Hanserd Knollys on Revelation 13 (Historicism)

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Puritan Board Doctor
Rev. 13.1:

By sea here, we may understand some very great confluence of people, and nations. (Re 17:15) Learned Meade in his comment upon (Re 8) faith, that Alaricus, with an huge host of Goths, and other barbarians, Alans, Huns, etc., invaded the Roman empire, both east and west, etc. By the beast here, we may understand the beast of the eighth head, Re 17:11 -See KNOLLYS on “Rev 17:11” the popedom of Rome papal, with his ten crowned horns; horns, which Mr. Meade faith, are, first, the Britans; Secondly, the Saxons; Thirdly, the Franks; Fourthly, the Burgundians; Fifthly, the Wisigothes; Sixthly, the Swedes; Seventhly, the Vandals; Eighthly, the Alemans; Ninthly, the Ostrogoths; Tenthly, the Grecians. These were ten Roman provinces, who received power as kings one hour with the beast. (Re 17:12) See the exposition thereof. See KNOLLYS on “Rev 17:12” The seven heads had the crowns, (Re 12:3)

And upon his heads the name of blasphemy that is, they were all seven idolaters, see (Re 7:10) who worshipped idols of stone, wood, etc., historians differ about the exact year of the beasts rising, but most probable it was between 410 and 428 which will appear before 1688 be fully ended.

My note: John Gill and Robert Flemming disagree with Knollys and argue for the year 606 a.d.

Gill notes: “if to this we add 1,260 the expiration of his reigns will fall in the year 1866, so that he may have upwards of a hundred and twenty years yet to continue; but of this we cannot be certain; however, the conjecture is not improbable.”

I believe Gill’s arguments make more sense. Napoleon gave the death blow to political Rome but Rome took some time to fade in political power. The Pope lost secular authority in 1866.

Wikipedia: “After defeating the papal army on 18 September 1860 at the Battle of Castelfidardo, and on 30 September at Ancona, Victor Emmanuel took all the Papal territories except Latium with Rome. In 1866 he granted Pius IX the Law of Guarantees (13 May 1871) which gave the Pope the use of the Vatican but denied him sovereignty over this territory, nevertheless granting him the right to send and receive ambassadors and a budget of 3.25 million liras annually. Pius IX officially rejected this offer (encyclical Ubi nos, 15 May 1871), retaining his claim to all the conquered territory.” Interesting. Gill seems to have used the book of Revelation to actually predict the last battle Papal Rome would have resulting in it’s loss of political power. https://feileadhmor.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/1260-days/

(end of my notes)

Rev. 13.2:

And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. By the dragon, we are to understand that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, Re 12:9 and Re 20:2. See KNOLLYS on “Rev 20:2” The throne of the beast, is the kingdom of the world, especially the ten crowned kingdoms before mentioned, whereof Great Britain is first, and shall be the last. The power of the beast, is his poli-ecclesiastical jurisdiction in all causes, and over all persons, civil, military, maritime, and ecclesiastical

Rev. 13.3:

This was the Roman papal head, the Pope, who is the eighth head, and is of the seven, as (Re 17:10-11) The beast that John saw rise out of the sea, had seven heads and ten horns as well as the dragon, only the principal distinction between them is this, the dragons heads were crowned, and the beasts horns were crowned…we are to understand the last head of the Roman pagan dragon; viz. his seventh head, and the first head of the Roman papal beast, was wounded (as it were) unto death, that is, had a deadly wound given him by the great Barbarian armies, (before mentioned) by whom Rome was sacked, and the Pope of Rome made to fly from thence to Vienna, (as historians testify)

Rev. 13.4:

This worship of the dragon, and of the beast, was an idolatrous and superstitious worship, which is accounted a worshipping of the devil. (1Co 10:20-22) As the gentiles worshipping idols, and images, is called worshipping the devil. (Re 9:20 see the exposition) See KNOLLYS on “Rev 9:20” So the papists worshipping images, crosses, crucifixes, saints deceased, the image of the Virgin Mary, altars, etc., is worshipping the devil. Also the great adoration that the Papists give unto the Pope himself, and to his decrees, etc., is (not a dive, but) a devilish worship. The two following queries have very much idolatrous adoration in them. (Read Ps 35:10 71:19 89:8 113:3-5)

Rev. 13:5-6:

This mouth speaking great things was like that mouth of the little horn. (Da 7:24-25) The great things which the beasts mouth spake, are his blasphemies against God, as (2Th 2:4) and his tabernacle that is, the churches of God. And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months that is, a thousand two hundred and sixty prophetical days. See the exposition, (Re 11:2-7) See KNOLLYS on “Rev 11:2” ff and Re 12:6. See KNOLLYS on “Rev 12:6”

Rev. 13.7-8:

slain from the foundation of the world; that is, ordained and decreed from eternity to be slain. Namely, our Lord Jesus Christ, called the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. (Joh 1:29-36) They are safe, being sealed, (2Ti 2:19) but the non-elect are in danger to be deceived and deluded by false prophets, apostles, and teachers, who are Satan’s ministers, (2Co 11:13-15) of whom our Saviour testified, (Mt 24:24-25) and also his apostles. (2Th 2:10-12 2Pe 2:1-4)

