An Exegetical Commentary
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 5 June 2011; Revised 16 November 2021
Scripture: The Scripture text of Revelation used below is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle–Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Other Bible versions are also quoted. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Most versions can be accessed on the Internet. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Works by early church fathers may be found at Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the definitions of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981). The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Vocabulary: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Law), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).
The Beast from the Sea (13:1–4)
1― And I saw a beast rising up from the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads names of blasphemy.
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
I saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb denotes a personal experience. a beast: Grk. thērion refers to a wild animal. The use of the word "beast" implies the lack of a relationship with the Creator or possession of the nobler virtues that were meant to characterize those created a little lower than angels. John insists on his personal experience. While the narrative will go on to attribute symbolic meaning to the beast, John didn't see a symbol. John saw a frightening wild animal. rising up: Grk. anabainō, pres. part., to proceed in a direction that is up, move to a higher place; ascend, go up, rise.
from: Grk. ek, prep. introducing some aspect of separation or derivation, lit. "out of, from within." the sea: Grk. thalassa, is used of both oceanic bodies of salt water and inland bodies of water, whether salt or fresh. In the English language "sea" normally refers to a body of salt water and "lake" to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Thalassa simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. In the LXX thalassa renders Heb. yam (SH-3220), "sea," which is used for oceans and seas (Gen 1:10), an inland salt sea (Gen 14:3) and an inland fresh-water lake (Num 34:11). In the creation narrative a single sea was formed on the third day by the waters being gathered in one place (Gen 1:10).
The present configuration of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers came about in the aftermath of the global deluge of Noah's time (cf. Job 12:14-15; 14:11-12; 22:15-16; 26:10; 38:8-11; Ps 29:3-10; 65:5-9). For John this likely would have been the Mediterranean Sea. Having been frustrated in his attempts to destroy the woman in the wilderness the dragon now stands on the seashore and summons the beast from the depths of the abyss in order to continue the war against the holy ones, the rest of the woman's offspring. There is historical irony in this scene since Israel's first persecutor was destroyed in a sea and Israel's last persecutor will arise from a sea.
Morris suggests that the beast's ascent from the sea may mean that the shaft to the abyss from which the beast ascends is somewhere in the ocean. Other interpreters have linked "sea" with the explanation of "waters" in 17:15 to suggest that the beast's government arises from the Gentile nations of the world (Sevener 68). This interpretation could be considered as merely stating the obvious, since there is no evidence that the beast's government is Jewish. However, neither the Lord nor John offers any corroboration of these speculations.
having: Grk. echō, pres. part., may mean (1) to have, hold or physically possess with a wide range of application; (2) to be situated, experience a condition or situation; or (3) to hold oneself fast (BAG). The first meaning applies here. ten: Grk. deka, adj., the cardinal number ten. horns: pl. of Grk. keras, horn or horn-like projection. In Hebrew the horn is a symbol of power (MDNT). and: Grk. kai. seven: Grk. hepta, the cardinal number seven. In Jewish usage seven was used for a round number (e.g., Matt 12:45; Luke 11:26) (MDNT). heads: pl. of Grk. kephalē, head as a term of anatomy and also fig. used of a position to which others are subordinate. The fact that the horns are mentioned before the heads may indicate that the horns were not located on the heads as animal horns typically grow. The dragon also has seven heads and ten horns (12:3).
The image of a seven-headed monster also appears in ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian texts. A cylinder seal coming from Tel Asmar (ancient Eshnunna some fifty miles northeast of modern Baghdad), dating back to about 2500 B.C., shows two divine figures killing a seven-headed monster with flames arising from its back (Johnson). The ancient enemy "Leviathan" may also have had multiple heads (cf. Ps 74:14). Also, several reptiles of antiquity (so-called "prehistoric") had multiple horns. John's vision is very similar to the fourth beast seen by Daniel (Dan 7:7f).
The horns represented "kings" and in the vision of the fourth beast a "little horn" grew up among the ten kings (Dan 7:8). Zechariah, too, had a vision of horns (without reference to an animal) that "scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem" (Zech 1:19), no doubt parallel to the vision of Daniel (cf. Dan 8:8f). "Horns" are often used in Scripture to symbolize power and pride of political and military strength (Ps 74:4f, 10; 92:10; Jer 48:25; Amos 6:13) and sometimes explained as representing the ruling powers of the world (Dan 8:12, 20ff) (Baron 45).
and: Grk. kai. on: Grk. epi, prep. with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, by, near, on, upon, or over.' its: Grk. autos, neut., personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. I have deliberately chosen to translate the use of the neuter form of autos in reference to the beast as "it" instead of "his" as in most versions. As an individual the beast is really a rebel spirit from the abyss (cf. Rev 9:11; 17:8) and the physical form John saw was that of a monster. The beast has no semblance of humanity.
horns: pl. of Grk. ho keras. were ten: pl. of Grk. deka. diadems: pl. of Grk. diadēma (from diadeō, to bind around), a royal symbol; crown. The translation of "crown" found in many versions could be misleading to modern readers. In ancient times the diadem was a blue headband trimmed with white, worn around the head or bound on the turban or tiara, and served as a badge of royalty among the Persians and Greeks. Interpretation of the beast has taken a variety of forms over the centuries. The early church fathers generally treated the term as referring to a world deceiver who will reign just before the Second Coming of Yeshua.
Some church fathers, like John in his epistles (1Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2Jn 7), imagery of the beast as symbolic of the docetic heresy, the denial that Yeshua really came in the flesh (cf. Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, 7:1; Tertullian, Against Marcion, 5:16). Beginning with the Reformers, historicist commentators have interpreted the beast as the Roman Catholic papacy. Preterist commentators have found a parallel to the "Nero redivivus myth," i.e. a belief in the first century that Caesar Nero would return from the dead. Other commentators believe the beast to be a visual embodiment of the flesh and the world that is opposed to the reign of God.
The difficulty of interpretation results because the narrative in referring to the "beast" (a neuter noun) moves back and forth between speaking of an individual, using singular neuter pronouns (presumptively the demon-possessed anti-messiah), and a governmental regime of seven heads and ten horns (Rev 17:12). The heads and horns of the beast simply represent the global governing structure under the control of Satan. The beast may be taken symbolically because in 17:9-12 the heads and horns are explained as being kings, and likewise the ten horns of the beast in Daniel represented kings (Dan 7:24).
Sevener suggests that the vision of "ten horns" given to Daniel and John are parallel to the "ten toes" of the great statue in Nebuchadnezzar's vision (Dan 2:41f). While the two legs and feet apparently represented the Roman empire, the confederation symbolized by the ten toes has yet to be fulfilled (Sevener 24). Against this view the Talmud and early church fathers were in agreement that the mention of the toes of the statue only reinforced the meaning of the ancient Roman empire (Miller 96).
Some interpreters associate the seven heads and ten horns of the beast with the western industrialized nations and the European Union. The lack of even a hint of a specific nation associated with the seven heads and ten horns implies that the beast's organization would represent the entire world, not just Europe. And, the real power to orchestrate international developments to prepare the way for the anti-messiah resides not in any European capitol, but in that unseen realm where principalities and powers, under the leadership of Satan, plot their final campaign. However the beast may be manifested in reality, the principal message of Revelation is that the individual and the regime rule the entire earth, functioning as a single personality and as an enemy of God and the followers of Yeshua.
It is important that followers of Yeshua not fret over any assumed connection between current political structures and the description of the beast in Revelation. Conspiracy theories regarding international agencies and international treaty alliances are really pointless since these entities are part of the present world system that will welcome the anti-messiah and then submit their power to him. Scripture predicts much deception and political intrigue prior to Yeshua's coming, but such are the "beginning of birth pangs" (Matt 24:8). Yeshua will totally set aside the world system of powers and establish His rule when He is ready.
and: Grk. kai. on: Grk. epi. its: Grk. autos, neuter. heads: pl. of Grk. ho kephalē. names: pl. of Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. of blasphemy: Grk. blasphēmia means slander, defamation, blasphemy or abusive speech, and in the Besekh is sometimes directed at men and sometimes at God. The Talmud lists refraining from blasphemy as one of the seven commandments given to Noah so that it was binding on all mankind (Sanh. 56a). In Leviticus 24:15 blasphemy is defined as "cursing" God, that is, treating His name with contempt or dishonor. Stoning is the penalty for blasphemy (Lev 24:16; Sanh. 7:5).
The blasphemous names on the beast are perhaps claims to divinity much like ancient Roman emperors who were bestowed divine titles by the Roman Senate, sometimes at the insistence of the Caesars. On his coins Nero called himself "The Savior of the World" (Earle). Domitian, in particular, demanded that he be recognized as Dominus et Deus – Lord and God (Ladd). Daniel prophesied that the beast-ruler would exalt himself above every god and proclaim himself to be God (Dan 7:20; 11:36f). Thus the blasphemous and blaspheming beast challenges the dominion and majesty of God by refusing to comply with the first commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:3) (Johnson).
2― And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and its feet like a bear, and its mouth like a mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave it its power and its throne and great authority.
John informs the reader that the beast he saw had characteristics of three familiar land predators common to the land of Israel in ancient times. All three animals were a constant threat to the safety of flocks and people (cf. Jer 5:6), illustrated by David's own experience (1Sam 17:34ff). And: Grk. kai, conj. the beast: Grk. thērion. See the previous verse. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. I saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See the previous verse. was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). like: Grk. homoios, adj., like, similar to, resembling, of equal rank.
a leopard: Grk. pardalis is an old word for a panther or leopard, used only here in the apostolic writings. The leopard (leo pard) was considered a cross between a lioness and a panther (Robertson). and: Grk. kai. its: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. like: Grk. hōs, comparative adv. that is used primarily to denote a comparison or highlight a characteristic quality of a person, thing or action; as, like as, even as. a bear: Grk. arktos, a carnivorous mammal having a massive body, coarse heavy fur, relatively short limbs, and almost rudimentary tails; bear. In the LXX arktos renders Heb. dôb (SH-1677), bear, first in 1Samuel 17:26. The bear indigenous to ancient Israel was the Syrian brown bear.
The bear was regarded as formidable enemy of mankind (Amos 5:19), although normally he must be very hungry to attack man without provocation. The shepherd's protection of his flock was made most difficult because of the threat from lions and bears (1Sam 17:34). A female Bear that has been robbed of her young is the picture of ungovernable wrath (2Sam 17:8; Prov 17:12; Hos 13:8). In the book of Daniel (7:5) the bear, on account of its greediness, is represented as a symbol of the Median empire, greedy for lands. Isaiah uses the metaphor of "the cow and the bear feeding together," as an emblem of the profound peace of Messianic times (Isa 11:7). The brown bear is now extinct in Israel.
and: Grk. kai. its: Grk. autos, neuter. mouth: Grk. stoma (for Heb. peh, mouth), the bodily organ used for speaking, tasting, eating and drinking; mouth. like: Grk. hōs. The point of comparison may be of shape, but also lethality. a mouth: Grk. stoma. of a lion: Grk. leōn, lion. While modern taxonomy recognizes at least seven subspecies of lion, the biblical term makes no such distinction. The Asiatic lion is one of the most frequently mentioned animals in the Tanakh, for which eight different Hebrew words are used (see the Jewish Encyclopedia article, Lion).
