As in the case of the former Beast, Interpreters are just as diversely minded. To repeat all their opinions is needless. They who understand the former Beast to be the old Roman Empire, take this Beast to be Antichrist. But those who interpret the former as Antichrist take this latter to be his armor-bearer of guardian.
Pope Gregory applies this Beast to Antichrist’s preachers, who glory in their earthly power. Alcazar sees a contradiction by those who posit both Beasts as Antichrist: “They who understand the sea-Beast of Antichrist are repugnant to themselves, if they also apply this beast of the earth unto him.” I respond: But, good sir, if so, then thy companion, Bellarmine, is no less contradictory to himself, who thus writes, “The same Antichrist is expressed by two Beast. By one in regard to his kingly power and tyranny, by which he violently forces the sons of men; by the other in regard of his magical art, by which he subtly seduces them.” In the Revelation it is neither repugnant, nor an inconvenience, nor unusual that one and the same person have divers forms and in different respects be represented under sundry types.
Christ is portrayed by
many different types in the Revelation,
In the first vision, Christ is seen as a man or the Son of man. In the second, He is seen as God sitting on the throne. As the Lamb, He stood before the throne as a sacrifice. Again, as a conqueror, He is called a ‘Lion.’ He is also depicted as the ‘altar,’ the receiver of blessed souls. He is the Angel of the East, the sealer of the Elect. In the third vision, He is seen as an Angel, making perfume, as the Priest of the Church.
In like manner, in the third vision Antichrist is the ‘Star fallen from Heaven,’ seen as an Apostate. He is the ‘Angel of the Bottomless Pit,’ ‘Abaddon,’ ‘Apollyon,’ as he is ‘King of the Locusts.’ Seen as the Beast ascending out of the Bottomless Pit, he is the persecutor of the witnesses. Again, in this fourth vision, he is depicted as the sea-Beast, as a tyrant and persecutor of the Saints. In like manner, he is also portrayed as the earthly Beast, a hypocrite and seducer of the world. Again, in the fifth vision, he is in the same respect a Beast and false prophet, both King and deceiver. Lastly, in the sixth vision, he is both the Beast and Woman riding on the Beast, as a King and Church that bear sway.
The whole Revelation, I say, represents Antichrist under divers forms, not simply as one person, but as divers, having a two-fold life and origin, out of both the sea and the earth, a double body, a two-fold shape and person, i.e., as being a secular and ecclesiastical person, a tyrant and false prophet, an Emperor and High Priest. One while as Caesar in his warlike armor, another while as Pope with Peter’s Key for his ensign. Therefore, Antichrist the High Priest comes forth on the Theater, first as a Roman Monarch, but now, laying aside his Imperial habit, he is represented under the person of a seducer.
There are several additional proofs for my position. For example, he exerciseth all the power of the former Beast. Now the Dragon gave not the same power to two, but to one Antichrist. Furthermore, at the end of the chapter the two Beasts seem to amalgamate into one, so that the Character, name and number of the name is said not to be of two Beasts, but of one Beast only.
And I saw another Beast coming up out of the earth = Now Antichrist comes forth as a seducing Prelate. Henceforth he will be called a false prophet, misleading all the inhabitants of the earth by his lying signs and deceivableness of unrighteousness. That this should be done by one seducer, and that in 3 ½ years (as some foolishly imagine) certainly is most ridiculous. The Beast, therefore, denotes the Head with the members, that is, Antichrist with the whole crew of his seducing priests, comprehending the high Court of Cardinals, the Catholic authority of Papal decrees, the sacred power of the Legates, and fathers of the Inquisition. Also, the craftiness and shamelessness of preaching Monks, especially the deep wickedness and courtly malapertness of the upstart Jesuits. For these have been the chief architects and inventors of all artificial fallacies which seduce the world, and are the principal physicians in healing the deadly wound of the Beast.
Brightman wisely interprets this ‘rising out of the earth’ as the power which the Beast obtained over earthly kings and people. However, in my view, it pertains more to his earthly origin. Neither do I dislike Ribera’s observation, “That the rising of this Beast signifies that he was not of a terrible and huge form, as was the sea-monster, but such whom we see here on earth, as a Lamb, or the like; or it may be said to represent rising from small beginnings, yet did suddenly draw after him an incredible multitude of men: for they are said to rise out of the dust, who of small beginnings become great.” As the former Beast did not rise at one instant out of the sea, but by degrees, so, too, this Beast. The Cardinals rose out of the earth in the 11th century; the sects of Canons and Monks arose one after another, their origin not very ancient; the Jesuits sprang up in A. D. 1540, out of the dunghill of the Spanish soldier.
