Jesuit/ Futurist Interpretation
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
(1) And I saw a beast coming up from the sea… “This beast is the universal company of the wicked, whose head is Antichrist: and the same is called (Apoc. 17) the whore of Babylon….Antichrist is called the ‘beast,’ to whom the dragon, that is, the Devil, giveth that power of feigned miracles….”
And all the earth was in admiration after the beast…. “They that now follow the most ignorant and grossest Heretics [Protestants] that ever lived – without seeing miracles – will then much more follow this great seducer working miracles.”
And [the beast] opened his mouth unto blasphemies toward God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and those that dwell in heaven: “No heretics are more like Antichrist than those in our day [i.e., the Protestant Reformers], especially when they blaspheme against God’s Church [the Roman Catholic Church], Sacraments [the 7 sacraments], ministers, [Roman Catholic priesthood], and all sacred things [idols, relics, Mary worship, etc.]………”
And I saw another beast coming up from the earth… “Another false prophet, inferior to Antichrist, shall work wonders also, but all referred to the honor of his master, Antichrist. So, too, does Calvin and other Arch-heretics pervert the world to the honor of Antichrist, as do their [Protestant] scholars refer honor to Calvin and the Arch-heretics.”
Let him count the number of the beast… “Though God would not have it manifest to the world beforehand just who in particular this Antichrist should be: yet it pleased Him to give such tokens of him, that when he comes the faithful may easily take notice of him, in a manner similar to that written of the events of other prophecies concerning our Savior, That when it comes to pass, you may believe, John 14:29. In the meantime, we must take heed that we judge not too rashly of God’s secrets, the Holy Writ here signifying that this name is a point of high understanding, illuminated extraordinarily by God’s Spirit, to reckon rightly and discern truly beforehand, Antichrist’s name and person.
It is the number of a man….. “A man he must be, and not a Devil or spirit, as here it is clear, and is also said in St. Paul, 2 Thess. 2, where he is called, the man of sin. Again, he must be one particular person and not a number, a succession, or whole order of any degree of men, though his proper name, and the particular number, and the characters [marks] thereof may be obscurely insinuated. The truth of a single man [fulfilling the prophecy of Antichrist] reproves the wicked vanity of Heretics who would have Christ’s own Vicars, the successors of His chief Apostle – yea, the whole order of them for many ages – to be this Antichrist. But by his description here and in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, it is said he must be one special man, and of a particular proper name, as is our Lord Jesus. And whosoever Antichrist is, these Protestants are, undoubtedly, his precursors. For not only do they prepare his way by taking away Christ’s images, cross, and name, but they promote the cause of Antichrist by taking way Christ’s chief minister [the Pope], making it all the easier for Antichrist when he comes.
“If the Pope is Antichrist, having been revealed a good many years ago, as the Protestants say, then the number of this name would agree to him and, since the prophecy is now allegedly fulfilled, it would appear evident to all that he bares the name and number. For, no doubt, when he comes, the counting of the letters or number of his name, which was previously quite hard to decipher, will now be quite easy. For he will set up his name everywhere, even as we faithful men do now advance the name of Jesus. And what name or appellation do the Protestants find which agrees with all or any one of the Popes adding up to 666? Yet they boast they have discovered Antichrist in the whole order of Popes these last thousand years, and those previously to them to be his forerunners!
“Forasmuch as the ancient expositors and others do postulate the name of Antichrist, saying it consists, in their opinion, of certain Greek letters which add up to 666, according to the manner in which the Greeks number via their letters, (though certain knowledge thereof no mortal man can have without an express revelation from God), it is plain the said number 666 may be found in divers names, both proper and common, (as St. Irenæus finds them in Latinus and Teitan; others find divers words all adding up to 666…..). Therefore, we see there can be no certainty, and everyone frames and applies the letters to his own purpose. And most absurd folly it is of the [Protestant] Heretics to apply the word, Latinus, to the Pope. For neither the whole order of the Papacy, nor any individual Pope in particular has ever been called by that name. And St. Irenæus, the first to postulate that particular word, applied to the Roman Empire and Emperor which was then Heathen, and not to the current Pope or those after him. Also, he admitted preferring the word, Teitan, as more agreeable, with this admonition: that it is a very perilous and presumptuous thing to define any certainty of that number and name beforehand. And truly whatsoever the Protestants presume herein of the Pope, we may boldly discharge Luther as that prophesied Antichrist. For he is undoubtedly one of Antichrist’s precursors, but not Antichrist himself.
(2) They should make the image of the beast…. “They [Protestants] who now refuse to worship Christ’s image, will then worship Antichrist’s image. And we may note here, that just as the making or honoring of this image was not against the honor of Antichrist, but wholly for it, and just as the image erected of Nebuchadnezzar, and the worship thereof, was altogether for the honor of him, so also is the worship of Christ’s image the honor of Christ himself, and not against him as the Protestants madly imagine.”
(3) And no man may buy or sell, but he that hath the character [i.e., ‘mark’] or the name of the beast….. “For the perverse purpose of imitating Christ, whose image (especially on the Pope’s staff or on crucifixes) the Antichrist sees honored and exalted in every Church, he will in like manner have his image adored (for that is the meaning of the term, ‘Antichrist’: one who emulates the honor owed Christ, yet is the adversary of Christ). And when Antichrist sees that all true Christian men bear the badge of his Cross in their foreheads, he likewise will force all his disciples to have his name and the letters thereof to be deemed sacred, and to be worn in men’s caps, or written in solemn places, and to be worshipped, as is the name of Jesus rightly worshipped today by Christian men, and as the ineffable name of God was among the Jews expressed by four characters [letters] called the Tetragrammaton, so it also seems that the Apostle alludes here to the number of Antichrist’s name. And here it must be noted that the Protestants, plucking down the image of Christ out of all Churches, as well as prohibiting the sign of the Cross to be placed on men’s foreheads, in addition to taking away the honor and reverence due the name of Jesus, by so doing prepare themselves for receiving Antichrist’s image, mark and name. And when Christ’s images and ensigns or arms shall be abolished, and the Idol of Antichrist set up instead, as it is beginning to already, then will be the fulfillment of the prophecy of the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel and our Savior.”
[Editor’s note: By this commentary one can easily understand the times in which the 16th century Christians lived. There were two camps of opinion in direct opposition to one another. On the one side were the Jesuits and Catholics, who viewed the Antichrist, an unknown single man yet to come, to be the head of all the Protestants, as well as other heretics. The lawful images of Christ would be imitated in an unlawful manner by the unknown Antichrist. The lawful sign of the Cross would also be imitated by the unknown Antichrist. The Pope is not the Antichrist, nor is he the False Prophet.]
1590 Jesuit Ribera Revelation Commentary:
[Pareus on Ribera, re: Rev. 13]:
(1) “The Papists [including Ribera], that the Pope might not be suspected as the Antichrist, instead feign a certain Jew begot by an evil spirit, to be born of a Jewess near the end of the world. The Jews shall acknowledge him as their Messiah, and who, in the space of 3 ½ years, shall subdue all the kingdoms of the world; yea, even the Roman Empire (yet not take on the title of ‘Emperor’); seduce the whole earth; rebuild the temple of Jerusalem, where he will sit and reign. He shall restore Rome, which had been burned by the ten kings who had thrust out the Pope from office, where he will reign and literally fulfill all things which are recorded of both Beasts in the Scriptures. This vain and fabulous opinion we have already shown to be false in chapters 9 & 11, for it was forged for the purpose of destroying the Christian world.” [Editor’s note: Ribera is silent on the specific identity of the Antichrist, the beast rising out of the sea, who is yet to come. In Rev. 14, Ribera alleges the Antichrist to have his seat in Rome, but only after the Pope is thrust out of office. Therefore, a future Pope cannot be the Antichrist, he concludes. Instead, the Antichrist will be a secular world leader, a Jew from the tribe of Dan, who will arise from the midst of the anti-papal pagan Rome of the future. ‘Christian’ Rome, seat of the Popes, will apostatize to mirror pagan Rome of the past, once the Pope is thrust out and the city burned by ten kings. However, in this he is not consistent, for later he claims the ten kings under the direction of Antichrist will destroy Rome. Ribera cites the name, Lateinos, as proof that the Antichrist is to have his seat in Rome, the capital of the ancient Roman Latin Empire.]
