the capital, which, nevertheless, exhibits districts nearly depopulated. We see every day life going out in the fairest portion of Europe; and the human race threatened with extinction in a soil and climate capable of supporting the most abundant population."—Walsh's Narrative, pp. 22—26, as quoted in Bush on the Millennium, 243, 244. The probability now is, that this gradual decay will be continued; that the Turkish power will more and more diminish; that one portion after another will set up for independence; and that, by a gradual process of decline, this power will become practically extinct, and what is here symbolized by the "drying up of the great river Euphrates" will have been accomplished.

(3.) This obstacle removed, we may look for a general turning of the princes, and rulers, and people of the Eastern world to Christianity, represented (Re 16:12) by its being said that "the way of the kings of the East might be prepared." See Barnes on "Re 16:12".

It is clear that nothing would be more likely to contribute to this, or to prepare the way for it, than the removal of that Turcoman dominion which for more than four hundred years has been an effectual barrier to the diffusion of the gospel in the lands where it has prevailed. How rapidly, we may suppose, the gospel would spread in the East, if all the obstacles thrown in its way by the Turkish power were at once removed!

(4.) In accordance with the interpretation suggested on Re 16:13-14, we may look for something that would be well represented by a combined effort on the part of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism, to stay the progress and prevent the spread of evangelical religion. That is, according to the fair interpretation of the passage, we should look for same simultaneous movement as if their influence was to be about to cease, and as if it were necessary to arouse all their energies for a last and desperate struggle. It may be added that, in itself, nothing would be more probable than this; but when it will occur, and what form the aroused enemy will assume, it would be vain to conjecture.

(5.) And in accordance with the interpretation suggested on Re 16:15, we are to suppose that something will occur which would be well represented by the decisive conflicts in the valley of Megiddo; that is, something that will determine the ascendency of true religion in the world, as if these great powers of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and Romanism should stake all their interests on the issue of a single battle. It is not necessary to suppose that this will literally occur, and there are no certain intimations as to the time when what is represented will happen; but all that is meant may be that events will take place which would be well represented by such a conflict. Still, nothing in the prophecy prevents the supposition that these combined powers may be overthrown in some fierce conflict with Christian powers.

{a} "It is done" Re 21:6


Verse 17. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air. This introduces the final catastrophe in regard to the "beast"—his complete and utter overthrow, accompanied with tremendous judgments. Why the vial was poured into the air is not stated. The most probable supposition as to the idea intended to be represented is, that, as storms and tempests seem to be engendered in the air, so this destruction would come from some supernatural cause, as if the whole atmosphere should be filled with wind and storm; and a furious and desolating whirlwind should be aroused by some invisible power.

And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven. The voice of God. See Barnes "Re 11:19".

From the throne. See Barnes "Re 4:2".

This shows that it was the voice of God, and not the voice of an angel.

Saying, It is done. The series of judgments is about to be completed; the dominion of the beast is about to come to an end for ever. The meaning here is, that that destruction was so certain, that it might be spoken of as now actually accomplished.

{a} "earthquake" Re 11:13

{b} "such as was not" Da 12:1


Verse 18. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings. Accompanying the voice that was heard from the throne. See Barnes "Re 4:5; Re 11:19 ".

And there was a great earthquake, etc. See Barnes "Re 6:12" See Barnes "Re 11:19".

The meaning is, that a judgment followed as if the world were shaken by an earthquake, or which would be properly represented by that.

So mighty an earthquake, and so great. All this is intensive, and is designed to represent the severity of the judgment that would follow.

{c} "city" Re 14:8

{d} "cup" Isa 51:17,23; Jer 25:15,16


Verse 19. And the great city was divided into three parts. The city of Babylon; or the mighty power that was represented by Babylon. See Barnes on "Re 14:8".

