- His Appearance, Likeness, and Goal, Rev 13:11-12.
- The deceptive miracles of the False Prophet cause the world to make and worship the image of the Antichrist, Rev 13:13-14.
- The False Prophet gives breath to the image of the beast and all are required to worship the Antichrist through the image, Rev 13:15.
- All are required to receive the Mark of the Beast, Rev 13:16-17.
- The Number of the Beast, Rev 13:18.
- His Appearance, Likeness, and Goal, Rev 13:11-12.
Rev 13:11-12, “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. 12He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.”
In close association with the Beast / Antichrist, (the head of the federated revived Roman Empire), is another individual known as the “False Prophet,” cf. Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10, called “the second beast” in Rev 13:11-17, where his fullest description is given.
He is of a similar nature to the first beast as the same word for “beast,” THERION, θηρίον meaning, “wild animal or beast,” is used, as well as the word “another” ALLOS meaning, “one like in kind or another of the same kind.” In addition, the arrival of the second beast is similar to the first as, “coming up” or “rising up,” ANABAINO, ἀναβαίνω that means, “ascend, go up, bring up, or to spring up,” is used here and in Rev 13:1, for the first beast.
But unlike the first beast that came up “out of the sea,” John now sees the second beast coming up “out of the earth” occupying a secondary role supporting the activities of the first beast.
Though some have interpreted the word “earth,” GE, γῆ meaning, “land, earth, ground, soil, region or territory,” as referring to the Holy Land, it is the general word for the earth. If the sea, mentioned as the source of the first beast, represents the mass of humanity indicating the racial background of the first beast as a Gentile, the reference to the second beast as coming out of the earth indicates that this character, who is later described as a false prophet, Rev 19:20, is a creature of the earth. It conveys that he is of the world, worldly in his thoughts and character. His geographic origin and his racial connection are not mentioned. It also tells us that he does not come from heaven, even though he will claim supernatural powers. Therefore, he is of the earth, earthy, Cf. John 3:31; 1 Cor 15:48; Rev 17:5.
John 3:31, “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.”
1 Cor 15:48, “As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.”
Rev 17:5, “And upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth’.”
There is a particular oppressor referred to in the tenth Psalm (ver. 15), who is described as “The Man of the Earth,” and who meets his fate in the great judgment time. According to the uniform patristic application of this Psalm, the reference must be to one or the other of these Beasts; but, as the first Beast is distinguished as the Beast from the Sea, and the second as the Beast from the Earth, this “Man of the Earth” must be this second Beast, if either. If so, his particular and emphatic characterization as “the Man of the Earth” so early as the days of David must mean something special and peculiar. The apparition to the witch of Endor came up “out of the earth” (1 Sam. 28:13).
He is at least a man, one who fills the office of a prophet in consociation with the first Beast, one possessed of supernatural powers, and one who has all his inspiration and miraculous potency from the earth (beneath), in contrast with that of true prophets, which is from above.
He is pictured as having “two horns like a lamb” and “speaking like a dragon.” This shows the hypocrisy of the second beast, the false prophet. Being like a “lamb” indicates that he has a religious character, a conclusion supported by his being named a prophet, yet this is another counterfeit of Christ as the great prophet, Mat 13:57; 21:11; Luke 24:19; John 4:44.
So, the second beast comes meek and mild at first, to persuade the people to believe in the Antichrist. Yet, he speaks as a dragon, (a serpent), that indicates he is motivated by the power of Satan who is “the dragon,” to deceive the entire world.
His appearance is in sharp contrast to his words. He will try to give the impression of being a lamb, gentle and caring, full of great love, but it will be just an act. He is really a snake like that old serpent, the devil, and his words are deceitful, though clever.
One thought regarding the two horns is the reunification of the two branches of the church, east and west, Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy joined together once again.
The other thought is the unification of naturalism, (man’s scientific and rationalistic thinking), combined with the supernaturalism that religion provides. In regard to this, Joseph A. Seiss writes in, “the Apocalypse,” the following.
“Taking the whole history of all religions, true and false, from the beginning until now, and searching for the elements of their hold on men’s minds, their power, it will be found to reside in two things, which, in the absence of better terms, we may call naturalism and supernaturalism; that is, the presence of revelations, or what are accepted as revelations, from the superior powers, and held to be divine and binding; or conclusions of natural conscience and reason, deemed sacredly obligatory, because believed to be good and true. As a religionist, therefore, this Beast-Prophet could have but two horns. But he has two horns, and hence both the two only powers in a religion; therefore he is at once a naturalist and a supernaturalism—a scientist and a spiritualist,—a Rationalist, yet asserting power above ordinary nature and in command of nature. In other words, he claims to be the bearer of the sum total of the Universal Wisdom, in which all reason and all revelation are fused into one great system, claimed to be the ultimatum of all truth, the sublime and absolute Universeology. And professing to have everything natural and supernatural thus solved and crystallized as the one eternal and perfect Wisdom, he must necessarily present himself as the one absolute apostle and teacher of all that ought to command the thought, faith, and obedience of man.”
He goes on to say, “Having but the two horns like a lamb, he yet speaks like a Dragon. He is lamblike in that he proposes to occupy only the mild, domestic, and inoffensive position of spiritual adviser. What more gentle and innocent than the counselling of people how to live and act, for the securement of their happiness! But the words are like the Dragon, in that such professions and claims are in fact the assumption of absolute dominion over the minds, souls, consciences, and hearts of men, to bind them irrevocably, and to compel them to think and act only as he who makes them shall dictate and prescribe. Only to the eternal God belongs such a power; and when claimed by a creature, is, indeed, the speech of the Devil, the spirit of hell usurping the place and prerogatives of the Holy Spirit.” (The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ.)
He will become a terrible part of the triad that is a false imitation of the Trinity, Rev 16:13. The following pictures are from Clarence Larkin’s book, “Dispensational Truth.”
There is evidence that the second beast is the head of the apostate church on earth, (sometimes called Babylon, and other times the harlot in Revelation), e.g., Rev 17:5, during the first half of Daniel’s 70th week. But in the middle of that week, with the rise of the first beast to a place of worldwide dominion, the apostate church will be destroyed by the Antichrist, Rev 17:16, and the worship of the whole world is directed to the “beast out of the sea.” However, the second beast, false prophet, survives the destruction of the church which had been under his control, and he then assists the beast in making the transition to the worship of the Antichrist. Therefore, the False Prophet helps facilitate the change of apostate religion into its final form. The second beast, out of the earth, will become the leader of the world religious system the Antichrist will establish in the last half of the Tribulation, and cause men to worship the first beast who is out of the sea. By glorifying the beast, the beast’s image, and the beast’s false resurrection, Rev 13:14-15, he will parody the Holy Spirit who glorifies the risen Christ.
The identification of the second beast as the head of the apostate church is further indicated in many ways in the book of Revelation. In vs. 12, “He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence,” obviously associates him with the first beast in a religious way in that his miracles and activities cause men to worship the image of the first beast, “and he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed,” cf. Rev 13:13-17.
Here is the establishment of false religion on a worldwide scale. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., all persons of faith will join hands and heart in worship, praise, and adoration of the antichrist. Each faith may retain certain particular emphases that characterize their faith, but they will and must unite in their devotion and dedication to the first beast. This will be the most dishonoring form of idolatry the world will ever know.