(2) “Ribera acknowledges that by an analogy or change of number, one image is to be understood as representing many images, though he applies it in a different sense then we Protestants do, for we believe the Holy Ghost calls the whole papal system of image worship to be that of Antichristian idolatry, i.e., the image of the Beast.” [Editor’s note: Ribera does not specify the idols which Antichrist causes to be worshipped.]
(3) “Ribera feigns that the Character [Mark] is the form of the Dragon which Antichrist commands to be worshipped. But because he sees this fiction is implausible, he theorizes that it cannot be known, for it is yet future. Yet he speculates that it will somehow secretly contain the name of Christ or the Messiah, the name in which the Antichrist most glories, by which name he shall deceive the Jews, Christians and Saracens. Ribera cites the Emperor Constantine’s example of using the Greek letters Χ Ρ [chi, rho] in his ensign, which represents the name of Christ, as a reminder that He is the deliverer of the world who expels tyrants and makes peace, which the Antichrist will also appear to do.” [Editor’s note: Pareus insinuates that Ribera did not view the mark as literally placed on the forehand or right hand as did the Jesuit Preterist Alcazar.]
1867 J. N. Darby Synopsis of the New Testament - Revelation:
(1, 2, 3) “In CHAPTER 13 we have the clear and full development of Satan’s instruments of evil. They are two — the ten-horned and the two-horned beasts. To the first, the dragon, who swept with his tail a third part of the stars to earth, Satan under the form of the Roman Empire, gave his throne and much authority. The second not only wielded the first power administratively before him, but was the active power of evil to lead men to recognize the first, and therein the dragon. The beast is the original Roman Empire, but largely modified and in a new character……..It absorbed the previous empires and represented them. The dragon, Satan’s direct power in the form of the heathen Roman Empire, gave his throne and power to this new beast. It was not of God. God owned no power on the earth now the assembly was gone, till He took His own.” [Editor’s note: Darby did not view the Beast from the sea as the Antichrist, but as a revived Roman Empire. The saints are raptured before its rise.]
“But there was a second beast; it rose not out of the mass of peoples (the sea) to be an empire, but out of the already formed organization with which God had to say as such. It had the form of Messiah’s kingdom on earth, two horns like a lamb; but it was the direct power of Satan He who with a divinely taught ear heard it speak heard the voice of Satan at once. All the power of the first beast it exercises before it, is, with its power, its minister, and makes the earth and the dwells on it worship it (that is, the Roman Empire restored to its head). It is Antichrist, the false Christ of Satan, who subjects the earth to the satanic Roman Empire. He does great wonders, so as to give men as good proof of the beast’s title before men, as Elijah did of Jehovah’s. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2, where the man of sin gives the same proofs, if lying ones, that Jesus did of being the Christ. He deceives the dwellers on earth by his miracles, making them set up an image to him. This image he gives breath to; so that it speaks and causes those to be killed who do not worship it. All likewise were obliged to take the stamp and the mark of the beast’s service in their work, or open profession, and no man was allowed to traffic who had not the name of the beast as a mark…..As regards the number of the beast, I have no doubt that it will be very simple to the godly, when the beast is there, and the time of spiritually judging it comes, and that name will practically guide those who have to do with him. Till then, the speculations of men are not of much value; Irenaeus’ old one of ‘Latin man’ is as good as any.” [Editor’s note: Darby taught the Beast from the earth is Antichrist. He does not mention the Pope as that Beast. This is a primary principle of Futurism --- the Pope is not the Antichrist. He is yet to come at the end of the world, after the Rapture of the Church, and is still unknown. Darby apparently holds the opinion that a literal breathing, speaking image will be set up for worship by the world. He views the Mark of the Beast as symbolic, signifying both service to the Beast [hand] and the open profession of servitude to him [forehead]. He does, however, grant that Irenaeus’ hypothesis of ‘Lateinos’ is as good as any, though he can’t be dogmatic about it.]
1945 Edition, Scofield 1909 Reference Bible Annotations:
(1) And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea….. “Daniel’s fourth beast, i.e., the Roman empire, the ‘iron’ kingdom of Daniel 2. The ‘ten horns’ are explained in Daniel 7:24, Rev. 17:12, to be ten kings, and the whole vision is of the last form of Gentile world-power, a confederated ten-kingdom empire covering the sphere of authority of ancient Rome. Rev. 13:1-3 refers to the ten-kingdom empire; vs. 4-10 to the emperor, who is emphatically ‘the Beast.’ This ‘Beast’ is the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7:24-26, and ‘desolator’ of Daniel 9:27; the ‘abomination of desolation’ of Matt. 24:15; the ‘man of sin’ of 2 Thess. 2:4-8; earth’s last and most awful tyrant, Satan’s fell instrument of wrath and hatred against God and the Jewish saints…To him Satan gives the power which he offered Christ.” [Editor’s note: Scofield does not consider this first Beast to be the Antichrist, a view held by some Reformers. Nor does he consider the ‘Man of Sin’ to be the Antichrist – a view which opposes ALL the Protestant Reformers. Another keynote of Futurism is that of a future revived pagan Roman Empire, a view held by Ribera, but not the Reformers.]
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads…. “[This Beast out of the earth is] Antichrist the person, to be distinguished from the ‘many antichrists’ (1 John 2:18), and the ‘spirit of antichrist,’ (1 John 4:3) which characterizes all. The supreme mark of all [antichrists] is the denial of the Christian truth of the incarnation of the Logos, the eternal Son in Jesus as the Christ, (John 1:1,14). The ‘many antichrists’ precede and prepare the way for the Antichrist, who is ‘the Beast out of the earth’ of Rev. 13:11-17, and the ‘false prophet’ of Rev. 16:13; Rev. 19:20 & 20:10. He is the last ecclesiastical head, as the Beast of Rev. 13:1-8 is the last civil head. For purposes of persecution he is permitted to exercise the autocratic power of the emperor-Beast.” [Editor’s note: Scofield teaches a single man as Antichrist who comes as an ‘ecclesiastical head’ or leader at the end of the world, after the Rapture of the Church. The ‘single man’ theory is fundamental to Futurism, as is his 3 ½ year reign of terror. Scofield does not specify the religion or denomination of this head, nor does he indict the Pope, another primary mark of Futurism. In viewing the second Beast as the Antichrist, Scofield follows Darby, while rejecting the Jesuits. Scofield is silent on the image of the Beast. He is also silent regarding a physical, visible mark of the Beast, insinuating that the followers of the Beast will deny the incarnation of the Son of God as does their master, thus revealing the spirit of Antichrist within them.
(3) Mark of the Beast = denial of the incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus as the Christ.
1984 Edition, Hal Lindsey 1973 Revelation Commentary:
(1) “Adolph Hitler was but a ‘choir boy’ when compared with the dictator that will take over the world during the Tribulation. I believe that this very man lives right now somewhere in Europe…….A biographical sketch of this man appears in this chapter. He’s called by various names throughout the Bible. Here are just a few: King of Babylon, Little Horn, Man of Sin, Son of Perdition, Antichrist, Beast (Rev. 13:1)……This Antichrist [will] be so persuasive he’ll turn the whole world against Christ and the believers and convince everyone that he has the answers to the human dilemma…..I believe that the present worldwide economic, political and social disturbances will boil over into an unmanageable mess which will culminate during the rapidly approaching Tribulation period. Then the frantic populace will race to proclaim this powerful, smooth-talking peacemaker who will head the European Economic Community as the savior of the world……The Antichrist is called a ‘beast’ because that’s what he is in the sight of God – a ruthless, unfeeling dictator. His true, ruthless nature is exposed in wide-screen horror in the latter part of the Tribulation period, even though at the beginning he appears to be the most wonderfully benevolent leader of all time…..There is no doubt in my mind that [the European Economic Community is] the forerunner of the Revived Roman Empire which the prophet Daniel spoke about with such certainty. He predicted that the number of nations in it would be limited to ten. This is the very number which the Common Market has set as its goal for inner membership!......
“That the world is moving toward a one-world government is no longer being disputed by many knowledgeable men today…..[In 1972], Dr. Saul Mendlovitz, professor of international law at Rutgers University, said that there was a strong possibility of a complete and violent breakdown of world civilization by the year 2000…..[T]he predicted world leader referred to by the Apostle John as the Beast will have a political genius that would have made him the envy of every great political giant of history….But the coming Antichrist will outperform Alexander the Great. In a matter of weeks he will take over the ten-nation European confederacy and eventually subjugate the whole world to himself…..