Having two horns like the Lamb = In his horns he is likened to Christ; in his speech to the Dragon or Devil; in his power to the former Beast or Antichrist. This is to teach us that Antichrist should feign himself to be Christ or Christ’s Vicar (which title Gregory 7th, that most wicked sorcerer, did first assume unto himself) and by his diabolical doctrine seduce the world. Horns signify power. The Lamb has 7 horns, signifying His absolute and perfect power. Some understand the two horns to symbolize the Pope’s two swords, which is not amiss. Obviously, the two horns betray his Christian hypocrisy, who being the very Antichrist, should falsely boast himself Christ or Christ’s Vicar. The hypocrisy and fraud of his whole ecclesiastical brotherhood is also noted here. St. Francis, that Angelic Monk, they say bore in his body the wounds and marks of Christ. Thus, also, the hypocritical Jesuits, by falsely assume the Lamb’s name – Society of Jesus – speciously deceive the world.
And he spake as the Dragon = In his horns there is a feigned simplicity of the Lamb, but his speech always betrays his guile. Now the speech of the Beast is nothing else but the doctrine he preaches as if it were the Lamb’s. But in truth, it is the Dragon’s. The Apostle calls it a lie because the Dragon is a liar and the father of lies. His coming is after the effectual working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders that they might believe a LIE because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. Antichrist’s doctrine, therefore, is false and blasphemous touching the Scriptures, justification of sinners, of merits and human satisfactions, of the sacraments, indulgences, jubilees, fasts, forbidding of meats and marriage to Priests; the last two the Apostle expressly terms the doctrines of Devils, and because of his diabolical language the Beast here is generally called the ‘false prophet,’ Rev. 16:13, 19:20, 20:10.
And he exercises all the power of the first Beast before him = The phrase, ‘before him’ may also rightly be translated, ‘in his sight,’ which imports the manner in which he exercises the same power as the former Beast. He does not do this alone, but has the help of his Legates, who do all things ‘in his sight,’ that is, according to the appointment, beck and pleasure of the Beast. Whatsoever these things do, the Beast is said to do. The Cardinals do all things in the Emperors’ Courts by the authority of the Pope, their Master; they determine Councils, directing the decrees thereof at his beck for the establishing of his power. Thus, also, his Inquisitors and chief Apostolic Notaries, and similar agents, execute all wicked acts against Saints according to the will of the Pope.
And causeth or maketh the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first Beast, whose deadly wound was healed = He preaches, commands and forces, by his emissaries and Inquisitors, all men to worship the first Beast. Though the Beast’s authority was lessened by the wound, the unwearied endeavors of this Beast, together with his cunning, eloquence and violence, effected men to constantly adore the Apostolic See.
And he doth great wonders = Another effect of his power are great signs and wonders by which he shall persuade and induce the inhabitants of the earth to worship the Beast. For as the Devil apes God, Antichrist apes Christ. As God and Christ confirmed the doctrine of Moses, the Prophets, and Apostles by many wonders and miracles, likewise Satan shall establish the Beast’s great words and Antichrist’s great power by wonderful signs. By ‘signs’ or ‘wonders’ is meant miracles or works which are either real or only appear to be so. By ‘great’ we are to understand ‘wonderful’ or ‘terrible.’ These he shall do both by himself and by his agents.
In the New Testament Christ and His Apostles, with many other faithful, wrought miracles for the confirmation of the Gospel of Christ. But, as Augustine and Chrysostom witness in many of their writings, these ceased in the 4th century. Therefore, Augustine admonishes that we are not rashly to believe miracles because Christ foretold such marks of deceivers, bidding us to beware of them. The Jesuits attempt to acquit themselves and their Pope from the impostures of Antichristianity by glorying in the many signs and wonders associated so famously with the Papacy. Yet they do not perceive that it is in this very thing that they reveal Antichrist, seeing the Scriptures predict great wonders and miracles to be the very marks of him.
So that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men = The Jesuits attribute three miracles to Antichrist: (1) He shall feign himself to be dead and rise again; (2) He shall bring down fire from Heaven; (3) He shall put life into the image of the Beast, causing it to speak.
Regarding the second miracle, the Catholics understand it to speak of Elijah’s miracles. I rather understand it of Satan’s consuming the sheep and servants of Job. For whatever the Beast does, he does it by the effectual working of Satan unto the destruction of men. Bellarmine denies this miracle applies to the Pope, therefore, the Pope cannot be Antichrist. However, his argument is flawed. It is true that Christ’s disciples’ faith could not literally move mountains according to the letter of the text, though Christ promised as such. This then does not make them false Apostles, for it was enough they did other great miracles. Similarly, though the Popes may not have literally called down fire from Heaven, it does not follow that he is not Antichrist. Many of them have been renowned for working great signs and wonders. In fact, the history of the Papacy is full of miracles, false and lying ones, exactly as the Holy Ghost here and in 2 Thess. 2 does ascribe to Antichrist, and of which Christ forewarned us: believe them not.
