Chapter 13: The Antichrist and the False Prophet
The New Testament word "antichrist"
comes from the Greek antichristos, meaning in opposition
to Christ or in substitution for Christ; and, is found only in the epistles of the
Apostle John, e.g., "Little children,
it is the Last Time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are
there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the Last Time" (1John 2:18). Here, in an apocalyptic vision, John stands "upon the sand of the sea"
(13:1), where the "sea" depicts the Gentile nations, i.e., the "isles
of the Gentiles" (Genesis 10:5). "Sing unto the LORD a new song, and His praise from the end
of the Earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and
the inhabitants thereof" (Isaiah 42:10). The "beast" that rises up "out of the sea" (13:1)
has been traditionally understood to be the Antichrist. Victorinus (circa 3rd-4th
century) remarked about the "beast" (13:1): "This signifies the
kingdom of that time of Antichrist, and the people mingled with the variety of nations" (from Victorinus' "Commentary on the Apocalypse").
The Antichrist or the Beast is described as "having seven heads and ten horns" (13:1)-- calling to mind Daniel's description of the Roman Empire, that ultimately brings forth the "Man of Sin" (2Thessalonians 2:3) from its revived form. "7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast [the Roman Empire], dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another Little Horn [the Antichrist], before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things" (Daniel 7:7-8). The "seven heads" (13:1) represent seven successive phases of governmental history (cp. Revelation 17:10-12), while the "ten horns" (13:1) signify ten simultaneously reigning rulers, who will be contemporaries with the Antichrist (cp. 17:12). In the Book of Revelation, both the "horns" and "crowns" (13:1) are symbols of governmental authority; and in this instance, they are used to blasphemously supplant or usurp the true authority of the KING of Kings, and LORD of Lords, i.e., "and upon his heads the name of blasphemy" (13:1). Though human government was instituted by God "to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Romans 13:4), it will ultimately be perverted to blaspheme and war against the return of the LORD Jesus Christ, "Who is the Blessed and Only Potentate" (1Timothy 6:15), to establish His earthly Kingdom "wherein dwelleth [good and] righteousness" (2Peter 3:13).
Seven successive stages of Gentile world power-- out of which the Antichrist will come-- are represented by the "seven heads and ten horns" (13:1). The difficulty of interpretation is the honest bias of each commentator, who is impressed that he is one "upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1Corinthians 10:11). As we approach the conclusion of the matter, the Infallible Commentator, which is the Holy Spirit, will drop the scales from our eyes to teach us the wonderful secret of His infallible interpretation. "For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but His secret is with the righteous" (Proverbs 3:32). Of the seven stages of Gentile world power, six are historical, and the seventh is a revived form of the sixth (the Roman Empire):
How do we arrive at identifying the Beast "out of the sea" (13:1) with the Roman Empire? To answer that question, we must read the prophecies of the second chapter of Daniel. There, we are given a description of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a "great image" (Daniel 2:31), whose "head was of fine gold [Babylon], his breast and his arms of silver [Medo-Persia], his belly and his thighs of brass [Greece], 33 His legs of iron [Rome], his feet part of iron and part of clay [the Revived Roman Empire]" (2:32-33). The Almighty gave Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its interpretation to Daniel in response to believing prayer, i.e., they desired "mercies of the God of Heaven concerning this secret... Then was the secret revealed" (Daniel 2:18, 19). "Thou, O king [Nebuchadnezzar]... art this head of gold [the Babylonian Empire]" (2:37-38). As it was with Daniel, so it is true with the Saints throughout time, divinely revealed prophecy is merely history in its yet to be fulfilled form. "39 And after thee [Nebuchadnezzar] shall arise another kingdom [the Medo-Persian Empire of Darius and Cyrus] inferior to thee, and another third kingdom [the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great] of brass, which shall bear rule over all the Earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom [the Roman Empire] shall be strong as iron" (2:39-40).
John the Beloved Apostle describes his vision of the "beast" as "like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet
of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion" (13:2).
Similarly, the Old Testament prophet Daniel was given a vision of "four great beasts [of prey, which] came up from the sea" (Daniel
7:3). Daniel described the Babylonian Empire as a "lion, [that] had eagle's wings" (7:4). A second kingdom, the Medo-Persian Empire, was represented as a
bear, i.e., "And behold another beast,
a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs [i.e., dominating Media, Persia, Babylonia] in
the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour
much flesh [i.e., subduing Lydia, Egypt, etc.]" (7:5). A third world empire,
Greece, was depicted as a leopard, which speaks of the swiftness of Alexander the
Great's conquests, i.e., "After this I
beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings
of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it" (7:6). Finally, the Roman Empire was likened to a dreadful beast with ten
horns, i.e., "After this I saw in the
night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly;
and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue
with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it;
and it had ten horns" (7:7). And so, Nebuchadnezzar's
dream of a "great image" (2:31) agrees with both Daniel's vision of "four
great beasts" (7:3) and John's vision of the "beast which... was like unto a leopard... a bear...