“During the last half of the Tribulation, God will allow Satan to give the Antichrist tremendous supernatural ability……[Antichrist] will gain this [worldwide worship] by either by performing a fantastic miracle or by simulating one which will fool the people into thinking it was real…..Once the Antichrist has the allegiance of the people, his façade of peace and prosperity evaporates. For three and one-half years he blasphemes God and His worshippers, ultimately killing a great many of the Tribulation saints….
“Despite the merciless, sweeping tyranny of the first beast, the Roman Antichrist, Satan will not be content to stop there. He’ll raise up a conspirator who is an even more ruthless tyrant because he will enslave the minds and souls of men. Basically the second Beast will be similar to the first one…..He will also have the same Satanic powers……[T]he second beast will come from the region of the Middle East, and I believe he will be a Jew…..The second Beast wields religious power, and for that reason he is also called ‘the False Prophet.’ He’ll amalgamate all religious systems into one counterfeit one. His two horns are like a lamb, showing that this personage will try to imitate the real Lamb, Jesus Christ……Millions of people will fall for his deception and the movement toward a Gentile and Jewish messiah. Already the World Council of Churches is hard at work merging various religions and denominations together…..
“The increase in demonic miracles is just another sign of the approach of the Rapture and Tribulation. People have been anticipating the Rapture for so many years that its hard to believe we could actually be the generation that witnesses it….”
(2) “In verse 15 the False Prophet gives life to the image of the first Beast, the Roman Antichrist. Then he forces people to worship the image under the penalty of death! Where do you suppose the image will be erected? Right in the middle of the reconstructed Temple! This desecration is what Daniel meant when he predicted ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel 9:27 and 12:11.”
(3) “The False Prophet will perfect a way to expose everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, All Beast-worshippers will be compelled to receive a distinguishing mark (perhaps a tattoo visible only under ultraviolet light) on their right hand or their forehead. Everyone who refuses the mark will be cut off from economic survival…….The number of the Roman Beast is 666. Down through the years Bible expositors have tried to figure out exactly what this means, but its really no big mystery. Since the number 6 in the Bible stands for humanity, I believe the meaning of 666 is man trying to imitate the trinity of God (three sixes in one person)….”
[Editor’s note: Lindsey has perfected modern-day Futurism by making the following points, many similar to Darby and Scofield:
(1) The first Beast is the Antichrist, a ruthless Roman world leader who arises from the European Economic Community, after the Church is raptured.
(2) The second Beast is the False Prophet, a Jew, feigning to be the Messiah.
(3) The Antichrist makes peace for 3 ½ years, creating a one-world government. He then turns into a Beast, does miracles, demanding worship as God, killing millions who refuse.
(4) The False Prophet creates a one-world religion. His miracles are literal, performed by the power of Satan.
(5) The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
(6) The image of the Beast is an idol placed in the rebuilt Temple. This is the ‘abomination of desolation.’
(7) The Mark of the Beast may be literal, though probably invisible to the naked eye.
(8) The soon-coming of the world’s end, most likely in Lindsey’s generation.
(9) The Greek word, ‘Lateinos’ – ‘Latin man’ – is not the solution to 666.
(10) The Pope is not the Antichrist. Nor is the Pope the False Prophet.
(11) The Antichrist’s identity is still hidden to all.
1982 Jack Van Impe Revelation Commentary:
(1) “Chapter 13 introduces us to two beasts. The first one, commonly known as the Antichrist, is unveiled in verses 1 through 10, while the second beast, known as the false prophet, is revealed in verses 11 through 18. The first beast is political; the second is religious……The first beast (the Antichrist) is a literal man, but demon-possessed……Could the present European Union be a part of this picture? I believe it could be! Oh, Jesus is coming soon!.....
“The wounding of the beast is mentioned three times in this chapter – verse 3, 12, 14. The wound produces death, but restoration to life follows……A third possible [interpretation] would be that the Antichrist is assassinated or killed midway through the Tribulation hour. Such an event would give the great counterfeiter, Satan, the opportunity to perform a resurrection. This would prove invaluable to the prestige of the Antichrist, since the deity of the Lord Jesus was affirmed by His resurrection 2,000 years before. Remember that the Antichrist proclaims himself God and even sits in the Temple in Jerusalem during the Tribulation (see 2 Thess. 2:4 and Matt. 24:15). Thus, a counterfeit resurrection would assure the world that he is all he claims to be. I personally believe this to be the correct solution, because when it happens, all the world wonders after him. Mankind is literally overwhelmed by the Antichrist’s power and authority. Another reason that verse 3 may speak of an actual resurrection is that millions who previously would not believe in the Antichrist now begin to worship him – and Satan.
“In the second half of this chapter, we will see that the false prophet or religious leader of the Tribulation period actually enforces the worship of the Antichrist!......Think of the insult to the Eternal One when the Antichrist says, ‘I am God,’ and teeming millions bow to him, to Satan, and to the false prophet, and to the image – the abomination of desolation – erected in his honor……
“Now here is a thought-provoking theory: during the first forty-two months of the Tribulation, the Antichrist acts under the influence of Satan. However, after Satan is cast out of heaven (in chapter 12) and comes to earth, he may actually incarnate himself in the dead body of the Antichrist who had the wound by the sword, and did live (chapter 14). Thus, the beast is raised from the dead by the counterfeiter (Satan), who dwells in that body for the final forty-two months, claiming deity…..
“The fight is on for the saints of the Tribulation hour. Remember, this is not the Church……..During this time, the Antichrist controls the entire world. He is an international despot exercising power over all kindreds, tongues and nations. Such a one-world government is almost upon us…..Presently we may be witnessing mankind’s final approach to the much-publicized New World Order, or one world government, of the Antichrist…….Is the Tribulation hour approaching? Will a demon-possessed or devil-incarnate human claim deity and be accepted as world leader and be worshipped as God? I believe so….
“[A]s head of the world church, the false prophet sees to it that the Antichrist – who was wounded and resurrected – is worshipped…This second beast is one of the greatest miracles workers in history. These great wonders are called lying wonders in 2 Thess. 2:9. They are not magical, ‘sleight of hand’ manipulations, but the result of supernatural power from the dragon that enables these men to even produce fire….The sole purpose of all these miracles is to prepare the people for idolatry. The false prophet actually entices mankind to build the greatest statue in history in the very image of the Antichrist. This monstrosity will be erected in Jerusalem and will be placed in the Jewish Temple. Such a blasphemous act is against the Jewish conscience and is forbidden by the second commandment. This is why the image is such an obnoxious, hateful, and abominable thing and is labeled the abomination of desolation by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matt. 24:15.”
(2) “Since the image is able to speak, it might well be the ultimate achievement of our present-day computer systems, already capable of conducting intelligent conversations…..Personally, I believe that the Antichrist will enslave and control earth’s four billion inhabitants through such an all-knowing, monstrous computer. Such a system is absolutely essential to his having all the facts on every member of the human race at his fingertips. As a result, he will, with unerring precision, be able to know who receives his orders, obeys his commands, and honors his laws…..The Antichrist will most certainly use such a computer – and it will be fashioned in his own image.”
(3) “As we have seen, the Antichrist will undoubtedly use a computer to enslave earth’s population during the Tribulation hour. Also we discover that he will effect and maintain control through commerce – the buying and selling of products. In order to make his plan operable, the Antichrist will also introduce an international identification system in the form of a mark (possibly a laser tattoo) placed in the right hand or forehead of every individual participant. Without this mark, no man – no man – will be permitted to purchase or sell even the smallest item of merchandise.
“According to verses 17 and 18, this identification mark will be – or will include as a prefix – the digits ‘666.’……
“With specific reference to verse 18, one should be aware of the fact that there have always been, and always will be, individuals who claim to know the identity of the Antichrist. They take the number ‘666’ and, through all kinds of mathematical formulations, attempt to come to a conclusion. Their efforts, however, can amount to no more than mere speculation because we cannot know who the Antichrist is until he arrives on the scene, and he cannot arrive on the scene until the Church is raptured…..
“The reign of the Antichrist is upon the horizon. This new Hitler, with a monstrous computer which will enslave millions, may soon control the earth.”
