on Revelation 11 :7
The beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit - This may be what is called antichrist; some power that is opposed to genuine Christianity. But what or whence, except from the bottomless pit, i.e., under the influence and appointment of the devil, we cannot tell; nor do we know by what name this power or being should be called. The conjectures concerning the two witnesses and the beast have been sufficiently multiplied. If the whole passage, as some think, refer to the persecution raised by the Jews against the Christians, then some Jewish power or person is the beast from the bottomless pit. If it refer to the early ages of Christianity, then the beast may be one of the persecuting heathen emperors. If it refer to a later age of Christianity, then the beast may be the papal power, and the Albigenses and Waldenses the two witnesses, which were nearly extinguished by the horrible persecutions raised up against them by the Church of Rome. Whatever may be here intended, the earth has not yet covered their blood.
on Revelation 11 :7
And when they shall have finished their testimony - Prof. Stuart renders this, "And whenever they shall have finished their testimony." The reference is undoubtedly to a period when they should have faithfully borne the testimony which they were appointed to bear. The word rendered here "shall have finished" - τελέσωσιν telesōsin, from τελέω teleō means properly to end, to finish, to complete, to accomplish. It is used, in this respect, in two senses - either in regard to time or in regard to the end or object in view, in the sense of "perfecting it," or "accomplishing it." In the former sense it is employed in such passages as the following: "Till the thousand years should be fulfilled," Revelation 20:3. "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel (Greek, ye shall not have finished the cities of Israel) until the Son of man be come," Matthew 10:23; that is, ye shall not have finished passing through them. "When Jesus had made an end (Greek, finished) of commanding his twelve disciples," Matthew 11:1. "I have "finished" my course," 2 Timothy 4:7.
In these passages it clearly refers to time. In the other sense it is used in such places as the following: "And shall not the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law," Romans 2:27; that is, if it accomplish or come up to the demands of the law. "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scriptures," James 2:8. The word, then, may here refer not to "time," meaning that, these events would occur at the end of the "thousand two hundred and threescore days," but to the fact that what is here stated would occur when they had completed their testimony in the sense of having testified all that they were "appointed" to testify; that is, when they had borne full witness for God, and fully uttered his truth. Thus understood, the meaning here may be that the event here referred to would take place, not at the end of the 1260 years, but at that period during the 1260 years when it could be said with propriety that they had accomplished their testimony in the world, or that they had borne full and ample witness on the points entrusted to them.
The beast - This is the first time in the Book of Revelation in which what is here called "the beast" is mentioned, and which has so important an agency in the events which it is said would occur. It is repeatedly mentioned in the course of the book, and always with similar characteristics, and as referring to the same object. Here it is mentioned as "ascending out of the bottomless pit"; in Revelation 13:1, as "rising up out of the sea"; in Revelation 13:11, as "coming up out of the earth." It is also mentioned with characteristics appropriate to such an origin, in Revelation 13:2-4 (twice), Revelation 13:11, Revelation 13:12 (twice), Revelation 13:14 (twice), Revelation 13:15 (twice), 17, 18; Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2, Revelation 16:10, Revelation 16:13; Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:7-8 (twice), 11, 12, 13, 16, 17; Revelation 19:19-20 (twice); Revelation 20:4, Revelation 20:9. The word used here - θηρίον thērion - means properly "a beast, a wild beast," Mark 1:13; Acts 10:12; Acts 11:6; Acts 28:4-5; Hebrews 12:20; James 3:7; Revelation 6:8. It is once used tropically of brutal or savage men, Titus 1:12. Elsewhere, in the passages above referred to in the Apocalypse, it is used symbolically. As employed in the Book of Revelation, the characteristics of the "beast" are strongly marked:
(a) It has its origin from beneath - in the bottomless pit; the sea; the earth, Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11.
(b) It has great power, Revelation 13:4, Revelation 13:12; Revelation 17:12-13.
(c) It claims and receives worship, Revelation 13:3, Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:14-15; Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11.
(d) It has a certain "seat" or throne from whence its power proceeds, Revelation 16:10.
(e) It is of scarlet color, Revelation 17:3.
(f) It receives power conferred upon it by the kings of the earth, Revelation 17:13,
(g) It has a mark by which it is known, Revelation 13:17; Revelation 19:20.
(h) It has a certain "number"; that is, there are certain mystical letters or figures which so express its name that it may be known, Revelation 13:17-18.
These things serve to characterize the "beast" as distinguished from all other things, and they are so numerous and definite, that it would seem to have been intended to make it easy to understand what was meant when the power referred to should appear. In regard to the origin of the imagery here, there can be no reasonable doubt that it is to be traced to Daniel, and that the writer here means to describe the same "beast" which Daniel refers to in Revelation 7:7. The evidence of this must be clear to anyone who will compare the description in Daniel Rev. 7 with the minute details in the book of Revelation. No one, I think, can doubt that John means to carry forward the description ill Daniel, and to apply it to new manifestations of the same great and terrific power - the power of the fourth monarchy - on the earth. For full evidence that the representation in Daniel refers to the Roman power prolonged and perpetuated in the papal dominion, I must refer the reader to the notes on Daniel 7:25. It may be assumed here that the opinion there defended is correct, and consequently it may be assumed that the "beast" of this book refers to the papal power.
That ascendeth out of the bottomless pit - See the notes on Revelation 9:1. This would properly mean that its origin is the nether world; or that it will have characteristics which will show that it was from beneath. The meaning clearly is, that what was symbolized by the beast would have such characteristics as to show that it was not of divine origin, but had its source in the world of darkness, sin, and death. This, of course, could not represent the true church, or any civil government that is founded on principles which God approves. But if it represent a community pretending to be a church, it is an apostate church; if a civil community, it is a community the characteristics of which are that it is controlled by the spirit that rules over the world beneath. For reasons which we shall see in abundance in applying the descriptions which occur of the "beast," I regard this as referring to that great apostate power which occupies so much of the prophetic descriptions - the papacy.
Shall make war against them - Will endeavor to exterminate them by force. This clearly is not intended to be a general statement that they would be persecuted, but to refer to the particular manner in which the opposition would be conducted. It would be in the form of "war"; that is, there would be an effort to destroy them by arms.
on Revelation 11 :7
11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony - Till then they are invincible. The wild beast - Hereafter to be described. That ascendeth - First out of the sea, Rev 13:1, and then out of the bottomless pit, Rev 17:8. Shall make war with them - It is at his last ascent, not out of the sea, but the bottomless pit, that the beast makes war upon the two witnesses. And even hereby is fixed the time of treading the holy city, and of the two witnesses. That time ends after the ascent of the beast out of the abyss, and yet before the fulfilling of the mystery. And shall conquer them - The fire no longer proceeding out of their mouth when they have finished their work. And kill them - These will be among the last martyrs, though not the last of all.