Revelation Chapter 13
The Beast and the False Prophet
The Beast Out of the Sea
Rev 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
Rev 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Rev 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Rev 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Rev 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
Rev 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Rev 13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Rev 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
This prophecy is closely related to those of Daniel: Dan 2:42, Dan 2:44, Dan 7:7-8, Dan 7:20, Dan 8:25, Dan 11:36, and Dan 9:27. This is still a parenthetical section, describing one of the key forces, kingdoms, and personages of the tribulation.
His Appearance and Identity (Rev 13: 1-2)
- Older manuscripts record Rev 13:1 completing Rev 12:17 as follows: "And he stood upon the sand of the sea." In the Greek text, this is actually the 18th verse of Rev 12.
- The "sea" represents the gentile world powers, which Satan dominates. It portrays the many people who make up the nations, the number of whom is as the "sand of the sea", Rev 20:8 · Isaiah likens the nations to a roaring and restless sea that cannot be quiet and whose waters (humanistic way of life and political agitation) can only churn up refuse and mud. Isa 17:12-13, Isa 57:20-21, Rev 17:1, Rev 17:15
- As he stands, he is looking for two things, and Chapter 13 describes the method he will choose.
- The best method with which to persecute Israel.
- The best way he can rise to greater power in order to be worshipped.
- "saw the beast rise up" - rise, or coming up, is in a descriptive present tense with portrays the development of this man and his system through the political and military maneuvers that gradually bring him to power within the nations of Europe.
- After the church age, Satan see's his chance to rule men, and be worshipped, as at this point, the restrainer has been removed. 2 Thess 2:3-8
- Because men have opened the way because of their disregard for truth, God will send them a strong delusion that they may believe the devils lie 2 Thess 2:9-11
- The beast of Rev 13 is Satan's (the dragon's) masterpiece of delusion, leading to the worship of himself.
At this time, the following conditions exist:
- The white horse rider who conquers, or gains control by peace tactics, power politics and charisma, has already arrived. Rev 6:1-2, Dan 8:23-25, 1 Thess 5:11 This brings about a 10 nation confederacy of Europe, who were once part of the old Roman empire Dan 2:42-44, Dan 7:7-8, Dan 7:20-24 The potential for this exists in the EU / European Union or NATO
- The leader of this confederation will make a 7 year covenant with Israel designed to give Israel protection, and solve the Israel / Arab dispute of the coveted land of Palestine Dan 9:27. This treaty will have begun the 7 year tribulation.
- Three kings of the confederation rebel, but the rising dictator defeats them and emerges as the undeniable leader. Dan 7:8, Dan 7:20-25.
- The king of the north (Eze 38:15) at this point in the middle of the tribulation will attach Israel (Gog / Magog War) Eze 38:1-9.
- These armies (king of the north and allies) are destroyed on the mountains of Israel by the direct intervention of God Eze 38:21-23, Eze 39:3.
- 7 months required to bury the corpses - Eze 39:11-15.
- Weapons spoils provide fuel for 7 years - Eze 39:9-10.
- Israel living in real or imagined peace, which may indicate the battle takes place before the middle of the tribulation - Eze 38:11-12.
- At the conclusion, Israel will know that the Lord Yahweh is their God. Eze 39:21-22.
- The Gog / Magog battle at the end of the millennium is different in time and characteristic - Rev 20:7-9.
- The destruction of the king of the north creates a power vacuum, and as Satan surveys the nations, he sees a way open for world domination through the European dictator. So now enters the system of the beast. The white horse rider who won his territory by peace tactics, now becomes the beast under the possession of Satan himself Rev 13:2 b.
- Israel is the "land", and the nations are the "sea". The following supports this:
- Rev 17:1, Rev 17:15, Dan 7:2-3. All the nations portrayed here are linked with the waters or the sea. These are all gentile nations.
- The visions of Dan 2:1-49, and Dan 7:1-28 represent the times of the gentiles - Luke 21:24. This began in 587 BC with the Babylonian captivity and will continue to the end of the tribulation, Rev 19:1-21
- Note the four gentile powers in Dan 7:4-25 and Rev 13:2-6.