[Editor’s note: Van Impe missed his calling in Hollywood. His vain, preposterous imaginings far outshine Lindsey’s, making Lindsey an ultra-conservative in comparison. The main points of Van Impe’s exegesis, following Lindsey point by point, are as follow:
(1) The first Beast is the Antichrist, a ruthless world leader who arises from the European Economic Community, after the Church is raptured. Van Impe adopts the Adolph Hitler model used by Lindsey.
(2) The second Beast is the False Prophet, though not specified as a Jew.
(3) The Antichrist makes peace for 3 ½ years, creating a one-world government. (Van Impe introduces the term, ‘New World Order,’ a current popular catch phrase among Futurists.) The Antichrist then turns into a Beast, miraculously resurrecting from the dead as Satan incarnate, demanding worship as God, killing millions who refuse.
(4) The False Prophet creates a one-world religion. His miracles are literal, performed by the power of Satan.
(5) The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
(6) The image of the Beast is an idol placed in the rebuilt Temple. This is the ‘abomination of desolation.’
(7) The Mark of the Beast is literal. Like Lindsey, he suggest a tattoo. The ID will include the prefix 666.
(8) The soon-coming of the world’s end, most likely in Van Impe’s generation.
(9) The Greek word, ‘Lateinos’ – ‘Latin man’ – is not the solution to 666.
(10) The Pope is not the Antichrist. Nor is the Pope the False Prophet.
(11) The Antichrist’s identity is still hidden to all.
1999 Tim LaHaye Revelation Commentary:
(1) “One of the most frequently asked questions about the Antichrist concerns his nationality. Rev. 13:1 indicates that he ‘saw a beast coming out of the sea,’ meaning the sea of peoples around the Mediterranean. From this we gather that he will be a Gentile….[LaHaye then cites several scriptures from Daniel]….Taken in context, this suggests he will be a Jew. In all probability the Antichrist will appear to be a Gentile and, like Adolph Hitler and others who feared to reveal Jewish blood, will keep his Jewish ancestry a secret. It may be known only to God, but the Bible teaches that he will be a Roman-Grecian Jew……1. His Rise to Power: As already seen in Rev. 6:2, the Antichrist will come on the scene in the ‘latter times’ and assume power by stealth of diplomacy. He will not gain control by war but by tricking the leaders of the world into the idea that he can offer peace and by gaining enough support from each of the ten kings of the earth. Eventually he will end up controlling all of them……2. His One-World Government: ……… That we have already entered into a day when humanity’s political concept of government is one world in scope can scarcely be doubted…….3. The Antichrist Will Dominate World Economy: …….It is inconceivable that a one-world government be established without an interrelated one-world economy. Such an economy has been suggested in the European Common Market, which is scheduled to go into effect on the eve of the next millennium. 4. The Antichrist’s Atheistic Religion……This evil personage will be a master of deceit even in the religious realm (2 Thess. 2:4). According to Rev. 17 the Antichrist will give tacit approval to the ecumenical world church, which after the Rapture merges all the religions of the world…….Antichrist’s true religion will be atheism……5. His Covenant With Israel: Daniel 9:27 indicates that the Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel for seven years, which, as we have already seen, will be broken in the middle of the Tribulation when it suits his purposes…….6. His Death and Resurrection: As already seen, Antichrist will die and be resurrected…….the Antichrist will die in the middle of the Tribulation. Since we have already seen that Satan will be cast out of heaven, aware that his time is short, he will indwell the Antichrist and duplicate the resurrection…..From that point on, indwelt by Satan himself, Antichrist will have power to perform ‘counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9-12) and can potentially deceive ‘those who are perishing.’ He will have absolute authority by virtue of his supernatural powers and the submission of kings of the earth to his control and dominance. It is then that he will unleash his attack on the nation of Israel. It will be the greatest anti-Semitic movement the world has ever known. He will seek to put to death all those who do not bear his mark or bow down and worship him as God.”
…..[T]he two beasts…the first is the governmental leader, called the Antichrist, who will set himself up as God; the second is his religious leader, who will incite men to worship Antichrist……he will be a Jew. This points to an apostate Jew who, during the first 3 ½ years, will lead Israel to make a covenant with Antichrist and deceive them by hiding his apostasy until the middle of the Tribulation period……The False Prophet will come to Israel in sheep’s clothing, but God terms him ‘a beast.’…..The False Prophet, then, will deceive human beings by acting like a lamb; but really he will speak the words of Satan…….
“….[T]he False Prophet will be equipped by Satan and the Antichrist with authority and power to do such supernatural miraculous signs as to ‘deceive the inhabitants of the earth.’…..[T]he False Prophet will be able to call down fire from heaven……”
(2) “The False Prophet will cause an image of the Antichrist to be built and will have power to ‘give breath to the image of the first beast.’ In the midst of the Tribulation, after the Antichrist has been slain and resurrected, the False Prophet will cause people to build an image like Nebuchadnezzar’s image and will demand that it be worshipped. By some mysterious means unknown in the previous history of the world, he will give life to that image……He will issue an order that all who do not worship him will be killed. Rev. 20:4 tells us that many will be slain by the guillotine……Both the fifth seal and Rev. 20:4 indicate that a martyrdom of true believers will exceed even that of the Dark Ages, when the Roman Catholic Church persecuted those who held to a personal faith in Jesus Christ.”
(3) “What is the mark of the beast?....The plain sense of Scripture tells us that it comprises the numbers: six, six, six. Perhaps some of the most fanatical suggestions for prophetic interpretation revolve around the meaning of this number. Some have by mathematical computations come to the conclusion that Adolph Hitler, Mussolini, and many others equaled 666. It is dangerous to make such suggestions. We only know that 6 is the number of a human being….created on the sixth day……The text does indicate that it somehow will mathematically speak the name of Antichrist. Since so many mistake shave been made in this regard, we ought not offer any further suggestions. Since the number will not be revealed until the middle of the Tribulation period and the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation, it seems more than likely that we will not be given a hint as to the full meaning or even the name of the Antichrist.”
[Editor’s note: In this chapter LaHaye adds upon the previous Futurist writers. The Antichrist makes a covenant with the Jews, he says, only to break it in the midst of the 7 year Tribulation period. Also, he views Rev. 20:4 literally, alleging the millions of martyrs under Antichrist’s rule will die by means of the guillotine. LaHaye is the exception to the rule in one respect: He does name the Roman Catholic Church as the persecutors of innocents during the Dark Ages. Otherwise, his key points follow Lindsey, Van Impe, Scofield, Darby and the Jesuits:
(1) The first Beast is the Antichrist, a ruthless world leader who arises from the European Economic Community, after the Church is raptured. LaHaye adopts the Adolph Hitler model used by both Lindsey and Van Impe.
(2) The second Beast is the False Prophet, a Jew.
(3) The Antichrist makes peace for 3 ½ years, creating a one-world government. The Antichrist then turns into a Beast, miraculously resurrecting from the dead as Satan incarnate, having supernatural powers, demanding worship as God, killing millions who refuse. His hatred is especially aimed at the Jews.
(4) The False Prophet creates a one-world religion. His miracles are literal, performed by the power of Satan.
(6) The image of the Beast is an idol made in the literal image of the Antichrist. It will literally come to life.
(7) The Mark of the Beast is a mystery too deep to understand. It cannot be known until after the Rapture of the Church and the revealing of Antichrist as the Beast.
(8) The soon-coming of the world’s end, most likely in LaHaye’s generation.
(9) The Greek word, ‘Lateinos’ – ‘Latin man’ – is not the solution to 666.
(10) The Pope is not the Antichrist. Nor is the Pope the False Prophet.
(11) The Antichrist’s identity is still hidden to all.
Protestant Reformed Historicist Interpretation
1618 Thomas Cartwright, A Confutation of the Rhemists….:
(1) And I saw a beast coming up from the sea… Besides the Jesuits’ continued wandering from the truth for the purpose of turning men’s eyes from Rome and the Pope, there is an apparent spirit of slumber upon them as they expound their interpretations, whereby they pitifully hew and cut down their own arguments, as well as their Client, whom they protect, the Pope of Rome. Mark their flagrant inconsistency when using their main argument that the title, Man of Sin, necessitates the Antichrist being but one, particular, singular person, and not a number of men successively taking one another’s place in the same office, as we Protestants argue. For now, just like hunger-starved men who eat the flesh off their own arms, they are content, under the name of a beast, to understand the universal company of the wicked, together with Antichrist, their head. And if these words, a beast, which means nothing else but a beastly man, now have (in their judgment) a collective and compounded meaning, so that many thousands of particular men may at once be found in him, why then should not the words, a man of sin, or the man of sin admit a similar interpretation, wherein one lawless man enters when another departs, as do a reasonable number of unreasonable Popes, whose Papacy answers to the Apostolic seat of Antichrist?......”
