13:123 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and 1 saw a
beast rise up 2 out of the sea, having seven heads and
3 ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, 4 and upon
his heads 5 the name of blasphemy.
(23) That is, as a mighty tempest he poured out on the whole
world (whose prince he is) to raise the floods and provoke
the nations, that they might with their furious bellows
toss up and down, driven here and there, and finally
destroy the Church of Christ with its holy members. But
the providence of God resisted his attempt, that he might
save the Church of the Gentiles, yet tender and green.
The rest of this story of the dragon is excellently
presented by the apostle John later in (Re 20:1-15).
For here the dragon endeavouring to do wickedness, was by
God cast into prison.
(1) The apostle having declared the forming of the Christian
Church, and the state of the Church from which ours takes
her beginning, now goes to the story of the progress of
it, as is shown in the beginning of the former chapter.
This history of the progress of the Church and the battles
of it, is recorded in this chapter, but distinctly in two
parts, one is of the civil Roman Empire, (Re 13:1-10).
Another of the ecclesiastic or prophetic body, there to the
end of the chapter. In the first part these things are
shown: First the state of the Empire, in (Re 13:1-4)
then the acts of it in (Re 13:5-7) after the effect:
which is exceedingly great glory (Re 13:8). Last of
all is commended the use: and the instruction of the godly
against the evils that shall come from the same in
(Re 13:9-10). The history of the state, contains a most
ample description of the beast, first entire in
(Re 13:1-2) and then restored after harm, (Re 13:3-4).
(2) On the sand where the devil stood practising new tempests
against the Church, in the verse next before going: at
which time the Empire of Rome was endangered by domestic
dissensions and was mightily tossed, having ever and again
new heads, and new emperors. See (Re 17:8)
(3) Having the same instruments of power, providence, and most
expert government which the dragon is said to have had, in
(4) We read in (Re 12:3) that the dragon had seven crowns
set upon seven heads because the thief claims to be proper
lord and prince of the world, but this beast is said to
have ten crowns, set on several, not heads but horns:
because the beast is obligated to the dragon for all;
(Re 13:2) and does not otherwise reign, then by law of
subjection given by him, namely that he employ his horns
against the Church of God. The speech is taken from the
ancient custom and form of dealing in such ease: by which
they that were absolute kings did wear the diadem on their
heads: but their vassals and such as reigned by grace from
them, wore the same on their hoods: for so they might
commodiously lay down their diadems when they came into the
presence of their sovereigns, as also the elders are said,
when they adored God which sat upon the throne, to have
cast down their crowns before him in (Re 4:10)
(5) Contrary to that which God of old commanded should be
written in the head piece of the high Priest, that is,
"Sanctitas Jehova", Holiness unto the Lord. The name of
blasphemy imposed by the dragon, is that which Paul says in
(2Th 2:4) "He sits as God and boasts himself to be God"
For this name of blasphemy both the Roman Emperors did then
challenge to themselves, as Suetonius and Dion do report of
Caigula and Domitian: and after them the popes of Rome
professed the same of themselves, when they challenged to
themselves sovereignty in holy things of which kind of sayings
the sixth book of the Decretals, the Clementines, and the
Extravagants, are very full. For these men were not content
with that which Anglicus wrote in his Poetria, (the beginning
of which is "Papa stupor mundi" The pope is the wonder of the
world) "Nec Deus es, nec homo, sed neuter es inter utrungue."
Thou art not God, nor art thou man, but neuter mixed of both:
as the gloss witnesses on the sixth book: But they were bold
to take to themselves the very name of God, and to accept
it given of other: according as almost a hundred and twenty
years since there was made for Sixtus the fourth, when he
should first enter into Rome in his papal dignity, a
Pageant of triumph, and cunningly fixed upon the gate of
the city he should enter at, having written upon it this
"Oraclo vocis mundi moderaris habenas,
Et merito in terrs crederis esse Deus."
By oracle of thine own voice, the world thou governest all,
And worthily a God on earth men think and do thee call.
These and six hundred the like who can impute to that modesty by
which good men of old would have themselves called the
servants of the servants of God? Verily either this is a
name of blasphemy, or there is none at all.