- Dan 9:26-27 clearly shows the final world ruler would be a Roman.
- See also: http://www.raptureforums.com/FeaturedCommentary/theantichristwillhebeamuslim.cfm
- The Ten Horns (Rev 13: 1)
- Represents the 10 nation confederacy, or kingdoms of the future, born out of the old Roman empire. Dan 7:7, Dan 7:24, Rev 17:12.
- After the fall of the old Roman empire, Rome was divided into many separate kingdoms which make up today's European nations. In the end times, at least 10 of these will confederate together into one, a revived Roman empire.
- The Seven Heads (Rev 13: 1)
- Rev 17:9-10 explains this for us.
- 7 mountains and 7 kings.
- One view is that this speaks of the 7 hill city of Rome, then to 7 dynastys or rulers of the old Roman empire, as kings, etc. under whom great persecution of the church occurred.
- 10 horns is a look forward, 7 heads is a look backwards.
- Mountains are routinely used in scripture as an image of a kingdom Psa 30:7, Isa 2:3, Dan 2:35, Dan 2:45, Jer 51:5.
- Chapter 17 deals with the harlot system of Babylon, which goes all the way back to the time of Nimrod, and all these gentile world powers have been her lovers and supporters, not Rome along. It is possible that the 7 mountains refer to 7 successive Gentile kingdoms which go way back, far beyond Rome.
- Rev 17:10-11 - 7 world empires up to the time of Rome, which also were connected with the nation of Israel and her enslavements:
- Fallen - Egypt - cause of Israel's enslavement before entry into the land.
- Fallen - Assyria - took the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 BC.
- Fallen - Babylon (or Chaldea) - Where Daniel's prophecies begin. Captivity of the southern kingdom of Israel.
- Fallen - Medo-Persia - Kingdom under which a remnant of Israel were allowed to return to the land to rebuild the city and the temple. (Esra and Nehemiah)
- Fallen - Greece - Kingdom of Alexander and his successors who likewise ruled over the land of Palestine.
- Is (in John's day) - Rome - The Roman empire of the New Testament times. During this time, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews dispersed world wide.
- Is not yet come - Revived Rome - the 10 horns, 10 nation confederacy under the leadership of the white horse in the first half of tribulation.
- Compare these two:
- Rev 17:8 - Beast which you saw (past history, old Rome), and is not (does not presently exist, would soon pass from John's standpoint, fall of Rome), comes from bottomless pit = revived Roman empire.
- Rev 17:11 - The Roman empire represented by it's king becomes an eighth kingdom, while one of the seven, specifically the 7th. This refers to revived Roman empire under the rule of the beast.
- The Ten Diadems (Rev 13: 1)
- This refers to a form of self government or control of the 10 horns. Out of the sea of nations from the old Roman Empire, 10 independent nations will have their own kings, who in turn are under the leadership of the beast. In the middle of the tribulation, they give their power and authority to the beast, Rev 17:12-13.
- The Names of Blasphemy (Rev 13: 1)
- On the 7 heads, we see the blasphemous character of these historic and coming gentile powers. One of the key characteristics of the future system and especially it's leader is opposition to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Opposition to God is done:
- By claiming that he is God
- By trying to usurp the place of God 2 Thess 2:4, Dan 7:8.
- By slandering the true God Rev 13:6, Dan 11:36-37, Dan 7:25.
- The The Leopard, Bear and Lion (Rev 13: 2a)
- The following is Theodore Epp's commentary on the composite nature of the beast:
- This verse gives a further description of the coming wicked kingdom and its ruler during the Tribulation. The description of this beast is a composite of the characteristics of the other beasts mentioned in Dan 7:1-28. There the first three kingdoms are characterized by a lion (Dan 7:4), a bear (Dan 7:5), and a leopard (Dan 7:6). These animals represented the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. The characteristics of these kingdoms are combined in the last kingdom which will be the ten-kingdom Roman Empire. The Roman Empire in Daniel 7 was seen as indescribable because it was “diverse from all the beasts that were before it” (Dan 7:7).