The lion is now extinct in Israel. The lion uses its mouth to roar (which is frequently noted in Scripture) and to strangle its prey. The mouth of a lion has powerful jaws and strong teeth used for gripping and ripping skin and tearing and cutting meat for chewing. Daniel uses the same descriptions (in reverse order) of three of the four beasts he saw (Dan 7:4-6), the first like a lion with two wings of an eagle, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard with four wings and the fourth with ten horns but without similarity to any living animal Daniel knew (Dan 7:4-7).
In Daniel's vision each of the first three beasts represented different kingdoms – Babylon, Persia and Greece - that were crushed by the fourth beast, Rome. Here the beast incorporates the characteristics of these animals, which may mean that the fourth beast not only crushed these kingdoms, but absorbed their assets and power. Also, the beast is no better than the kingdoms he conquers, and demonstrates the same voracious appetite. Robertson suggests that the comparisons represented the vigilance of the leopard, the slow and crushing power of the bear, and the terrifying roar of the lion, but John offers no symbolic interpretation of the vision.
and: Grk. kai. the dragon: Grk. drakōn, means serpent or dragon, a figurative term for the devil. Danker defines the name as "a mythical caricature of a snake," except that he is no myth. "Dragon" is the first of seven names given to the enemy of the woman and her children in Chapter Twelve. In the LXX drakōn is used to translate the Heb. words tan (SH-8565) and tannin (SH-8577), which means dragon, serpent, or sea monster (e.g., Deut 32:33; Job 7:12; 26:13; Ps 74:13; 148:7; Lam 4:3; Ezek 29:3; 32:2; Amos 9:3; Jer 51:34) (BDB 1072).
The first use of tannin is in Genesis 1:21 where they are described as "great," no doubt referring to their size. It was probably the enormous size of these ancient monsters (think "dinosaurs"), as well as their power and intimidation, that prompted the use of tannin (pl. tannim) as a figurative term for Israel's most powerful opponents (e.g., Egypt, Isa 51:9; and Babylon, Jer 51:34). For the same reasons, the dragon became an appropriate term for the principal enemy of God.
gave: Grk. didōmi, aor., to give, and in construction may be rendered as bestow, deliver, entrust, furnish, give, grant, pay, or supply. As described in the context the object may be tangible, intangible or verbal. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, generally used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). it: Grk. autos, neuter. its: Grk. autos, neuter. power: Grk. dunamis, having ability to perform something; power, might. In the LXX dunamis was used to translate Hebrew words that referred to military forces or the power of a ruler (DNTT 2:602).
and: Grk. kai. its: Grk. autos, neuter. throne: Grk. thronos refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. Ancient thrones typically had a high back-rest and arm-rests and sometimes with a foot-stool. The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively in Scripture of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615). and: Grk. kai. great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great, large. authority: Grk. exousia may mean (1) the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction; or (2) the ability to do something, capability, might, power, which proceeds from having authority (BAG).
The beast is not powerful in his/its own right. Satan is the source of the power and authority enjoyed by the beast. Indeed, the whole world lies in the power of the devil (1Jn 5:19). There is irony in the dragon giving the beast power. Satan had tempted Yeshua with offering him the kingdoms of this world (Matt 4:8), but Yeshua reminded Satan that worship of and service to the creator God take precedence over everything. Yeshua refused to take a shortcut to receiving the kingdoms of earth as presents from Satan when they are, after all, his by right of inheritance. In the anti-messiah and his cohorts, however, Satan will find someone who will accept his offer, but unfortunately the choice will lead to hell.
3― And one of its heads as having been slain to death, and the wound of its death was healed. And the whole earth marveled after the beast;
And: Grk. kai, conj. one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. of its: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. heads: pl. of Grk. kephalē. See verse 1 above. as: Grk. hōs, comparative adv. having been slain: Grk. sphazō, perf. pass. part., put to death in a violent manner and may be used for (1) slaughter of an animal, whether for food or sacrifice; or (2) slay a human, murder. The verb occurs 10 times in the Besekh, 9 of which are in Revelation. The verb is used in the LXX to render Heb. shachat (SH-7819), slaughter, beat, first of killing an animal or human for a religious purpose (Gen 22:10; Ex 4:24; 8:15; Ezek 16:21), of killing an animal for a non-religious purpose (Gen 37:31), , killing in war (Jdg 12:6), execution of a human (1Sam 15:33; 1Kgs 18:40), and assassination (Jer 41:7). The perfect tense of the verb here would indicate its lasting results.
to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit; in, into, to, towards. death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, extinction of life. and: Grk. kai. the wound: Grk. plēgē, physical damage inflicted by forceful application and is used for the blow of hitting someone, a wound from a blow or a major calamity. of its: Grk. autos, neuter. death: Grk. thanatos. was healed: Grk. therapeuō, aor. pass., to offer helpful service or to heal in a physical sense. Here the latter meaning is intended. The vision reports that "one of the heads," meaning one of the seven leaders of the beast confederation, was assassinated (or apparently so), but then something extraordinary happened.
The leader is killed, but then his wound is healed, probably by occultic methods. This could explain how the "prince" of Daniel 9:26 becomes the anti-messiah. The "prince" is assassinated and in the restoration to life the "prince" is possessed by the beast-spirit from the abyss. Preterist interpreters believe the healing of the wounded leader to be a reference to the Nero redivivus myth, a legend that persisted to the end of the first century of Nero's supposed resurrection and return (Gregg). Whether first century believers would have made a connection between the legend and this prophecy cannot be proven, but it is a certainty that Nero never reappeared, making the theory of little value today other than as a historical parallel to the future anti-messiah. A futurist interpretation is that the wounding of the leader refers to the anti-messiah mimicking the death and resurrection of the true Messiah, Yeshua.
Readers of virtually all Bible versions may find the phrase opening clause of the verse to be misleading because the wording seems to imply that one of the heads only looked as though it had been killed but really was not (Ladd). The Greek words are exactly the same as those used in 5:6 that mention the Lamb "as" slain, so John is describing a factual event. He further reports in verse 14 below that the death blow came from a sword. The death and resurrection of the beast deceive the people and solidify their adoration so that the beast quickly gains their loyalty.
A different approach based on the use of the word "sword" in Revelation is that the wounded head is actually someone other than the anti-messiah. Elsewhere in Revelation the "sword" is primarily a symbol of God's wrath (1:16; 2:12, 16; 6:4, 8; 19:15, 21), although it is used as a weapon against the holy ones (13:10). Thus, the incident here may be some event in which God had struck a deathblow or some serious setback to the authority of the beast's oligarchy (and the dragon, cf. Isa 27:1), yet which the beast had restored (Johnson). This approach would be supported by the reaction of the masses reported in the next verse. The beast, at least for a short time, will appear to rival the power of God.
And: Grk. kai. the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. earth: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The last meaning is intended here. In the LXX gē translates the Heb. erets (SH-776), first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, region or district, or the inhabitants of an area or the earth (BDB 75).
marveled: Grk. thaumazō, aor. pass., be extraordinarily impressed, to wonder or be surprised. after: Grk. opisō, adv., a state, condition or situation that is subsequent, whether in a spatial, temporal or association sense. Many versions emphasize association with the addition of "followed." the beast: Grk. thērion. See verse 1 above. The prepositional phrase "after the beast" may only mean that the world will wonder. Political assassinations always garner widespread media coverage, so the people of the whole world will be glued to their media sources following the story with rapt interest and curiosity. After all, the beast is one on whom the world has based all its hopes for peace and security (1Th 5:3).
4― and they worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with it?"
and: Grk. kai, conj. they worshiped: Grk. proskuneō, aor., 3p-pl., to bow down, to worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to or welcome respectfully. Danker defines the verb as to recognize another's prestige by offering special honor. In the LXX proskuneō translates several different Hebrew words, with the basic meaning to bend down, stoop or bow, but principally shachah (SH-7812), to bow down or prostrate oneself before men and of worship toward deity (Gen 18:2; 22:5; BDB 1005) (DNTT 2:876). In the Besekh the term ordinarily focuses on a religious context of worship directed toward deity.
the dragon: Grk. ho drakōn. See verse two above. because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. he gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See verse 2 above. authority: Grk. exousia. See verse 2 above.
to the beast: Grk. ho thērion. See verse 1 above. All unbelievers worship the dragon though unaware of the fact. Worship of the dragon certainly includes the obvious forms of occultism (such as spiritism, astrology, witchcraft, eastern mysticism and even Satan worship), as well as the idolatry of man-made religions and self-worship (humanism). The term "worship" is appropriate since the dragon, or Satan, is the god of this world (2Cor 4:4; 1Jn 5:19). The essence of worshipping the dragon is serving his purposes in the world. Any attempt by people to destroy the foundations that God established for the good of mankind (e.g., marriage, righteous standards, justice, worship of God), constitutes worship and emulates the character of the dragon (cf. John 10:10).
and: Grk. kai. they worshiped: Grk. proskuneō, aor., 3p-pl. the beast: Grk. ho thērion. In Daniel's vision the beast with ten horns also represented a kingdom that would subjugate the entire world (Dan 7:23). The "little horn" symbolized the one who would gain power over the other "horns" and rule the beastly kingdom (Dan 7:24). The dragon, who has the world in his power, gives his full support to this one "horn" over the others to rule the world. The amazement and admiration of the people lead them to put the beast on a pedestal without equal. In this context the term "beast" must of necessity refer to the individual, because religious acts of worship must focus on a single object. Of course, this is not the first time that people have worshipped their ruler, and, as in other times, this act of sacrilege will result in their destruction.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, say, speak, tell, or told. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. is like: Grk. homoios, adj. See verse 2 above. the beast: Grk. ho thērion. The question clearly elevates the beast as superior.
and: Grk. kai. who: Grk. tís. is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. to wage war: Grk. polemeō, aor. inf., to wage war. While the verb can refer to strife, conflict or quarrels (e.g., Jas 4:2), the verb refers generally to armed conflict and hostilities between nations or kingdoms. When used of armed conflict, the verb may indicate a single battle or a war of some duration consisting of many battles. with: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark (1) association or accompaniment; with, amid, among; or (2) a sequence or position, after, behind. The first usage applies here in the sense of a hostile relationship. it: Grk. autos, neuter pronoun.
The idolatrous worship of the people includes a litany that poses two rhetorical questions. Taken together the two questions may represent Hebrew parallelism with the second question merely amplifying the first question. Taken separately the first question may be intended to mimic a verse from the Song of Moses, "Who is like You, ADONAI, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?" (Ex 15:11 TLV) The question may also be a parody of the name of Israel's guardian angel Michael (Heb. Mikael, "who is like God") who defeated the dragon (Stern). The implied comparison with God might refer to the beast's global prestige, prominence and political prowess.