And all the earth was in admiration after the beast… “We, who, by the grace of God, have not been carried away with the very Antichrist himself shall much less be moved by this painted [counterfeit] Antichrist whom the Jesuits portray, using colors [distinguishing traits] which emanate from the imagination of their own fanatical heads. And why should the Jesuits think that we [Protestants] will be so easily transported by the Miracles of their [future] counterfeit Seducer, seeing they have had sufficient experiential knowledge that we [Protestants] have consistently refused to move one inch from the plain truth of the Word of God by all the miracles which the Jesuits, the false prophets of Antichrist, work; or at least appear to work in the sight of, and at the behest of, their Pope.”
And [the beast] opened his mouth unto blasphemies toward God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and those that dwell in heaven: “Your saints, whom the Jesuits’ uncanonical Pope canonizes, such as St. Francis and Thomas Becket, as well as their Sacraments, which either their brain hath invented or their presumptuous spirit hath deformed or defiled, we worthily condemn. But to the true saints and Sacraments we give the honor which is due, whom the Jesuits, notwithstanding, blaspheme by making idols of them. Therein they follow their Fathers, the Pharisees, who ever honored the departed holy Prophets, whose doctrine they despised, and whom they persecuted while alive.”
And I saw another beast coming up from the earth… “This beast which is in shape likened to a lamb, but yet is revealed to have the spirit of the dragon by his voice, which is his doctrine, is the Popish Clergy, especially the Monks and begging friars. Though to ignorant idiots in their outward behavior they appear to come in sheep’s clothing, yet by their fruits, especially their doctrines, they are known to be the false prophet here spoken of, who labor for the support and underlying foundation of Antichrist, and that not by false doctrine only, but also by false miracles. These so-called miracles are false for two reasons: First, false in regard to the end for which they are wrought; and second, false for the most part in respect to the treacherous deceptions and magician tricks wherewith they beguile the ignorant and naïve. And as this distinguishing trait of the false prophet agrees most fitly with the Popish Clergy, who profess the working of Miracles to prove their God-ordained doctrine, it cannot be used against Calvin and other Protestants as proof they are the false prophet of Revelation because they neither claim nor work Miracles. Furthermore, the body of this false prophet with his many members is that which is described beforehand as Locusts rising out of the smoke of the bottomless pit, who like horses, are always ready to move into battle against the Saints upon earth. These Locusts have, as it were, crowns of gold on their heads, that is, a princely authority, whereof their shaven crowns are representative signs and tokens; who appear wise, able to change their persona when needed, yet always with the foul manners like unto the faces of men; whose hair is like to that of women signifying their filthy lifestyle, and uncleanness of all sorts…..whose need for spoiling and devouring the most pleasant ground in whatever country they dwell is compared to that of the teeth of a lion. And not withstanding that for their manifold crimes they are worthy of death, yet they have such privileges, such Sanctuaries, such exemptions, and other Clergy benefits, that by them, as if by iron breastplates, they have protection against prosecution and execution which other non-clergy criminals must face. And although the Clergy has a man’s face, yet their vocal roarings in their Temples are either without understanding in what they sing or say, or else without any reason, that it may be compared with the confused noise of the fluttering of wings, or to the rattling of chariots down the hill, rather than to a man ruled by good discretion.
“Last of all, the Apostle John declares, that their doctrine is like that of scorpion tails wherewith they sting to death the souls of those stricken by them. Here also the Reader may note that just as by the singular term, ‘false prophet,’ is not meant one particular and singular man, but many and sundry false Teachers; likewise the same is true concerning Antichrist, to whom the false Prophet is subordained. For by the singular term, ‘Antichrist,’ is not meant one singular man, but a continued succession of the heads and Generals of the Apostasy which shall be in the latter end of the world. Common sense alone dictates the unlikelihood of one, lone false Prophet seducing almost all the world, especially when opposing him (in the Jesuits’ judgment) shall arise two of the most excellent Prophets that ever existed, Elijah and Enoch, furnished with such outstanding gifts of knowledge and working of miracles, that the false Prophet of Antichrist shall stand no possible chance of success, a bramble against two Cedar trees.
“And besides all these points refuting the forgers of this Jesuit tale of Antichrist, there is the fact that they have the impossible task of assembling their story in a coherent fashion, one which fits and makes sense; for now they have assembled a monstrosity consisting of a lion’s head and asses tail. They also conveniently forget the biblical truth that the number of the wicked is always greater than the godly. In like manner, the number of their false Prophets is greater than the number of true Prophets. This is why the Holy Spirit revealed the false Prophets to John in the form of swarms of Locusts, bred of the smoke of ignorance and error, who came forth from the furnace of Hell’s pit.”
(2) …..the image of the beast…. “Mark, good Reader, to what extremes the Jesuits are driven in defense of their Idolatry that it digs out such a filthy excuse as this for sustenance. For what true honor ever came to Antichrist or to Nebuchadnezzar because of their images which they are said to have erected? Nay, are they not instead shameful and ignominious to all posterities for having made their Images to be worshipped? If, therefore, this example of Antichrist proves the doctrine of honoring Images, as the Jesuits claim, then it is honor turned into shame. But if we grant that it is to the honor of a Prince to have his Image bowed down to, men kneeling in obeisance, yet how long will the Jesuits be ignorant of this: that that very thing which may be commendable in the honor and service done to men, may be an abomination in God’s service; and that the Lord has expressly forbidden that a man should worship Him as it seems good in his own eyes.
“And how leaden-headed are they who, in their exegesis, understand that Antichrist shall make his literal Image or counterfeit to be worshipped, is self-evident in the next verse where it is said that the Image had spirit and life given it. Stocks and Images have none of these things, nor can they ever have them. Therefore, by the phrase, Image of the beast, is meant the Pope, whose whole power and government is so ordered and disposed of that it takes the form of the [first] beast (which is the Roman Empire)….And therefore, this second beast is said to cause the first beast to be honored of all: the Roman Empire and the Papacy making up one body politic of the first beast, even as it is an ordinary occurrence to call that which is but a representation of a man by that man’s name. And thus, having said in verse 12 that this beast, which has two horns like a lamb, makes the earth and its inhabitants to worship before the first beast, whose deadly stroke was healed, the Apostle John declares in verse 14 how that was done; namely, in procuring the inhabitants of the earth make an Image like unto the Empire of Rome, that while living and continuing to exist might still be honored. And wheresoever we turn our eyes in comparing the two beasts, whether to Religion or Government, it shall appear that the reflection in the water answers most perfectly to the Roman persecuting Empire revived in the Antichristian state of the Pope, ever since the time of Boniface [the 8th] Regarding Religion, the one is as detestable and in filthy Idolatry as was the other; the only difference being what the Apostles foretold: that the former was to be openly hostile to the Lord and His anointed, the Antichrist’s hostility would be covert, under a hypocritical pretence of serving God, and Jesus Christ, whom He had sent. The former wore no face mask by which he could disguise his hatred of God and His Christ, while the latter shall be mystically disguised by a show of love for both. In respect to Government also, milk is not more like milk than they are to one another. First, just as in the Roman Empire one man ruled absolutely, so likewise in its Image, the Papal Kingdom. Second, just as the Roman Empire took authority over matters both Divine and Human, so too, the Pope challenges and usurps both the Ecclesiastical and Secular swords. Third, just as many of the Roman Emperors, out of the pride dwelling in their heart, took upon themselves divine honors, so too, the Pope professes he is able to forgive sins and to cast into Hell infinite souls, etc., and may not be questioned why he does what he does. Fourth, just as some of the Roman Emperors, such as Diocletian, offered their feet to be kissed by their subjects, so too, the Pope offers his feet to be kissed, even of Emperors. Fifth, just as the Emperors had their Senate in Rome, so too, does the Pope have his Council of Cardinals set up in Rome. Sixth, just as the Emperors had their deputies set over every Province to keep them under obedience to the Empire, so too, does the Pope set his Metropolitans over Provinces, and Bishops over dioceses, who hold the Pope’s bridle in the mouths of the people, that being ridden with such a ill-bred bit, they may be the more easily enslaved and in servitude under his iron yoke of tyranny.