This empire, as seen in Revelation 13, will have all the brilliance, culture and swiftness of a leopard—a reference to the previous Grecian Empire. It will also have the tremendous strength, tenacity of purpose, and brutality of a bear—a reference to the Medo-Persian Empire. Then too it will have the autocratic and majestic power of a lion—a reference to the Babylonian Empire.
Theodore H. Epp, Practical Studies in Revelation, Vol. II, Back to the Bible Broadcast, Lincoln, NE, p. 203.
His Affliction (Rev 13: 3a)
- Rev 13:3 a says, "And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain....and it was healed." The heads of Rev 17:9-10 refer to 7 mountains, or seven successive world governments. Now we are looking forward to the revived Roman Empire of the first half of the tribulation, and the 10 nation confederation, we have the following questions to consider.
- Question 1: To which on of the seven heads does this refer to?
- Rev 17:8-11 indicates that this is the seventh head, the last kingdom of the revived Roman Empire. This head "was" (old Roman Empire), and "is not" (The fallen Roman Empire in it's fragmented condition, and "is about to come" (the revived Roman empire of the first half of the tribulation. The words "was", "is not", and "is about to come" are equivalent to the fatal wound that was healed.
- Question 2: Does this refer to the empire or to the king or both?
- Some believe that the head wound is referring to a resurrected person from the past, like Judas, Nero, Hitler, and so on. Some have even considered John F. Kennedy, due to his head wound. Others think that a world empire will arise that represents the revival of Rome.
- Rev 13:5-6 - indicates that the beast is a person. In Rev 13:14 we see that an image is made of the beast, who was wounded by the sword. In Rev 13:18 we see that the number of the beast is the number of man. In Rev 17:8, Rev 17:11, and Rev 19-20 with 2 Thess 2:3 we see the beast's final doom is to go to destruction.
- So it is possible that Satan will pull of an apparent death and resurrection of the man of lawlessness to correspond with the restoration of the imperial form of the Roman empire.
- Question 3: Will this be a literal and real resurrections of some historic figure either of the past like Judas or Hitler or of some future figure?
- No. Several reasons why this will be an apparently miraculous, but counterfeit of Christ's death and resurrection. It will not be a resurrection of someone who has died, decayed, and who will be resurrected to life by Satan:
- The translations indicate that there was an apparent death, or a near death, but did not really die.
- The greek word for slain is sfazw, to slay, slaughter. It is a sacrificial term used of the animals of sacrifice. This could indicate that the deadly wound is designed to imitate the slaying of Jesus.
- It is likely this will be some kind of deception. 2 Thess 2:9, Rev 12:9, Rev 13:14-15.
His Acclaim and Worship (Rev 13: 3b-4)
- He will have to be a persuasive speaker, able to motivate the masses to his political ideology. Dan 8:23 anticipates this. Dan 8:23-25 expands it.
- The whole world is in view, all will be deceived by current day means, TV, internet, etc.
- The people will be amazed, they will marvel and wonder. 2 Thess 2:10-11
- They will all follow after him, behind or after him.
- People will acknowledge his uniqueness (who is like the beast)
- People will acknowledge his power (who is able to make war with him)
- Demonism will be rampant and openly visible.
His Aggression and Activity (Rev 13:5-7)
- One of the purposes for the tribulation is to show the character of Satan and his Kingdom. Here we see it.
- His Blasphemy (The Religions Side)
- Anti-religious, anti-God, against God and God's people, against God's name.
- Mocking God's holy character and essence.
- Speaks against God's dwelling place and those who are there.
- Blasphemies aimed at promoting the worship of the beast.
- His Warfare (The Political Side)
- Persecution of believers and Israel.
- The rule of the beast will end in slavery to Satan and to the flesh. Men will think they have freedom, but have no mind of their own, being dominated by the beast and their flesh. Rev 13:7 b.
His Authority (Rev 13: 2b, 6b, 7b, 10)
- The Source of his Authority (Rev 13:2b)
- The source of the beast's power is Satan, demonic and supernatural. He will be literally possessed by Satan.
- Power far beyond normal abilities, and far beyond anything the world knows today.
- He will honor the "god of fortresses", Dan 11:38, military power and conquests.