In the likeness of fire rushing from Heaven, the Apostles received the Holy Ghost. Likewise, Antichrist boasts that he, by power given him from above, confers the grace of the Holy Ghost in consecration, confirmation, confession and absolution; i.e., by a great and miraculous working.
In the likeness of lightning the devil made fire descend from Heaven to devour the sheep and servants of Job. Likewise, does not the Pope boast that he fulminates against Emperors, Kings and Princes by his excommunications? And so Gregory 7th said that Emperor Henry 4th, whom he excommunicated, “was struck with lightning.” Furthermore, in the ritual of excommunication the Pope casts down burning torches or firebrands from on high. From this he would have us understand that it is he who causes this dreadful fire to fall from Heaven, the same marvelous wonder by which the sheep and servants of Job were devoured.
In that it is added, in the sight of men, it signifies that he gains authority to himself and his deceitful working by striking great amazement, fear and delusion in the hearts of men. For he bewitches the eyes and mind of the people, and so terrifies the conscience with his signs and lightnings that the simple folk are held in false devotion, while the more prudent are held in fear and obedience.
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by those miracles = This is the third effect of his power: he drives wretched men from Christ to Antichrist, from the truth to a lie, and from the path of salvation to the way of destruction. For the verb ‘seduce’ properly means ‘to bring out of the right way and lead to into error.’ It is a metaphor taken from travelers ignorant of the right way. In this way, Antichrist ‘seduces’ the inhabitants of the earth, that is, earthly minded men, ignorant of God and the true way of salvation; e.g., trusting explicitly their ‘spiritual fathers,’ the priests. Hence, being bewitched and terrified by the signs and lightnings of the Beast, they devoutly swear obedience to his lies.
By the true miracles of God, which were the seals of the true doctrine of God, the Elect were helped and moved to believe that which is divine. (For God, who is true and the author of genuine miracles, gives testimony only to the truth.) In like manner, yet for contrary reasons, the lying miracles of the Beast are the seals of his lying doctrine which earthly men embrace for true because of his miracles, thinking they are divine signs which confirm his divine doctrine. But by thinking this, they are deceived and seduced. Therefore, what are our workers of miracles but seducers?
Now they work their signs in the sight of the Beast, that is, by the Pope’s authority, because the miracles of these deceivers must of necessity be Canonized by the Pope, that they may be decreed authentic and of the true faith, that is, to the seducing of men.
Saying to them that dwell on the earth that they should make an image to the Beast = Observe how often the Holy Ghost reiterates the phrase, ‘dwellers on the earth,’ lest the faithful should be offended with the multitude and readiness of them that follow the Beast against Christ. This is the fourth effect of his power, which coincides with his first effect, that of causing men to worship the Sea Beast. Most Roman Catholic interpreters, including Ribera, understand by this verse that the Beast will persuade men to make an Image to Antichrist, and worship him in their temples, to which image he would give life and speech, etc. From this, Bellarmine concludes, once again, that the Pope is not Antichrist because no Pope has yet made an Image to speak, etc. But do not the images in the Papacy speak? And has not the Pope caused and commanded them to be worshipped on pain of death?
Pareus explains how many of the Reformers erred in their interpretation of the ‘Image of the Beast’
The Reformed brethren who understand the Sea Beast to symbolize the old Roman Empire interpret this ‘Image of the Beast,’ wounded and healed, to be that of the Holy Roman Empire established by the Pope. This they believe was done when Steven 2nd and Leo 3rd transferred the decayed Empire of the West to Charlemagne, thus healing the wound. The result, they say, was no more than a mere image or shadow of the old Empire, coming short in majesty, scope and power. But we have proved earlier that the Sea Beast does not denote the ancient Roman Empire, but rather the Antichrist. In addition, neither does the circumstance of the text agree to it. They say the Pope made the Image of the Roman Empire. But, in fact, the second Beast, the Pope, did not make the image of the former. Rather the inhabitants of the earth did it by commandment of the Beast. Furthermore, regarding the worshipping of the Image, no correlation exists there either. None of the German Emperors commanded either themselves or their Empire to be worshipped on pain of death.
Pareus understands by ‘Image to the Beast’ the idolatry of the Roman Catholic Church
The participle, ‘saying,’ in the phrase, ‘saying to them that dwell on the earth,’ refers to that which goes before, making the sense quite clear; i.e., that added to the two former characteristics displayed by the Beast – his power and seducing, which are his great miracles and false doctrine – now are added two more: worshipping of images and outward violence. The Spirit plainly alludes to Daniel’s history, where the King of Babylon set up his golden image that all should worship under pain of burning to death. In imitation of this, Antichrist sets up a ‘golden Image to the Beast,’ that is, to his own wicked inventions, commanding that all who will not worship the same shall be burnt in a furnace of fire.
Both Alcazar and Ribera acknowledge that by analogy or change of number, ‘one’ image is representative of many, though these Jesuits apply it in a different sense. The Holy Ghost calls the whole system of Papal worship of images, or Antichristian idolatry, the ‘Image of the Beast.’