13:2 And the beast which I saw was like 6 unto a leopard, and
his feet were as [the feet] of a bear, and his mouth as the
mouth of a lion: 7 and the dragon gave him his power, and
his seat, and great authority.
(6) Swift as the leopard, easily grabbing all things, as the
bear does with his foot, and tearing and devouring all
things with the mouth as a lion does.
(7) That is, he lent the same power to the beast to use, when
he perceived that he could not escape, but must be taken by
the hand of the angel, and cast into the bottomless pit;
(Re 20:1-15) yet he did abandon the same power
completely from himself, but that he might use it as long
as he could.
13:38 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death;
and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered
after the beast.
(8) This is the other place that pertains to the description of
the beast of Rome: that besides that natural dignity, and
breadth of the Roman Empire, which was eluded to in the two
former verses, there was added this also as miraculous,
that one head was wounded as it were to death, and was
healed again as from heaven, in the sight of all men. This
head was Nero the Emperor, in whom the race of the Caesars
fell from imperial dignity, and the government of the
commonwealth was translated to others: in whose hands the
Empire was so cured and recovered to health, as he seemed
to all so much the more deeply rooted and grounded fast,
than ever before. Hence follows those effects, which are
next spoken of: First an admiration of certain power, as it
were, sacred and divine, sustaining the Empire and
governing it: Secondly, the obedience and submission of the
whole earth, in this verse: Thirdly, the adoration of the
dragon, and most wicked worshipping of devils confirmed by
the Roman Emperors: Lastly, the adoration of the beast
himself, who grew into so great estimation, as that both
the name and worship of a God was given to him, (Re 13:4).
Now there were two causes which brought in the minds of men
this religion: the show of excellency, which brings with it
reverence: and the show of power invincible, which brings
fear. Who is like (say they) to the beast? Who shall be able
to fight with him?
13:59 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great
things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him 10
to continue forty [and] two months.
(9) The second part containing a history of the acts of the
beast, as I said (see Geneva "Re 13:1)". The history of
them is concluded in two points: the beginning, and the
manner of them. The beginning is the gift of the dragon,
who put and inspired into the beast both his impiety
against the godly and those that were of the household of
faith, in (Re 13:5) The manner of the acts or actions
done, is of two sorts, both impious in mind, and
blasphemous in speech against God, his Church and the godly
in (Re 13:6) and also most cruel and injurious in deeds,
even such as were done of most raging enemies, and of most
insolent and proud conquerors in (Re 13:7)
(10) Namely his actions, and manner of dealing. As concerning
those two and forty months, I have spoken of them before.
)See Geneva "Re 12:6")
13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to
blaspheme his name, 11 and his tabernacle, 12 and them
that dwell in heaven.
(11) That is, the holy Church, the true house of the living
(12) That is, the godly who as a group hid themselves from his
cruelty. For this bloody beast charged those holy souls
falsely with innumerable accusations for the name of Christ
as we read in Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Arnobius,
Minutius, Eusebius, Augustine and others: whose example
the latter times followed most diligently, in destroying
the flock of Christ: and we in our own memory have found
by experience, to our incredible grief. Concerning
heaven, see in (Re 11:12)
13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, 13
whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb
slain from the foundation of the world.
(13) That is, such as are not from everlasting elected in
Christ Jesus. For this is that Lamb slain; (Re 5:6).
These words I do with Aretas, distinguish in this manner:
whose names are not written from the laying of the
foundation of the world, in the book of Life, of the Lamb
slain. This distinction is confirmed by a similar verse in
13:914 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
(14) The conclusion of this speech of the first beast,
consisting of two parts, an exhortation to attentive
audience, in this verse: and a foretelling, which partly
contains threatenings against the wicked and partly comfort
for those who in patience and faith shall wait for that
glorious coming of our Lord and Saviour Christ;
13:1115 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the
earth; 16 and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake
as a dragon.
(15) The second part of the vision, concerning the
ecclesiastical dominion, which in Rome succeeded that
which was politic, and is in the power of the corporation
of false prophets and of the forgers of false doctrine.
Therefore the same beast, and the body or corporation is
called a false prophet by John; (Re 16:13,19:20). The
form of this beast is first described in this verse, then
his acts in the verses following: and the whole speech is
concluded in the last verse. This beast is by his breed,
a son of the earth (as they say) obscurely born, and
little by little creeping up out of his abject estate.