- Ultimately, it is God Himself that is in control, as he uses Satan and the beast to bring judgment to the world. Isa 10:5-13,
- Another example - Habakkuk's question - Hab 1:2-4, answer - Hab 1:5-11. Another Question - Hab 1:12-17 to Hab 2:1, answer - Hab 2:2-20.
- Satan is allowed to give the beast three things:
- Power - miraculous powers - 2 Thess 2:9-12, Heb 2:4, Act 2:22, Act 6:8, Rev 13:3-4.
- His throne - position as king of emperor of the revived Roman empire.
- Great authority - extension of rule beyond the 10 nation confederacy, over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. Rev 13:7.
- The Time of his Authority (Rev 13:5b)
- The beast will be given authority to act for 42 months. The middle of the tribulation to the return of Jesus.
- The Extent of his Authority (Rev 13:7b-8)
- All people, who's name is not written in the Lamb's book of life. True believers who do not worship the beast or take his mark here are excluded.
- The tribulation saints, though many will die, will overcome the beast.
- The End of his Authority (Rev 13:9-10)
- Note the differing interpretations of Rev 13:10:
- KJV - "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
- NIV - "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.
- CEV - "If you are doomed to be captured, you will be captured. If you are doomed to be killed by a sword, you will be killed by a sword. This means that God's people must learn to endure and be faithful!"
- Johnson writes:
- Combining this with the last phrase, the latter part of the verse yields either a warning directed toward Christians for them not to turn to violence and killing to vindicate themselves or a promise of requital to believers that their persecutors will be judged by God.
If, on the other hand, we follow the reading of ... NIV … This yields the sense that Christians who are destined by God for death must submit to his will and not resist the oppressor. It is an appeal to loyalty.
Alan Johnson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981, p. 536.
- Rev 13:9 indicates a serious call to attention. This call is to anyone who will hear it. Note that the church is excluded, indicating it has already been raptured at this point.
- Rev 13:10 - is about retribution. These are words of comfort to the believers going through this time, the captor will be taken captive, and the killer will be killed. It is also a warning against anyone taking matters in to their own hands to oppose this Satanic system by force. This is Satan's hour, but it will be short lived, and God's people will triumph in the end. Knowing this and resting in it will give endurance, the patience and faith of the saints.
The Beast Out of the Earth
Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
Rev 13:12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Rev 13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Rev 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Rev 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
- A second beast appears, out of the earth.
- This completes the trinity of evil, Satan, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the earth.
- The beast from the earth operates under the authority of the beast from the sea, and is totally committed not to himself, but to the first beast.
- This beast from the earth is also called the false prophet in Rev 16:13, Rev 19:20, Rev 20:10.
His Description (Rev 13:11)
- The term "coming up" portrays a gradual but continual ascendancy as a world figure and leader.
- "out of the earth" distinguishes him from "out of the sea". They are similar, but divers in origin.
- The sea represents the sea of humanity, so "the earth, land, ground, region, or country" may symbolize the nation Israel, who is consistently related to the land in scripture.
Is he a Jew?
- Some think this beast will be a Jew, a false prophet among Jews who seeks to persuade men to follow the beast. He performs signs which are similar to Elijah's Rev 13:12-13.
- He also has two horns, like a lamb, the sacrificial animal of the Jews.
- It seems unlikely Satan or the first beast would allow a Jew to live, much less occupy such an important position of power and authority.
- It is more likely he is simply an important religous figure representing a rising religious and ecclesiastical movement which will be used to promote the beast. Rev 17:7, Rev 17:15-16.
- "and he had two horns", the horns are symbolic of great power, but not to the degree of the beast, which has 10 horns.
- "like a lamb", the lamb is a religious symbol of sacrifice, with a mild, lamb like manner, but a wolf in sheep's clothing.
- "and he spoke like a dragon", connects him in character with the dragon, Satan. He gets his power from Satan, and his mild religious appearance is a coverup for his real nature and goals.
- Lutzer and Devries describe some of the goals of this religous / political order:
- an end of nationalism
- a new credit card system
- a world food supply
- an emphasis on disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
- all this is done under a banner of love and peace, "universal brotherhood".