The second rhetorical question also has a Scriptural parallel: "O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? …You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm" (Ps 89:8, 10 NASB). The people's question indicates a deception that the beast is invincible (cf. 2Th 2:10), and perhaps implies that the anti-messiah has conquered any potential threat to his reign. In ancient times this is the sort of boast that could have been said of Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar.
In other words, there has to be a considerable military organization to back up the authority of the beast, because the question infers a military power with global reach. Moreover, it appears from the question that in the minds of the people the ability to wage war provides the justification to do so. Both questions reflect their earth-bound philosophy and values of the people and focuses only on the contemporary situation. The deluded people do not acknowledge the superiority of God who, in the end, will destroy the anti-messiah and all who follow him.
5― And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given to it, and authority to act was given to it for forty-two months.
And: Grk. kai, conj. a mouth: Grk. stoma. See verse 2 above. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. great things: pl. of Grk. megas, adj. See verse 2 above. The plural noun probably refers to things the anti-messiah says about himself, to magnify his supposed accomplishments. TLV has "great boasts." In Daniel's vision of the fourth beast the "little horn" was full of boastful words (Dan 7:8, 11, 20). and: Grk. kai. blasphemies: pl. of Grk. blasphēmia. See verse 1 above and the next verse. was given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. The passive voice emphasizes divine permission. to it: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun.
The reference being given "a mouth" is reminiscent of God's words to Moses, "Who has made man's mouth? … Is it not I, the Lord?" (Ex 4:12) While the Creator God provides mouths to good and evil alike, the expression of "given a mouth" in this context means that the beast will be permitted to exercise an audacious boldness to speak publicly against God. One can imagine the pompous strutting of the anti-messiah bragging of power and glory, making grandiose political promises, as well as ridiculing God and anyone who believes in God. Satan who will tell the beast exactly what to say since Satan is the source of the beast's authority.
and: Grk. kai. authority: Grk. exousia. See verse 2 above. to act: Grk. poieō, aor. inf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; act, cause, do, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. was given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. to it: Grk. autos, neuter. A finite period of time is allocated to the beast to impose his idolatrous reign on the earth. While his dominion may come from the dragon, the ultimate authority is God who cuts the tribulation short for the sake of the holy ones (Matt 24:22). After all, the dragon would certainly not limit his activities of his own volition, but he must comply with the wishes of the sovereign God.
for forty: Grk. tessarakonta, the cardinal number forty. two: Grk. duo, the cardinal number two. months: pl. of Grk. mēn, a month, based on the lunar calendar. The time period of "42 months" is the fourth mention in Revelation of a 3½-year period (cf. 11:2-3, 12:14). Preterist interpreters assign the 42 months to the period of the Roman Empire and historicists with their "day-for-year" symbolic approach interpret the beast's reign of 1,260 days to the period of papal supremacy (Gregg). However, the language of the next two verses does not support any association with the reign of Caesars or the Roman Church, but points to the future reign of the anti-messiah at the end of the present age (Earle). Note that the beast does not rule for seven years as dispensationalist interpreters suggest, but 3½ years, which equals the "time, times and half a time" period of rule of the beast in Daniel 7:25.
A proto-type of the beast occurred in the Seleucid King Antiochus IV, who reigned over Israel 168-164 BC. Antiochus forbade all Jewish religious practices, such as circumcision, possessing the Scriptures, sacrifices, and feast days, on pain of death (1Macc 1:50, 63). He also had a statue devoted to Olympian Zeus erected in the temple and swine were sacrificed on the altar in place of the Jewish sacrifice, an abomination which desecrated the Temple (Dan 11:31). Later the Maccabees defeated the forces of Antiochus, then recaptured and rededicated the temple, an event memorialized by the festival of Chanukah (Stern). So, too, the beast at the end of the age will change "times and laws" (Dan 7:25) in his opposition to God's people.
6― And he opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, those dwelling in heaven.
And: Grk. kai, conj. it opened: Grk. anoigō, aor., to move from a shut or closed position to an open position. its: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. mouth: Grk. stoma. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in," "within" or "among." blasphemies: pl. of Grk. blasphēmia. See verse 1 above. against: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), primarily used in marking a destination or goal with implication of a relationship, used here of a hostile direction. God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In pagan culture theos was used for a number of deities, none of which were omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe as described in Scripture (Gen 1─3; John 1:1-3; Rom 1:25).
In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. The Greek phrase pros ton theon, "against God," could mean "face to face with God" in sheer defiance, like Milton's picture of Satan in Paradise Lost (Robertson).
to blaspheme: Grk. blasphēmeō, aor. act. inf., means to injure the reputation of, revile, defame in relation to men or to blaspheme in relation to God. The verb "to blaspheme" occurs four times in Revelation (also 16:9, 11, 21). The beast has the audacity to slander God in ways that no previous despot has ever done. The activity of the Antichrist is the same as the "little horn" in Daniel's vision, who is said to "speak out against the Most High" (Dan 7:25). The blasphemy naturally flows from the fact that the beast "exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship" (2 Thess 2:4). The colloquial expression "opened his mouth" may refer to actual public speeches or various other forms of publication.
His: Grk. autos, masc. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. The blasphemies have three targets, the first being God's name. The beast is no passive atheist. The beast's unlimited arrogance elevates his ego to unimaginable heights and thus he attempts to sully the holy name of God. To blaspheme God's name is to contradict the essence of His name and is the opposite of the invocation of the disciples' prayer "hallowed be your name" (Matt 6:9). It could be that God's personal name YHVH (Isa 42:8) is in view here, and considering its meaning the beast would be alleging that the God of the Jews and Christians is not "I AM," but "I WAS," since the beast displays "himself as being God" (2 Thess 2:4).
and: Grk. kai. His: Grk. autos, masc. tabernacle: Grk. skēnē means tent, booth, lodging, dwelling. In the LXX skēnē renders the Hebrew words ‘ohel (a pointed tent), sometimes mishkan (dwelling) and on occasion sukkah (a matted booth, shed or hut). Sukkah was also the booth used in the Feast of Booths, but interestingly, the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting is never called sukkah but ‘ohel or ‘ohel moed (DNTT, III, 811). The beast also defames God's tabernacle. "Tabernacle" is God's word for where He dwells and thus the tabernacle that Moses had prepared served as a replica of God's dwelling-place. In 21:3 the promise that "the tabernacle of God is among men" follows the offering of the New Jerusalem as the dwelling place of the holy ones. A parallel allusion occurs in 7:15 where God promises to spread His tabernacle over the holy ones. Thus, "tabernacle" stands for both the dwelling and those who reside in it.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. dwelling: Grk. skēnoō, masc. pl., pres. part., to take up residence; live, dwell, encamp. In the LXX skēnoō occurs only once and renders Heb. ahal (SH-167, to move a tent from place to place, Gen 13:12). in heaven: Grk. ouranos, refers to the area above the earth that includes the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17).
The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). In Scripture ouranos is always "up" as a direction from the surface of the earth. The phrase "those dwelling in heaven" would be lit. "the ones tabernacling in heaven" (Marshall). The participial clause could include both angels and humans that John saw previously. Throughout the prophetic portion of Revelation those who dwell in heaven and serve God are contrasted with those who dwell on the earth and serve the beast, as identified in verse 8 below. The contrast has not so much to do with actual location as the mindset of the two groups.
The beast rails against those in God's presence that are beyond his reach. The beast will feel threatened by such loyalty to God and may foment a propaganda campaign to turn public sentiment against those who follow God and provide a plausible justification for their removal from society. Similarly, the beast may accuse the followers of Yeshua of trying to establish a Christian state and control everyone's morality and blame Jews for the bad economic conditions that afflict the earth in its final days. The beast may even continue to vilify God's people after his "protection" order, as depicted in the next verse, because of their unwillingness to bow to his "divinity."
And: Grk. kai, conj. to make: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. See verse 5 above. war: Grk. polemos, armed conflict, generally a state of hostilities (war), but also a hostile encounter as part of a war (fight, battle). In the LXX polemos commonly translates Heb. milchamah (SH-4421), war, battle, first in Genesis 14:2. A war is a coordinated and systematic campaign to disarm and to destroy the enemy. The description of the beast in verse 4 above reflects an attitude of invincibility and thus the beast does not hesitate to declare war against its adversaries. with: Grk. meta, prep. the holy ones: pl. of Grk. ho hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; holy. The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God.
In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. The "holy ones" are those separated from what is common, unclean or contrary to God’s holiness (TWOT 2:788). The noun is translated as "saints" in Christian versions. While many Christians would not be comfortable calling themselves "saints," this term was commonly used in the Tanakh and other Jewish writings for the people of God (Deut 7:6; 1Sam 2:9; Ps 16:3; 34:9; 97:10; 135:4; Isa 41:8-9; Dan 7:18, 21-22, 25, 27; 8:24; 1Enoch 58:1-3; 103:1; 1Macc 1:46; Tobit 12:15). The appellation originated when God called Israel to be a people consecrated to worship and obey Him. The term succeeds in having a corporate meaning as well as an individual meaning.
The roots of the concept of "holy ones" may be found in the Hellenistic period when pious Jews opposed the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. These Jews were committed to maintaining the covenant as made at Sinai through Moses and who endeavored to live by the precepts and guidelines of the Torah. Like the Pharisees the roots of the concept of "holy ones" can be traced to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra. In the Maccabean period the Hasidim opposed the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. These Jews were committed to maintaining the covenant as made at Sinai through Moses and who endeavored to live by the precepts and guidelines of the Torah. Some of them took up arms to defend their right to live by the dictates of their conscience (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6).
"Holy ones" occurs frequently in the Besekh and refers to those who have accepted the truth of the Good News of the Messiah, repented of their sins, put their trust in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua for their sins and separated themselves to be faithful to their Lord. Paul addressed virtually all his letters to the holy ones, but he did not use the term in any elitist sense. The holy ones are those who are wholly His and who seek to live by His standards. Unlike modern Christians who refer to themselves as "sinners saved by grace" the apostles never mixed their metaphors and called faithful believers "sinners" (cf. 1Cor 6:11).
In the context of the turbulent great tribulation, the holy ones are those who "keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Yeshua" (12:17). Yeshua promised his disciples that there would not only be wars, but wars directed at them (Matt 24:6-9). This verse corroborates 7:14, because there is no way the beast can make war on the holy ones if they had been removed from the earth to heaven before the beast came to power.
was given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. to it: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. Neither the dragon nor the beast possesses the power to fight against God's people without permission being "given" from the sovereign God (cf. Job 1:9-10). and: Grk. kai. to overcome: Grk. nikaō, aor. inf., to be a victor, to prevail, to conquer, to overcome or to vanquish, whether in a military battle, athletic contest, or a legal action. Nikaō occurs 28 times in the Besekh, over half of which occur in Revelation. The verb points to the reality of spiritual warfare. them: pl. of Grk. autos, masc.