The division here mentioned into three parts was manifestly with reference to its destruction—either that one part was smitten and the others remained for a time, or that one form of destruction came on one part, and another on the others. In Re 11:13, it is said, speaking of "the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt"—representing Rome, that "the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand," (see Barnes "Re 11:13") here it is said that the whole city, in the calamities that came upon it, was divided into three portions, though it is evidently implied that, in these calamities, the whole city was sooner or later destroyed. Prof. Stuart (in loc.) supposes that the number three is used here, as it is throughout the book, "in a symbolical way," and that the meaning is, that "the city was severed and broken in pieces, so that the whole was reduced to a ruinous state." He supposes that it refers to Pagan Rome, or to the Pagan Roman persecuting power. Others refer it to Jerusalem, and suppose that the allusion is to the divisions of the city, in the time of the siege, into Jewish, Samaritan, and Christian parties; others suppose that it refers to a division of the Roman empire under Honorins, Attalus, and Constantine; others to the fact, that when Jerusalem was besieged by Titus, it was divided into three factions; and others that the number three is used to denote perfection, or the total ruin of the city. All that, it seems to me, can be said now on the point is,

(a) that it refers to Papal Rome, or the Papal power;

(b) that it relates to something yet future, and that it may not be possible to determine with precise accuracy what will occur;

(c) that it probably means that, in the time of the final ruin of that power, there will be a threefold judgment—either a different judgment in regard to some threefold manifestation of that power, or a succession of judgments, as if one part were smitten at a time. The certain and entire ruin of the power is predicted by this, but still it is not improbable that it will be by such divisions, or such successions of judgments, that it is proper to represent the city as divided into three portions.

And the cities of the nations fell. In alliance with it, or under the control of the central power. As the capital fell, the dependent cities fell also. Considered as relating to Papal Rome, the meaning here is, that what may be properly called "the cities of the nations" that were allied with it would share the same fate. The cities of numerous nations" are now, and have been for ages, under the control of the Papal power, or the spiritual Babylon; and the calamity that will smite the central power as such—that is, as a spiritual power—will reach and affect them all. Let the central power at Rome be destroyed; the Papacy cease; the superstition with which Rome is regarded come to an end; the power of the priesthood in Italy be destroyed, and however widely the Roman dominion is spread now, it cannot be kept up. If it falls in Rome, there is not influence enough out of Rome to continue it in being—and in all its extended ramifications it will die, as the body dies when the head is severed; as the power of provinces ceases when ruin comes upon the capital. This the prophecy leads us to suppose will be the final destiny of the Papal power.

And great Babylon. See Barnes on "Re 14:8".

Came in remembrance before God. That is, for purposes of punishment. It had been, as it were, overlooked. It had been permitted to carry on its purposes, and to practise its abominations, unchecked, as if God did not see it Now the time had come when all that it had done was to be remembered, and when the long-suspended judgment was to fall upon it.

To give unto her the cup of the wine, etc. To punish; to destroy her. See Barnes "Re 14:10".

{e} "Every island fled" Re 6:14


Verse 19. And the great city was divided into three parts. The city of Babylon; or the mighty power that was represented by Babylon. See Barnes on "Re 14:8".

The division here mentioned into three parts was manifestly with reference to its destruction—either that one part was smitten and the others remained for a time, or that one form of destruction came on one part, and another on the others. In Re 11:13, it is said, speaking of "the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt"—representing Rome, that "the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand," (see Barnes "Re 11:13") here it is said that the whole city, in the calamities that came upon it, was divided into three portions, though it is evidently implied that, in these calamities, the whole city was sooner or later destroyed. Prof. Stuart (in loc.) supposes that the number three is used here, as it is throughout the book, "in a symbolical way," and that the meaning is, that "the city was severed and broken in pieces, so that the whole was reduced to a ruinous state." He supposes that it refers to Pagan Rome, or to the Pagan Roman persecuting power. Others refer it to Jerusalem, and suppose that the allusion is to the divisions of the city, in the time of the siege, into Jewish, Samaritan, and Christian parties; others suppose that it refers to a division of the Roman empire under Honorins, Attalus, and Constantine; others to the fact, that when Jerusalem was besieged by Titus, it was divided into three factions; and others that the number three is used to denote perfection, or the total ruin of the city. All that, it seems to me, can be said now on the point is,