The Beast does not himself fund the cost of these images, for he is covetous. Instead, he teaches and commands the nations that in order to honor God and the holy Trinity they should make and set up in all consecrated places and temples, the images of Christ crucified; of Mary, the mother of God, Queen of Heaven; of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles; and of all the Saints in Heaven. These images they make of wood, stone, brass, gold and silver; neither may they be set up naked without attire, but must be adorned and clothed in silk and purple, have wax candles and lights set before them, men must humbly and devoutly make requests and prayers to them, yea, and contribute unto their worship yearly revenues for the salvation of souls. This commandment the world obeyed, desirous of a worship glorious to their eyes, sparing no cost. Hence, the Papacy doth so much abound with Palaces, temples, consecrated places filled with paintings, altars, wax candles, lights, purifying vessels, etc., that it is, in fact, a kingdom of images.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the Beast, that the image of the Beast should both speak = The first effect of his power is to give life to the Beast’s image, making it speak. The Dragon, Satan, the inventor and architect of all idolatry, is the one who gives power to the Beast, God permitting the same. For it is God who, in His most righteous judgment, sends those who dwell on the earth strong delusion that they should believe a lie because they receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved. Now it is very apparent to all how in the Papacy the Image is made to live, speak, weep, laugh and do other actions of the living --- through the fraud and devilish cunning of Monks. Hence follows the obsessive pursuit of specific idols for blessings, requests and needs, as well as the offering of whatever the deluded possess that they might, in return, receive salvation of their souls. In living and speaking the Popish idols far exceed that of Babylon, though in idolatry and madness they are alike.
Pareus expounds the Mark or ‘Character’ of the Beast
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 = The Greek word ‘charagma’ used here is that which we translate ‘mark.’ The Papists translate it ‘character,’ which is incorrect. The Greek word which may be translated ‘character’ is really another word, ‘charactair,’ which is used to describe that which is the express image of the archetype or first pattern. For example, a child being like his father in countenance is said to be the ‘character’ of his father. By this same analogy in Hebrews 1:3, the Son of God is called the ‘charactair’, that is, the ‘character’, or as it is translated, the express image of the Father’s person. But the Greek word ‘charagma’ which is used here is of much wider signification, taken for any sign or mark placed upon things, for the purpose of distinguishing them from others. For example, sheep and cattle have a mark set upon them. So do household goods, such as vessels, clothes and other merchandise, that the owner may be known, or what their price and value is. Colors are used to distinguish soldiers. Princes distinguish their servants by different uniforms. Thus, the ‘charagma’ or mark here properly denotes the Beast’s livery.
But let us, if you will, call it his ‘character’. This he causes to be imprinted upon all without any distinction of age or stature, great and little, young and old, of every estate, rich and poor, bond or free, noble, ignoble, Emperors, Kings, Princes, magistrates, subjects – none exempted. So then this is a catholic character, and must of necessity be received for salvation. By this solemn mark the Beast shall distinguish all his worshippers. Herein the Beast imitates Christ, who in Rev. 7 signed all the servant of God with the seal of God, as by a character, separating them from the world. So the Beast, by his Mark, separates those who are his from those who are the Lord’s.
What is the Mark?
Ribera feigns that the Mark is the form of the Dragon, which Antichrist shall command to be worshipped, but because he sees there is little credibility to this fiction, his second opinion calls for a future character or mark which shall secretly display that name in which he glories, that is, the name of Christ or Messiah, by which he will deceive the Jews, many Christians and Saracens also: ΧΡ = CHI RHO. It was this sign in Constantine’s ensign which stood for the first two letters of the Greek form of the name, ‘Christ.’ By this sign Constantine let it be known he was deliverer of the world, expeller of tyrants and peacemaker. These things, says Ribera, are what Antichrist will portray himself to be.
Bellarmine, on the other hand, ashamed of such a trifling explanation says, “It cannot be known what this Character is until Antichrist comes.” In the meantime, he pleasantly derides our interpreters as being ignorant of this character, which he willingly refuses to know, lest he betray the Pope. But undoubtedly the Mark of the Beast should not have been used so often in this prophecy if it were altogether hid, for then it would not be a Mark, for what good is an identification mark if no one can discern it?
Protestant interpretations of the Mark of the Beast include the sign of the cross on the forehead
Neither does it follow that our interpreters know not what it is, although they differ slightly in their interpretations. For some think it to be the sign of the cross given on the forehead with holy chrism in the Roman Catholic sacraments, while others believe it to be the profession of the Roman Catholic faith, while yet others view it as the Roman Catholic oath of fidelity to the Pope. These opinions all come to the same conclusion: obedience or bondage to the Pope.
However, in the event we Protestants are ignorant of the actual character, will it therefore follow that the Pope is not Antichrist, in whom all other Marks of the Antichrist do so evidently agree?