Its seeds are already being sown today. In an article titled “U.N. Faithful Eye Global Religion,” James Harder writes, “The secretary-general of the United Nation’s Millennium Peace summit thinks that all religious apples fall from the same tree and are equally delicious. At a recent international meeting, he told 1,000 delegates that religions need to accept the validity of all religions or else it will be difficult to attain world peace. Recently, the notion has emerged that the pathway to peace necessitates the unification of religions. The Universal Religion Initiative (URI) recently convened with 300 people present representing 39 religions and signed a charter, which officially launched the movement. The goal is that there will come a day in which “religious people will no longer insist on a single truth.” Episcopal Bishop Swing, a leader in the movement, goes even further: “There will have to be a godly cease-fire, a temporary truce where the absolute exclusive claims of each [religion] will be honored but an agreed upon neutrality will be exercised in terms of proselytizing, condemning, murdering, or dominating. These will not be tolerated in the United Religions Zone.”
For the establishment of this worldwide united religion, the second beast will exercise all the authority and power of the first beast. The ancient serpent, Satan, will be the source of the second beast’s power as he was of the first. With its power, it will assist the first beast and force the earth and all its inhabitants to worship the first beast, drawing attention to its “fatal wound that was healed,” the counterfeit to Christ’s death upon the Cross and resurrection.
“For the two are but different Persons in the same infernal Trinity, the second witnessing to the first, as the Spirit witnesseth to the Son. It is all in the one interest of the Dragon, out of whom the whole administration comes, and it matters not through which of the Persons the Devil work is done, whether by the first Beast as imperial dictator, or by the second as the absolute spiritual adviser and teacher. Therefore, the latter exerciseth all the authority of the former, “in his presence,” with his approbation and consent, and as his consociate and prime minister.”
The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
It is clear that the second beast shares prominence and leadership with the first beast throughout the great Tribulation, as they both are cast alive into the Lake of Fire at its close, Rev 19:20.
The second beast is entirely subsidiary to the first in its zeal and action. It wields the first beast’s authority, works miracles in its support, and causes men to make and to worship its image. The second beast is lost in the splendor and importance of the first beast.
The second beast has two horns like a lamb. He puts on a mild and lamb-like appearance, which the first beast did not. Yet, the second beast also speaks as a dragon: its words, which carry its real character, are fierce and unrelenting, its commands are cruel, and all the while it professes that which is gentle and loving.
- The deceptive miracles of the False Prophet cause the world to make and worship the image of the Antichrist, Rev 13:13-14.
Rev 13:13-14, “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.”
This begins with the 2nd beast performing many great sign-miracles. “Signs,” is the Greek noun SEMEION, σημεῖον that can mean, “sign, token, signal, miracle, or portent.” It can be translated either, “sign or miracle,” as in John’s Gospel for the miracles of Jesus, cf. John 2:11, 23; 6:19-21.
Here we see the second beast’s counterfeit, as Jesus Christ performed His miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:22; Luke 4:1; cf. Phil 2:6-8, this second beast performs miracles through endowed power of Satan, 2 Thes 2:9.
2 Thes 2:9, “That is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.”
The counterfeit is used so that the people worship the 1st beast. Just as the apostles where given the ability to perform signs and wonders to prove they were from God and to believe in and worship Him, Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 14:3; 15:12; Rom 15:19; 2 Cor 12:12, the 2nd beast does so to deceive the world that the Antichrist is god and to worship him.
As our Lord told us, not everything that appears to be a miracle is actually a miracle. And not everything that is a miracle is a miracle from God. That is true today, and it will be true during the reign of the Antichrist, Mat 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Thes 2:9; Rev 16:14; 19:20; cf. John 4:48; John 20:29.
John 4:48, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe’.”
Mat 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs (SEMEION) and wonders, (TERAS, “portent, omen, sign, wonder”), so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
Rev 16:14, “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”
The sign used here by the false prophet is to have “fire coming down out of heaven.” It is clear that Satan, who will then energize the False Prophet, can do this from Job. 1:16, where Satan, having secured permission from God to touch all that Job had, brought down “fire from heaven” and burned up Job’s sheep and servants.
Job 1:16, “While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you’.”
This will be used as a counterfeit to the prophet Elijah, as this will invoke to some the imagery of Elijah from 1 Kings 18:22-29, who is to be the forerunner to the Advents of Christ.
Malachi 4:5, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.”
In the Gospels, John the Baptist was the “Elijah” forerunner to the First Advent of Jesus Christ, but Elijah is also the forerunner of His Second Advent, as prophesied in Malachi 4:5, “the great and terrible day of the Lord,” and as our Lord told His disciples in Mat 17:9-13.
In 1 Kings 18:22-29, Elijah called the people of Israel to a decision between the Lord and Baal. Elijah, at God’s instruction, called fire down from heaven, something the priests of Baal could not do. He also called down fire from heaven in 2 Kings 1:10-12, to prove that he was “a man of God.” The counterfeit imagery of the 2nd beast will cause even the Jews to believe in the 1st beast as the Christ.
Remember, that even in a scientific age, as we are in today, there are gullible people who follow false prophets and are deceived by false miracles that do not glorify God, cf. 2 Thes 2:9-12.
This also harkens back to God’s commands to Israel to not believe in a prophet, even if he performs miracles, if he does not lead people to the true worship of God, Deut 13:1-3. True prophets speak for God and encourage people to serve Him and follow Christ. Yet, the false prophet will use this miracle to bring people to believe that the 1st beast is god.
This miracle will be used to offset the power of God demonstrated by His two witnesses of the Tribulation, Rev 11:3-14, as noted in vs. 5, so that people follow and worship the Antichrist. Many combinations to the identity of the two witnesses have been given over the years including: Enoch and Elijah, because both were raptured, and therefore will come back and physically die; Moses and Elijah, because they both performed great miracles; or John the Baptist and Elijah, because John was the forerunner to the First Advent and will be for the Second with Elijah. Notice how Elijah is always one of these two. We do not know for sure, as it may be two Cherubim angels who are given bodily form to die and be raised again when comparing vs. 4 with Zech 4:3-14, or even Joshua and Zerubbabel spoken of in those passages, or even David and Israel as they are called the “green olive tree” in Psa 52:8; Jer 11:16. But whoever they are will fulfill the prophesy of Malachi 4:5, as John the Baptist did in Christ’s First Advent.
Finally, this counterfeit will be superseded by the Lord Himself, when at the end of the His Millennial reign He will destroy the revolutionary armies of Satan in the Gog and Magog war, Rev 20:9.
Rev 20:9, “And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.”
Therefore, the second beast, who is the false prophet, will draw together all peoples and religions to encourage / force an ecumenical church to worship the first beast, the Antichrist. His deceptive miracles, which will counterfeit Biblical miracles and even attempt to counterfeit the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, will help accomplish this.
Vs. 14, “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.”
In this verse, we see the deceptive power of the False Prophet to deceive the entire world and lead them into making an image of the first beast, the Antichrist.
“Deceives” is the Verb PLANAO, πλανάω that means a variety of things including, “lead astray, mislead, deceive, seduce, delude, err, or sin.” In classical Greek, it was first used in a simple geographical sense:
- To lead someone on a journey astray so he does not arrive at his goal.
- It also refers to a sheep that goes astray and is separated from its flock and shepherd.
- It later developed a figurative sense of being led astray in matters of truth or wandering off the path of correct moral conduct.
It is used in the NT to refer to:
- The nature of life apart from faith in Christ: 1 Peter 2:25, “You were continually straying like sheep.”
- Christians who are carelessly inattentive to sound doctrine and so let themselves be deceived, 1 Cor 6:9; 15:33; Gal 6:7.
- Its predominant NT use, (over 20 times), it is the deliberate deception practiced by Satan and false teachers to mislead the world and Christians about Christ and God: Rev 12:9, “. . . Satan, who deceives the whole world.”
The goal of the False Prophet is to deceive the world, both believers and unbelievers, into thinking that the Antichrist is the Christ and God.