“Seventh, this Image and reflection also reaches itself to the Senate; for the Pope’s see is located where the Emperor himself was enthroned. Eighth, the Pope shares the same language, Latin, with that of the Emperors and Roman Empire, whose goal it was to convert all Provinces under their jurisdiction to Latin-speaking Provinces. And had it not been for the fulfilling of the prophecy in these verses, there would be no good reason why the Papacy should pass by the Hebrew and Greek tongues, embracing Latin instead. For it had no more privilege than any of the other barbarous tongues. Surely, had they embraced either the Hebrew or Greek language, they would have kept that most important aspect found in using any unfamiliar language, i.e., that of keeping the people in perpetual ignorance, that they might neither hate the evil nor like that which is good.
“Lastly, let the Reader note that in defense of Images, the Jesuits themselves become Images and shadows of men. For how grossly and palpably they err, when they esteem Nebuchadnezzar for setting up his own Image to be worshipped, for the express purpose that in honoring his Image men honor him…. Wherefore it is evident that Nebuchadnezzar made the Image of his God, not of himself. And therefore, he charged the three young men, not because they refused to honor him, but because they refused to honor his God in the Image he had erected. The young men did not deny giving the King due honor and service, rather they refused to honor His God or the Image of his God. And because he made the Image six cubits high, and as many cubits broad, had he intended that Image to represent him, he was mistaken in making it into the representation of a monster, a thing of reviling, without commendation, much less deserving of admiration among his subjects.”
(3) The Character [mark] or the name of the beast…. “Behold again the perverseness of the Popish teachers. In other books of Scripture where the plain and simple language calls a ‘spade’ a ‘spade,’ their tongues and pens itch after Allegories and diffused expositions. But in this book of Revelation, which is almost entirely allegorical, they will, as it were, tie the Holy Ghost to the stake of His words: for who can be so ignorant not to know that by a ‘Mark’ or ‘Character’ in the right hand or forehead is meant an open acknowledgment and profession of the doctrine of Antichrist, whereby the servants of Antichrist betray the identity of their master, just as the owners of sheep and cattle are known by their animals’ literal brands. And it is a figure of speech borrowed from the Prophet, who teaches that all the faithful had, as it were, a mark on their forehead, who being known to the Lord, would, by a secret providence, cause the Destroyer to pass by them without hurt, as if the enemy himself, The Revenger, was able to read something in their foreheads which serve as a warning to him not ever to touch them. The difference between the two marks spoken of in Rev. 7 and Rev. 13 is such that the Elect marked by God are known only to Him, while those marked by the Antichrist are known by men. But whether it be by vocal profession, or of some other mark in the head or hand, left or right, cannot be precisely determined in this passage. The Roman Priests and Clergy carry the Mark of the Beast in their crowns, and even the very sign of the Cross, under which covering they would gladly shroud their Pope, that he would not be discovered to be the Antichrist. And since, according to the Jesuits, the Pope is not an open and professed enemy of Christ, as were the Emperors of Rome, (whose Image he is, a counterfeit who hypocritically professes Christ), by what other means could it be possible to sneak upon and surprise true Christians then by that badge of false profession whereby in exalting the Cross of Christ he claims not to be ashamed of Christ’s crucifixion carried out by the Infidels who proudly and despitefully rejected Him? It is a well known strategy for the enemy to spread out the banner and ensigns of the other. Therefore, as men in war deceptively change ensigns, yet the fight still continues, in like manner do we see the shameful abuse of the Cross, (which may, on occasion, be borne by true Professors of Christ), using the same liberty in laying it down as they did in taking it up.”
Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding let him count the number of the beast….. “It was not possible that the Antichrist, the specific person, could be manifest beforehand to the world by God because the Antichrist is not limited to one particular person, as has already been proved. However, the Holy Ghost uses all other means that men might know evidently beforehand, to the end that when he should come, none of God’s people will be deceived by him. And if he were to be a singular or particular man, as the Jesuits dream him to be, why then, to be consistent, do they not dream that the Lord would have marked him out by name, as He did Josiah and Cyrus, whom He called out by name long before they were born, (1 Kings 13:2; Isaiah 45:1)? Especially so, since the revelation of Antichrist is much clearer in the New Testament than the Old, and is of greater concern to the Church than to Israel. Therefore, the fact that only general names, such as ‘Destroyer,’ etc., are used to describe Antichrist argues that he is no singular man, but a body politic, consisting of many members succeeding one another. As for John 14:29, it no proof that the Lord would not name a specific person if the Antichrist were a specific person, but rather it proves the contrary. For our Savior Christ doth tell the disciples specifically of things which must take place regarding His death and resurrection, to the end that when they were executed they might be known to be that which He foretold.”
It is the number of a man…. As an Ancient writer (St. Jerome) truly said, that it does not belong to one and the same man to be both a wine taster and a discerner of the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, may be much more truly said of these Mass-merchants, that it is not one man’s work to both sing Mass and to expound the Scriptures. Therefore, let the Reader mark what a dissolute cause this is which the Jesuits allege here, attempting to prove the Antichrist to be one specific individual, when the Prophet had no intention of setting forth any specific name of Antichrist. Although it is true the Antichrist is a man and not a devil, yet the supposition of a single man is not proved in this verse. Rather, the Prophet speaks of mankind, in general, whetting the appetite of the reader to search out the mystery of Antichrist, for the number which publicly denounces him is none other than that which falls within the compass and reach of the speech pattern and mental capacity of men. And St. John took this figure of speech from the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 8:1, who calls it the style or writing of a man, which any man may well read and understand. Likewise, the Apostle Paul calls it a temptation after the manner of men, 1 Cor. 10:13, which interpreted means nothing other than that which a man, through the strength of God’s assistance, is able to overcome…….”
[Editor’s note: In Cartwright’s view, the Beast from the sea is the revived Roman Empire with the Pope as its new head. The Papacy is Antichrist, a succession of men who occupy the same office, one man at a time. He is definitely not one, single man who arises at the end of the world. The Beast from the earth, the false prophet, consists of the Jesuits and other Roman Catholic clergy who, in absolute obedience, glorify the Pope by promoting his false doctrine. The Pope is the Image of the Beast, the old Roman Empire revived under a new Emperor, the Bishop of Rome. The Image of the Beast is not a literal Idol as the Jesuits declare because stocks and stones cannot receive the breath of life. The Mark of the Beast is public profession of obedience to the Pope, the false Christian, of which the sign of the Cross of Christ is one. Cartwright preferred not to be dogmatic as to the name of the Beast which adds up to 666, letting others speculate instead.]
1573 William Fulke Revelation Commentary:
(1) “In Chapter 12, the Apostle showed us the chief enemy of the Church, the Devil. Now he shows us what instruments the Devil would use in opposing the salvation of God’s people, verily even the Roman Empire that is Antichrist, and his most cruel ministers.”
And I saw a beast rise out of the sea…. “Antichrist is compared to a most cruel beast because he persecutes the Church without all reason, nor any sense or feelings of humanity. Moreover, he is called θεριον – ‘therion’ – that is, a certain wild and cruel beast. For among brute beasts, though they may lack reason, some are gentle and do not hurt humans, whereas Antichrist is a wild beast who cannot be tamed, void of any gentle nature. For it is not unlike the hungry wild beast who rages upon the pray offered him that the Antichrist rages upon the Church. But he was also said to ascend out of the sea, that at the very beginning of his existence it might be shown what would be his rule and dominion: that is, troublesome, tempestuous, many and inconstant. And histories do testify how, out of great waves of battle and tumults, the Roman Empire hath risen.”
Having seven heads and ten horns…. “By the number of heads and horns this monster betrays himself of what father he was begotten: verily of the great Dragon, whose nature he resembles. For although the Monarchy of the Romans was ordained by God, even as all power is of God, yet in as much as it abounded in frauds, tyranny, cruelty and lust and that it persecuted the Church of Christ, it was of the devil, but principally when all the power thereof was translated to the Pope, who is chiefly figured under this beast. Without all doubt he is to be acknowledged as the true natural son of Satan……And he bears in his heads the names of blasphemy when he calls himself the head of the universal Church. For although in his decrees and other writings approved by him horrible blasphemies may be found, in which he is called neither God nor man, but as it were, a neuter between both, sometimes he is called Christ, sometimes Our Lord God, and sometimes God above all gods, yet he bears that name openly in his head, to be seen of all men, whereby he boasts himself to be Christ’s Vicar, as though Christ were absent, and posits to himself alone the knowledge of all causes, boasting he can err in nothing. Similar blasphemies have been uttered by his predecessors, Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Diocletian, when they demanded that they be worshipped as Gods, and that temples should be built and altars consecrated to their godhead. But none more impudently than the Roman Bishops, for all men back then did mark and deride the folly and madness of the Emperors, although at the same time extending to them filthy flattery, yet today almost all men sincerely acknowledge the divinity of the Pope, asking things of him which are the sole authority of God alone to grant, as remission of sins, and other such things.”