The Mark not visible
We are not to imagine that the character is a visible Mark burnt or imprinted on the forehead or right hand, as Alcazar suggests of a military character, for then it would not be a enigmatic as suggested by the prophecy; rather it would be obvious to all. Thus, Thomas Aquinas saith well, “the Character of the Beast is a profession of unlawful worship.”
Also, it appears that the character of the Beast is the profession of Papist worship, considering the Antichristian Beast is the Roman Pope clothed with the skin of the Roman Empire and coat of Christ, plus the fact that the Mark given by Christ is not visible, but also a profession of Christian worship. His subjects receive this character of the Beast on their foreheads, which is understood to be that profession and obligation to believe all things the Pope believes, acknowledging themselves subject to him, receiving all the Sacraments. Only those who strongly oblige themselves to defend the Roman See, either by general or special vows, whether clergy or others, receive this character in their right hands.
Pareus explains his interpretation of the Mark of the Beast
But in my opinion, Robert Abbot, Bishop of Salisbury, excellently expounds this character, understanding it by a two-fold distinction: (1) common to all; and (2) particular to only those who ‘buy and sell.’
The common character, explains Bishop Abbot, pertains to those things which are typically practiced by all Antichristians, such as: the observation of the fasts and holy days instituted by the Pope; the worshipping of their breaden god in the Mass; the worshipping of images; kissing of the reserved Host in the Pix; auricular confession; engaging in penitential rites and other rituals not commanded by God, but by Antichrist.
The unique and specific character, on the other hand, belongs to those spiritual ‘merchants’ who buy and sell the Oath by which those who swear it are obligated to the Pope, as by a special bond, promising subjection and obedience to him, separating and dividing themselves from the rest of the Church by certain rites, vows, unctions, shaved heads, garments, etc., all instituted by the Beast. This character, therefore, they bear in their forehead, that is, by open profession, as well as in their right hand, that is, by swearing an oath, saying, “Behold, my right hand and faith, etc.” More particularly, the whole clergy of Bishops, Priests, Monks, and other religious, anointed shavelings, promise a blind obedience to the Pope. They testify to the fact of receiving the Mark of the Beast when they openly teach and profess that in their ordination they receive a character which cannot be removed or erased. God has, undoubtedly, by His providence so directed the matter that we thereby would know the identity of these stigmatized servants who bear the character of the Beast.
And that no man might buy or sell = The privilege of buying and selling is added with the proviso that only those who have the character may participate, all others are deprived. Only the marked ones may buy and sell, the others may not. Both in a material and spiritual sense, this merchandizing applies to the Papacy. For none may spiritually trade among them, that is, buy, receive or sell the holy wares of Masses, Indulgences, Dispensations, tithes, etc., but these spiritual hucksters marked with this character. The merchants of souls are the Bishops, Priests and Monks, of whom Peter speaks, Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; as does Paul also agree, “…supposing that gain is godliness.” 
But if we extend it to a common character, it may also most truly be applied to trading amongst the citizens of the Beast’s empire. For all who do not acknowledge the Beast have not the liberty and freedom to buy and sell. Instead, they are given exile, torture, and death by fire or water as punishment for being heretics, deprived of all honor, dignity, offices, courts, privileges and common rights by means of Papal edicts.
Pope Martin V is a perfect example of the Antichristian Beast when he decreed the following Bull at the Council of Constance:
“All are enjoined by an oath who would profess themselves devotees of the Roman See, whether Emperors, Kings, Princes, Dukes, Marquis, Earls, Barons, soldiers, Protestants, rectors, counselors, presidents, communities, and universities of kingdoms, provinces, cities, towns, castles, villages, etc.; as well as all others who exercise temporal jurisdiction. Also, all Clergymen and Inquisitors shall expel all those who hold neither the faith nor communion with the Roman Catholic Church. For these are sheep with scabs and diseases which infect the whole flock of the Lord. Nor shall they permit these heretics to preach, nor to dwell in their dominions, neither to make contracts, bargain or trade with them, nor allow them to enjoy human comforts.”
Is not this the very thing to which the Spirit testifies regarding the actions taken by the Beast?! Are not those who deny the Beast, refusing his Mark, condemned not to buy nor sell?
The Mark or character of the Beast distinctive from the name and number of the Beast
…..save he that had the character of the Beast = John uses the singular ‘Beast’ rather than ‘Beasts’ to show us they are both one Beast, represented in different aspects, as we have declared earlier. Furthermore, John seems to distinguish into three orders those who enjoy the privilege of serving the Beast, with its accompanying rewards thereof:
Those who have the character of the Beast
Those who have the name of the Beast
Those who have the number of the name of the Beast
Alcazar holds there to be no distinction between them. But Ribera sees the distinction. I rather agree with him, for it seems apparent in Rev. 15:2 that the character is distinct from the number of the Beast. I, personally, distinguish them thus: By ‘character’ I understand the more solemn Mark which is set on the Clergy by their special vow and oath. By ‘name’ and ‘number of his name,’ I understand the common character imprinted on all the Laity, through their ecclesiastical obedience to the Pope. We will speak more on this later.
