Revelation 13 Mark Of The Beast Commentaries

This Revelation Timeline Decoded post features commentaries from the great theologians of the 16th-19th centuries.

The point of this post is to show that they all point to the antichrist beast Popes of Rome and that revering the Pope causes a person to have his mark.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible – Revelation 13:16

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

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

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

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

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

(a) a graving, sculpture, sculptured work, as images or idols;
(b) a mark cut in or stamped–as the stamp on coin. Applied to men, it was used to denote some stamp or mark on the hand or elsewhere–as in the case of a servant on whose hand or arm the name of the master was impressed; or of a soldier on whom some mark was impressed denoting the company or phalanx to which he belonged. It was no uncommon thing to mark slaves or soldiers in this way; and the design was either to denote their ownership or rank, or to prevent their escaping so as not to be detected. (Among the Romans, slaves were stigmatized with the master’s name or mark on their foreheads.

So Valerius Maximus speaks of the custom for slaves “literatum notis inuri;” and Plautus calls the slave “literatus.” Ambrose (De Obit. Valentin.) says, Charactere Domini inscribuntur servuli. Petronius mentions the forehead as the place of the mark: Servitia ecce in frontibus cernitis. In many cases, soldiers bore the emperor’s name or mark imprinted on the hand. Actius says, Stigmata vocant quae in facie, vel in alia parte corporis, inscribuntur; qualia sunt militum in manibus. So Ambrose says, Nomine imperatoris signantur milites. Compare Cmt. on Ga 6:17.)

Most of us have seen such marks made on the hands or arms of sailors, in which, by a voluntary tattooing, their names, or the names of their vessels, were written, or the figure of an anchor, or some other device, was indelibly made by punctures in the skin, and by inserting some kind of colouring matter. The thing which it is here said was engraven on the hand or the forehead was the “name” of the beast, or the “number” of his name, Re 13:17.

That is, the “name” or the “number” was so indelibly inscribed either on the hand or the forehead, as to show that he who bare it appertained to the “beast,” and was subject to his authority–as a slave is to his master, or a soldier to his commander. Applied to the Papacy, the meaning is, that there would be some mark of distinction; some indelible sign; something which would designate, with entire certainty, those persons who belonged to it, and who were subject to it.

It is hardly necessary to say that, in point of fact, this has eminently characterized the Papacy. All possible care has been taken to designate with accuracy those who belong to that communion, and all over the world it is easy to distinguish those who render allegiance to the Papal power. Compare Cmt. on Re 7:3. {1} “receive a mark” “give them”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible – Revelation 13:17

And that no man might buy or sell. That is, this mighty power would claim jurisdiction over the traffic of the world, and endeavour to make it tributary to its own purposes. Compare Re 18:11-13,17-19. This is represented by saying that no one might” buy or sell” except by its permission; and it is clear that where this power exists of determining who may “buy and sell,” there is absolute control over the wealth of the world.

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

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

Or the number of his name. In regard to what is denoted by the number of the beast, Cmt. on Re 13:18. The idea here is, that that “number;” whatever it was, was so marked on him as to show to whom he belonged. According to the interpretation here proposed, the meaning of this passage is, that the Papacy would claim jurisdiction over traffic and commerce; or would endeavour to bring it under its control, and make it subservient to its own ends.

Traffic or commerce is one of the principal means by which property is acquired, and he who has the control of this has, to a great degree, the control of the wealth of a nation; and the question now is, whether any such jurisdiction has been set up, or whether any such control has in fact been exercised, so that the wealth of the world has been subject to Papal Rome. For a more full illustration of this I may refer to Cmt. on Re 18:11, seq.; but at present it may be sufficient to remark that the manifest aim of the Papacy in all its history has been to control the world, and to get dominion over its wealth, in order that it might accomplish its own purposes.

But, besides this, there have been numerous specified acts more particularly designed to control the business of “buying and selling.” It has been common in Rome to prohibit, by express law, all traffic with heretics. Thus a canon of the Lateran council, under Pope Alexander III., commanded that no man should entertain or cherish them in his house or land, or traffic with them.–Hard, vi. it. 1684.