- goals stated such that only the most obstinate and belligerent could possibly oppose such noble ideas.
Erwin W. Lutzer and John F. DeVries, Satan’s Evangelistic Strategy for This New Age, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1989, pp. 149-150.
- Of course, Christians and Jews will reject this satanic system
His Dominion (Rev 13:12a)
- The Greek term, "in his presence", or "before him" in this context means "by the authority of", or "on behalf of". His authority is delegated authority, exercised on behalf of the beast and his worship.
His Design and Determination (Rev 13:12b)
- “And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast …”, The design and purpose of this false prophet is to promote the authority and worship of the first beast, just as the Holy Spirit works to bring glory to Jesus. John 16:13-14.
- “Whose fatal wound was healed", In the early church, signs and wonders authenticated the message of Jesus Heb 2:4, and the false prophet and the beast imitate this with the deceptive "sign" of the healed wound.
His Deceptions (Rev 13:13-15)
- "and he performs great signs". Performs is a present tense of repeated actions, which indicates he engages in a display of miraculous signs one after the other.
- The signs are an imitation of the authenticating signs of Jesus' ministry.
- The word great implies large, or great. Meaning significant, prominent, important, outstanding.
- These won't be the run of the mill miracles one hears about today with pseudo healers and paranormal events.
- In this text, only two of the signs are mentioned:
- he makes fire come down from heaven to hear in the presence of men. A counterfeit of God, in Elijah 1 Ki 18:38, or the two witnesses Rev 11:5. Also, 2 Ki 1:10-15, Lev 10:1-2.
- "and there was given to him to give breath to the image." The word image "eikwn" is not a mere copy, but in fact, partakes and constitutes the very reality of the thing of which it is a likeness. This image is designed not only to portray a likeness, but the reality of his rule and worship. This image is mentioned repeatedly, Rev 13:14-15, Rev 14:9, Rev 14:11, Rev 15:2, Rev 16:2, Rev 19:20, Rev 20:4.
- The Image
- The image becomes the center of false worship of the beast, and the focal point of the final state of apostasy and idolatry.
- The breath given to the image give the appearance of life, but it isn't real life. Men will think the image lives, another deception.
- This image will speak, further confirmation of the miraculous nature of the beast's image.
- It is the image itself that causes the non-worshippers of the beast to be killed, undoubtedly by orders given when it speaks.
His Demand and Decree (The mark) (Rev 16:17)
- Here we see the separation of believers, those who follow the beast, and those who follow Jesus.
- This sounds like the goat and sheep judgment, perhaps another imitation. Mat 25:31-33.
- The word "mark" is the Greek caragma, which means "an impress made by a stamp", or "a scratch or etching".
- The mark is a visible identification of a persons slavery to the beast, easily seen on the forehead or right hand.
- The mark is acquired as a result of the decree to worship the beast, and be branded with the mark.
- This is designed to make life impossible for those without the mark. Multitudes of believers will be killed directly because they do not have the mark, and refuse to take it. Some will starve to death since they cannot buy or sell. Some will survive, however, by living off the land, or because other believers who have food share it with those who do not. Mat 24:15-25, Mat 25:31-40.
- Taking the mark of the beast is tantamount to the worship of the beast, blasphemy of God, and rejection of Jesus, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8, Rev 14:9-12, Rev 15:2, Rev 16:2, Rev 19:20, Rev 20:4.
- The mark will be the name of the beast, or his number, Rev 13:17.
- This mark is the means of identifying the beast for who and what he is to the remnant of true believers.
- This will not be just a number or identification on a plastic card or chip, it will be on the person himself.
God's Declaration Regarding the Number of the Beast
Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The Problem of the Number (Rev 13:18)
Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The Problem of the Number (Rev 13:18)
- The views on the meaning of the number 666 are almost as numerous as the number of commentaries written on the book of Revelation. The speculation is endless.
- Some think the number represents one of the Roman emperors, like Nero, Caligula or Titus, or some historical figure like Hitler, Mussolini, or even Napoleon. (Discussed above under the 10 horns)
- Some have thought it stood for the word "Latin", telling us he would be a Roman.