He deceives by the “signs” he performs, including as noted in vs. 13, “making fire come down out of heaven.” He is able to perform these signs and wonders not by his own power but by the power given to him by Satan.
As we noted above, this imitates the signs of Moses and Elijah and the two witnesses of God of the Tribulation, Rev 11:1-14. Up to this time, the two witnesses have been ministering at the temple in Jerusalem, but “the beast” will slay them and take over the temple. When God raises the two witnesses from the dead and takes them to heaven, the false prophet will answer that challenge by giving life to the image of “the beast.” Not only will the image move, but it will speak, Rev 13:15!
When Pharaoh lifted himself up against God, and His two witnesses, Moses and Aaron, the magicians were summoned as necessary helpers, to compete with their miracles, and to withstand their claims. So too, are the two witnesses of Satan, the Antichrist and False Prophet, raised up because of the signs and wonders they perform.
In addition, throughout the Bible we see rebellious individuals raised up because of a close companion and co-conspirator. Likewise, the final Antichrist could not be the Antichrist without his great spiritual consociate and false prophet. Though opposing God and exalting himself, “above all that is called God, or that is worshipped,” he still finds it essential to have a religion and a religious leader which the false prophet satisfies.
This verse also tells us he performs miracles “in the presence of the first beast.” This means that the first beast, the Antichrist is giving instruction and approval for the False Prophet to perform them. This means the False Prophet will be performing miracles while the Antichrist is standing by giving his approval, as the False Prophet will be subservient to him, his puppet religious leader.
Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King; and he who proposes to take His place, and to be the true Christ as against the incarnate Son of God, must fill out the same departments. To do this his devil given wisdom simply inverts the order, assigns to himself the central and all-conditioning position of absolute King, and accepts and adopts a grand religious establishment, whose head and center is another great Beast, administering in the department of priesthood and prophecy.
As noted above, Jesus warned that false prophets and false Christs would arise, Mat 24:24.
Mat 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
The Antichrist and his False Prophet will be the climax of that kind of deception, but the people will not realize the miracles of the False Prophet are deceptive at first. On the basis of him wielding this power in the likeness of Elijah and Moses, and the two witnesses, it makes an impression on the unbelievers of the Tribulation described as “those that dwell on the earth,” (in other words, “those of like mindedness, earthly, or worldly thinking). As a result, the second beast urges them to make an image of the first beast, just as the Israelites did when Moses was receiving the Law, in the golden calf episode, where the Israelites fashioned and worshipped the image of a god, while Moses was receiving the Law from God, Ex 32:1-4f; Deut 9:8; Psa 106:19-21; Acts 7:41.
Psa 106:19-22, “They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. 20Thus they exchanged their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass. 21They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt. 22Wonders in the land of Ham and awesome things by the Red Sea.”
The “image” of the beast is referred to three times in this chapter and mentioned seven more times in the book of Revelation, Rev 13:15; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4. “Image” is the Greek noun EIKON, εἰκών that means, “image, likeness, form, an appearance or a representation.” It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence.
Therefore, the False Prophet is going to lead the people to make an image, (statue, hologram, robot, etc.), in the likeness of the beast so that they worship it.
This is another form of counterfeit to Jesus Christ God, as Jesus is the image of God, 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15.
2 Cor 4:4, “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Col 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
As we noted above in vs. 4, when the people worship the first beast or his image, they are worshipping Satan, Rev 13:4.
The great deception of worshipping the image of the Antichrist is the culmination of the apostasy of the world, Rom 1:18, 21-23.
Rom 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
Rom 1:21-23, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Rather than worshipping a false image of God, people should become the image of God, by reflecting the Christ-like nature in their lives, Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 3:10.
Rom 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.”
2 Cor 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Col 3:10, “And have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”
This edict by the False Prophet will take place near the midpoint of the Tribulation, most likely in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, Mat 24:15; 2 Thes 2:2-12; Cf. Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11.
Mat 24:15, “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand).”
Dan 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
Dan 11:31, “And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.”
2 Thes 2:3-4, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
The image is the center of the false worship and the focal point of the final state of apostasy, the culmination of the idolatry which has been the false religion of so many generations. This is a rendition of what the idol could look like in the reign of the Antichrist.
“It is interesting to note that the Lord Jesus did not permit anything connected with His physical appearance to survive. But the likeness of the Antichrist will evidently be placed in the temple at Jerusalem.” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee).
This image also reminds us of the forerunner of the “abomination of desolation,” Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whose name means, “God manifest.”
He was a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithradates (alternative form Mithridates) that means “given by the deity Mithra.” He assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne.
He was the first Seleucid king to use divine epithets on coins as depicted below, where the Greek reads, “King Antiochus, God Manifest, bearer of victory.”
The Seleucids, like the Ptolemies before them, held a mild suzerainty over Judea: they respected Jewish culture and protected Jewish institutions. This policy was drastically reversed by Antiochus IV, resulting in harsh persecutions around 168 BC and a revolt against his rule, the Maccabean revolt.
Prior to the Maccabean revolt he ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god, 2 Mac 6:1-12, as he presented himself as the earthly embodiment of Zeus, and he had the Olympian Temple of Zeus built.
2 Mac 6:1-2 (KJV Apocrypha)
“1Not long after this the king sent an old man of Athens to compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers, and not to live after the laws of God: 2And to pollute also the temple in Jerusalem, and to call it the temple of Jupiter Olympius (Zeus); and that in Garizim, of Jupiter the Defender of strangers, as they did desire that dwelt in the place.”
Jupiter is the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in ancient Roman religion and mythology. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, the name means, “O Father Sky-god.”
2 Mac 6:4-7 (KJV Apocrypha)
“4For the temple was filled with riot and revelling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots, and had to do with women within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that brought in things that were not lawful. 5The altar also was filled with profane things, which the law forbiddeth. 6Neither was it lawful for a man to keep sabbath days or ancient fasts, or to profess himself at all to be a Jew. 7And in the day of the king’s birth every month they were brought by bitter constraint to eat of the sacrifices; and when the fast of Bacchus was kept, the Jews were compelled to go in procession to Bacchus, carrying ivy.”
2 Mac 6:9 (KJV Apocrypha)
“9And whoso would not conform themselves to the manners of the Gentiles should be put to death. Then might a man have seen the present misery.”
1 Maccabees 1:54-61 (KJV Apocrypha)
“54Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side; 59Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God.”
Rabbinical sources refer to him as HARASHA הרשע, “the wicked.”
Below are more passages from the book of Maccabees describing the struggles they had with Antiochus IV.
1 Maccabees 1:20-23 (KJVApocrypha)
“20And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, 21And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, 22And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off. 23He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found.”
1 Maccabees 1:29-31 (KJVApocrypha)
“29And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude, 30And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel. 31And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side.”
1 Maccabees 1:41-43 (KJVApocrypha)
“41Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, 42And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. 43Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.”
1 Maccabees 1:44-49 (KJVApocrypha)
“44For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, 45And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days: 46And pollute the sanctuary and holy people: 47Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts: 48That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation: 49To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.”
1 Maccabees 1:50-52 (KJVApocrypha)
“50And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die. 51In the selfsame manner wrote he to his whole kingdom, and appointed overseers over all the people, commanding the cities of Juda to sacrifice, city by city. 52Then many of the people were gathered unto them, to wit every one that forsook the law; and so they committed evils in the land;”
1 Maccabees 1:54-61 (KJVApocrypha)
“54Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side; 55And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets. 56And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire. 57And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king’s commandment was, that they should put him to death. 58Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities. 59Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. 60At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised. 61And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them.”
