And that no man might buy or sell - That is, this mighty power would claim jurisdiction over the traffic of the world, and endeavor to make it tributary to its own purposes. Compare Revelation 18:11-13, Revelation 18:17-19. 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, see the notes on Revelation 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 endeavor 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 the notes on Revelation 18:11-13, Revelation 18:16-17; 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., 2:1684). 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, vol. 3, pp. 220, 221).
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Revelation 13:17:
2 Peter 2:1
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