And the Dragon gave him his power and throne and great authority….. “Antichrist receives not only the power to hurt and persecute from the Devil, but he also occupies the Devil’s seat on earth, so that the power of Satan is manifest to be seen in no greater example than that which is in his Vicar, Antichrist. And this is that seat and authority of Antichrist, the See of the Pope, of whose authority they boast so much, that is to say, the throne of the Devil and power received from his hand….”
And there was given him a great mouth speaking great things and blasphemies….. “…..Here we may note that Antichrist rattles out nothing but great things and blasphemies. For whatsoever they boast is magnificent concerning the dignity of the Pope, his authority, his keys, swords and other prerogatives of his, is mere blasphemy, by which he challenges the position and office of Christ over the Church; yea, even the entire Papal doctrine, the Sacrifice of the Mass, Purgatory, Satisfactions, works of supererogation, and other similar monstrosities, contain infinite blasphemies…”
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme his name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven..… “…….Antichrist blasphemeth the tabernacle of God, that is, the Church, in which God dwells by His Spirit, when he categorizes it as nothing else but a conspiracy of heretics and schismatics. We may understand Antichrist’s blaspheming those who dwell in heaven two ways: either for the true members of the Church on earth, who he reproachfully calls Lutherans or Zwinglians, etc., or else regarding the saints now triumphing in heaven whom he slanders in divers ways. For example, when he brags they were patrons of his wickedness, or else when he falsely condemns their doctrine for error, or when he erects temples to them, as well as various Images, or when he decrees holy days in their honor, or fashioning Idols of the Saints that they may be worshipped.”
And I beheld another beast coming out of the earth….. “What follows now is a description of the other beast who confirms the former beast, so that we may know what instruments Antichrist uses to establish his kingdom. For just as the dragon with seven heads has for his vicar a beast with seven heads, so, too, does the beast with seven heads have this beast with two horns. The Apostle does not describe the shape or form taken by this beast, although it is certain he, too, is a monster because he was born out of the earth, that is to say, of a most base and obscure beginning that he might establish the kingdom of Antichrist.”
Which had two horns like a Lamb….. “This beast’s two horns are what him the appearance of a Lamb, for the rest of his body is deformed, uttering the nature of a wild beast. But some Protestant expositors gather by these horns that the Pope is shadowed by this beast, who takes to himself the power of the kingdom and priesthood. Though this is a possible interpretation, I do not see how all the prophecies can rightly fit this particular exposition which afterward are often repeated of both beasts. Therefore, in my personal judgment, others do rightly interpret this beast as the Popish Clergy who endeavor with all their strength to maintain the dignity and office of their Pope. These will somewhat resemble Christ, either when they boast themselves to be His servants, or else when they take to themselves secular and priestly authority. I speak of the chief Prelates, the Cardinals, the Archbishops and Bishops, etc., who usurp both a kingly and pontifical dignity.”
And he spake like the Dragon…. “Although by the number of horns he seems to have an outward show and likeness of Christ, yet by his voice he betrays himself to be a preacher of the Dragon, and not of Christ. For if we were to examine the doctrine of this beast (who later is called the False Prophet) according to the most certain rule of God’s Word, we will find it to be devilish, and most contrary to God’s truth. Without being tedious citing numerous examples of this in Scripture, I will limit myself to one example: 1 Timothy 4, where St. Paul calls the forbidding of marriage and meats, the ‘doctrine of devils.’ This alone is sufficient proof that the False Prophet who teaches these things to which the Pope subscribes is the self-same one described here in Rev. 13:11ff. [And thus, the Pope is the Antichrist, the first beast.]”
And he causes the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast……. “The Popish clergy labor tooth and nail that everyone everywhere acknowledge the authority of the Bishop of Rome, and that all may require at his hands alone Indulgences, Dispensations, Empires and Kingdoms, giving homage to him……”
And doth great wonders so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men….. “St. Paul foretold that coming of Antichrist would be in lying wonders [2 Thess. 2:9]. Because Christ also prophesied that there should come false prophets, which with working monstrous miracles should deceive many [Matt. 24:4, 24], insomuch the even the very elect, if it were possible, being seduced, should be drawn into their destruction. And here the false prophets, as it were apish imitators of Elijah, cause fire to descend from heaven to earth, in the sight of men, all of which are either pretended to be performed, or actually performed by the crafty conveyance of Satanic magicians, bewitching the eyes of men, they boast of their false miracles, of which kind the histories of the Saints are full………But we are often admonished in the Scriptures to take heed of signs, miracles and wonders wrought by false prophets, not allowing ourselves to be led astray from the truth of God’s Word by any works, although they be never so wonderful, and though Angels themselves deliver the doctrine, Gal. 1. It has always been the manner of the false prophets to call and provoke men to abandon the Word of God for miracles instead. And in this the Papists are constantly accusing us of not proving our doctrine through the manifestation of miracles, as though the doctrine which we profess were not sufficiently confirmed by the infinite miracles of Christ and His Apostles.”
And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by means of those signs, which he hath power to do in the sight of the beast… “The Apostle declares in this verse to what end the beast wrought before men, verily that he might seduce the majority of men into error. Such miracles and their workers, therefore, are to be accursed by the faithful, for these would call them away from the simplicity of God’s Word to the devices and inventions of men. But it is worthy to be noted that the Apostle says power is given him that he might work signs in the sight of the former beast. For as St. Paul witnesses, God will give unto them the efficacy and strength of error, that they, who would not believe the truth, may give credence to lies, 2 Thess. 2:11.”
(2) Saying to them that dwell on the earth that they should make the image of the beast…… “And this is that error into which they seduced wretched men: that they should acknowledge the Pope for God, or rather for an Idol, and they should set up his Image for their worship, as if it were some God. But some Protestant interpreters understand by the Image of the beast, that in the Papacy is restored a certain Image of the fallen Roman Empire. I would willingly subscribe to this opinion if the vision did not express that both the beast and his image were extant at one time. Furthermore, by the counsel and suggestion of this beast, an image of the first beast was to be made by the inhabitants of the earth. And lastly, I cannot hold to their opinion because this two-horned monster studies by all means to advance the dignity of the first beast, but the Pope sets himself forth to be worshipped, not the Roman Empire. I, therefore, expound this Image to represent the authority of the Pope, which all are commanded to receive at the hands of the Popish clergy, being brought to them by his Legates, to be acknowledged in the courts of Christianity, (as they call them), where the Pope’s laws are to be exercised, the Pope himself to be chief judge. This power of his which is exercised in the courts and by his Legates, may of good cause be called the Image of the Pope.”
And he had power given him that he should give a spirit unto the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast should speak…… “The Apostle always repeats the words, it was given him, that we may understand that even the very counsels and actions of the wicked are ordered by the will of God, and that the reprobate can do nothing at all, but only that which God permits. Moreover, lest we should imagine that this Image was dead, the Apostle adds the fact that a spirit was breathed into it, by the beast who is the priest thereof. Thus, the Image should speak, meaning the beast speaks by his Legates and other judges in his papal court, who give sentences according to the Pope’s law. Therefore, we now have an Image which is neither dumb nor dead, but which is living and speaking. We must note how the tyranny of the Pope increases little by little. First, he allures and seduces by means of miracles. Only then does he persuade the seduced to set up an Image of the beast in every city. Once set up, he breathes life into it, giving it power to speak. Lastly, he commands it be worshipped [which is exemplified by obedience] under pain of death. For we know it was a thing most worthy of death if any contemn the power of the Pope.”
