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So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. Revelation 13:4–6


All the world wondered after the beast of the sea after it survived the wounding of one of its heads. The wound was healed when the church at Rome achieved supremacy over the church at Constantinople. The Bishop of Rome, now called Pope, became the effective head of the revived Western Roman Empire and controlled not only the religion of the Empire but also promoted the political leaders within the Empire. The Orthodox Church segregated itself into separate state churches having only religious influence in areas in eastern Europe.

The dragon, Christ-less religion, gave authority to the beast of the sea. While this church called itself the church of God, its power was the secular power of political government dominated by the Pope. In submitting to the power of the Pope, people actually worshipped the great red dragon. Barnes draws a picture for us:


The word worship is not always, however, used in a religious sense. It means, properly, to kiss; to kiss towards any one; that is, to kiss his own hand and to extend it towards a person, in token of respect and homage. Then it means to show respect to one who is our superior; to kings and princes; to parents; and pre-eminently to God. The word may be used here to mean that homage or reverence, as to a higher power, was rendered to the “dragon;” not strictly that he was openly worshipped in a religious sense as God. Can any one doubt that this was the case under Papal Rome; that the power which was set up under that entire domination, civil and ecclesiastical, was such as Satan approved, and such as he sought to have established on the earth? And can any one doubt that the homage thus rendered, so contrary to the law of God, and so much in derogation of his claims, was in fact homage rendered to this presiding spirit of evil?


Clarke agrees with Barnes on this point:


Worshipping the dragon here evidently means the voluntary religious subjection of the members of the Latin Church to the revived western empire, because of the eminent part it has taken in the support of their faith. Not only the dragon or revived western empire was worshipped; the beast, the whole Latin empire, is a partaker in the adoration.


 This church deceived people into believing it really was the church built by Jesus. The common attitude of the people was admiration, not so much to the Jesus preached by the church, but admiration and dependence upon the church itself. “Who is like the beast?” Barnes comments:


That is, he is to be regarded as unequalled and as supreme. This was, in fact, ascribing honours to him which belonged only to God; and this was the manner in which that civil and secular power was regarded in the period here supposed to be referred to. It was the policy of rulers and princes in those times to augment in every way possible the respect in which they were held; to maintain that they were the vicegerents of heaven; to claim for themselves sacredness of character and of person; and to secure from the people a degree of reverence which was in fact idolatrous. Never was this more marked than in the times when the Papacy had the ascendency, for it was its policy to promote reverence for the power that sustained itself, and to secure for itself the idolatrous veneration of the people.


Under Papalism the church and the state were essentially the same having the de facto authority of God and bringing political power under the domination of the Pope. In saying “Who is like the beast,” the people submitted themselves without question to the authority of the Pope, the attitude being as Clarke expresses it: “Is it not the only holy power in the universe? Is it possible for any person not a subject of it to be saved?”


Great Things and Blasphemies


And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. (Verses 5–6)


The great red dragon becomes a ventriloquist and speaks through the mouth of the beast of the sea. Clarke gives us a list of these great things:


John does not say by whom this was given; but we may suppose that it was by the “dragon,” who is said (Revelation 13:2) to have given him his power, and seat, and authority. The fulfilment of this is found in the claims set up by the princes and rulers here referred to—that mighty secular power that sustained the Papacy, and that was, in some sort, a part of the Papacy itself. These arrogant claims consisted in the assertion of a Divine right; in the power assumed over the liberty, the property, and the consciences of the people; in the arbitrary commands that were issued; and in the right asserted of giving absolute law.


The dragon also gives the beast authority to continue for 42 months. We encountered the time symbols of 42 months, 1260 days and time, times and half a time in chapter 11 under the sixth trumpet. The actual time periods are identical in that they all equal the same number of days. We concluded that the expressions indicated the relative impact of the events depicted in the history of the church. In that chapter 42 months was assigned to the period of apostasy and 1260 days to the period of the dominance of the Roman Church.

Here in chapter 13, the beast of the sea, the Roman Church, is assigned the time value of 42 months rather than 1260 days. Both times equal 1260 days, but the diminutive 42 is used for the beast to show that the dragon’s authority through the beast is limited and will be given to the lamb-like beast that follows in verse 11. In other words, the dragon’s first church project fails and causes the dragon to come up with another plan.


Blasphemy Against God’s Name


The dragon speaking through the beast of the sea causes the beast to blaspheme against God. The first blasphemy is against God’s name. According to the Vatican’s website the Pope assumes 8 names.

Bishop of Rome. The term bishop in the Bible applies to the pastor of a congregation. It is true that in the early days of the church in Rome, there was one congregation with a pastor, a bishop. However, nowadays there are many Christian churches in Rome and the Pope is not the pastor of all those churches. Nevertheless, he assumes to have authority over all Christian churches.

Vicar of Christ. The Pope claims to be the representative of Christ on the earth. As such he claims the authority to act in the name of Christ in everything he does. Where in the words of Jesus found in the New Testament did Jesus ever appoint any bishop of Rome as His representative?

Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. There is no such person as the Prince of the Apostles. It is claimed that Peter was the first bishop of Rome—the first Pope—but there is no historical evidence supporting this claim.

Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. The term pontiff means high chief or chief priest. There is only one High Priest in the Universal Church; Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.”

Primate of Italy. A primate is the highest or first in rank, usually referring to some kind of priesthood. The Pope may be the highest priest in Italy, but that has nothing to do with the church built by Jesus.

Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province. This is essentially the same as Primate of Italy. It is just another claim to be the highest authority in the church.

Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City. The Vatican is located within the city of Rome. It is a sovereign nation, not part of Rome and not part of Italy. The Pope is the king of this very little country. Actually, Roman Catholics are citizens of this little country and owe allegiance to the Pope that supposedly supersedes their allegiance to their native countries.

Servant of the Servants of God. This is an attempt to appear humble. The Pope may wash some people’s feet on Maundy Thursday as a show of humility every year but he really serves the servants of God by being their boss.


Blasphemy Against God’s Tabernacle


We are told the beast also blasphemes against God’s tabernacle. Jesus built His church, the body of Christ, the biblical church of God. What does the Catholic Church believe about itself? Quoting from The Story of the Church bearing the imprimatur of Patrick Cardinal Hayes, Archbishop of NY, 1935[1] will tell us about this kind of blaspheme.


The Church is the Body of Christ, His Mystical Body. The Church is Christ, and in the Church Christ has come down through the ages bringing salvation and peace and joy to those who believe in Him. The history of the Church is nothing more than the continuation of the Life of Christ. (Page 13)


There is a sense in which we can agree with this statement; but there is more about the church.


In the great Church of St. Peter, in the city of Rome, at the foot of the Vatican hill, a pilgrim today may visit the tomb of the Galilean fisherman whom Christ made the head of His Church, and who was the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. (Page 40)


If the Church belongs to Christ why would He have to make someone else the head of His church?


It was to the apostles, under St. Peter, that our Savior gave the power to govern His Church. The successors of the apostles are the bishops, and the successor of St. Peter is the Bishop of Rome, who has always been the head of the Church. (Page 46)


The Bishop of Rome has always been the head of the Church? What about Ephesians 4:15? “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (NASB). What about Ephesians 5:23? “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” What about Colossians 1:18? “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” If Christ is preeminent, how can there be another head of the church? What about Colossians 2:19? “And not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Christ is the head of His church. Rome’s position that its bishop has always been the head of the church clearly is blasphemy.

The book cites the writings of Ignatius on Page 55. In these writings we see the first inklings of the spirit of Papalism.


In them, among other things, he put down the true doctrine concerning the authority of the bishop: “Wherever the bishop, there let the people be, as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church . . . respect the bishop as a type of God, and the presbyters as the council of God, and the college of the apostles. Apart from these there is not even the name of a Church.”


Blasphemy Against Those Who Dwell in Heaven


Not only does the beast of the sea blaspheme God’s name and His church, the beast also blasphemes those who dwell in heaven. The Roman Church without shame or apology practices the worship of saints. Philip Schaff in his History of the Christian Church wrote of this practice:


The system of saint-worship, including both Hagiology and Hagiolatry, developed itself at the same time with the worship of Mary. . . . After the entrance of the heathen masses into the church the title [saint] came to be restricted to bishops and councils and to departed heroes of the Christian faith, especially the martyrs of the first three centuries.  . . . The veneration of the saints increased with the decrease of martyrdom. (Vol. III, Page 428, 429)


In the first three centuries the veneration of the martyrs in general restricted itself to the thankful remembrance of their virtues and the celebration of the day of their death as the day of their heavenly birth. . . . But in the Nicene age it advanced to a formal invocation of the saints as our patrons and intercessors before the throne of grace, and degenerated into a form of refined polytheism and idolatry. (Page 432)


This invocation of the dead was accompanied with the presumption that they take the deepest interest in all the fortunes of the kingdom of God on earth, and express it in prayers and intercessions. (Page 433)


We cannot but see in the martyr-worship, as it was actually practiced, a new form of hero-worship of the pagans. . . . For the great mass of the Christian people came, in fact, fresh from polytheism, without thorough conversion, and could not divest themselves of their old notions and customs at a stroke. (Page 435)


Even some orthodox church teachers admitted the affinity of the saint-worship with heathenism, though with the view of showing that all that is good in the heathen worship reappears far better in the Christian. (Page 435–436)


Is this not blasphemy?


Having established the authority of the beast of the sea through series of blasphemies, the great red dragon tries to destroy the gospel of Christ through another means. Verse 7 tells us it was granted to the beast to make war with the saints. Not only does the beast kill through his blasphemies, he literally tries to kill those who accept the gospel of salvation from sin because he recognizes that this is his real enemy and the only thing that can defeat him.

[1] Johnson, George; Hannan, Jerome; Sister M. Dominica;  The Story of the Church;  Benziger Brothers, Inc.: New York, NY;  1935.