The success of the beast's war against the holy ones was first envisioned by Daniel. In his vision of the fourth beast with ten horns, the "little horn" arose, overcame three of the ten "horns" and proceeded to wage war with the holy ones (Dan 7:21, 25). Early church fathers repeatedly warned Christians that the Antichrist would come to rule the world and exhorted to be faithful in the face of temptation and trials lest they lose their inheritance in the Kingdom of the Lord (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 16; The Epistle of Barnabas, 4:15; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 5, 25-30; Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 14). Justin Martyr (110-165) expresses his expectation by saying,
"The times now running on to their consummation; and he whom Daniel foretells would have dominion for a time, and times, and an half, is even already at the door, about to speak blasphemous and daring things against the Most High." (32)
Church fathers believed that Yeshua's reference to Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation and Paul's teaching that the Man of Lawlessness would be revealed and set himself up in the temple of God before the Second Coming could only mean that the Church would face the arch-enemy of Yeshua. Irenaeus specifically warned that the beast would "put the Church to flight" (Against Heresies, Book 5, 26:1; cf. Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 60-61), The writers of this period offered no panacea of being secretly rescued from tribulation, but encouraged the holy ones to persevere. Once Yeshua returned the wicked Antichrist would be destroyed and Yeshua would establish His reign of peace and righteousness.
While Christians of the patristic age responded to the encouragement of their leaders and congregations enjoyed continued growth in spite of localized persecutions, the Antichrist at the end of the age will wage war in order to "overcome" or totally destroy the true people of God and all Christian institutions. See 11:7 on the beast's war against the two witnesses. A prelude to the Antichrist's success is found in the cryptic comment of Yeshua that the good news would be proclaimed into all nations and then the end would come (Matt 24:14), that is, the end of evangelism, because the power and influence of Yeshua's faithful disciples has come to an end. How important it is that all believers and congregations work to spread the good news while there is still time.
The beast's strategy is not revealed, but he will probably dissolve the legal standing of every congregation, denomination and religious organization in every country, order their assets confiscated, arrest congregational leaders, impose economic sanctions on believers and then begin systematically exterminating them. The genocide of six million Jews during the World War II era will pale in comparison to perhaps over one billion Christian and Jewish casualties of the beast's reign of terror. Thus the name great tribulation. The day is far-gone and the night is coming.
and: Grk. kai. authority: Grk. exousia. See verse 2 above. over: Grk. epi, prep. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. The extent of the authority is defined in relation to groupings of humans. tribe: Grk. phulē has two basic meanings: (1) a tribe of Israel and (2) a nation or people. The second meaning applies here. Phulē derives from phuo, to bring forth, produce, grow, be born. In the LXX phulē occurs over 400 times and translates three different Hebrew words, meaning tribe, clan or nation. and: Grk. kai. people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically. In Scripture laos is often viewed in contrast with the ruling class.
and: Grk. kai. tongue: Grk. glōssa normally refers either to the anatomical organ of the tongue or a distinctive language system. There are several thousand languages or dialects in the world. and: Grk. kai. nation: Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "nation, people" (DNTT 2:790). The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations. was given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. to it: Grk. autos, neuter. Having overcome the holy ones and removed their opposition and influence from the earth the beast will be assured of the security of its totalitarian reign.
There have been many "world" dictators since Nimrod's rebellion at Babel (Gen 10:8-11; 11:1-9), and the great empires of history certainly incorporated diverse peoples. However, the description of "every tribe and people and tongue and nation" implies global rule, which is reinforced by the mention of "all who dwell on the earth" in the next verse. Such language rules out merely a Western empire, such as Imperial Rome in the first century or the European Union of modern times, as conspiracy theorists suggest. Dictatorships are unwieldy organizations by nature and the only way that a global authority can work is by the tacit consent of the governed and the unseen support of Satan's demonic empire. The mention of the power to make war being "given" is also applied to the beast's ability to seize global authority, which he uses to the fullest extent possible.
Folly vs. Faith (13:8–10)
And: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. dwelling: Grk. katoikeō, pres. mid. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. on: Grk. epi, prep. the earth: Grk. gē. See verse 3 above. The verbal phrase "dwelling on the earth" serves as a contrast to "tabernacling in heaven" in verse 6 above. will worship: Grk. proskuneō, fut. See verse 4 above. him: Grk. autos, mas. personal pronoun, which alludes to the beast. The beast will achieve his desire to be adored by all. The phrase "ones dwelling on the earth" occurs ten times in Revelation and refers to the general population who take the mark of the beast.
To dwell on the earth not only points to a place of residence but also indicates a life focus. Paul pointed out that the believer's citizenship is in heaven (Php 3:20) and that heaven is "our mother" (Gal 4:26). Disciples of Yeshua are called to lay up treasure in heaven, not on the earth (Matt 6:20). Those "dwelling on the earth" have believed the evolutionist lie that the material universe is the only reality, and thus their citizenship, familial ties and investments are all oriented to this present world. To worship is to obey and not only does the beast gain legal authority but the passionate loyalty of the world's populations.
The people will in effect believe that this man is greater than any other earthly leader, but most of all superior to God (which must be assumed as a basis for worship). As did the ancient pagans and modern evolutionists, they "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Rom 1:25) (Morris). of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 2 above. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. name: pl. of Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. Bible versions interpret the singular pronoun and noun as a collective reference to a group of humans, but the singular form would grammatically refer to him whom the earth will worship. This verse really contrasts the beast and the Lamb.
has not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. been written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass., 3p-sing., to write or inscribe and may refer to the mechanical activity of writing, the content of what is written down, or the literary composition of a work. While it is possible that the reference to the Book of Life is really a metaphor, given the omniscience of God, there is no reason not to take the reference literally. In Revelation John also sees individual names written on white stones to be given to the holy ones and on the walls memorializing both the twelve tribes of Israel and the apostles (2:17; 21:12, 14). To not have one's name written down in a permanent record in heaven is the greatest tragedy of life.
in: Grk. en, prep. the book: Grk. biblion, a diminutive form of biblos, means a book, a scroll or a document. In the LXX biblion translates Heb. sēpher, which was used for anything that has been written, such as a scroll, book, writing, letter, diary, or a legal document. Biblion is also used in the LXX for individual sacred writings (Dan 9:2), but most importantly as a solemn expression for the Torah (Deut 17:18; 28:58; cf. Heb 9:19). John calls his Gospel a biblion (John 20:30; 21:25). In Revelation biblion occurs 19 times (out of 34 in the Besekh) and is used of the book mentioned in 1:11 that John was commanded to write, the book of life and the books of works opened at the final judgment (20:12), but especially the book containing the divine decrees for the future (DNTT, I, 243).
of life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in the physical sense in contrast to being dead; life. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of physical existence on planet earth in the presence age, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity, half of which are in the writings of John. In the LXX zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses. The expression "book of life" corresponds to the mention of the "book of life" in Rev 3:5 where it is a registry of heaven's citizens and property owners who were enrolled on the basis of faith in Yeshua. The Book of Life is first mentioned in Exodus 32:32 followed by six other references in the Tanakh (Ps 69:28; 87:6; 139:16, Isa 4:3; Dan 12:1; Mal 3:16). In the Besekh the Book of Life is referenced several times (Luke 10:20; Php 4:3; Heb 12:23; Rev 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 15, 21:27).
of the Lamb: Grk. arnion denotes a lamb as distinct from probaton, sheep. A "lamb" is a young sheep, generally less than a year old. Arnion occurs 30 times in the Besekh, only one of which occurs outside of Revelation (John 21:15). Significant is that Revelation does not use Grk. amnos ("lamb"), which occurs only four times in the Besekh (John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1Pet 1:29) and is only used of a sacrificial lamb in the LXX. In Revelation arnion represents the victorious Lamb that has accomplished redemption and is worthy of power and glory. having been slain: Grk. sphazō, perf. pass. part. See verse 3 above.
from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, but used here as a temporal marker; from. the foundation: Grk. katabolē means "foundation" or "beginning". The word comes from kataballō, which means to cast down or lay down, as a foundation (Heb 6:1). HELPS defines the noun to mean properly, a foundation, cast according to a blueprint (original design); the substructure which determines the entire direction and destination of all that follows; the foundation-plan, upon which the entire super-structure is built; (figuratively) the beginning or founding that purposefully designs all that follows.
of the world: Grk. kosmos, order, world, is used in the Besekh and other Jewish literature to mean (1) the orderly universe, especially as created by God; (2) the earth as the place of habitation; (3) the world as mankind, sometimes in reference to a segment of population; and (4) representative of people and values opposed to God (BAG). The first meaning applies here. In the LXX of the Tanakh kosmos translates Heb. tsaba (SH-6635), some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts,' as the ornament of the heavens (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19).
The meaning of kosmos as the 'orderly universe' is only found in later Greek writings of the LXX (2Macc. 7:23; 8:18; 4Macc. 5:25; Sir. 6:30; 21:21; Wis. 7:17; 9:3; 11:18). "Foundation of the world" is an expression that refers to the founding or creation of the heavens and the earth in its completed form within six days as recorded in Genesis 1. Yeshua and the apostles noted some important divine actions that occurred coincidental with or before creation:
● God determined the genders to be male and female from the beginning (Matt 19:4; Mark 10:6).
● The Kingdom of God was prepared for those blessed of God (Matt 25:34).
● The devil was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44; cf. 1Jn 3:8).
● God chose Israel from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faithfulness in the truth (2Th 2:13).
● God chose Israel to be holy and blameless (Eph 1:4).
● God's works were finished creation (Heb 4:3).
● The atoning sacrifice of Messiah was determined before creation (1Pet 1:20).
● The names of God's people were written in the Book of Life from creation (Rev 17:8; cf. Ps 69:28; Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 20:15; 21:27).
Significant in this list is that Yeshua, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), was in fact slain before creation. That is, the plan for atonement was made before sin occurred. The atonement was not an afterthought and not a counter attack. God knew from the moment He decided to create that atonement would be necessary and planned His remedy from the beginning.
Textual Note: "Written" or "Slain"
There is a significant theological difference of opinion over whether this verse is saying that the Lamb was slain from the creation (cf. 1Pet 1:20) or that people worshipping the beast were not written in the Book of Life from creation. I have translated the verse according to the Greek word order. Ladd contends that "from the foundation of the world" can grammatically modify either "written" or "slain," but he thinks the parallel thought in 17:8 decides in favor of modifying "written." Bible versions are divided in their interpretation and translation, giving opposite points of view:
● "written from the foundation of the world" (AMP, ASV, CEB, CEV, CJB, CSB, Darby, ESV, Goodspeed, HCSB, HNV, LEB, Mace, Moffatt, MSG, MW, NABRE, NASB, NCV, NEB, NET, NJB, NLV, NRSV, RSV, TEV, TLV, VOICE, and WEB)
● "slain from the foundation of the world" (AMPC, BRG, DLNT, DRA, GNC, GW, JUB, KJ21, KJV, Lamsa, LITV, LTB, MEV, MJLT, MPNT, MRINT, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NKJV, NOG, OJB, Phillips, REV, RV, Webster, Weymouth, and YLT).