Here is wisdom = Because all those things which we have spoken concerning the , name and number of the Beast’s name are very enigmatic, John confirms the mystery is hid and needs wisdom to search out the meaning of these three things. By discovering the meaning of these, all the other mysteries associated with the Beast are easily understood. Now difficult and dark sayings cannot be enquired into but by the help of wisdom, which Aristotle calls the Prince of Sciences, consisting in understanding and knowledge. Therefore, the Holy Ghost stirs up our attention once more, lest we pass this by with deaf ears and blind eyes. Except we be very wary, he will devour us. For we cannot shun him, unless we know who he is. And we cannot know who he is, but by wisdom which searches into all obscure and dark matters.
But how does one attain to such wisdom? James tells us it is by prayer, James 1:5. We all lack this wisdom, nonetheless, it is still necessary for one to search into the meaning of this obscure prophecy.
He that hath understanding let him count the number of the Beast = In the number is hid the name of the Beast, his character, and all other mysteries touching the Beast. He, therefore, that will know - ‘let him count’ – that is, diligently discuss the number of the Beast. For by his number we may know his name; by his name we may know his character; by his character we may know his Image; by his Image we may know the Beast himself. But he that may know it, saith John, must with great skill count or reckon up this number. Knowledge of this mystery is not comprehended without earnest prayer to God and painstaking study. But why does the Spirit will us to carefully attend to the number? Or why has the Spirit hid the rest of the mysteries in the number of the Beast? He would unfold all things by this number, He says, because ‘it is the number of a man;’ that is, a man by much diligence may search it out because it is a number of a similar species. In this manner most interpret these words.
And his number is six hundred and sixty six = In the Greek, this number is rendered by the numeral letters: χ ξ ς. But here again, we need wisdom to guess what is meant by these three letters. There are two readings for the rendering of this number, depending on the manuscript. Montanus and all Latin copies do not express this number in three numerals, but rather in full words: six hundred and sixty six. Hence, some think that John does not express the numeral name of Antichrist, but rather the number of years after which he should be revealed; i.e., after 666 years. Bullinger and others hold to this interpretation. However, in my view, there are many reasons why this explanation is not correct, not the least of which is the fact that John speaks not of the number of years until the Beast’s rising, but of the number of his name. Therefore, it is not the number the number of time, but of his name.
I rather assent to them who judge that by his number Antichrist’s name is opened. Most of the Protestant interpreters are of this opinion, as was the early Church Father, Irenaeus. Yea, all Popish writers of this age agree with us, Alcazar excepted, who, in this instance imagines strange and absurd things.
Now the grounds for our interpretation is two-fold. First, all Greek manuscripts express this number, not in full words, but in three Greek numeral letters, where according to the Greeks, χ = 600; ξ = 60; ς = 6. The other ground is due to the fact that in Rev. 15:2, this same number is said to be the name of the Beast. Therefore, Antichrist’s name consists of numeral letters which add up to the number 666.
The Greek name, ‘Lateinos,’ equals 666
Now if we count the numeral characters according to the word ‘Lateinos’ – λατεινος – we shall precisely find the number of the Beast’s name to be 666:
λ α τ ε ι ν ο ς
30 1 300 5 10 50 70 200 = 666
This numeral name of the Beast is not my invention, neither was it recently thought up by our Reformed Interpreters. Irenaeus, a most ancient writer of 1,400 years ago, by a divine insight, found out and discovered it before us. He found this name agreeable to the mystery, for he said, “The name Lateinos contains the number six hundred and sixty six, and is very likely because the truest kingdom has this name. For they are Latins that now reign, but in this we will not glory.” Now who possibly can be marked out unto us by this name, except the Latin or Roman High Priest? For long ago he possessed the kingdom of the Latins, and with it the Roman seat. The Greeks call the Pope’s Church the ‘Latin Church.’ Indeed, it is altogether Latin, for their Litanies, Masses, prayers, exorcisms, Indulgences – their whole service is in Latin. In fact, it is unlawful to perform their services in any language but Latin. Wherefore, undoubtedly this is that numeral name of the Beast which the Holy Ghost bids we compute in the same manner as the Greeks.