The synod of Tours, under the same Pope Alexander, passed the law that no man should presume to receive or assist the heretics, no, not so much as to exercise commerce with them in selling or buying. And so, too, the Constance council, as expressed in Pope Martin’s bull.–Elliott, iii. 220, 221.
{a} “number of his name” Re 15:2

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible – Revelation 13:16

And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark – To ascertain the meaning of the mark which the two-horned beast causes all orders and degrees of men in the Latin world to receive, we need only refer to Re 14:11, where the mark imposed by the two-horned beast is called the mark of his name. The name of the beast is the Latin empire: the mark of his name must therefore be his Latin worship: for this very reason, that it is the two-horned beast, or false prophet, who causes all descriptions of persons to receive it.

Now it is well known that the continual employment of the Latin clergy is to enforce the Latin idolatry upon their flocks. The mass and offices of the Church, which are in Latin, and contain the sum and substance of their idolatrous worship, are of different kinds, and abound in impious prayers to the Virgin Mary, and the saints and angels. In a word, the Latin worship is the universal badge of distinction of the Latin Church, from all other Churches on the face of the earth; and is therefore the only infallible Mark by which a genuine papist can be distinguished from the rest of mankind. But the two-horned beast causes all to receive this mark: –

In their right hand, or in their foreheads – Right hand in Scripture language, when used figuratively, represents the physical power of the person of whom it is spoken; and when applied to God designates a signal manifestation of Divine power against his enemies, and in behalf of his people. See Ps 17:7; 20:6; 21:8; 45:3, Ps 45:4, etc. The reception of the mark in the right hand must therefore mean, that all so receiving it devote the whole powers of their mind and body to the propagation of the Latin worship, and to the eradication of all they denominate heresies out of their Church.

But some receive the mark in their foreheads. By any thing being impressed upon the forehead, is meant the public profession of whatever is inscribed or marked upon it. See Re 9:4; 14:1; 22:4, etc. The mark of the beast being received on the forehead, therefore, means that all those so marked make a public profession of the Latin worship; whereby it is evident to all that they form a part of the Latin Church.

Many may be marked in the right hand who are also marked on their foreheads, but it does not follow that those marked on their foreheads are also marked in their right hand; that is to say, it is not every individual that complies with the Latin worship who, to the utmost of his power, endeavors to propagate his religious system. Hence the propriety of the words, “He causeth all – to receive a mark in their right hand, Or in their foreheads.”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible – Revelation 13:17

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark – “If any,” observes Bishop Newton, “dissent from the stated and authorized forms; they are condemned and excommunicated as heretics; and in consequence of that they are no longer suffered to buy or sell; they are interdicted from traffic and commerce, and all the benefits of civil society. So Roger Hoveden relates of William the Conqueror, that he was so dutiful to the pope that he would not permit any one in his power to buy or sell any thing whom he found disobedient to the apostolic see.

So the canon of the council of Lateran, under Pope Alexander III., made against the Waldenses and Albigenses, enjoins, upon pain of anathema, that no man presume to entertain or cherish them in his house or land, or exercise traffic with them. The synod of Tours, in France, under the same pope, orders, under the like intermination, that no man should presume to receive or assist them, no, not so much as hold any communion with them, in selling or buying; that, being deprived of the comfort of humanity they may be compelled to repent of the error of their way.”

In the tenth and eleventh centuries the severity against the excommunicated was carried to so high a pitch, that nobody might come near them, not even their own wives, children, or servants; they forfeited all their natural legal rights and privileges, and were excluded from all kinds of offices.

The form of excommunication in the Romish Church is to take lighted torches, throw them upon the ground with curses and anathemas, and trample them out under foot to the ringing of the bells. It is in this and similar ways that the false prophet has terrified the Latin world, and kept it in subjection to the secular and spiritual powers. Those interdicted by the two-horned beast from all offices of civil life are also such as have not: –

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible – Revelation 13:16

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, Men of all ranks and degrees, states and conditions, within his jurisdiction; this refers to the beast, and not to the image:

to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; or “that they might give themselves marks”, as the Complutensian edition reads; which is an allusion either to the custom among the Romans of imprinting marks upon their servants and soldiers, by which they might be known to whom they belonged; servants had them in their foreheads, and soldiers in their hands; or to the usages of the Jews in binding their phylacteries upon their arms and foreheads, to put them in mind of the law of God, and their obedience to it; or to the practices of the Heathens, in putting the mark of the god they worshipped upon their bodies;