Of interest is that the AMPC and NASB with opposite translations are produced by the same organization. Along with the KJV six other early English Bibles favored "slain from the foundation of the world" (Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops, Geneva, and Wesley).
Considering the Greek word order, with the important clause occurring last in the Greek sentence after the reference to the Lamb being slain, yields the most natural meaning. Ladd's justification for following the Greek word order in 17:8 but not here is not logical. Some commentators believe this verse emphasizes the Calvinist doctrine of restricted election, a select group of Christians predestined for salvation. This interpretation proceeds from the mistaken assumption that "his name" means "their names."
Moreover, the fact cannot be ignored that being written in the Book of Life, regardless of when it occurs, is no absolute security against being blotted out for rebellion (cf. Ex 32:33; Rev 3:5). Consider also the fact that the Calvinist concept of predestination was based on replacement theology by twisting Paul's words "chose us" (Eph 1:4) to mean Christianity when he could have only meant Israel (cf. Rom 9:1-6; 11:1-2, 17-24; 1Cor 10:18; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:12-18; Heb 8:7-12).
9― If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
If: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. has: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 1 above. an ear: Grk. ous, the organ of hearing, the ear, as well as the faculty of understanding or perception relative to divine communication. let him hear: Grk. akouō, aor. imp., 3p-sing., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first meaning dominates here.
In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama (SH-8085), to hear, listen to, or give heed. The verb not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). The command "to hear" occurs eight times in Revelation and eight times in the apostolic narratives, always on the lips of Yeshua (Matt 11:15; 13:9; 13:43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). In the apostolic narratives the command is always a present imperative (start and keep on doing) whereas in Revelation the command is an aorist imperative ("do it now").
The exhortation "he that has an ear, let him hear" (rather than "read") is a Hebrew idiom that reflects the typical manner of first century learning. Scrolls were rare and knowledge of God’s Word came from hearing the Scriptures read aloud and memorizing them (cf. Rom. 2:13). The verbal command anticipates the book of Revelation being read aloud in the congregations. Moses used a similar command to Israel in reiterating the Torah before their entry into Canaan, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully" (Deut 5:1 NASB).
The same admonition to hear occurs in the apostolic narratives, though in every case there Yeshua enjoins those with "ears," not merely "an ear." Yeshua likewise used the exclamatory imperative "Hear!" on several occasions to introduce important teachings (Matt 13:18; 15:10; 21:33; Mark 4:3; 7:14; Luke 18:6), though the word is usually translated in modern versions with the softer request to "listen." The reference to having "an ear" may seem superfluous, but the entire statement points to the willingness to learn or to be open to the truth.
The admonition to "hear," similar to the earlier exhortations to the congregations (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), is a succinct way of saying that the prophetic portion of Revelation, particularly the warning of the beast's war against those belonging to Yeshua, means there is no escaping the great tribulation to come, except by death. Disciples need to be prepared for the tide of public opinion to turn against godly virtues and biblical convictions. As multitudes line up to receive the mark of their ruler, the holy ones will understand the full cost of their loyalty to Yeshua. Commitment to the Lord needs to be so settled that any temptation to trade eternal gain to avoid temporary pain is immediately rejected. God is very serious in His warning that worshiping the beast will result in eternal consequences.
10― If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he goes; if anyone is to be killed by the sword, it is necessary for him to be killed by the sword. Here is the perseverance and the faithfulness of the holy ones.
If: Grk. ei, conj. See the previous verse. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See the previous verse. is to go: There is no verb following the pronoun, so one is supplied. The Grk. MSS are divided and contain no less than nine different forms of the clause about captivity (GNT 868). into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 3 above. captivity: Grk. aichmalosia, being taken captive at spear point (Rienecker), normally as a result of war (cf. Num 31:12; Eph 4:8). he goes: Grk. hupagō, pres., 3p-sing., to proceed from a position, sometimes (1) with the focus on the departure point; go away, leave; or (2) with the focus on an objective or destination; go, be on one's way. The second usage applies here. The present tense could indicate an anticipated future event or an action purposed.
if: Grk. ei. anyone: Grk. tis. is to be killed: Grk. apokteinō, aor. pass. inf., to put an end by force the existence of another. The verb is used often of killing prophets of God (Matt 14:5; 23:37; Luke 11:47; Acts 7:52; 1Th 2:15), especially the plot by Judean leaders to kill Yeshua (Matt 16:21) and martyrdom of Yeshua's followers (Matt 24:9; John 16:2; Rev 2:13; 6:11). The verb is also used of homicide (Matt 21:39), accidental killing (Luke 13:4) and divine judgment (Rev 6:8). In the LXX apokteinō renders Heb. harag (SH-2026; BDB 246), kill or slay and used for homicide (Gen 4:8), mass revenge killing (Gen 34:25), penal execution (Ex 32:27), killing in war (Num 31:7), and the planned massacre of Jews (Esth 3:13) (DNTT 1:429). See the textual note below on the verb.
by: Grk. en, prep. the sword: Grk. machaira, refers to a relatively short weapon with a sharp blade, mainly used for stabbing. The term is used for a dagger and the Roman short sword used in combat. This sword is distinguished from the large broad sword, rhomphaia (Rev 1:6; 6:8). Being killed with a machaira likely depicts death by murder or assassination rather than a judicial execution. it is necessary for: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen; must, necessary, behooves. him: Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun. to be killed: Grk. apokteinō, aor. pass. inf. by: Grk. en. the sword: Grk. machaira.
The cryptic comment about captivity and killing really completes the thought of verse 9 as a message from the Holy Spirit similar to the epilogue in each of the seven letters to the Asian congregations. At the very least the verse represents Hebrew parallelism and imitates the sovereign warning of Jeremiah,
"Such as are for death, to death; And such as are for the sword, to the sword; And such as are for the famine, to the famine; And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity." (Jer 15:2 NKJV).
This statement is a reality check of the death toll of holy ones anticipated in the great tribulation. Millions will be arrested and summarily executed, although many may be spared for slave labor. Those who survive captivity until the Lord's coming will experience the joy of Yeshua breaking them out of prison or freeing them from enslavement. The important fact is that the parallelism leads into a commendation of the holy ones who must endure the beast's rage and wait for the justice of God.
Here: Grk. hōde, adv. adv. of place or position that is relatively near, used here metaphorically to mean "in these circumstances there is need of." is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. the perseverance: Grk. ho hupomonē may mean either (1) capacity for resolute continuance in a course of action; endurance, perseverance, steadfastness; or (2) persistence in awaiting realization of something; expectation. The first meaning applies here. Perseverance demonstrated in the face of suffering is based on an unshakable trust that God will do justice for His children. Paul observed, "we also exult in our tribulation, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance" (Rom 5:3 NASB). The holy ones will persevere in the face of persecution, because of their loyalty to and confidence in Yeshua.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the faithfulness: Grk. ho pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning, first that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and second, trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). In the LXX pistis is used two times to render Heb. emun, 'faithfulness' (SH-529; BDB 53; Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17). Over 20 times pistis renders Heb. emunah, firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity (SH-530; BDB 53), mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4).
Pistis also translates Heb. aman (SH-539), to confirm, to support (Jer 15:18); amanah (SH-548), fixed support (Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8); and emet (SH-571), firmness, faithfulness, or truth (Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6). The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is faithfulness, here of faithful obedience to Yeshua. of the holy ones: pl. of Grk. hagios. See verse 7 above. The Lord's way is humble acceptance and endurance of martyrdom. This was Paul's wish (Php 3:10). Indeed, the disciple's life is lived in the shadow of the cross where self-interest and self-preservation must give way to God's eternal purposes (cf. Luke 9:23; Gal 2:20; 6:14). It is no accident that perseverance and faithfulness are linked together.
Bible versions are sharply divided over the translation of the clause with the verb apokteinō, since the Greek manuscripts manifest a dozen variant readings, although they are of two grammatical forms. The first form is the future tense, "will kill," which points to an offender as the subject. This is the reading of the M-Text, WH-Text and the TR, including the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus and the Vulgate. The future tense is reflected in the AMP, ASV, KJV, NASB, NKJV, NRSV and RSV. Metzger believes that copyists were influenced by the Torah retribution principle (lex talionis), i.e., anyone who kills will be put to death (Lev 24:21; Num 25:30; Matt 26:52).
Accepting the future tense the ones who "must be killed" are followers of the beast. However, the principle would also be a warning for disciples, some of whom may not be willing to turn the other cheek and accept "joyfully the seizure" of their property (Heb 10:34). While many disciples sincerely believe in such "self-defense," even quoting Luke 22:36 as justification, it is not God's way. These modern Zealots seem to ignore the fact that the One who could call on more divine swords than the disciples could muster (Matt 26:53) instead chose to heal the High Priest's servant after the unprovoked assault by Peter and to forgive His enemies (Luke 23:34). Yeshua also pointed out to Pilate that if His kingdom were of the world, His servants would fight (John 18:36). Yeshua's kingdom is of heaven and He does not permit using the world's methods to bring about His reign nor to oppose the Antichrist (cf. 2Cor 10:3f; Jas 4:4).
The second grammatical form is the passive infinitive, "to be killed," which points to someone destined to be killed, or simply someone who will be killed. The subject of the infinitive would be a disciple of Yeshua. This is the reading of the Nestle text and followed by most modern versions. Ironically, the only support for the passive infinitive in the first part of the clause comes from Codex Alexandrinus, an important MS from the 5th century, and three MSS from the 14th century. The influence of Alexandrinus is very strong, because as Metzger believes, among so many variant readings the passive infinitive is the least unsatisfactory (674).
The Beast from the Earth (13:11–15)
11― And I saw another beast rising from the earth; and it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke as a dragon.
And: Grk. kai, conj. I saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 1 above. another: Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. beast: Grk. thērion. See verse 1 above. rising: Grk. anabainō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 1 above. the earth: Grk. gē. See verse 3 above. John saw a second beast ascend out of the abyss, as did the first beast, although his entrance is not seen coming from the sea. and: Grk. kai. it had: Grk. echō, impf., 3p-sing. See verse 1 above. two: pl. of Grk. duo, adj., the cardinal number two. horns: pl. of Grk. keras. See verse 1 above. like: Grk. homoios, adj. See verse 2 above. a lamb: Grk. arnion. See verse 8 above. The second beast is not described as having multiple heads or crowns, but he did have two horns. The "two horns like a lamb" would be a familiar phenomenon to John. Both domestic and wild sheep were common to the land of Israel.