Rev. 13.11:

The same Roman papal kingdom, is here said to be another beast because he is otherwise described: that beast rose out of the sea, and this beast came up out of the earth. But as in (Da 7:16-17) Daniel in his vision, saw four beasts come up from the sea, (Da 7:3,17) the same shall arise out of the earth. So here (Re 13:11) is the same beast. And he had two horns like a Lamb. This seemeth to be another difference, not real, but in shew; another shape, form, and representation, but yet he was the same beast, though of another head, the beast of the eighth head, with two horns; yet of the seventh head with ten horns. And he spake as a dragonhis speech betrayeth him to be a devouring beast, and not a Lamb. For though he pretends to be for Christ, the Lamb of God, (as his vicar general,) both in respect of his political and ecclesiastical power, which is his two horns; yet he exerciseth both for the dragon, that old serpent called the devil and Satan. (Re 20:2)

Rev. 13.12:

whose deadly wound was healed. The beast had seven heads; that is, imperial sovereign power and dominion over the earth. And his seventh head had a wound by a sword, (Re 13:14) that is, by the sword of the Barbarians, who waged war against the Roman Empire, did sack and burn Rome, and forced the Pope of Rome to fly to Vienna, as historians testify. This deadly wound was healed, when the Barbarian armies were driven out of Italy, and the Pope returned to Rome again; and was by the Emperor Phocas made universal bishop, and head of the Catholic Church (so called) about the year 426 of Christ, and 666 from the first beginning of the fourth metal kingdom.

Rev. 13.14:

The man of sin, the Antichrist, is a deceiver. (2Jo 7 2Th 2:9-10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. That is, those inhabiters of the earth, (Re 8:13) whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, who are worshippers of the beast. (Re 13:8) Saying to them that dwell on the earth,that is, requiring and commanding them to make an image to the beast

Rev. 13.16-18:

By the name of the beast, we are to understand, that by which he is commonly known; that is, his sovereign power and supremacy in all matters, and over all persons, both political and ecclesiastical, as Lord and head of the Catholic Church on earth; and the only potentate, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. For he opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, (2Th 2:4) Shewing himself that he is God. And herein the Pope of Rome is Antichrist, and his poli-ecclesiastic dominion is anti-Christian. For God hath set our Lord Jesus Christ far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. (Eph 1:20-22 Php 2:9-11)

By the mark received in the right hand and in the forehead, we are to understand the profession of the faith of a Roman Catholic, by and through which he doth acknowledge his subjection, and allegiance to the universal headship of the Pope of Rome. This definition of the mark received in the right hand and in the forehead agreeth, first, omni, to every subject in the beast’s kingdom; for he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond to receive a mark. (Re 13:16,17) Though all are not Cardinals, all are not archbishops, all are not Lord Bishops, yet all are Catholics, all agree in this, to profess the universal headship of the Bishop of Rome. This is not a maxime communis. Secondly, the mark agreeth Soli, only to such as are subjects of the beast’s kingdom, and to none else. Here is not a maxime propria. Thirdly, the mark agreeth semper, at all times, (Re 16:2 20:4) of the beast’s dominion from the beginning to the end of his kingdom. The name of universal headship is that which giveth foundation to the mark or profession, a priori. And the mark or profession is that which declareth the name, or universal headship a posteriori; and therefore it is called χαραγμα του ονοματος αυτου, the mark of his name. (Re 14:11) And receive the mark of his name. The punishments there threatened shew how great a sin it is against Christ openly to profess subjection to the universal headship of the Pope. It was always dangerous to worship the beast or his image, or receive his mark; but now it will be damnable. (Re 14:9-11) It is the peculiar and incommunicable pre-eminence of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the only head of the Church of God. (Col 1:18) Therefore what man so ever doth ascribe the universal headship of the church to any but our Lord Jesus Christ, doth (as much as in him lies) dethrone Christ, and put him from his kingly and sovereign dignity, authority and kingdom.

By the number of the beast we are to understand the year six hundred threescore and six. (Re 13:18) Some expositors have thought this number to be the finishing or ending time of the beast’s kingdom; but they were mistaken; for it was foretold John to be the beginning of time of the beast’s universal headship. Now the wisdom given to understand this time and number of the beast, is to make a just account of the time from the beginning of the Roman Kingdom unto the six hundred sixty sixth year thereof; when the Emperor Phocas, by his edict, declared the Bishop of Rome to be the universal head of the church; which was Boniface the third.

The sum of all is this, first, if you consider the papacy as a state or government, persecuting and afflicting the people of God under their dominion, both Jews and gentiles, so it is called the beast. Secondly, if you consider the universal headship (where in the form and essence of that kingdom and dominion doth consist) that is, the name of the beast. Thirdly, if you consider, that universal headship as a representative of that sovereign majesty that was lost in Rome Imperial, and now repaired in Rome Papal, that is the image of the beast. Fourthly, if you consider the public profession of subjection unto the universal headship of the Bishop of Rome, that is the mark of the beast. Fifthly, if you consider the time when this universal headship began visibly and notoriously to appear, to be declared, owned and worshipped, that is the number of the beast. All these are distinct apocalyptical considerations, touching the beast.
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