on Revelation 13 :3
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death - This is the second and last place where the heads of the beast are mentioned with any description; and therefore the meaning here must be forms of government, as these were noticed last in the angel's double explanation. The head that was wounded to death can be no other than the seventh draconic head, which was the sixth head of the beast, viz., the imperial power; for "this head," as Bishop Newton observes, "was, as it were, wounded to death when the Roman empire was overturned by the northern nations, and an end was put to the very name of emperor in Momyllus Augustulus." It was so wounded that it was wholly improbable that it could ever rise again to considerable power, for the western empire came into the possession of several barbarous nations of independent interests.
And his deadly wound was healed - This was effected by Charlemagne, who with his successors assumed all the marks of the ancient emperors of the west, with the titles of Semper Augustus, Sacred Majesty, First Prince of the Christian World, Temporal Chief of the Christian People, and Rector or Temporal Chief of the Faithful in Germany; Mod. Universal History, vol. xxxii., p. 79. But it is said in Revelation 13:2 that the dragon gave the beast his power, δυναμιν, his armies or military strength; i.e., he employed all his imperial power in defense of the Latin empire, which supported the Latin Church. He also gave his seat, θρονον, literally his throne, to him: that is, his whole empire formed an integral part of the Latin empire, by its conversion to the Roman Catholic faith. He also gave him great authority. This is literally true of the Roman empire of Germany, which, by its great power and influence in the politics of Europe, extended the religion of the empire over the various states and monarchies of Europe, thus incorporating them as it were in one vast empire, by uniting them in one common faith.
And all the world wondered after the beast - Ὁλη ἡ γη· All the earth. As the original word signifies earth, and not world as in our translation, the Latin world, which is the earth of the beast, is here intended; and the meaning of the passage consequently is, that the whole body of the Roman Catholics were affected with great astonishment at the mighty sway of the Latin empire, considering it as a great and holy power.
on Revelation 13 :3
And I saw one of his heads, as it were wounded to death - The phrase "wounded to death" means properly that it received a mortal wound, that is, the wound would have been mortal if it had not been healed. A blow was struck that would be naturally fatal, but there was something that prevented the fatal result. John does not say, however, by whom the wound was inflicted, nor does he describe further the nature of the wound. He says that "one of the heads" - that is, one of the seven heads - was thus wounded. In Revelation 17:9, he says that "the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth." In Revelation 17:10, he says, "there are seven kings." And this would lead us to suppose that there were "seven" administrations, or forms of dominion, or dynasties, that were presented to the eye of John; and that while the number "seven," as applied to the "heads," so far identified the power as to fix its location on the seven "hills" Revelation 17:9, in another respect also the number "seven" suggested forms of administration of dynasties, Revelation 17:10. What is meant by saying that one of these heads was wounded to death has been among the most perplexing of all the inquiries pertaining to the Book of Revelation. The use of the word "seven," and the explanation in Revelation 17:9, make it morally certain that Rome, in some form of its administration, is referred to. Of this there can be no doubt, and in this all are agreed. It is not, however, the papal power as such that is here referred to; for:
(a) the papal power is designated under the image of the second beast;
(b) the descriptions pertaining to the first beast are all applicable to a secular power and,
(c) there was no form of the papal spiritual dominion which would properly correspond with what is said in Revelation 17:10.
The reference in this place is, therefore, to Rome considered as a civil or secular power, yet Rome regarded as giving support to the second beast - the papal power. The general idea here is, that a state of things would exist in regard to that power, at the time referred to, as if one of the seven heads of the monster should receive a wound which would be fatal, if it were not healed in some way. That is, its power would be weakened; its dominion would be curtailed, and that portion of its power would have come to an end, if there had not been something which would, as it were, restore it, and save it from the wrath that was impending. The great point of difficulty relates to the particular application of this; to the facts in history that would correspond with the symbol.
On this there have been almost as many opinions as there have been interpreters of the Apocalypse, and there is no impropriety in saying that none of the solutions are wholly free from objection. The main difficulty, so far as the interpretation proposed above is concerned, is, in the fact that "one" of the seven heads is referred to as wounded unto death; as if one-seventh part of the power was endangered. I confess I am not able wholly to solve this difficulty; but, after all, is it certain that the meaning is that just one-seventh part of the power was in peril; that the blow affected just such a portion that it might be described as the one-seventh part? Is not the number seven so used in the Scriptures as to denote a considerable portion - a portion quite material and important? And may not all that is intended here be, that John saw a wound inflicted on that mighty power which would have been fatal if it had not been marvelously healed? And was it not true that the Roman civil and secular power was so waning and decaying, that it might properly be represented as if one of the seven heads of the monster had received a fatal wound, until its power was restored by the influence of the spiritual domination of the church of Rome? If this be the correct exposition, then what is implied here may be thus stated:
(a) The general subject of the representation is the Roman power, as seen at first in its vigor and strength;
(b) then that power is said to be greatly weakened, as if one of its heads were smitten with a deadly wound;
(c) then the wound was healed - this power was restored - by being brought into alliance with the papacy; that is, the whole Roman power over the world would have died away, if it had not been restored and perpetuated by means of this new and mighty influence, Revelation 13:12.
Under this new form, Rome had all the power which it had ever had, and was guilty of all the atrocities of which it had ever been guilty: it was Rome still. Every wound that was inflicted on that power by the incursion of barbarians, and by the dividing off of parts of the empire, was healed by the papacy, and under this form its dominion became as wide and as formidable as under its ancient mode of administration. If a more particular application of this is sought for, I see no reason to doubt that it may be found in the quite common interpretation of the passage given by Protestants, that the reference is to the forms of administration under which this power appeared in the world. The number of distinct forms of government which the Roman power assumed from first to last was the following: kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors. These seven forms of administration were, at least, sufficiently prominent and marked to be represented by this symbol, or to attract the attention of one contemplating this formidable power - for it was under these forms that its conquests had been achieved, and its dominion set up over the earth. In the time of John, and the time contemplated in this vision, all these had passed away but the imperial. That, too, was soon to be smitten with a deadly wound by the invasion of the Northern hordes; and that would have wholly and forever ceased if it had not been restored - the deadly wound being healed - by the influence of the papal power, giving Rome its former ascendency. See the notes at the close of Revelation 13:15.
And his deadly wound was healed - That is, as explained above, the waning Roman secular power was restored by its connection with the spiritual power - the papacy. This was:
(a) a simple matter of fact, that the waning secular power of Rome was thus restored by connecting itself with the spiritual or ecclesiastical power, thus prolonging what might properly be called the Roman domination far beyond what it would otherwise have been; and,
(b) this would be properly represented by just the symbol employed here - the fatal wound inflicted on the head, and the healing of that wound, or preventing what would naturally be the effects. On the fulfillment of this, see the notes on Revelation 13:15, at the close.
And all the world wondered after the beast - The word used here - θαυμαζω thaumazō - means, properly, to be astonished; to be amazed; then to wonder at; then to admire and follow (Robinson, Lexicon). In Revelation 13:4, it is said that the world "worshipped" the beast; and the general idea is, that the beast received such universal reverence, or inspired such universal awe, as to be properly called worship or adoration. There can be no doubt of the propriety of this, considered as applicable to that secular Roman power which sustained the papacy. The homage was as wide as the limits of the Roman empire had ever been, and might be said to embrace "all the world."
on Revelation 13 :3