Revelation of John 13This description seems intended simply to denote that in the form of the monster were combined all the marks and characteristics of savage ferocity.—The dragon; Satan.
Wondered after the beast; worshipped and honored him.
They worshipped the dragon; that is, in effect, they worshipped Satan, by serving and honoring the power which Satan had raised.
Forty and two months; the same mystical period of three years and a half again recurring.
And it was given unto him; he was permitted. The beast described in this and the preceding verses, has been considered by some commentators as a personification of enmity to the cause of Christ in general; and by others as representing particularly the power of pagan Rome.
And deceiveth them, &c. As the first beast (1-10) represents plainly open and violent hostility to the Christian name, the second as clearly indicates a secret and doubtful enmity, accomplishing its purposes by cunning and imposture.
His number is Six hundred threescore and six. This mystical number, 666, intended, apparently, to designate, in some way or other, the name of the power described under the similitude of the two-horned beast, has come down through the whole succession of commentators on the sacred volume, a standing enigma on which their research and ingenuity have been exercised in vain. The clew which they have attempted to follow is this: The Greeks, having no separate characters to represent numbers, usually expressed them by the letters of their alphabet, each letter receiving, for this purpose, the assignment of a certain determinate value. Now, by adding together the values expressed by the several letters of a name, a number is obtained which is called the number of that name. Accordingly, it has been generally supposed that the name of the government, or church, or person, or influence, Whichever it may have been, that was intended to be prefigured by this beast, thus reduced to a number, would be 666. A great variety of names have consequently been proposed which answer this condition. Protestant commentators generally, who consider the beast as denoting the Papal power, refer this number to the word Lateinos, the supposed Greek form for the expression The Latin;—meaning the Latin church, by which expression the Roman church was originally designated.
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