Horns are not as common in sheep as they are in cattle and not all breeds of sheep have horns. The reference to "like a lamb" means the horns are not fully developed. Unlike cattle horns that usually grow away from the head, sheep horns grow more to the back and side of the head. Horns may be used by the animal to ward off predators or spar with rival males. The number "two" is significant because there are sheep breeds that grow four (or even 5-6) horns. The presence of horns probably indicates the beast's aggressiveness as illustrated in the vision of the ram and goat in Daniel 8:3-8. Unlike the second beast, the Lamb of God is never described with horns.
and: Grk. kai. it spoke: Grk. laleō, impf. See verse 5 above. as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 2 above. a dragon: Grk. drakōn. See verse 2 above. While John does not note anything distinctive about the mouth, the words coming out of that mouth reflected the character of the dragon, which means that the second beast exhibits the art of clever and deceitful speech of Satan. Stern takes this second beast to be the anti-messiah and abomination of desolation, and believes the first beast represents the government of the anti-messiah.
However, the description of the second beast's activity in the following verses clearly identifies the second beast as subservient to the first beast and not a recipient of worship. In addition, the anti-messiah is much more likely to be the head of the first beast which was slain and then raised. Confusion results because the narrative in referring to the first "beast" moves back and forth between the individual (anti-messiah) and the government structure (the seventeen kings).
12― And it wields all the authority of the first beast on behalf of it. And it causes the earth and those dwelling in it that they will worship the first beast, of whom its wound of death was healed.
And: Grk. kai, conj. it wields: Grk. poieō, pres., 3p-sing., lit. "does." See verse 5 above. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 7 above. the authority: Grk. exousia. See verse 2 above. of the first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, whether (1) indicating primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest; (2) standing out in significance or importance, or (3) adverbially denoting first of all, at the first. The first meaning applies here. beast: Grk. thērion. See verse 1 above. on behalf of: Grk. enōpion, prep. from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of' (cf. Rev 11:4). BAG concurs on this meaning but also notes that enōpion can mean "on behalf of," which is followed by several versions (CSB, ISV, LEB, NET, NIV, NRSV, OJB).
it: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. The second beast does not have the ability, power or stature to replace the first beast, but functions solely to carry out actions and programs approved by the first beast. And: Grk. kai. it causes: Grk. poieō, pres., 3p-sing. The focus of the verb here is bringing about a result. Not only does the second beast act with the authority of the first beast, but also has enforcement authority to compel obedience and punish disobedience. the earth: Grk. gē. See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. dwelling: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. in: Grk. en, prep. it: Grk. autos, fem. personal pronoun.
that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that. they will worship: Grk. proskuneō, fut., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. the first: Grk. prōtos. beast: Grk. thērion. of whom: Grk. hos, neuter relative pronoun. its: Grk. autos, neuter. wound: Grk. plēgē. See verse 3 above. of death: Grk. thanatos. See verse 3 above. was healed: Grk. therapeuō, aor. pass. The second beast is given total discretion by the first beast to motivate, develop and enforce religious rites to the honor of the first beast (anti-messiah) throughout the world. The assignment and activity of the second beast in this chapter indicate that he is probably the person referred to as the false prophet in 16:13 and 19:20, making him the Secretary of Religion for the beast empire.
The activity of the second beast is similar to the imperial priesthood in the first century whose purpose was to promote worship of Rome and its emperor. It has been a common Protestant interpretation since the Reformation of Luther to interpret the first beast as Pagan Rome and the second beast as Papal Rome (Robertson). Some futurists have modified this historic viewpoint to predict the false prophet as heading an apostate Church (Gregg 295). "Apostate church" is generally code language for an ecumenical amalgamation of the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches and various New Age movements headquartered in Rome. Hunt (45) asserts that it is the anti-messiah himself who heads this perverted form of Christianity.
However, it should be noted that the imagery of this chapter depicts the second beast as installing worship of the first beast with no hint of offering a corrupted form of Christianity. It is ironic that those who have championed the separation of Church and State and the elimination of any expression of the Christian faith from the public square, including government discourse and education, will welcome the deification and worship of the beast-head that was slain (verse 14). Unlike the first century Caesars who allowed all manner of pagan religion as long as people paid homage to them, the anti-messiah will insist that he is the only one worthy of worship.
13― And he performs great signs, so that it should cause even fire to come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he performs: Grk. poieō, pres., 3p-sing., lit. "does." See verse 5 above. great: pl. of Grk. megas, adj. See verse 2 above. The adjective indicates an impressive nature. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion, sign, is used to mean (1) the distinguishing mark by which something is known, pledge, signal, token; or (2) an extraordinary phenomenon contrary to the course of nature; miracle, portent or wonder. The second usage applies here. In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), which has the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:626). The term "sign" has a variety of important uses in the Tanakh.
The first usage of sēmeion may be seen in Genesis 1:14 in which the stars would serve as signs that speak for God or even as portents of events on earth (cf. Ps 19:1f; Jer 10:2). "Sign" also referred to a visible manifestation of God’s grace and favor, a covenantal sign, as the rainbow (Gen 9:12-13, 17), circumcision (Gen 17:11), the blood on the doorpost (Ex 12:13), and the Sabbath (Ex 31:13, 17). The second use of sēmeion is represented by the miraculous wonders that only God can perform, such as the healing of Moses' hand (Ex 4:8-9), the miracles performed on behalf of Israel in Egypt, including the ten plagues and the Red Sea crossing (Ex 7:3; 8:23; 10:1; 11:9; Num 14:11, 22; Deut 6:22; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; 34:11).
After the Exodus sēmeion denotes the miracles for Israel's benefit during the years of wilderness wandering (Deut 4:34; 7:19), the budding of Aaron’s rod (Num 17:10), and the bronze snake on a pole that brought healing (Num 21:8-9). Later sēmeion is used for the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6), angelic fire (Jdg 6:17) and the shadow’s advance on the palace steps (2Kgs 20:9). The two basic meanings frequently overlap and the use of the word "sign" may point backward to a historical event or even forward to the fulfillment of a promise (TWOT 1:39f). John in his biographical narrative of Yeshua recorded seven miraculous signs Yeshua performed as proofs of his divinity (John 2:11, 21:30-31).
In order to secure and assure the adoration of the masses the second beast performs at least two miraculous signs that the public will think are humanly impossible. One sign is mentioned in this verse and a second sign is mentioned in verse 15 These acts are not like magic tricks that are in reality illusion, but they are very real. The mention of the second beast performing signs does not mean it has equivalent power as God or Yeshua, but to point out that the second beast uses "miracles" to convince the world that the first beast is worthy of their worship. The description is reminiscent of the Torah warning:
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder of which he spoke comes to pass, saying to you, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, and 'let us serve them,' 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams, for ADONAI your God is testing you to know whether you love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deut 13:1-3 BR)
The Torah warns against putting faith in what is seen or in someone merely because he does something spectacular. Yeshua similarly warned His disciples, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matt 7:15 NASB), and then predicted that these false prophets would complain when they are kept out of heaven, insisting that they performed miracles in the name of Yeshua (Matt 7:22).
so that: Grk. hina, conj. See the previous verse. it should cause: Grk. poieō, pres. subj., 3p-sing. See verse 5 above. even: Grk. kai. See verse 1 above. fire: Grk. pur, fire, as a physical state of burning. The use of "fire" here refers to lightning. to come down: Grk. katabainō, aor. inf., to proceed in a direction that is down; go down, come down, descend. out of: Grk. ek, prep. heaven: Grk. ouranos. See verse 6 above. The second heaven or the atmosphere is intended here. to: Grk. eis, prep. the earth: Grk. gē. See verse 3 above. The phrase could be rendered "out of the sky to the ground." The miracle would be especially impressive if it occurred on a clear day. The same effect could be accomplished by a laser fired from an orbiting satellite or space vehicle.
in the presence of: Grk. enōpion, prep. See the previous verse. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind, generally of adult males, and in this instance perhaps implying world leaders. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, a human male or mankind as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). Some versions opt for a gender neutral translation, such as "people" (AMP, CJB, CSB, ESV, GW, MSG, NCV, NIV), "everyone" (GNB, TLB, NABRE, NLT), or "all" (NRSV). There are other Greek words with those meanings and the standard meaning of "men" is to be preferred here.
The false prophet of Revelation imitates the miracle of Elijah by calling lightning out of the sky (1Kgs 13:38). As a false Elijah the second beast prepares the way for a false Messiah (Mounce). Paul speaks of the lawless one coming "with all power and signs and false wonders" (2Th 2:9). Both Paul and John report that Satan performs signs, but there is no mention of the anti-messiah personally doing miracles. Paul's statement is clarified in this chapter with the information that the false prophet performs signs. The activity of the false prophet may in part be to counteract the miraculous works of the two witnesses (Rev 11:5-6), just as Pharaoh's magicians mimicked the miracles of Moses (Ex 7:11f; 22; 8:7).
14― And he deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs which were given to it to perform on behalf of the beast, telling those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast who has the wound of the sword and lived.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he deceives: Grk. planaō, pres., to lead astray, cause to wander from the right way, mislead or to deceive someone. Deception is one of Satan's principal weapons and in Revelation is used with success in leading people astray from the truth of the living God to worship other gods (2:20; 12:9; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10; cf. 1Jn 2:26; 3:7; 4:6). Sadly, too many people are convinced by what they see and do not look below the surface to examine character or issues. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. dwelling: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. on: Grk. epi, prep. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 3 above. As noted in the comment on verse 8, this expression does not mean there are no witnesses of Yeshua on the earth at this time.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The second usage applies here. the signs: pl. of Grk. ho sēmeion. See the previous verse. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. were given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. to it: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. to perform: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. See verse 5 above. on behalf of: Grk. enōpion, prep. See verse 12 above. The preposition again emphasizes the role of agent. the beast: Grk. ho thērion. See verse 1 above. telling: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho. dwelling: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part. on: Grk. epi, prep. the earth: Grk. ho gē.
to make: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. an image: Grk. eikōn, something that bears a likeness to something else, an image or likeness. In the LXX eikōn renders five different Heb. words, including semel (SH-5566), an idol, image or statue, first in Deut 4:16, but primarily tselem (SH-6754), an image, first in Gen 1:26 of man as the image of God and later used of pagan idols (2Chr 23:17; Amos 5:26). to the beast: Grk. ho thērion. The dative case of the noun indicates the image was created in honor of the beast and dedicated to it. Making the image is a flagrant and defiant violation of the commandment "You shall not make for yourself an idol" (Ex 20:4; cf. Lev 19:4; 26:1; Deut 5:8). The instruction could have a double meaning.