(3) And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, either the number of his name… “Lest any escape by some subtlety, the beast appoints this subjection: that none could buy or sell, that is, exercise any action necessary to the sustenance of life, but only those who would confess themselves subject to his power. And in conclusion, a man must be banished out of the world unless he takes upon himself this yoke of slavery and bondage. And the beast puts his mark, name and number of his name upon them. These all pertain to the same end result, for they all signify that by some outward sign or ceremony, this servitude is to be professed to all men, that he [the disciple of the beast] may acknowledge himself to be a member of the Latin Church, leading his life under its dominion.”
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath wit count the number of the beast….. “Because this mystery was very dark, St. John forewarns that here lies hidden wisdom. However, because it is the number of man, that is, which may be counted by man’s wisdom because it is not infinite in scope, he provokes wise men who are endued with understanding to number his name, for the number is sic hundred sixty and six. I will omit the interpretations which, in my opinion, do not solve this mystery. Instead, I will bring forth the solution which I believe is the best. It is the one which Irenæus affirmed please many in his age, not long after this revelation was received by John: that is, that λατεινος – ‘lateinos’ [Latin man, King of Latium] – is the name of the beast, the number of which by computing the numbers represented by the letters adds up to six hundred sixty and six. And if it held true in Irenæus’ day, much more does it hold true for us, seeing that the Bishop of Rome in his common prayers, in his laws, writings, and faith will always be counted a Latin [i.e., Roman]. Moreover, he ought rightly be called a Latin because he cannot be a Greek, for Greeks are considered by the Latin Church to be schismatics. Thus, the mark should also be that of the Latin Church and not the Greek.”
[Editor’s note: Fulke views the first Beast from the Sea as representative of the Roman Empire, but chiefly of the Pope as its head because it is he who receives worship, not the Empire. His clergy is symbolized by the Beast from the Earth who direct men to worship the Pope. The Image of the Beast is the law-giving authority of the Pope transferred to the Papal legates, clergy and courts. They then judge according to the Pope’s Laws, which manifest his Image, the reflection of his desires. The Mark of the Beast is the outward profession and ceremonies which distinguish his disciples from all others. ‘Lateinos’ is the name of the Beast.]
1644 David Pareus Revelation Commentary:
Editor’s note: Pareus was no literalist. See:
http://www.iconbusters.com/iconbusters/htm/true_ch/david/vers110.htm - The Beast from the Sea
http://www.iconbusters.com/iconbusters/htm/true_ch/david/vers1118.htm - The Beast from the Earth, his Image and Mark
1847 E. B. Elliott Revelation Commentary:
(1) [Editor’s note: Before beginning his exegesis of Rev. 13, Elliott spends considerable time proving the Beast from the Sea is the same as the Beast from the Abyss. This same Beast, in turn, is also the Little Horn, the Man of Sin, and the Antichrist.]
“The explanation of this first Beast as the secular Emperor and Empire of Western Christendom, and the second Beast as the Pope and Pontifical Empire, so as almost all the modern expositors have taken it, I conceive to have been one of the most plain, as well as most fatal, of Protestant expository errors………The reader will have observed that in the 13th Apocalyptic chapter this anti-Christian power and his actions were under a tri-form configuration: symbols being exhibited not only of the ten-horned Wild Beast, but also of a lamb-like two-horned Wild Beast, his contemporary, and of what is called the Image of the Beast. Now it seems to me indubitable that of these it is the Beast first mentioned, or rather its ruling Head, that is Principal; the second Beast acting as his chief minister or agent, and directing his efforts to make the world worship the first Beast. And it seems equally indubitable, as I indeed have already shown, this first Beast answers to Daniel’s Little Horn: the one, as the other, to lord it over the ten contemporary kingdoms, as its inferiors or subjects; the one, as the other, to have had the period assigned to it for prospering of forty-two months, or a time, times and half a time. The fulfillment of all this it is now my business to trace in the character and history of the ROMAN POPES AND PAPAL CHRISTENDOM: The Popes themselves answering, as I conceive, to the Beast’s Head with the great mouth. His power and empire of ten kings, subordinate to and inspired by him in Western Europe, answers to the Beast’s body. This is the same Wild Beast who, in Rev. 12, persecuted and murdered the Two Witnesses…….[T]he two-horned Beast symbolizes the PAPAL CLERGY; the Image of the Beast is that of the PAPAL COUNCILS….”
(2) “The PAPAL GENERAL COUNCILS OF WESTERN EUROPE answer to the symbol of the an IMAGE OF THE TEN-HORNED BEAST; i.e., of PAPAL ANTI-CHRISTENDOM AND THE PAPAL ANTICHRIST……..After the establishment of Christianity by Constantine there were assembled, on a vastly larger scale, General Councils, formed of Bishops elected from all the provinces of the Empire, constituting a virtual representation of the Catholic or Universal Christian Church and body, residing in the Roman world. Of these there were held 7 or 8 in the Eastern Empire, in the course of the 4th thru 8th centuries, before the final and total separation of the Greek and Latin Churches; all under the sanction and protection of the Greek or Eastern Emperors. And there were held 12 afterwards in Western Christendom, in the course of the four centuries intervening from A. D. 1123 to 1545; all under the sanction and presidency of the Popes. It is with the latter that we have to do in the present discussion. As the Greeks supposed themselves to represent the entire professing Church, or Christian body, so these, as was indeed solemnly asserted in the Councils themselves, to represent the whole Romish Church, or, as it was said, orthodox Christendom. At the same time they were virtually the representation of the Head of Anti-Christendom, i.e., of the Papal Antichrist, rather than of its general constituent body.
“Now the representation, according to its very etymology alike in Latin and in English – whether depicting the external form, manners or (as here) the mind and will of the party represented - ……..I say in every case the word representation signifies such a likeness as to exhibit the party present, as if he were on the scene and actually presiding…..”
(3) “I am to show the application to the Papal Clergy of what is said of the second Beast’s imposing on men the mark, name and number of the first Beast, his head: - the meaning being (if we transfer symbolic into plain language) that the Papal Hierarchy and Clergy, whether by legal enactment or otherwise, would cause the inhabitants of the Roman earth universally to devote themselves to the Papal Antichrist: both in profession and action; even as soldiers to their emperor, slaves to their master, devotees to their God.
“Now of all this the fulfillment stands out in the history of Western Christendom. We have seen the enactment by General Council (the Image of the Beast) under dictation of the congregated Western Hierarchy, of the famous Bull Unam Sanctum; which declared it to be essential to every man’s salvation that he should be subject to the Roman See. And, accordingly, both the secular Priests and those of the monastic orders – Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, and afterwards, Jesuits – having in the first instance taken on themselves the vow of obedience, and received the Romish crossing on their hands, the public sign thereof, imposed it on all other classes of men. It was these clergymen who administered to kings and emperors the oath of submission, obedience, and fealty to Christ’s Vicar the Pope. They also marshaled the Crusaders as soldiers under the Roman banner, to do the bidding of their Papal lord. These same clergymen inculcated on the people respect and reverence to him as a God. And to prove the devotedness of the people, the priests required a visible sign to be given, as in public profession. Princes received a ring on their right hand; Crusaders wore the Papal cross on their vesture; the common people were confirmed by the Bishop, receiving from him in holy chrism the cross on their forehead; this was to be the mark, the character imposed: I use here the very Tridentine term. Besides these, attendance on the Mass, confession to the priest, participation in the sacramental elements transubstantiated at consecration, the solemn oath of allegiance to Rome, and in the dying hour extreme unction – these were further signs of profession imperatively inculcated. There was also to be a repetition of this sign of the cross by the people themselves. To those who complied there was understood to attach, in the patronage and favor of the Roman Church and Pope, a kind of amulet of salvation……..
“….as to the Beast’s name and its Papal application….because the numerals in which the enigma is expressed are Greek numerals; and because Irenæus directly asserts, and all the other early Fathers imply, by making their solutions in Greek, that it was understood by them to be the language intended by the Divine Spirit…….I cannot conceive any name more appropriate, and in every point satisfactory, than the famous name, Λατεινος – ‘Lateinos’ – the Latin Man – of which the numeral value is exactly 666, given by Irenæus, and Hippolytus after him.”
[Editor’s note: Elliott continues the Protestant exegesis of the Revelation in conformity with those Reformers who preceded him: The first Beast is the Antichrist, the Pope; the second Beast, his Clergy; his Image, Church councils who reflect the Beastly Pope’s mind and will; his mark, the sign of the Cross and other acts of profession indicating obedience to the Beast; his name, ‘Lateinos.’]