Judah Maccabee (or Judas Maccabeus, also spelled Machabeus, or Maccabaeus, Hebrew: יהודה המכבי (Yehudah ha-Makabi) was a Jewish priest and a son of the priest Mattathias. He led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167–160 BCE). The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, “Dedication,” commemorates the restoration of Jewish worship at the temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC, after Judah Maccabeus removed all of the statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses.
Unfortunately, the people of the world during the Tribulation will accept the False Prophet’s miracles as proof of the beast’s claims that he is a god, the real Christ, so much so that he will talk the people into making an image of the beast and be dedicated to the beast. It will probably be a giant robot, hologram, or maybe a statue like the one Nebuchadnezzar had erected for the worship of himself, Dan 3:1.
The people will place the image of the beast (the Antichrist) in the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, Dan 9:27; Mat 24:15; 2 Thes 2:4, just as Antioch Epiphanes set up the statue of Zeus in the Temple 300 years before Christ’s First Advent. Thus, the image will become a focal point for the false worship of the beast.
Finally, once again we have the description of the Antichrist as having the fatal wound, “the one which had the wound by a sword and lived.” This is the third time it is given in this chapter, cf. vs. 3, 12. It is being emphasized more so, because it will be the greatest sign and wonder to deceive the people into believing he is the Christ, the God of heaven and earth.
“Sword” here is MACHAIRA, μάχαιρα, “a (small) sword, large knife.” This may allude to warfare and rebellion. It may be an assassination attempt from someone within his regime, as was common in ancient Rome. Nevertheless, he survives the mortal wound which is then used as a sign that He is god or the Christ.
But, at the same time, this sign will be the greatest prophetical sign to the believers of that day and the Jews that he is actually the antichrist, the beast out of the sea, so that they are not deceived and do not follow and worship him.
- The False Prophet gives breath to the image of the beast and all are required to worship the Antichrist through the image, Rev13:15.
Rev 13:15, “And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
No great movements or revolutions in history have ever come without preparative conditions and causes, some preliminary plantings which gradually mature until they ripen into the great ultimate results. When gigantic changes come, they typically have had their roots in something which has gone before, subtlety but surely, where the nature of the times has served to favor and develop its final fruits. In Germany under Hitler, it took months to vilify and condemn the Jews, so that eventually the population would ultimately join wholeheartedly to the point of exterminating them. So will be the way of the False Prophet in the Tribulation. So will be the case of the false worship of the Antichrist.
Being a prophet, the False Prophet must have a doctrine, a system which he puts forth, an economy which he seeks to sustain, and the ability to convince his followers to cooperate with him. Having the name “prophet,” it has to do with the religious element; and the coming of this “beast out of the earth” may refer to the evolution of his system out of the religions that have been placed among men throughout history, and the progress of human society with reference to beliefs and spiritual things.
As noted above, having the two horns may represent the ultimate convergence of the world’s two greats, the thinking of man and the thinking of God, or the gods. Here is the convergence of science and religion. We could call this the convergence of naturalism and supernaturalism; that is, the conclusions of natural conscience and reason, deemed sacredly obligatory, because it is believed to be good and true, with the presence of revelations, or what are accepted as revelations, from the superior powers, and held to be Divine and binding.
Therefore, the False Prophet will be at once a naturalist and a supernaturalism, a scientist and a spiritualist, a rationalist, yet asserting power above ordinary nature and in command of nature.
In other words, he claims to be the bearer of the sum total of the universal wisdom, in which all reason and all revelation are fused into one great system, claiming to have and be the ultimate of all truth. Professing to have everything natural and supernatural solved and crystallized, as the one eternal and perfect wisdom, he will present himself as the one absolute apostle and teacher of all, that should command the thoughts, faith, and obedience of man.
Yet, having the two horns like a lamb, he speaks like a Dragon. He is lamblike in that he proposes to occupy only the meek, mild, and inoffensive position of spiritual adviser; gentle and innocent in counselling people how to live and act, for the securement of their happiness! But, his words are like the Dragon, in that forthcoming edicts are in fact the assumption of absolute dominion over the minds, souls, consciences, and hearts of men, to bind them irrevocably, and to compel them to think and act only as he prescribes and dictates.
Thus, the False Prophet imposes on the world, wins credence to his professions and claims, and sways the public sentiment to the acknowledgment of a new divinity, demanding a new religion, whose vulgar abominations are thought to be right and reasonable.
“And it was given to him,” the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of DIDOMI that means, “to give, bestow, or delegate,” tells us that the ensuing empowerment of the image was not of his own but bestowed on him by both Satan and the Antichrist. He is performing as their puppet prophet to deceive the entire world.
“To give breath to the image of the beast,” is the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of DIDOMI with the Nouns PNEUMA, EIKON, and HO THERION.
PNEUMA, commonly translated “spirit, soul, or breath,” also can mean, “a spirit, (angelic or demonic),” and is used for the Holy Spirit. It is quite different from ZOE, which means “life.” Expositors usually hold that the extraordinary powers given by Satan to the false prophet do not extend to giving life to that which does not possess life, because this is a prerogative of God alone.
The intent of the passage seems to be that the image has the appearance of life manifested in breathing, but actually it may be no more than a hologram or robot that may be possessed by an evil or demonic spirit. This may be a ventriloquist type demon who controls the vocal cords of unbelievers when they are demon possessed, as we will see below in Acts 16:16.
The ventriloquist demon could work in two ways, according to the OT scriptures. The voice could be thrown from out of the ground as though the dead were speaking from their burial place, or the voice could be thrown from the mouth of some individual who was demon-possessed. The Greeks had a word for it and this same demon is called “engasthrimuthos.” So the ventriloquist demon is designated PNEUMA or spirit. The noun PNEUMA does not always refer to demons but it does in, Mat 8:16; Mark 1:27; 6:7; 3:11; 5:13; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 1 Tim 4:1. We see this ventriloquist demonic influence further in Rev 16:13-14.
The image is further described as “would even speak,” HINA KAI and the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of LALEO, to “speak, proclaim, say, or utter.” Therefore, by an indwelling breath or spirit the image will speak.
This is a faculty easily accomplished by mechanical means. In fact, in ancient times, religious ventriloquism was sometimes used to give the impression of supernatural speech, a practice confirmed by archaeological excavations in Corinth.
In Acts 16:16, the slave girl possessed of a demon was able to bring gain to her masters by soothsaying. She also supernaturally recognized Paul and his companions as, “servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation,” Acts 16:17.
Her power of speech was under demonic control, as will be the mouth of the image of the beast. Whether completely natural in its explanation, or whether some supernatural power is used to create the impression of life and speech, the image apparently is quite convincing to the mass of humanity and helps to turn them to a worship of the first beast as their god. So this is going to have to be something that was not seen or done before, and well beyond what people may expect in order to impress them enough to gain their allegiance and worship.
This will be a counterfeit to the power of God Who restores breath and life to the Two Witnesses, Rev 11. Therefore the False Prophet, as the arch magician, will have power to give animation and speech to this dead statue. Therefore the image, though made by man, likewise takes on of the supernatural, so as to refute God’s Word regarding idols.
Psa 135:15-18, “The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. 16They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; 17they have ears, but they do not hear, nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. 18Those who make them will be like them, Yes, everyone who trusts in them.”
Hab 2:19, “Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a dumb stone, ‘Arise!’ and that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it.”
Therefore, we see that this idol is very different. The powers of falsehood have by this time become mightier than of old, because this image will have a perception of breath / life and speech. As a result, men will be carried away by it, because of their previous unbelief of the possibility of anything of the sort.