(16) That is, in show he resembled the Lamb (for what is more
mild or more humble then to be the servant of the servants
of God?} but indeed he played the part of the dragon, and
of the wolf; (Mt 7:15). For even Satan changes himself
into an angel of light; (2Co 11:14) and what should
his honest disciples and servants do?
13:1217 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast
before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell
therein 18 to worship the first beast, whose deadly
wound was healed.
(17) The history of the acts of this beast contains in sum
three things, hypocrisy, the witness of miracles and
tyranny: of which the first is noted in this verse, the
second in the three verses following: the third in the
sixteenth and seventeenth verses. His hypocrisy is most
full of lies, by which he abuses both the former beast
and the whole world: in that though he has by his cunning,
as it were by line, made of the former beast a most
miserable skeleton or anatomy, usurped all his authority
to himself and most impudently exercises the same in the
sight and view of him: yet he carries himself so as if he
honoured him with most high honour, and did truly cause
him to be reverenced by all men.
(18) For to this beast of Rome, which of civil Empire is made
an ecclesiastical hierarchy, are given divine honours, and
divine authority so far, as he is believed to be above the
scriptures, which the gloss upon the Decretals declares by
this devilish verse.
"Articulos solvit, synodumque facit generalem"
"He changes the Articles of faith, and
gives authority to general Councils."
hich is spoken of the papal power. So the beast is by
birth, foundation, feat, and finally substance, one: only
the Pope has altered the form and manner of it, being
himself the head both of that tyrannical empire, and also
of the false prophets: for the empire has he taken to
himself, and to it added this cunning device. Now these
words, "whose deadly wound was cured" are put here for
distinction sake, as also sometimes afterwards: that even
at that time the godly readers of this prophecy might by
this sign be brought to see the thing as present: as if it
were said, that they might adore this very empire that now
is, whose head we have seen in our own memory to have been
cut off, and to be cured again.
13:1319 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire
come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
(19) The second point of the things done by the beast, is the
credit of great wonders or miracles, and pertaining to the
strengthening of this impiety: of which signs some were
given from above, as it is said, that fire was sent down
from heaven by false sorcery, in this verse. Others were
shown here below in the sight of the beast, to establish
idolatry, and deceive souls: which part John sets forth,
beginning (as they say) at that which is last, in this
manner: First, the effect is declared in these words, "He
deceives the inhabitants of the earth". Secondly, the
common manner of working, in two sorts: one of miracles,
"for the signs which were given him to do in the presence
of the beast", the other of the words added to the signs,
and teaching the idolatry by those signs "saying to the
inhabitants of the earth, that they should make an image
to the beast, which etc." Thirdly, a special manner is
declared, "That it is given to him to put life into the
image of the beast" and that such a type of quickening,
that the same both speaks by answer to those that ask
counsel of it, and also pronounces death against all those
that do not obey nor worship it: all things which
oftentimes by false miracles through the procurement and
inspiration of the devil, have been effected and wrought
in images. The histories of the papists are full of
examples of such miracles, the most of them false, many
also done by the devil in images, as of old in the
serpent; (Ge 3:5). By which example is confirmed, not
the authority of the beast, but the truth of God and these
13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means
of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight
of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that
they should make an 20 image to the 21 beast, which
had the wound by a sword, and did live.
(20) That is, images, by "enallage" or change of the number:
for the worship of them ever since the second Council of
Nicea, has been ordained in the Church by public credit
and authority, contrary to the Law of God.
(21) In the Greek the word is in the Dative case, as much to
say, as to the worship, honour and obeying of the beast:
for by this maintenance of images, this pseudo-prophetical
beast mightily profits the beast of Rome, of whom long ago
he received them. Wherefore the same is hereafter
fittingly called the image of the beast, for images have
their beginning from the beast, and have their form or
manner from the will of the beast, and have their end and
use fixed in the profit and commodity of the beast.
13:1522 And he had power to give a life unto the image of
the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak,
and cause that as many as would not worship the image of
the beast should be killed.
(22) The papists books are full of these miracles of the images
of the beast, (that is, which the beast ordained to
establish idolatry) which miraculously speak, and give
judgment, or rather astonishingly, by the fraud of the
(a) To give life, as Jannes and Jambres imitated the
miracles that Moses did.