First, the instruction could refer to creating a life-sized model to be located in the beast's capital city or perhaps in the "sanctuary of God" in Jerusalem thereby causing the abomination of desolation (cf. Dan 9:27; 11:45; Matt 24:15; 2Th 2:3f). An historical parallel occurred when Nebuchadnezzar set up an image and required everyone to bow down to it on pain of being cast into a fiery furnace for disobedience (Dan 3:1-6). Second, the phrasing also suggests that individual citizens will be required to obtain or purchase a replica of the image for their homes. Household images were common in ancient times (Gen 31:19, 31-34; Jdg 17:5; 18:14; 1Sam 19:13; Ezek 21:21; Hos 3:4).
the beast: Grk. ho thērion. which: Grk. hos. has: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 1 above. the wound: Grk. plēgē. See verse 3 above. of the sword: Grk. machaira. See verse 10 above. and: Grk. kai. lived: Grk. zaō, aor., be in the state of being alive, the opposite of death. This is the third mention in the chapter of the death and resuscitation of the beast. The apparent death of the one beast head will probably be caused by an attempted assassination. The cause of the wound mentioned in verse 3 above is the Roman short sword or dagger. The "wound of the sword" could be taken literally as to the cause or it may be a metaphor, which in the modern context might refer to any weapon, such as a firearm. The sword speaks of bodily violence and is not a passive attempt such as poisoning.
15― And there was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast, so that also the image of the beast should speak and should cause that as many as if they do not worship the image of the beast would be killed.
And: Grk. kai, conj. there was given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. See verse 2 above. to it: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. to give: Grk. didōmi, aor. inf. breath: Grk. pneuma, breath, spirit or wind. Bible versions are divided over translating the noun here as "breath" and "life." The noun may intend "spirit," i.e., the vital principle by which the body is animated. to the image: Grk. eikōn. See the previous verse. of the beast: Grk. thērion. See verse 1 above. The phrase "image of the beast" indicates the idol bears the likeness of the beast, perhaps the figure of a man or even the beast John saw. so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 12 above. also: Grk. kai. the image: Grk. eikōn. of the beast: Grk. thērion. should speak: Grk. laleō, aor. subj. See verse 5 above.
The description probably means that the image is actually possessed by a demonic spirit that causes the image to exhibit all the energy and movement of a living being. There was a popular belief in the ancient world in the power to make statues speak, perhaps owing to the practice of ventriloquism and sorcery by cultic priests (Mounce). There grew up a legend around the person of Simon Magus (Acts 8:9ff), and early Christian literature relates stories of how he brought statues to life (Ladd). The verse here emphasizes that the false prophet does not inherently possess this "creative" power, but only receives it from the dragon.
and: Grk. kai. should cause: Grk. poieō, aor. subj. See verse 5 above. that: Grk. hina. as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun denoting a spatial and temporal equation, here signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. Bible versions leave the conjunction untranslated, but it is important in establishing the conditional nature of the edict. they do not: Grk. ou, adv. worship: Grk. proskuneō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. the image: Grk. eikōn. of the beast: Grk. thērion. should be killed: Grk. apokteinō, aor. pass. subj., 3p-pl. See verse 10 above.
A simple loyalty ceremony is imposed on the population. In order to live, all a person must do is bow down to the image, perhaps even say a prayer to it or recite a loyalty oath. The ceremony will likely be repeated worldwide and not just conducted in the beast's capital. When Nebuchadnezzar decreed that his image be worshipped the Jews refused to commit idolatry, declaring,
"Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not … we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Dan 3:16ff NASB).
This loyalty requirement will no doubt be sold to the public as an inoffensive act merely designed to insure the peace and unity of the world. God's people at the end of the age will recognize that this government mandate is not merely establishing a religion, but a declaration that the only true God has been replaced.
The Mark of the Beast (13:16-18)
16― And it causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, that it should give them a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,
And: Grk. kai, conj. it causes: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 5 above. The verb focuses on the result of the action. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 7 above. None are exempted. The mention of "all" is then further defined by six social categories. the small: Grk. ho mikros, adj., relatively limited in extent, used (1) of persons as a measure of physical height, age and social position relative to importance, influence or power; (2) of things whether in size, number, significance or time; and (3) as a substantive to mean a short time, a little while (BAG). The first usage is intended here. In the LXX mikros (in its neuter form mikron) appears about 190 times to translate a variety of concepts of which Heb. qatan (SH-6996), small, young, unimportant (first in Gen 19:11) is frequent (DNTT 2:428).
and: Grk. kai. the great: Grk. ho megas, adj. See verse 2 above. The phrase "the small and the great" is a Hebrew idiomatic expression for the "young and old" (BAG 498; Ladd). Josephus uses the same expression in describing masters of slaves (Ant. XII, 4:8). The phrase also occurs at 11:18, 19:5, 18 and 20:12.
and: Grk. kai. the rich: pl. of Grk. ho plousios, adj., possessing abundance of earthly possessions, rich or wealthy. In ancient society possession of material things and status were closely associated. In the LXX plousios translates several Hebrew words (first in Gen 13:2 describing Abraham), but normally it renders Heb. ashir (SH-6223), wealthy, rich (e.g., Ruth 3:10) (DNTT 2:841). While there are a number of wealthy men in Scripture who were godly, the class of rich men is generally not held in a favorable light in the Besekh, because they oppressed the poor (Luke 16:19-21; Jas 2:6).
and: Grk. kai. the poor: pl. of Grk. ho ptōchos, adj., in a needy condition that is the opposite of having much, usually of someone in a relatively indigent state. In Scripture the poor often have no means of earning wages. In the LXX ptōchos occurs 100 times and renders four different Hebrew words with a range of meaning: (1) the very poor and homeless, even reduced to seeking alms (Heb. ebyon, Ex 23:11; Ps 35:10), (2) those economically and legally oppressed (Heb. ani, Lev 19:10; 2Sam 22:8), (3) physically weak or thin from want (Heb. dal, Lev 19:15; Amos 2:7; 4:1), and (4) poor in a social and economic sense, esp. in contrast to the rich (Heb. rush, 2Sam 12:3; Prov 13:8; 14:20) (DNTT 2:821f).
and: Grk. kai. the free: pl. of Grk. ho eleutheros, adj., enjoying freedom from constraint, free or independent, non-slave status. In the first century the noun was also applied to freed slaves, who then became clients of their former masters. In the LXX eleutheros renders Heb. chophshi, adj., free, referring to someone freed from slavery or servitude (Ex 21:2, 5, 27). and: Grk. kai. the servants: pl. of Grk. doulos, adj., generally used of a male slave, who is viewed as owned property totally and unquestioningly at the behest of the owner. The economies of ancient empires were based on slave labor and slavery typically occurred as a result of being captured in war and then sold. Legally a slave had no rights.
In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. ebed, which did include the meaning of doulos but with a much broader application. In the Tanakh ebed is especially used of household servants, those who worked for the King and those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593). Hebrew culture was different from pagan nations in that while there were some occasions when defeated enemies were enslaved (Num 31:7-9; Deut 20:10-12), slavery was most often a form of indentured servitude. What separates a slave from a free person is independence. To the average person the right to manage one's own life as one chooses is the essence of freedom. Slavery is the abrogation of one's autonomy and the subordination to the will of another.
that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 12 above. it should give: Grk. didōmi, aor. subj. See verse 2 above. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun. a mark: Grk. charagma means a mark or stamp engraved, etched, branded, cut or imprinted. The only use of charagma outside of Revelation is Acts 17:29 in reference to an idolatrous object. In the first century charagma was a technical term for the imperial stamp on commercial documents and for the royal impression on Roman coins (Ladd). Johnson adds that charagma was used to refer to the "bite" of a snake or to a "brand" on camels indicating ownership. on: Gk. epi, prep. their: 3p, masc.-pl. of Grk. autos. right: Grk. ho dexios, adj., right as of a bodily member or a location. hand: Grk. ho cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand.
or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. on: Grk. epi. their: 3p, masc.-pl. of Grk. autos. forehead: Grk. ho metōpon, the front of the head, lit. the space between the eyes. The beast offers choice, not chance, in the application of an identifying mark. The mark will ensure that worship of the beast and its image will be more than just a religious ritual. Of course, people could only be forced to conform if there were severe penalties identified for noncompliance, probably death and forfeiture of all property to the State. In ancient times branding or marking was used to brand disobedient slaves, soldiers defeated in battle, or devotees of a particular god (Barclay).
The mark is essentially a permanent tattoo. The Torah (Lev 19:28) forbids tattoos or brands that are meant to show dedication to an idol (Maimonides, Laws of Idol Worship, 12:11). Stern sees the mark of the beast as mocking the phylacteries which Orthodox and Conservative Jews wear on the hand and forehead for prayer to obey Deuteronomy 6:8. The beast's marking may also mimic the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev 7:3, 9:4). In any case, the marking signifies loyalty, not servitude, and serves as an indirect proof that the Rapture of believers does not occur before the advent of the anti-messiah. If God's people are gone, there is no need to mark the population.
Marking an entire population of a country has no historical precedent. However, Jews have been singled out for marking. In the third century before Yeshua Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt (285-246 B.C.), compelled some Alexandrian Jews to receive the mark of Dionysus as his devotees (Robertson). In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council and Pope Innocent II mandated that Jews, male and female, in all Christian countries distinguish themselves from the rest of the population in public places by a special kind of clothing to prevent "criminal" sexual intercourse between Christians and Jews. The canon law and papal bull resulted in each country legislating a special identifying badge to be worn by Jews.
Innocent's edict was enforced by successive Popes, making these "marks of Cain" a common sight, and for six centuries exposed Jews to public contempt everywhere they went in Europe (David Dickerson, The Jewish Badge January 2005). In Nazi-controlled Europe of the 1940s Jews were again forced to wear a Jewish badge, the Star of David, on their clothing in order to separate them from the rest of society, to promote public humiliation and to desensitize the public to government discrimination and eventual extermination. Jews sent to concentration camps were tattooed with a special identification number.
The reader should understand that the mark of the beast is not instituted until the anti-messiah actually reigns. After all, the mark of the beast is the beast's mark. The marked citizen is given the choice of having the mark on the hand or forehead. Perhaps the more zealous of the anti-messiah's devotees will opt for the forehead. Taking John's narrative literally the mark of the beast most certainly would not be the social security number, baby footprints, a national identification card, debit cards, bar codes, smart cards, bio-chips, or the new system of shopping with your fingerprint ("Paying by Fingerprint at the Supermarket," Reuters: March 14, 2005).
Many Christians have been deceived into believing the myth that all computerized accounting is based on the number 666. However, no bar code contains the number "666." The only numbers on the 13-digit bar code that are scanned are those shown in the conventional numerals underneath it. This urban legend has been widely circulated by well-meaning Christians, but it is a total distortion of Scripture. See Barbara and David Mikkelson, A Scan of Wealth and Taste, Urban Legends Reference Pages: 31 December 1998. Similar false representations have been made about smart cards and bio-chips. See Mondex, Urban Legends Reference Pages: 24 March 2004.