“Old Pagan and Christian writers have recorded instances in which the idols spoke, and gave forth oracles. The papists affirm the same veritable truth concerning some of their images. The Hindus to this day hold and maintain that a degree of life and supernatural power takes possession of their images when solemnly consecrated according to the prescribed ceremonies.” (The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ.)
With the Antichrist systematically deified, an image set up and consecrated to his adoration, and the testimony, argument, and eloquence of a great miracle-working Prophet ringing through the world in his behalf, the Image speaks and issues edicts “causing as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
By doing this, the False Prophet will be able to claim divine power for himself and for the first beast, the Antichrist. This will be his greatest deception, as the gullible people will consider him deity. Then the prophecy of 2 Thes 2:10-11, will be complete.
2 Thes 2:10-11, “And with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false.”
This verse gives us the negative scenario of not worshiping the Antichrist, but we first must realize from this phrase that because of the “fatal wound” and now the “animation of the image,” many will worship the Antichrist as God.
In the ancient writing of Homer, we see that the heroes of old we considered the “sons of gods,” and Alexander though a young man when he died was claimed to be more than a natural man and received honors as a god. He thought himself to be the son of Jupiter, and so announced to the priests, who gave oracles proclaiming him such, and exhorted all inquirers to render to their victorious king the honors of a deity. We have also noted above the similar story of Antiochus Epiphanes. Likewise, Herod, with all his corruptness and crimes, was hailed as a god, and took it as his due, Acts 12:21-23. Julius Caesar was honored as a god, and after his death many temples were raised and frequented for his worship. Statues, temples, altars, and trophies were consecrated to Augustus Caesar, as were to the Caesars Tiberius, Nerva, Trajan, Caligula. The King of Parthia, kneeling before Nero, said to him: “You are my God, and I am come to adore you as I adore the sun. My destiny is to be determined by your supreme Will;” to which Nero replied: “I make you King of Armenia, that the whole universe may know it belongs to me to give or to take away crowns.” Domitian filled the world with his statues, to which sacrifices were continually offered, and required that all letters written or published in his name should always begin, “Our Lord and God commands.”
The chief reason for the martyrdom of the Christians of their day was that they would not sacrifice to the emperor as God.
We could say that these were ancient, pagan, and unenlightened times, and that such abominations can never again be willed upon mankind. But they were the times which produced our classics. The same has also occurred in later days, with characters such as Hitler, with far less reason or apology, and among those who claimed to be the most advanced and enlightened of people.
“At this very time, there resides a man in the city of Rome, whom one-half of Christendom itself hails, honors, and adores as the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Vicegerent of God upon earth, Infallible, and sole possessor of the Keys of heaven,—a man whom the greater festivals exhibit as a Divinity, borne along in solemn procession on the shoulders of consecrated priests, whilst sacred incense fumes before him, and blest peacocks’ feathers full of eyes wave beside his moving throne, and every mortal on the street where he passes, uncovers, kneels, and silently adores;—a man who, once a year, takes his seat upon the high altar of the sublimest church in Christendom, in the broad light of this favored century, and there receives the adoration of the whole college of his most exalted subjects, who reverently bow amid chants, music, and burning lights to kiss the toe of ‘His Holiness!’” (The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ.)
So, there will come a man from among the enlightened of both reason and revelation, by signs and wonders, with invincible power and whatever else marks the glory of the mighty; a great prophet to exercise all this in one direction of a new universal religion, advising and urging with meekness, eloquence and miracle, in the name of absolute wisdom, the worship and adoration of that man, the Antichrist, as the only right worship in the universe.
And as such, there will be a new religion for the world, as scientists and reformers already claim and proclaim. It will be a powerful and universal religion. It will ground itself in pretensions to the profoundest wisdom, intelligence, reason, truth, and progress. It will deceive the earth and carry with it all who are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. It will be the final coronation of the progressivism of human perfectibility. But it will be a religion whose god is Antichrist, and whose seal of damnation is inevitable and eternal.
And as our verse tells us, the absolute authority of both the first and second beasts is such that those who will not worship the image of the beast are sentenced to be killed.
As we have noted, there will be some in those days who do not accept the new worship. These are the elect ones, whose names God has written in the Lamb’s book of life, who will not be deceived. There will be believing Jews, (beginning with the 144,000 and the two witness who evangelize), who are ingrained never to accept the worship of an idol, along with Gentile believers, who cannot be moved to an abomination so foul and blasphemous.
And as this verse tells us, for those who “do not worship the image of the beast,” they are “to be killed.” Here, the Greek negative ME is used with the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of the Verb PROSKUNEO, προσκυνέω that means to, “fall down and worship, bow down to, show reverence to, welcome respectfully, etc.” It comes from PROS – “face to face” and KUNEO – “to kiss.”
“The origin of this term probably lies in the ancient custom of putting one’s hand on one’s mouth in a kissing gesture and then extending the hand toward a person of higher status, especially a deity. Among other things, ancient Egyptian reliefs show how worshipers with outstretched hands offered kisses to the deity (Schönweiss and Brown, “Prayer,” Colin Brown, 2:876). Or it may stem from the custom of kissing the feet of a superior (or idol).” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary) This reminds us of both the “hiel Hitler” hand arm and hand gesture and the kissing of a spiritual leader’s hand / ring.
This is used with the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the Verb APOKTEINO, ἀποκτείνω that means, “to kill or deprive of spiritual life.” The image will give a decree demanding that all who refuse to worship the image of the first beast, the Antichrist, are to be killed. This further reinforces the demand of the false prophet and shows that those who resist the Antichrist and continue to worship the Lord Jesus Christ will be martyred for their faith, Cf. Rev 6:9; 14:12, 13; 17:9-17. Thus, it is clear that Antichrist will not follow a secular, humanistic, atheistic philosophy. He will want religion, but he will use religion to exalt himself as a god, as did the ancient kings of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Rome.
Frustrated religion always resorts to violence to get its way. The use of violence to coerce volition reveals the satanic nature of volition both now and in that future day.
Therefore, No one, of any class or race, is allowed to live under the dominion of these Beasts, if unwilling to conform to the worship they set up. And as we see from the Greek, this is a very visible gesture of worship. If someone does not demonstrate this worship visibly, they will be put to death, as we will see in the next verse regarding the “mark of the beast.”
From vs. 15, we see that a countless multitude will be martyred for not worshipping the Antichrist, Rev 7:9-17. Thus, in the name of liberty and security, comes an absolute dictatorship and imperialism. In the name of freedom, comes complete and universal enslavement. In the name of the higher reasoning that tramples on religion and revelation, comes a great consolidated system of gross idolatry. In the name of a charitable liberalism that disdains allegiance to any creed, comes a bloody despotism that leads men to worship the wicked image of a lawless man, or die. There is always a price to pay for believers who do not worship the idols of this world. Life is not and will not be easy in this world when you fight the idolatry of this world.
- All are required to receive the mark of the beast, Rev 13:16-17.
Rev 13:16, “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freeman and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
This regulation is issued by the False Prophet in that all classes of people who worship the beast are to receive some form of a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads.
By the series of three contrasting pairs, the Bible emphasizes that all classes of people are included:
- The small and the great, referring to political status.
- The rich and the poor, alluding to possessions and referring to economic status.
- The free and slave, referring to their societal status.
Therefore, regardless of socio-economic status, including the other world leaders under the Antichrist, all are required to receive the first beast’s mark. Everyone, no matter what his wealth or social position, will be forced to submit.
It is interesting that in this list we have three grouping of six categories. Three being the number of Divine completeness, and six being the number of man, tells us that this list completely encompasses all of mankind as being required to receive the mark.