13:1623 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and
poor, free and bond, to receive 24 a b mark in their
right hand, or in their foreheads:
(23) The third point is a cruel exercise of power, as was said
before, usurped over men, in this verse: and over their
goods and actions, in the next verse. For he is said, to
bring on all persons a cruel slavery, that as bondslaves
they might serve the beast. Also he is said to exercise
over all their goods and actions, an abuse of indulgences
and dispensations (as they term them) among their friends
and against others, to use most violent prohibitions, and
to curse, even in natural and civil, private and public
contracts, in which all good faith ought to have place.
(24) That is their consecrated oil, by which in the ordinance
(as they call it) of confirmation, they make servants for
themselves, the persons and doings of men, signing them in
their forehead and hands. They make the sign left by
Christ, see (Re 7:3) and the ordinance of baptism
useless. For whom Christ has joined to himself as
signified by baptism this beast challenges with his greasy
consecrated oil, which he does not hesitate to prefer over
baptism, both in authority and value.
(b) The mark of the name of the beast.
13:17 And that no man might 25 buy or sell, save he that had
the 26 mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of
(25) That is, have any trade or dealings with men, but only
those who have this annointing and consecration of
Clearkely shaving of the head, as they call it, read
Gratian "de Consecratione, distincione tertia.c.omnes.cap
spiritus, etc." of these matters.
(26) Here the false prophets require three things, set down in
the order of their greatness, a character, a name, and the
number of the name. The meaning is, that man that does not
have their first annointing and clerical shaving of the
head: secondly holy orders, by which is communicated the
name of the beast: or finally has not attained that high
degree of pontifical knowledge, and of the law (as they
call it) canonical, and has not made up in account and
cast the number of the mysteries of it: for in these
things consists the number of the name of the beast. This
is excellently set forth in the next verse.
13:1827 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count
the number of the beast: for it is the 28 number of a
man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.
(27) That is, in this number of the beast consists that popish
wisdom, which to them seems the greatest of all others. In
these words John expounds the saying that went before the
number of the beast, what it has above his distinctive
mark and his name. These things, says John, the mark and
the name of the beast, is wisdom: that is, only the wise
and such as have understanding, can come by that number:
for they who would attain it must be knowledgeable
doctors, as the words following declare.
(28) How great and of what denomination this number of the
beast is by which the beast accounts his wisdom, John
declares in these words, "Do you demand how great it is?"
It is so great, that it occupies the whole man: he is
always learning, and never comes to the knowledge of it:
he must be a man in deed that does attain to it. You ask
what denomination it is? Truly it is six throughout, all
the parts of it in their denominations (as they term them)
it stands of six by units, tens, hundreds, etc. There is
not one part in the pontifical learning and order, which
is not either referred to the head, the top of it, or
contained in the same: so fitly do all things in this
hierarchy agree with one another, and with their head.
Therefore that cruel beast Boniface the eighth, does
commend by the number of six those Decretals which he
perfected: in the sixth book. "Which book (he says) being
to be added to five other books of the same volume of
Decretals, we thought good to name Sextum the sixth: that
the same volume by addition of it, containing a senary, or
the number of six books (which is a number perfect) may
yield a perfect form of managing all things, and perfect
discipline of behaviour." Here therefore is the number of
the beast, who empowers from himself all his parts, and
brings them all back to himself by his discipline in most
wise and cunning manner. If any man desires more of this,
let him read the gloss on that place. I am not ignorant
that other interpretations are given in this place; but I
thought it my duty, with the good favour of all, and
without the offence of any, to propound my opinion in this
point. For this cause especially, since it seemed to me
neither profitable, nor likely to be true, that the number
of the beast, or the name of the beast should be taken as
the common interpreters take it. This number of the beast
teaches, gives out, imprints, as a public mark of those
who are his, and esteems that mark above all others, as
the mark of those whom he loves best. Now those other
expositions seem to be far removed from this property and
condition of that number: whether you respect the name
Latinus, or Titan, or any other. For these the beast does
not teach, nor give forth, nor imprint, but most
diligently forbids to be taught, and audaciously denies:
he does not approve them, but reproves them: and hates
those that think so of this number, with a hatred greater
then that of Vatinius.