And he doeth great wonders - "Signs" - ͂ sēmeia - the word commonly employed to denote "miracles" (compare the notes on Acts 2:19); and the representation here is, that the power referred to by the second beast would found its claim on pretended miracles, and would accomplish an effect on the world as if it actually did work miracles. The applicability of this to papal Rome no one can doubt. See the notes on II Thessalonians 2:9. Compare Revelation 13:14.
That he maketh five come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men - That is, he pretends this; he accomplishes an effect as if he did it. It is not necessary to suppose that he actually did this, anymore than it is to suppose that he actually performed the other pretended miracles referred to in other places. John describes him as he saw him in the vision; and he saw him laying claim to this power, and actually producing an effect as if by a miracle he actually made fire to descend from heaven upon the earth. This is to be understood as included in what the apostle Paul (II Thessalonians 2:9) calls "signs and lying wonders," as among the things by which the "man of sin and the son of perdition" would be characterized, and by which he would be sustained. See the notes on that passage. Why this particular pretended miracle is specified here is not certain. It may be because this would be among the most striking and impressive of the pretended miracles performed - as if lying beyond all human power - as Elijah made fire come down from heaven to consume the sacrifice I Kings 18:37-38, and as the apostles proposed to do on the Samaritans Luke 9:54, as if fire were called down on them from heaven. The phrase "in the sight of men" implies that this would be done publicly, and is such language as would be used of pretended miracles designed for purposes of ostentation. Amidst the multitudes of pretended miracles of the papacy, it would probably not be difficult to find instances in which the very thing here described was attempted, in which various devices of pyrotechnics were shown off as miracles. For an illustration of the wonders produced in the dark ages in reference to fire, having all the appearance of miracles, and regarded as miracles by the masses of people, the reader is referred to Dr. Brewster' s Letters on Natural Magic, particularly Letter 12.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Revelation 13:13:
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