(a) that it refers to Papal Rome, or the Papal power;

(b) that it relates to something yet future, and that it may not be possible to determine with precise accuracy what will occur;

(c) that it probably means that, in the time of the final ruin of that power, there will be a threefold judgment—either a different judgment in regard to some threefold manifestation of that power, or a succession of judgments, as if one part were smitten at a time. The certain and entire ruin of the power is predicted by this, but still it is not improbable that it will be by such divisions, or such successions of judgments, that it is proper to represent the city as divided into three portions.

And the cities of the nations fell. In alliance with it, or under the control of the central power. As the capital fell, the dependent cities fell also. Considered as relating to Papal Rome, the meaning here is, that what may be properly called "the cities of the nations" that were allied with it would share the same fate. The cities of numerous nations" are now, and have been for ages, under the control of the Papal power, or the spiritual Babylon; and the calamity that will smite the central power as such—that is, as a spiritual power—will reach and affect them all. Let the central power at Rome be destroyed; the Papacy cease; the superstition with which Rome is regarded come to an end; the power of the priesthood in Italy be destroyed, and however widely the Roman dominion is spread now, it cannot be kept up. If it falls in Rome, there is not influence enough out of Rome to continue it in being—and in all its extended ramifications it will die, as the body dies when the head is severed; as the power of provinces ceases when ruin comes upon the capital. This the prophecy leads us to suppose will be the final destiny of the Papal power.

And great Babylon. See Barnes on "Re 14:8".

Came in remembrance before God. That is, for purposes of punishment. It had been, as it were, overlooked. It had been permitted to carry on its purposes, and to practise its abominations, unchecked, as if God did not see it Now the time had come when all that it had done was to be remembered, and when the long-suspended judgment was to fall upon it.

To give unto her the cup of the wine, etc. To punish; to destroy her. See Barnes "Re 14:10".

{e} "Every island fled" Re 6:14


Verse 21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven. Perhaps this is an allusion to one of the plagues of Egypt, Ex 9:22-26. Compare Barnes on "Re 11:19".

For a graphic description of the effects of a hail storm, see Barnes on "Isa 30:30" second edition. Compare Barnes on "Job 38:22".

Every stone about the weight of a talent. The Attic talent was equal to about 55 lbs. or 56 lbs. Troy weight; the Jewish talent to about 113 lbs. Troy. Whichever weight is adopted, it is easy to conceive what must be the horror of such a storm, and what destruction it must cause. We are not, of course, to suppose, necessarily, that this would literally occur; it is a frightful image to denote the terrible and certain destruction that would come upon Babylon; that is, upon the Papal power.

And men blasphemed God. See Barnes on "Re 16:9".

Because of the plague of the hail. Using the word plague in allusion to the plagues of Egypt.

For the plague thereof was exceeding great. The calamity was great and terrible. The design of the whole is to show that the destruction would be complete and awful.

This finishes the summary statement of the final destruction of this formidable Antichristian power. The details and the consequences of that overthrow are more fully stated in the subsequent chapters. The fulfilment of what is here stated will be found, according to the method of interpretation proposed, in the ultimate overthrow of the Papacy. The process described in this chapter is that of successive calamities that would weaken it and prepare it for its fall; then a rallying of its dying strength; and then some tremendous judgment that is compared with a storm of hail, accompanied with lightning, and thunder, and an earthquake, that would completely overthrow all that was connected with it. We are not, indeed, to suppose that this will literally occur; but the fair interpretation of prophecy leads us to suppose that that formidable power will, at no very distant period, be overthrown in a manner that would be well represented by such a fearful storm.

{a} "great whore" Re 19:2; Na 3:4

{b} "many waters" Jer 51:13

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