With this identifying mark, people will be able to participate in the commerce and trade of that day, i.e., “buy or sell, AGORAZO E POLEO.” Interestingly, POLEO is sometimes used in the NT for being “redeemed,” i.e., purchased from the slave market of sin, Rev 5:9; 14:3. Therefore, we see a counterfeit redemption. People will choose to have their sins purchased by God and Jesus Christ for salvation and not receive the mark of the beast, or they will choose to buy the things of this world and receive the mark of the beast. Which is more important to you?
As we noted in vs. 15, from the Greek for “worship,” PROSKUNEO, this mark is not going to be a subliminal marking, but an overt action and marking that demonstrates and proves allegiance and worship of the Antichrist.
There will be no exceptions to this law, as the penalty for refusing to receive it will be death. Therefore, while we do not know exactly what the mark is, which we will discuss below, we know that its design marks people as belonging to the Antichrist, so that they might be able to do the things necessary to live here on earth.
Not content to control people through religious deceit, the False Prophet will institute strong economic measures as well. Everybody, except believers, Rev 14:9; 20:4, will receive a special mark in order to buy or sell; but the only way to get that mark is to submit to “the beast” and worship him. The mark is simply a token that they are beast worshipers, and it serves as an identification necessary to conduct business and to purchase the necessities of life. It is another device to force all people to worship the beast.
Given that the Caesars placed their image on the currency of their day, and no one could buy or sell without using that currency gives us a strong allusion in John’s writing to the Caesar worship in the Roman Empire, but this same policy has been used by political leaders throughout history. Therefore, it is something more than coins or currency, cf. Mat 22:21; Mark 12:7; Luke 20:25.
From a religious standpoint, the mark of the beast is a counterfeit to the seal of the Holy Spirit on the true believers during the Tribulation, the 144,000 sealed to identify them as belonging to the Lord. The beast counterfeits the mark, the seal, of God in Rev 7:3; 14:1; 22:4.
Rev 14:1, “Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.”
The mark of the beast itself seems to vary according to vs. 17, as in some cases being the name of the beast and in others the number of his name being placed on the right hand or forehead. “Right hand” reminds us of the position Jesus has seated next to His Father in heaven. So, this too is a counterfeit and insult to the position of Jesus Christ.
The word “mark” is the Greek Noun CHARAGMA, χάραγμα that means, “mark or impression.” This term does not occur in the Septuagint, and its use by the early church fathers is insignificant. Other than one instance in the book of Acts 17:29, for the “graven image” of an idol, it is used only for the “mark of the beast” in the book of Revelation, Rev 13:16-17; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4.
In Greek literature, it was used of a mark or stamp, which could be engraved, etched, branded, cut, or imprinted. In the broadest sense, it refers to a stamp, an impression, an engraving, a mark, or a symbol. It was used of brands on camels and stamped marks on documents, as well as impressions on coins. Interestingly, in ancient Greek, it originally denoted the bite mark of a snake, as the mark of the beast is surely the serpent’s venomous piercing. But as its use developed historically, it came to mean an inscription, (i.e., on wood, stone, brass, casting dies, minting coins), a writing of any nature, or a stamp of personal identity, (e.g., a brand to mark camels). Eventually, it denoted an official seal of attestation, validity, and authority.
CHARAGMA is well attested to have been an imperial seal of the Roman Empire used on official documents during the first and second centuries. Yet, in regard to the worship of the Caesars, no such mark of loyalty was placed on those who submitted to the worship of any of the emperors of Rome.
A more common term for “mark or brand,” is STIGMA in its noun and verb forms. Branding was practiced in the ancient world, and even in relation to religious concerns. Religious tattooing was observed. 3 Maccabees 2:29, records an incident in which Jews were branded by Ptolemy Philopator I, 217 B.C., with the Greek religious Dionysian (Bacchus) ivy-leaf symbol. The “mark” on Cain in Gen 4:15, is rendered by SHEMEION in the Septuagint, the term for “sign.”
The nature of the mark of the beast or the method by which it will be applied is not described. However, once it is applied it is permanent and cannot be removed. Those who accept it will do so because they have rejected Christ and His righteousness and are wholly and willfully deceived by the Antichrist and his False Prophet, Rev 14:9-11. No one will receive it unknowingly. All will know exactly what they are doing. Believers will face economic boycott and social alienation in that day. Unbelievers will be able to live in society but forfeit their true eternal life.
Rev 14:9-11, “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Therefore, taking the mark will symbolize submission to both the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and thus to both the government and world religion of the Antichrist. And as noted from vs. 15, if anyone refuses to take the mark of the beast, he will be sought out, potentially discovered, and martyred. The result will be complete control of the entire world by the Antichrist.
“To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be baptized into His name, for the washing away of sin, and the securement of eternal life, is too much for some people. It is to them a humiliating nonsense, to which their superior dignity cannot stoop. But when the Devil-Messiah comes, in him they will believe and trust; to him they will sell themselves, and to his branding-irons they will submit as helpless slaves and cattle, with no choice but to yield or die; and yielding, to perish everlastingly.” (Joseph A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ.)
- The Number of the Beast, Rev 13:18.
Rev 13:18, “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
Special attention is given in vs. 18 to the number of the beast, 666. This will be the sign of the Antichrist. The number is introduced by the phrase “Here is wisdom,” SOPHIE, with an appeal to those “who have understanding,” NOUS, “to calculate, count, or figure” PSEPHIZO, “the number” ARITHMOS, “of the beast,” THERION, “for the number is that of a man,” ARITHMOS GAR ANTHROPOS EIMI. Throughout the Bible, the number of man is 6. This secret characteristic will be a means of identifying who the Antichrist is during the Tribulation for everyone who has wisdom, i.e., Bible doctrine in their soul, Rev 13:18.
“Calculate or count” is the Verb PSEPHIZO, ψηφίζω in the Aorist, Active, Imperative. It is only used here and in Luke 14:28. In Luke 14:28, Jesus challenged His disciples to consider the implications of following Him. Any decision to follow Jesus that does not consider the costs associated with it, may result in the humiliating discovery that the cost is too great to continue, e.g., the rich young ruler. This humiliation will come not only in this life, but in the judgment to come. During the Tribulation, the cost will be the life of the individual to truly follow Jesus Christ.
In our verse, John gives a clue to discover the identity of the beast by “calculating” the number of the beast. This would be made possible by following the common practice of assigning numbers in Greek/Hebrew to the letters, (e.g., a=1, b=2, c=3, etc.). Before the invention of Arabic numbers, (1, 2, 3, etc.), the Jews and Greeks often used letters of the alphabet for numbers. The first 10 letters were used for the numbers 1 through 10, the next letter, 20, the next, 30, and so on.
The ancient Hebrew game called GEMATRIA recognized that letters could stand for numbers. Hence a series of letters could form a word and at the same time indicate a number. Hence the 666 of vs. 18, has given us various identifications of the antichrist.
This verse indicates that God-given wisdom is necessary for understanding the meaning of the mark, and the “name” of the beast. In the Bible, the number of man is six. Since man was created on the sixth day, he is to work for six days, a Hebrew slave was to serve six years, for six years the land was to be sown, there are 24 hours to a day, (4 x 6) and 12 months to a year, (2 x 6), etc., six is the number of man.
Irenaeus notes that the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar was 60 cubits high by 6 cubits wide. The number 666 could well personify the imperfection of man, even implying in the triple number the unholy trinity of the Dragon, Antichrist, and the False Prophet, although the Dragon is Satan, who is not a man but an angel.
In contrast, seven is the number of spiritual perfection and fullness, but six is the “human number,” of incompleteness, just short of perfection.
John then tells us what this number is, “his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” 666 is made up from the Greek CHXS, χξς. It is only used here in Scripture.