Why all the speculation and the problem?
- John said "count", which in the Greek means calculate. See the same usage in Luke 14:28. Also, in Lev 27:23.
- Students have taken this to refer to the ancient practice of gematria
- Alan Johnson describes the practice. He says:
Gematria took many forms and consisted in trying to guess the word from the number or trying to connect one word with another that had the same numerical value. On the walls of Pompeii, there are some graffiti, dated no later than A.D. 79, that illuminate the practice. One reads: “Amerimnus thought upon his lady Harmonia for good. The number of her honorable name is 45 (me [mu epsilon]).” The key to the puzzle seems to be in the word “Harmonia,” which was probably not the girl’s actual name but refers to the nine Muses (the goddesses of song and poetry); and 45 is the sum of all the digits from 1 to 9 (E. M. Blaiklock, The Archaeology of the New Testament, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1970, p. 131). Another runs: “I love her whose number is 545 (fme [phi mu epsilon])” (Deiss LAE, p. 277). In these cases, the number conceals a name, and the mystery is perhaps known for certain only by the two lovers themselves.
Similarly, the Jews (esp. Hasidim) used Hebrew alphabetical numbers to indicate concealed names and mysterious connections with other words of the same numerical value. For example, the Hebrew word nahas (“serpent”) has the same numerical value of the Hebrew word masiah (“Messiah”) (358). From this it was argued that one of the names of the Messiah was “serpent.” Some suggest that this may relate to Moses’ lifting up the “serpent” in the wilderness (cf. Num. 21; John 3:14).
Johnson goes on to say:
Irenaeus (second century) mentions that many names of contemporary persons and entities were being offered in his day as solutions to this number mystery. Yet he cautioned against the practice and believed that the name of the Antichrist was deliberately concealed because he did not exist in John’s day. The name would be secret till the time of his future appearance in the world. Irenaeus expressly refutes the attempt of many to identify the name with any of the Roman emperors. He feels, however, that the gematria approach is John’s intended meaning but warns the church against endless speculations (Contra Haereses 29. 30).
Alan Johnson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981, p. 533.
- Walvoord says regarding this:
A number of other suggestions are made in that the six Roman numerals, that is I, V, X, L, C, D, adds up to 666. J. B. Smith says, “This alludes to the possibility of a Roman being the antichrist.” Smith also adds “All the numerals from 1 to 36 total 666. Beast in the evil sense occurs exactly 36 times (6x6) in Revelation.” Speculation continues ad infinitum using the letter equivalents for numbers in Hebrew, Greek, or Roman numerals. The very variety of the suggestions, however, and the unlikely and unprecedented supposition that someone would rise from the dead to take active part in earthly affairs leaves serious question as to all these imaginative explanations.
John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, pp. 203-204.
- Things to note:
- Nowhere does John use gematria as a method, but he regularly uses numbers symbolically, especially the number 7. (7 Spirits of God, churches, seals, trumpets, bowls, 24 elders, 144,000 sealed, 6 stone water pots (John 2:6)
- In Rev 15:2, the statement that they had gotten victory over the beast and the number indicates the number is symbolic.
- 6 indicates the number of man, which falls short (of the number 7, perfection).
- Those who have understanding, are those who have spiritual discernment or biblical understanding.
The Significance and Meaning of the Number 666 (Rev 13:18)
- The beast claims to be God, but he is only a man. Rev 13:4, 2 Thess 2:4.
- The three sixes may elude to the satanic trinity, Satan, the beast, and the false prophet seeking to replace the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which should be very identifiable.
- Another proposal is that the number may indicate that the beast is the sum of all apostate power, and concentrate of 6,000 years of unrighteousness, wickedness, deception and false prophecy. The three sixes look at this wickedness in the past, the present and the future culminated in this end time system of the beast.
References and Credits
- Revelation 13 Study - Stan Feldsine
- The basis for this study came from:
- Credit to: J. Hampton Keathley III
- Reference Authors: John F. Walvoord, Charles C. Ryrie, Theodore Epp, David Levy, Gerald Suster, Erwin Lutzer and John DeVries, Alan Johnson, William Newell, Francis Shaeffer