The same name adds up to 666 in the Hebrew language
But if the Spirit would have us count the name, not in Greek, but in Hebrew characters, we are again led to the same name, as one is led by hand to the Pope of Rome. For as John Foxe (a most diligent searcher into this mystery) has found out, the Latin name, ‘Romanus,’ expressed in the Hebrew letters also represents the name of the Beast 666. This interpretation is neither obscure nor forced. For who these many ages has been this ‘Romanus,’ that is, Lord and head of Rome, but the Latin Monarch possessing the kingdom and royal Metropolis of the Latins, but the Pope of Rome? Certainly, it is not without the singular council of God and intention of the Spirit that both the Hebrew and Greek reckoning should aim at one and the same thing, pointing out by the finger, as it were, him only, who is ‘Lateinos’ and ‘Romanus,’ the Latin and Roman Monarch. Therefore, we cannot help but confidently judge him to be the Antichrist, for as much as all the marks of Antichrist do inevitably concur and agree together. Neither are we the first to hold this opinion, but many in the ages before us, even in the midst of gross darkness have observed and constantly affirmed the Papacy to be Antichrist’s Kingdom, and the Pope Antichrist.
Here is wisdom = Now let us consider the wisdom that is in the number of the Beast, of which John cries out: Here is wisdom. On the basis of the number 666, John closely bids us to search out all the other mysteries, for here we have the name of the Beast, Lateinos, Romanus, whose Greek and Hebrew letters each add up to 666. By the name we also have the character or mark, for all who would buy or sell must profess the Latin service or Roman faith and be sworn vassals to the Roman Church. By the aforesaid name and character is manifested the Image of the Beast that all were to adore; i.e., the mad worship of stocks and stones, by which everyone is constrained, at the sound of the coronet, flute, harp, organ, dulcimer and all kinds of music, to adore the image or idol that is nearest to him.
Why isn’t the prophecy more clearly and plainly expressed?
But what is the reason the Spirit does not express this name of the Beast more clearly? Why does He not openly say, “The name of the Beast shall be the Latin or Roman Chief Priest”? It may also be demanded, why is it He does not plainly say the Beast is the Antichrist? Touching these points, we are to know that typical oracles of future things are not accustomed to being plainly set down until their fulfillment. Now it has pleased the Spirit thus to manifest these mysteries by dark expressions that the faithful might be stirred up to search diligently after them. Also, in order that disturbances do not come before their time, endangering the Church. The Apostle Paul, 2 Thess. 2, might have said more openly, “the son of perdition should sit in the Church of Rome,” and “that which let or restrained was the power of the Roman Empire, which in the appointed time should be weakened and assaulted within the city itself by the Roman Pope.” But it was useful to the Church to speak secretively of the mystery of iniquity which was then hidden. And if John had openly written that the Pope of Rome should be Antichrist, certainly the Popes themselves would have labored long ago to take away this revelation out of the sight and memory of men so that their true identity might not be discovered. Furthermore, the mystery of iniquity which was growing would never have broken forth if it were plainly spoken because the Roman Emperors would have soon cast the Popes out of their seat, lest they should one day be forced to kiss the feet of the Pope and experience their great tyranny. In this the counsel of God would have been hindered (which is impossible) and this prophecy never fulfilled.
The numeral name alone does not prove the identity of Antichrist
Both Bellarmine and Alcazar attempt to refute the charge against the Pope as Antichrist by feigning other names which allegedly add up to 666. Bellarmine tries to use the names of Martin Luther and Protestant David Chytræus as potential Antichrists by virtue of the sum of their names. However, to accomplish this, Bellarmine spells ‘Luther’ incorrectly, whereas David’s name doesn’t come close to adding up to 666, whether reckoned in Greek or Hebrew.
However, should Bellarmine find the name of Protestant who does, in fact, add up to 666 in both the Greek and Hebrew letters, this alone does not weaken the force of our argument. For we do not go about to prove the identity of Antichrist by the numeral name alone, but by the name joined with the other marks of the Beast. For example, it would be unsound to reason from one proof alone that he that is born in Bethlehem is the Messiah. However, to add a second proof, such as, the Son of Mary is born in Bethlehem, ergo, He is the Messiah, is sound reasoning. For it firmly follows that He that is born at Bethlehem and has all the other prophetical notes of the Messiah, He must be the Messiah. Since the Son of Mary has them all, He is the Messiah.
Thus, in the case of identifying Antichrist, to conclude that he is the Pope of Rome will not automatically follow from the numeral name alone. But yet such an identification will most assuredly follow from the numeral name when joined with the rest of the prophetical notes of the Beast, which all concur in the Pope of Rome, as has already been shown. The Latin or Roman Pope has the numerical name of the Beast, as well as the other Apostolic marks of the Beast, or Antichrist. Therefore, he is the Antichrist.
Pareus refutes Bellarmine’s argument that all shall know the name of the Beast when Antichrist comes, whereas today not all know his name; therefore, Antichrist is not yet come
In order to draw a veil over his pretended ignorance, Bellarmine argues that after Antichrist is come his name shall be most manifestly known, just as the name of Christ Jesus began to be openly known unto all after Christ was come, whereas before it was unknown to the Jews, although the Prophets had foretold many things of him. Hence, he infers that the greatest controversy – the name of the Beast – exists because Antichrist has not yet come. Consequently, the Pope is not Antichrist. This he calls an insoluble argument, but it carries no weight whatsoever. For his arguments are false.