The CH (chi) standing for 600, the X (xi) standing for 60, and the S (sigma) standing for 6. In fact, the “sigma” was originally what was called a “stigma” that was shaped like a cross and used for numbers that became obsolete. It came between the 5th and 6th letters of the Greek alphabet. The spelling looked like this χξϝ ᾿. Therefore, it is 666.
In fact, there was a flag of the Chechen Islamic terrorist group that looks eerily similar to the CHXS, 666, of the ancient Greek. On the flag are two crossed swords with the Aramaic word “bismallah” that means “in the name of Allah.” Sometimes the cross swords and words are facing upward. In addition, some head bands worn by Muslims include this marking.
An alternate translation has it written in full, HEXAKOSIOI HEXEKONTA HEX, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἐξ. In addition, some ancient texts even have it as 616. Many think it was change to reflect the name of Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD, or Caligula (Gaius Caesar), 37-41 AD, as the Antichrist, the notorious or hated emperors.
Many ancient languages utilized the letters of the alphabet for their numerical systems. The letter and number ratio was known by all. This existing process was used in enigmatic statements to conceal the identity of the person under consideration. An often quoted graffito from Pompeii, (about A.D. 79) reads, “I love her whose number is 545.” Only those who knew the name or the pool of candidates could work out the riddle. The apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles used “888,” the numerical equivalent of IESOUS, Greek letters for Jesus, as an indirect reference to Jesus as the incarnate God. Therefore, John could have expected his audience to solve the riddle, but only if there was a shared pool of understanding concerning the enigmatic nature of the reference.
There has been endless speculation concerning the meaning of this number. In attempting to solve the riddle of this verse, some have considered the phrase to represent Caesar, others Nero, 54-68 AD, or Caligula, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, and even in our day that of Bill Gates, various past presidents, the Pope, or other world leaders. Yet, there is nothing in the Book of Revelation that specifically tells us to add up the numbers in the name of the beast. The key, however, seems to be the phrase that says “it is the number of a man or mankind.” With the number 6 being the number standing for mankind, and 3 the number of the Trinity, the threefold repetition, 666, could simply mean the Antichrist is a man who believes he is a god or who declares himself to be a god, cf. Rev 13:8; 2 Thes 2:4.
The beast is the greatest man but still a man. He is a six, not a seven. He, along with Satan and the False Prophet, is a 666, a trinity of imperfection. Not now or ever will they be a 777. As such, this triple six is the fullest, highest development of man under direct satanic control. It is the combination of civil, religious, and political power satanically inspired. It is, so far as man can do it, the complete setting aside of God as the Supreme Ruler. The Antichrist is the best man can produce, but he is still just a man. He is “the completeness of sinful incompleteness,” the ultimate in “coming up short.” He is good enough to deceive many, but he is nowhere close to good enough to displace Jesus.
As such, it has been a popular pastime to add up the letters in names to try to come out with a total of 666. Those who have taken Nero Caesar, put it into Hebrew letters, (Neron Kaisar, which is not the normal way of spelling it), and have obtained a total of 666. However, the Book of Revelation is Greek in the original, so this system is incorrect. Thus, there are no real grounds for applying it to Nero. The funny thing is, if you work at it hard enough, almost any name will fit.
“The endless guesses and experiments with which expositors have occupied themselves and their readers on this point can be of very little practical worth to us. When the monster comes, “the righteous shall understand.” Our business is rather to reckon up the number of the Beast as to his moral identification.” (The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ.)
This much is sure: In recent years, we have seen a worldwide increase in the use of numbers for identification. In the United States, a person’s Social Security number is indispensable. In fact, numbers are more important to computers than names. Perhaps this is an advance warning of what will happen on earth when “the beast” is in control.
Below are some images as to what some of the current thinking is in regard to what the “mark” might be, from a tattoo of a bar code, to a microchip placed in the hand or forehead, to the scanning of the retina, etc., have been hypothesized. Yet, the real mark is not going to be a subliminal marking, but an overt mark that demonstrates and proves allegiance and worship of the Antichrist. So, retina or facial scans don’t quite cut it, nor does the chip.
Other interesting symbols with the 666 imagery include the Paralympics’ games symbol. It has evolved over the years from the original symbol with five 6’s, to the second symbol with three 6’s, to the current more artistic version.
Interestingly, the following are “seals” of both the United States Transportation Department, as well as several of the state’s Transportation Departments. Notice, that in all you see the revolving number 6 6 6.
In addition, the University I attended, Southeastern Massachusetts University, before it was combined with the University of Massachusetts, had a similar symbol.
Yet, despite all of man’s imaginative calculations and suppositions, we must confess that no one knows the meaning of this number and name. No doubt believers on earth at that time will understand it clearly. The “satanic trinity” cannot claim the number seven; it must settle for 666.
Our faith and confidence should be put in the kingdom of God, a bloody cross, and an empty tomb. We should put our trust in King Jesus and His gospel. Tragically, the world would rather believe a lie than the truth. They would rather align with antichrist than Jesus Christ. They are quicker to follow a false prophet than a true prophet of God. Do not be deceived! Follow Him who is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6.
Below are several various views to what the “Mark of the Beast” represents.
Preterist’s believe that some or all prophecy in Revelation are events that have already happened. They wrongly believe that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Roman Catholicism has been a main proponent of this view, and some Protestants also accept this view.
A common preterist view of the Mark of the Beast (focusing on the past) is the stamped image of the emperor’s head on every coin of the Roman Empire: the stamp on the hand or in the mind of all, without which no one could buy or sell. NT scholar Craig C. Hill says, “It is far more probable that the mark symbolizes the all-embracing economic power of Rome, whose very coinage bore the emperor’s image and conveyed his claims to divinity (e.g., by including the sun’s rays in the ruler’s portrait). It had become increasingly difficult for Christians to function in a world in which public life, including the economic life of the trade guilds, required participation in idolatry.” (In God’s Time; The Bible and the Future.)
Adela Yarbro Collins further denotes that, “The refusal to use Roman coins resulted in the condition where ‘no man might buy or sell’,” Rev13:17. (Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism.)
A similar view is offered by Craig R. Koester, “As sales were made, people used coins that bore the images of Rome’s gods and emperors. Thus each transaction that used such coins was a reminder that people were advancing themselves economically by relying on political powers that did not recognize the true God.” (Revelation and the End of All Things.)
This is held up by the fact that in 66 A.D., when Nero was emperor, shortly before Revelation was written, the Jews revolted against Rome and coined their own money.
The passage is also seen as an antithetical parallelism to the Jewish institution of Tefillin, (phylacteries), where Hebrew Bible texts worn bound to the arm and the forehead during daily prayer. Instead of binding their allegiance to God to their arm and head, the place is instead taken with people’s allegiance to the Beast.
Idealism, also known as the allegorical or symbolic approach, is an interpretation of the book of Revelation that sees the imagery of the book as non-literal symbols.
This perspective on the number of the beast rejects GEMATRIA, seeing the number not as a code to be broken, but a symbol to be understood. Idealists would contend that because there are so many names that can come to 666 and that most systems require converting names to other languages or adding titles when convenient, it has been impossible to come to a consensus. Given that numbers are used figuratively throughout the book of Revelation, idealists interpret this number figuratively as well. They think that because seven is a number of completeness and is associated with the Divine that six is incomplete. Therefore, the three sixes are “inherently incomplete.” As such, the number only suggests that the Dragon and his beasts are completely inadequate. Another suggestion is that this number represents an individual’s incomplete or immature spiritual state.