Too many disciples have succumbed to hysteria and paranoia over supposed "marks," needlessly worrying about the impact on their salvation, and in so doing tacitly deny what Scripture actually says. Bear in mind, it is impossible to receive this mark accidentally or without knowledge of its purpose and God will make sure His people are not deceived about the true mark of the beast when it comes. See 14:9 on God's plan to warn the holy ones and the world. The marked person becomes an idol reflecting his or her god, the beast, and in so doing is marked for death. Followers of Yeshua need to ignore those who spread conspiracy theories and false rumors that promote nothing but fear, and instead trust in the sovereign care of the Lord.
17― and that not one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one having the mark ― the name of the beast or the number of its name.
The description of what the second beast causes continues. and: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 12 above. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation and an element of uncertainty; not. one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 9 above. should be able: Grk. dunamai, pres. pass. subj., 3p-sing. See verse 4 above. to buy: Grk. agorazō (from agora, marketplace), aor. inf., to buy or purchase in a marketplace, a commercial transaction that transfers possession of something. or: Grk. ē, conj. to sell: Grk. pōleō, aor. inf., to sell, exchange or barter, which results in the transfer of possession.
The visible effect of marking will be the restriction on who is allowed to engage in or benefit from commerce, whether at the wholesale level or the retail level, and will be an important part of the beast's war against the holy ones. Of course, to control access to economic privileges will require sophisticated secret surveillance to counter the barter system that would naturally arise among the oppressed population, perhaps even neighborhood watch groups to spy on their neighbors.
Efforts by preterist commentators to find a first century correlation to the prophecy of marking the population are totally unconvincing. The Sardis congregation was poor (2:9) and the Philadelphia congregation had "little power" (3:8), but there is no hint of economic sanctions. Indeed, the Laodicean congregation was rich (3:17). In addition, when governmental Rome took official notice of an illegal religion, it was always by criminal charges in the courts, not by economic sanctions (Johnson).
except: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. the mark: Grk. charagma. See the previous verse. The straightforward prophecy of John indicates that the marking is an anticipated event, used to distinguish the beast's loyal subjects from those who refuse to worship him. Government propaganda will insist that the purpose of marking is not to restrict access to the marketplace but to insure the security of the global economic system. Since a significant concern of people living in the last days is safety (cf. 1Th 5:3), people will gullibly accept marking as the ultimate security defense. Obviously, anyone who would refuse to take the mark must be an enemy of the State and a danger to public safety.
the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. of the beast: Grk. thērion. See verse 1 above. or: Grk. ē. the number: Grk. arithmos, number or total, and may refer to a specific number, a total number of something, or the numerical value assigned to specific letters of the alphabet (BAG). Ancient languages, such as Greek and Hebrew, assigned numerical values to letters of the alphabet. For the numerical values of Greek and Hebrew letters see the article Greek and Hebrew Alphabets with Numeric Equivalents.
of its: Grk. autos, neut. personal pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. The text adds further information about the mark. The choice is given of being tattooed with the beast's name (the individual anti-messiah) or the number equivalent of his name, which implies that the mark will be visible, not like a microchip hidden under the skin. No one will be able to hide his or her choice to take or not take the mark from neighbors, friends and family.
18― Here is wisdom. Let the one having understanding decode the number of the beast, for it is the number of man; and the number of it is six hundred sixty six.
Here: Grk. hōde, adv. See verse 10 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. wisdom: Grk. sophia, exceptional endowment of discernment, understanding and insight, wisdom. In the LXX sophia renders predominately Heb. chokmah (SH-2451), wisdom, first in Exodus 28:3, but also Heb. binah (SH-998), understanding, first in Deuteronomy 4:6 (DNTT 3:1027). The opening sentence is a prelude to explaining a mystery. John affirms that comprehending the mystery of the beast's identity will require wisdom from God.
Let the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. understanding: Grk. nous may mean (1) capacity to comprehend or discern; understanding; (2) medium for processing information or instruction; mind; or (3) the result of mental processing; mind, thought. The first meaning applies here. The clause of "having understanding" also occurs at 17:9 where further information on the identity of the beast is given. The admonition "let him who has understanding" is parallel to the instruction in the Olivet Discourse, "let the reader understand" (Matt 24:15), which is a recurring plea in Daniel in the context of communicating mysteries (cf. Dan 1:7; 1:21-23; 9:25; 12:13).
The admonition implies that that anyone possessing godly wisdom or the wisdom of the Spirit will understand the mystery of the beast's number. However, there is an implied paradox in this admonition. While revealing identity God also conceals the identity of the beast. It is not like Isaiah's prediction of Cyrus as the name of the king who would free the Israelites from captivity (Isa 44:28; 45:1) two centuries before it happened (2Chr 36:22-24). Understanding God's mysteries requires divine disclosure (cf. Rom 16:25; 1Cor 1:21; Gal 1:12; Rev 1:1), and God offers no hint of the name of the anti-messiah.
So, the "wisdom" in this context refers to the explanation provided by the Lord. Yet, God in His wisdom purposely does not explain which language should be used to convert the beast's name to numbers, although presumptively Greek or Hebrew would be appropriate to this context. In any event, the ones with "understanding" would be those who actually live during in the time of the beast and the marking program, and they will be able to make the obvious connection. Regarding the debate over the timing of the Rapture, the admonition to "understand" makes little sense if the ones with understanding, i.e., believers, have been raptured before the beast even comes to power.
decode: Grk. psēphizō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to determine an amount by adding up digits; calculate, count (Luke 14:28); or (2) to decode the meaning of a number based on equivalence of its digits to alphabetic letters, of gematria or numerical wordplay; solve, decode. The second meaning applies here. In Greek culture the verb originally meant to count with pebbles and so was used for arithmetical calculations as well as to vote on a matter by casting a pebble into an urn (LSJ). Bible versions are divided between translating the verb as "calculate" or "count." The instruction does not only refer to converting letters into numbers, but comprehending the mystery in the total number.
the number: Grk. arithmos. See the previous verse. of the beast: Grk. thērion. See verse 1 above. Stern believes the number of the beast could be entirely symbolic and observes, "The name of Yeshua in Greek, Iēsous, equals 888; seven is regarded as the perfect number; and triple repetition symbolizes absolute ultimacy, as in the praise of the seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy is ADONAI-Tzva'ot " (Isa 6:3 TLV)." Therefore 888 means that Yeshua is absolutely beyond perfection, while the number of the beast signifies absolute and ultimate imperfection and evil.
for: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. the number: Grk. arithmos. of man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 13 above. Many versions have "a man" to signify the anti-messiah, but the noun could be rendered "mankind." "The number of man" may well allude to the Hebrew letter vav, which has the numerical value of 6. The number six is the number of man because man was created on the sixth day (Gen 1:27, 31) and man works six days out of the week (Ex 20:9) (Hebrew4Christians).
and: Grk. kai. the number: Grk. arithmos. of it: Grk. autos, neuter personal pronoun. is six hundred: pl. of Grk. hexakosioi, adj. (from hex, six, and hekaton, a hundred), the number 600. The adjective occurs only twice in the Besekh (Rev 14:20). sixty: pl. of Grk. hexēkonta, adj. (from hex, six, and a modified form of deka, ten), the number 60. six: pl. of Grk. hex, the cardinal number 6. On this basis many predictions have been made about the identity of the anti-messiah by seeking names of candidates that would convert to 666. For example, converting the Greek form of Caesar Nero to Hebrew characters is equivalent to 666, which gave support to the "Nero redivivus myth."
Ever since the first century people have been guessing the identity of the anti-messiah based on the number 666. The best commentary on this verse probably came from Irenaeus, who said,
"It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be … casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number  mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved…. We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of anti-messiah; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision…. But he indicates the number of the name now, that when this man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is: the name, however, is suppressed, because it is not worthy of being proclaimed by the Holy Spirit." (Against Heresies, Book 5, 30:3-4)
To sum up, those who attempt to identify the anti-messiah by calculating the names of world leaders are wasting their effort on a totally useless exercise.
Additional Note: Who is the Anti-Messiah?
In the latter part of the twentieth century numerous prominent persons were declared to be the anti-messiah by Christians. In 1989 Robert W. Faid identified Mikhail Gorbachev as the Anti-messiah ("Gorby the Antichrist," Harper's Magazine, January 1989, 24). Various prophecy "experts" have also designated many other world leaders and prominent persons, including Kurt Waldheim, Willy Brandt, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Henry Kissinger, Saddam Hussein, King Juan Carlos (of Spain), President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Bill Gates and Barak Obama.
One only needs to search the Internet to find a multitude of theories about the identity of the anti-messiah. A pretribulationist website on a page titled Antichrist lists many candidates in the modern era that have been proposed for the title of anti-messiah. Such apocalyptic pronouncements, if they gained any attention, have been generally treated with scorn and derision by unbelievers. So, disciples pointing out the real anti-messiah when he is revealed would mean absolutely nothing.
To pretribulationists, the Christian Church acting as salt and light, as well as the Holy Spirit, are restraining the "mystery of lawlessness" and must be removed in order for the full activity of Satan to take place. After all, if the anti-messiah came while the Church was on the earth, then Christians would point him out and he would not succeed in fooling the world. In reality, the presence and many good works of Jews and Christians down through the centuries have not significantly diminished the working of evil around the world, as evidenced by the persistence of wars, totalitarian regimes, genocide, slavery, feudalism, institutional discrimination, poverty, and all the works of the flesh by sinful humanity.
Paul's prophecy in 2Thessalonians 2:5-7 is not about the removal of the Holy Spirit but the coming of the Man of Lawlessness or anti-messiah. (See my commentary on this chapter.) Paul goes on to say that God will send a "deluding influence" (2Th 2:11), which, combined with the Satanic deception and wonders, will override any efforts of disciples to expose the anti-messiah. The lesson of history is that monsters can come to power with much popular support and God's people invariably become the victims.
See my web article The Coming Anti-Messiah.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Revelation of John. 2 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1976.
Baron: David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary on His Vision and Prophecies. Kregel Publications, 1918.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Company, 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Earle: Ralph Earle, The Book of The Revelation. Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. X. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1967.
GNT: The Greek New Testament. eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, Allen Wikgren. American Bible Society, 1966. (NA25)
Gregg: Steve Gregg, ed., Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.
Hunt: Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast. Harvest House Pub., 1994.
Johnson: Alan F. Johnson, Revelation. Expositor's Bible Commentary. Zondervan Publishing House, 1983. (Zondervan CD–ROM Version 2.6, 1989–1998)
Juster: Daniel Juster, Revelation: The Passover Key. Destiny Image Publishers, 1991.
Ladd: George E. Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
MDNT: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Miller: Stephen R. Miller, Daniel. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994.
Morris: Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record. Tyndale House Publishers, 1987.
Mounce: Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation. rev. ed. New International Commentary on the New Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vols. The Zondervan Corporation, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament. 6 Vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD–ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
Sevener: Harold A. Sevener, God's Man in Babylon. Chosen People Ministries, 1994.
Stern: David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. 5th ed. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1996.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
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