(1) It is false that once Antichrist is come his name should then be clearly known unto all: for his coming shall be with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, 2 Thess. 2. Therefore, he shall not come openly, but by a feigned and fraudulent name he shall deceive the world, so that it shall be a very hard thing to know him. For he will transform himself into an Angel of light, and come under a feigned show; i.e., under the name of Christ, as Hilary and Augustine affirmed long ago. Therefore, his name shall not be opened to all men. And just as the Devil came to sow tares in the Lord’s field not openly, but when men slept, likewise Antichrist shall creep in while the world is not aware thereof.
(2) It is false that after Christ was come his name was most certainly known to all, for John expressly speaks of the Jews who lived in the time of His coming, that the world knew him not. And that he came unto his own and his own received him not.  The Jews were not ignorant of the name ‘Jesus’ which was common to many men; but they did not know nor believe that it was the name of Christ the Messiah. Therefore, the Jews did not associate the name ‘Jesus’ as the name of their Messiah.
To this day the name ‘Jesus,’ who is the Christ, is not known by the Jews, Turks or Pagans. For, although they may have heard the name ‘Jesus,’ they neither know nor believe that it is the name of Christ, the Messiah sent by God. Thus, like the Jews in the days of Jesus, the Papists and others do not believe the Pope to be the Antichrist, though he has come. Though they know very well the number of the name Lateinos and Romanus, they neither know, nor believe, that it is the name of Antichrist.
(3) It is also false what he argues concerning the great controversy surrounding Antichrist’s name. No matter how great a controversy is raised amongst the Papists concerning this, to us there is no controversy whatsoever because we know Antichrist sitting in the Latin Church has been revealed by the Spirit of Christ’s mouth. The consensus of the Reformed Protestants is unanimous with that opinion of Irenaeus. His name is Lateinos or Romanus, which are names containing the number 666, thereby demonstrating the Pope of Rome to be Antichrist.
(4) Bellarmine’s conclusion is false when he says, “that if Antichrist were here there should be no question about his name.” But in truth, Antichrist’s identity is sufficiently apparent to all who do not purposefully shut their eyes against the light of the Sun. Hence, the insoluble argument of the Papists is turned upon themselves. For as much as the number of the name of Antichrist is so generally known that all do point, as with the finger, at the Latin Pope, it is certain that Antichrist is now come, and that he is the Chief Priest of Rome.
(5) And last, it is a false argument which he gathers out of the writing of the Protestant Marlorate touching the obscurity of this passage; i.e., that because this oracle is still most obscure and enigmatic, it cannot possibly be fulfilled, for he says, “all prophecies are most clear when fulfilled.”
But O Bellarmine, are not the prophecies touching Christ’s coming in the flesh fulfilled? And are they now most clear to the Jews? Nay, they remain most obscure and enigmatic to them even after their full accomplishment because their minds were blinded and the veil of Moses remains upon their heart, even unto this day. Not to mention Christians, who due to their neglect, many visions of the Revelation still remain obscure to them, even though they are undoubtedly fulfilled. The Apostles themselves found certain oracles obscure and controvertible, such as those which touched the abolition of the ceremonial and judicial Law of Moses; or those which concerned the difference of meats and people which were taken away and fulfilled in Christ, as the Acts and Epistles witness. Therefore, prophecies become most clear by the fulfilling of them, but not to them who maliciously shut their eyes, or who do not open them to receive the light. Rather they become clear to those alone who diligently attend unto the accomplishment of them. This is why the prophecy touching Antichrist, though partially fulfilled, remains most obscure unto the Papists, who seeing will not see the obvious --- that the Pope of Rome is the Beast.
 Lib. 3, de Rom. Pont., cap. 15.
 I.e., ‘Mark.’
 1 Timothy 4:3.
 Matt. 24:23.
 The root meaning of the word is “to strike with lightning.” (Webster)
 By this Pareus alludes to several things at once: (1) distinctive clothing and/or badge; (2) his retinue; (3) a stable wherein are kept horses.
 Catholic meaning ‘universal.’
 2 Peter 2:3.
 1 Timothy 6:5.
 In verse 9 He stirred us up before.
 Pareus cites Gregory the Great; Arnulphus, Bishop of Orleans, circa A. D. 1000; St. Bernard in the 12th century; Eberhard, Bishop of Salisburg, A. D. 1240; Abbot Joachim of Fiore in the 13th century; a 14th century commentary on the Revelation by an anonymous author; 14th century Italian poet, Petrarch; Michael Cesenas, head of the Friars Minor in the 14th century. He then refers the reader to the Catalogue of Witnesses of the Truth, a compilation of those who opposed the Pope though the ages, compiled by German Protestant, Matthias Flacius Illyricus, in the 16th century.
 Died 1600.
 John 1:10.