Maimonides says, it was a custom with the Gentiles to mark themselves with their idols, showing that they were their bought servants, and were marked for their service: the sense is, that some received the mark in one place, and some in another: those who were obliged to receive the mark in the right hand seem to be the clergy, such who entered into holy orders; who lifted up their right hand, and swore and vowed allegiance to the pope, and testified they were ready to defend and support his religion and interest; and who in their ordination are said to have an indelible character impressed on them: and those who received the mark in their foreheads are the common people in general, who one and all have the same impress upon them; which may intend either the sign of the cross in baptism, or rather their open confession of the Popish religion, which they as publicly avow and declare as if it had been written on their foreheads.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible – Revelation 13:17

And that no man might buy or sell, Either in an ecclesiastical sense, as to, be in any church office, or perform any such service, to say Mass, hear confession, give absolution, sell pardons and indulgences, etc. or in a civil sense, as to trade, and exercise merchandise, and this was forbidden by several Popish councils and synods; the Lateran council, under Pope Alexander, decreed against the Waldenses and Albigenses, that no one should presume to retain or encourage them in their houses or countries, or “trade” with them; and the synod of Tours in France forbid any reception of heretics, or protection, and that any communion should be had with them “in buying and selling”, as Mr. Mede has observed; and it was ordered by a bull of Pope Martin the Fifth, that no contract should be made with such, and that they should not follow any business and merchandise:

save he that had the mark; took the oath to be true to the pope, or made a public profession of the Popish religion:

or the name of the beast; Papists, so called from the pope; thus the antichristians are called from antichrist, as the Christians from Christ:

or the number of his name; which is either the same with the number of the beast in Re 13:18, or is something distinct it; and those who have it may be such persons who neither have the indelible character of the Romish clergy, nor are open professors of the Popish religion, but are in heart inclined to it, and privately and secretly promote it, by their doctrines and practices; and so are numbered, reckoned, esteemed, and accounted of by the Papists, and receive favours from them; or rather such who openly “furnish the drink offering” in the Mass, mixed with wine and water, למני, “for that number”, Isa 65:11.

The People’s New Testament Commentary – Revelation 13:16

He causeth all . . . to receive a mark. The mark of the beast is some stamp or sign, by which all its worshipers should be known. In ancient days slaves were sometimes branded, as cattle are in our own age. The brand or mark of the beast would be some indelible sign which would designate with certainty those who were subject to his authority.

A mark in the hand is supposed by some to represent the practice, while a mark in the forehead indicates the profession of life. It is remarkable, however, that a mark on the forehead, the sign of the cross made with water, converts a person into a Roman Catholic, and without this mark none are regarded as heirs of salvation.

The People’s New Testament Commentary – Revelation 13:17

No man might buy or sell, etc. It has been common for Catholics to be forbidden to patronize those who were not loyal to the Pope. At least three councils are named, those of Tours, of Constance and the Lateran, which have expressly forbidden business intercourse with heretics.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible – Revelation 13:16

No particular character is here to be understood, but only the general imposition of the Romish faith upon all sorts of persons. His mark was nothing else but either the profession of his faith and religion, or a vowed subjection to his commands, which we know is the practice of the papacy where it obtaineth in any country.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible – Revelation 13:17

And that no man might buy or sell: this the popish church effects by its excommunications; it was begun in the council of Lateran, anathematizing all who entertained any of the Waldenses, or traded with them; and the late learned bishop of Armagh, in his book De Successione Ecclesiae, hath given us an account of such a canon of a synod in France, which in express terms forbade any commerce with heretics in buying or selling.

Paraeus tells us Pope Martin the Fifth hath best interpreted this prophecy, in his bull added to the council of Constance, where he prohibits Roman Catholics to suffer any heretics to have any dwellings in their countries, or to make any bargains, or use any trades, or to perform to them any civil offices.

Save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name: there have been great disputes about the name and number of the beast. I must profess myself not able to distinguish between the mark, name, and number of the beast; they may all signify the same thing, viz. the profession of the Romish religion. Some think the number is contained in the name, and that the name is DATEINOS, in which the number six hundred and sixty-six is contained; of which we shall speak more by and by.

As you can see, all of them point to the Popes of Rome as the antichrist beast and that people who revere the Pope have the mark of the beast on them. Sadly, that includes 1.3 billion Catholics today who revere him as their leaders.

Read The Fulfillments Of The Mark Of The Beast 

Revelation 13 Mark Of The Beast Commentaries

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