Historicism is a method of interpretation of Biblical prophecies that associates symbols with historical persons, nations, or events. It can result in a view of progressive and continuous fulfillment of prophecy covering the period from Biblical times to the Second Coming. Historicists believe Revelation articulates a full range of the history of the Christian church, from John’s day to the Second Coming of Christ. They believe John alludes to Dan 2:28; 45, Daniel’s vision chapter 2, to use symbols giving a sequence of future events in history, from the Babylonian empire, through Medo-Persian period, Greece, and Rome, continuing until the end of the current civilization. This apocalyptic volume builds on Daniel’s approach focusing on major points of Christian history:
- The cross of Christ, Rev 5:6, 9, 12.
- The Second Coming, Rev 14:14-16; 19:11-16.
- The 1,000 years in heaven, Rev 20:4-6.
- The third advent of Christ to earth along with His loyal followers and the destruction of Satan and those who refused Christ, Rev 20:7-15.
- The creation of a new heavens and a new earth where death, sorrow, and sin cease and God dwells with His people, Rev 21:1-8, 22-27; 22:1-5.
For them, the book of Daniel is divided into two parts:
- The historical narrative of the captivity of Judah.
- The prophecies pointing to both the promised Messiah and the events of the end of the world. Attention to the text of Revelation aids the student of Bible prophecy by showing how the Apostle John and Jesus intended us to interpret Bible apocalyptic literature as found in Daniel.
The typical historicist view of the Church of Christ spans several periods of church history, each similar to the original church, as follows:
- The age of Ephesus is the apostolic age.
- The age of Smyrna is the persecution of the Church through AD 313.
- The age of Pergamus is the compromised Church lasting until AD 500.
- The age of Thyatira is the rise of the papacy to the Reformation.
- The age of Sardis is the age of the Reformation.
- The age of Philadelphia is the age of evangelism.
- The age of Laodicea represents liberal churches in a “present day” context.
The historicist views of Rev 12-13 concern prophecies about the forces of evil viewed to have occurred in the middle ages. The first beast of Revelation 13 (from the sea) is considered to be the pagan Rome and the Papacy or more exclusively the latter. They have tried to pin the number 666 on the title given to the Pope, “Vicarius Filii Dei,” (“Viceregent of the Son of God”), using GEMATRIA. As such, rather than expecting a single Antichrist to rule the earth during a future Tribulation period, Luther, John Calvin, and other Protestant reformers saw the Antichrist as a present feature in the world of their time, fulfilled in the papacy. Those who continue to hold this position today continue to see the current and future Rome Papacy as the Antichrist.
Historical View, Seventh-day Adventists:
The Seventh-day Adventists also take an historical view and believe that the Mark of the Beast, but not the number 666, refers to a future, universal, legally enforced Sunday-sacredness. “Those who reject God’s memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God’s appointed day of worship, will receive the ‘mark of the beast’.” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe. Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. p. 196).
“The Sunday Sabbath is purely a child of the Papacy. It is the mark of the beast.” (Advent Review, Vol. I, No. 2, August, 1850).
Historical View, Jehovah’s Witnesses:
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the beast identified by the number 666 represents the world’s unified governments in opposition to God. The beast is said to have “a human number” in that the represented governments are of a human origin rather than spirit entities. The number 666 is said to identify “gross shortcoming and failure in the eyes of Jehovah,” in contrast to the number 7, which is seen as symbolizing perfection.
Futurist View, (of which we believe):
Futurists, (i.e., focused on the future), believe that Revelation addresses primarily the Second Coming of Christ and similar events at the end times, Rev 1:7; 19:11-16; 22:11-12, except for Rev 2-5; 12:1-5. A futurist view of the Mark of the Beast is that the rise of a supranational currency, (e.g., the Euro or other non-material credit), could be a hallmark of the End Times and that the mark of the beast will be a sign or symbol, on the forehead or right hand, of the actual Antichrist.
According to the Futurist view, to overcome the world wide chaos of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will use forced religious syncretism, (i.e. in the name of counterterrorism and world economic stability), to enable the creation of a new currency. The mark will be a requirement for all commerce and it might actually be an object with the function of a credit card, such as RFID microchip implants, or some other form of coded tattoo.
Muslim View, from a Christian’s perspective:
For an alternative view of the Antichrist, False Prophet, and Mark of the Beast from a Christian perspective in regard to the Muslim world, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riL_HSVzGlc.
These are some current day views of which I do not entirely endorse, especially since it is clear from Daniel and Revelation that the Antichrist comes out of the Revived Roman Empire versus the Revived Ottoman Empire.
And finally, some avoid the number 666 out of superstition. Irrational fear of the number is called hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. This word is derived from Ancient Greek roots HEXAKÓSIOI, ἑξακόσιοι, “six hundred,” HEXÉKONTA, ἑξήκοντα, “sixty,” and HÉX, ἕξ, “six,” literally meaning, “fear of six hundred sixty-six.” But as you know, we should never have any fears other than the “fear of the Lord,” as we faith-rest in Him by casting all our cares upon Him, Deut 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Psa 55:22; Mat 6:25; Heb 13:5; 1 Peter 5:7.
Deut 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Deut 31:8, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Summary of the Career of the False Prophet:
- He is influential in religious affairs, “two horns like a lamb,” Rev 13:11.
- He is motivated by Satan as the first beast is, Rev 13:11.
- He has a delegated authority, “the power of the first beast,” Rev 13:12.
- He promotes the worship of the first beast and compels the earth to worship the first beast as God, Rev 13:12.
- His ministry is authenticated by the signs and miracles which he does, counterfeiting Elijah that is to come, Rev 13:13-14.
- He is successful in deceiving the unbelieving world, Rev 13:14.
- The worship promoted is an idolatrous worship, Rev 13:14-15.
- He has the power of death to compel men to worship the beast, Rev 13:15.
- He has authority in the economic realm to control all commerce, Rev 13:16-17.
- He has a mark that will establish allegiance to the Antichrist for those who live in that day, Rev 13:18.
Conclusion, Chapter 13.
Taken as a whole, Rev 13, is one of the great prophetic chapters of Scripture and is the only passage which presents in any detail the two principal evil characters of the Tribulation, (the last seven years of the Age of Israel), who form with Satan an unholy, evil trinity. During the coming days of the Great Tribulation, Satan will deceive the nations through the False Prophet into receiving the Antichrist as their savior. Satan, the dragon, will give Antichrist and the False Prophet his power, and the world will give allegiance to the Antichrist. Here we see that the head of the revived Roman Empire, the first beast, the Antichrist, will ultimately become the ruler of the entire world. Empowered and led by Satan, he is Satan’s masterpiece and great counterfeit substitute for Jesus Christ. It also tells us of the career of his primary aide, the one world religious leader, the second beast, called the False Prophet, who supports the Antichrist and establishes a one world religion and economic structure to worship the Antichrist.
The general character of the great Tribulation is graphically portrayed in this chapter. It will be a time of absolute rule, and Satan will have his way. The ultimate in false religion will sweep the entire world in a manifestation of evil never before seen on the earth. The fact will be demonstrated beyond question that man is not able to solve his own problems, and only God can bring righteousness and peace to the earth. The present attempts at unification of ecclesiastical and political power seem to be the forerunner and preparation for this end-time situation.
In the final act of the Tribulation, Satan and his demons will influence the armies of the nations to march to their doom at the war of Armageddon, Rev 16:13-16. Then, Jesus Christ will throw both beasts into the Lake of Fire as part of the eradication of evil from the world at that time, and Satan into the Abyss, which will also usher in the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, Rev 19:20-21; 20:1-3. During the Millennial kingdom, Satan will be bound, but at the close of that period he will be released and will attempt to lead the world in a final revolt against Christ’s kingdom. This is the Gog – Magog war. After this unsuccessful attempt, Satan will be cast forever into the lake of fire, Rev 20:7-10.