[and] a lion" (Revelation 13:2).
It is said that the "dragon [Satan] gave him [the Antichrist] his power, and his seat, and great authority" (13:2). But, how could the devil give governmental power and authority to the Antichrist, when God never placed them in Satan's hands? "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in Earth" (Matthew 28:18). Sadly, however, when the children of this world give obedience to the devil, then they acknowledge his illegal seizure of that power. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Romans 6:16). Satan is the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2) and the "god of this world" (2Corinthians 4:4) only because he has been crowned as such through the willful surrender of obedience of any and every moral agent, when they demonstrate themselves to be "lovers of their own selves" (2Timothy 3:2) and not of God. Antichrist will be the human epitome of the self-love promoted by Lucifer, when he attempted to seize the heavenly throne of the High and Lofty One That Inhabiteth Eternity (Isaiah 57:15). "13 For thou [Lucifer] hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Understanding that the Beast with "seven
heads" (13:1) represents Gentile world power, the Apostle
John "saw one of
[the Beast's] heads as it were wounded to death" (13:3). This referred to the eventual collapse of the Roman Empire in the
fifth century, when the Vandals plundered the city of Rome (455 AD) and the last
Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, abdicated (476 AD). The Beast's "deadly wound was healed" (13:3)
indicates that the Lamb of the Revelation anticipated Satan's attempt to revive the
power of the Roman Empire. "I [Christ, the Lamb of God] am Alpha
and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last"
(22:13). What is known as the Holy Roman Empire-- originally including what is now
Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, eastern France, the Low Countries,
and parts of northern and central Italy-- was the attempt of the papacy to enlarge
its power through the control of secular governments, beginning with the coronation
of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, in 800 AD by Pope Leo III, to the resigning of
the imperial title of Holy Roman emperor by Francis II, emperor of Austria, in 1806.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"
The imperial title of Holy Roman emperor was virtually hereditary to the Austrian House of Habsburg, beginning in the fifteenth century. "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment" (Exodus 23:2). Alluding to Otto von Bismarck's German Empire (1871-1918)-- where the equivalents of caesar and empire are the German, kaiser and reich, respectively-- as the Second Holy Roman Empire (or, Second Reich), Adolph Hitler referred to Nazi Germany as the Third Reich. "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered" (Proverbs 11:21). Each attempt to revive the power of the Roman Empire has failed-- until (possibly) now, with the burgeoning political and economic strength of the modern European Union (2000). But, "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that Power belongeth unto God" (Psalm 62:11).
Since the Beast "out of the sea" (13:1) is both a system, i.e., Gentile world power in the form of a Revived Roman Empire, and a man that is called the Antichrist, who comes out of that system, then the "deadly wound" (13:3), most likely will also refer to an actual wound to Antichrist's head. The Greek word for "wound" (13:3) is plege, which is also translated as plague. Just as the LORD Jesus Christ was "wounded for our transgressions" (Isaiah 53:5) and "by His stripes we are healed" (53:5), the Antichrist will falsely simulate a resurrection from what appears to be a mortal head wound. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very Elect" (Matthew 24:24). Because the power to create life or resurrect from the dead belong only to the Living God, i.e., "Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25), Antichrist's resurrection will only be a "lying wonder". "8 And then shall that Wicked [the Antichrist] be revealed, whom the LORD shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: 9 Even him [the Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2Thessalonians 2:8-9).
Worship is directed to the Father by the Son. "21 Jesus
saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this
mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers
shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship
Him" (John 4:21, 23). In a false imitation of the relationship
of Christ to the Father of Mercies (2Corinthians 1:3), the Antichrist will be instrumental
in directing worship to Satan, i.e., "And
they worshipped the dragon [Satan] which
gave power unto the beast [Antichrist]" (13:4). Satan would have no interest
in giving power to the Antichrist, if it would not somehow come back to him in worship. "And [Satan] saith unto Him [the LORD Jesus Christ], All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down
and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). What the LORD Jesus refused,
Antichrist will gladly receive. "Again,
the devil taketh Him [Jesus] up
into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and
the glory of them; 10 Then
saith Jesus unto him , Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship
the LORD thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (4:8,10).
Who "worshipped the dragon... and... the beast" (13:4)? "All the world" (13:3), who "wondered after the beast" (13:3), are the "they" of verse four, who are deceived into worshipping Satan and the Antichrist. Before modern times, when global communications and the Internet have now intimately linked the far reaches of the planet, it would have been difficult for any man or devil to have achieved the feat of gaining the worship and admiration of not merely a nation or continent, but of "all the world" (13:3). "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them" (1John 4:5). This is the climactic act of the world system, to worship the devil and his false Christ. "15 Love not the world [system], neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (2:15-17).
"Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (13:4) will be the adulation of the world for the Antichrist. The strength of human government is measured by how its might maintains rule within its borders, and how it successfully defends against foreign enemies. "For he [human government, as intended by God] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Romans 13:4). In keeping with Antichrist's praise, i.e., "who is able to make war with him?" (13:4), Antichrist will be a man of military and political power, for he will be responsible for the "covenant with many" (Daniel 9:27) that takes place at the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel. This usurper will be a minister of Satan against the Saints for evil, who will be known for his execution of wrath in the martyrdom of the Godly, who practice righteousness. "And he [Antichrist] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the Saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (Daniel 7:25).
Blasphemia is the Greek word for blasphemy, which
means evil speaking, especially in the sense of speaking evil of God. "And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed
the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give
Him glory" (16:9). Anyone who would falsely claim to be
the Son of God, speaks blasphemy; and, ironically, the LORD Jesus was attacked as
a blasphemer because He truly said that He was the Son of God. "33 The
Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy;
and because that Thou, being a Man, makest thyself God... 36
Say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified,
and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" (John 10:33, 36). Yet, the very fact that the Antichrist (prophetically) "sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that
he is God" (2Thessalonians 2:4) is the ultimate blasphemy.
"And there was given unto him [Antichrist] a mouth speaking great
things and blasphemies" (13:5).
It may be initially strange to the minds of the Godly that "power was given unto" (13:5) Antichrist by Jehovah to return blasphemy against Jehovah; but, God allows Antichrist and the unelect "to fill up their sins" (1Thessalonians 2:16) through this blaspheming, which justifies the Almighty's granting of their free moral agency and their subsequent "eternal damnation [Greek, krisis, or judgment]" (Mark 3:29). "4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment... 9 [then] The LORD knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2Peter 2:4, 9). And, Antichrist's "power" (13:5) or liberty to "continue" (13:5) sitting in the reconstructed Jerusalem Temple "as God" (2Thessalonians 2:4) is for "forty and two months" (13:5)-- or, 3 1/2 prophetic years, which is 1,260 days. This period will begin at the Middle of the Tribulation Week, which is the "Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The forty-two month period, which follows the Abomination of Desolation, is commonly known as the Great Tribulation. "For then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (24:21). [See our article, "The Seventy Weeks of Daniel" ---New Window which outlines "The Wisdom of God in All of the Seventy Weeks".]
Again, the hallmark of Antichrist's short career is his blasphemy of all that concerns the Living God, i.e., "he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His Name, and His Tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven" (13:6). The profane use of the Name of God to damn whoever and whatever, is common to mankind; and, it is this loose but perverse speech that qualifies as blasphemy. "1 This know also, that in the Last Days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy" (2Timothy 3:1-2). We, in this closing Laodicean Age of Church History, have seen a greater than ever degeneration of evil speaking, that will culminate in the Antichrist's blasphemy. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (3:13). Consider the following, to benchmark how much worse the present blasphemy has become. During the Philadelphian Age of the Church (eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), when the Church was still characterized as having "a little strength" (Revelation 3:8), the evangelist Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) described the blasphemy he encountered in the little New York village of Antwerp of the early 1800's.
John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" ---New Window describes CHRISTIAN's approach to the Palace Beautiful, where he encounters two lions on either side of the narrow approach to the palace. While reconsidering his need to enter the palace, WATCHFUL, the porter of the palace, calls out to Christian, "Is thy strength so small? fear not the lions; for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is; and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee!" "And [Jesus] said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" (Mark 4:40). Though the Almighty has made us immortal until our work on Earth is done, "If there is no more work for you to do for your Master, it cannot distress you that He is about to take you Home [through martyrdom] and put you where you will be beyond the reach of adversaries" (from C. H. Spurgeon's "Faith's Checkbook" ---New Window April 8th entry, "Preserved to Work's End"). "And the night following the LORD stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome" (Acts 23:11). But, the All Wise God has chosen that some of His Saints will give the ultimate confession and witness of their faith in the LORD Jesus Christ through their martyrdom, i.e., "And it was given unto [Antichrist] to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them" (13:7). "Jesus answered, Thou [Pontius Pilate] couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from Above" (John 19:11). And, power to hurt the Saints, indicates that the Antichrist has had the restraint removed to give him power "over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (13:7). "For the Mystery of Iniquity doth already work: only He [the Holy Spirit indwelling the Saints] Who now letteth [i.e., restrains Satan and sin] will let [continue to restrain], until He [the Holy Spirit] be taken out of the way [at the Pre-Tribulational Rapture]" (2Thessalonians 2:7). [See our article, "Martyrdom: They Loved Not Their Lives Unto the Death" ---New Window, to explore further the concept of Christian martyrdom.]
Those who are not Heavenly minded, are described as "all [those] that dwell upon the Earth" (13:8), i.e., Earth dwellers. "He that cometh from Above is above all [i.e., Jesus Christ]: he that is of the Earth is earthly, and speaketh of the Earth [i.e., Antichrist, and his followers]" (John 3:31). Scripture tells us that "all that dwell upon the Earth shall worship" (13:8) the Antichrist; but, later in this chapter, we will find the reason for this universal worship, i.e., coercion based upon the threat of death. "And he [the False Prophet] had power to give life unto the image of the beast [image of the Antichrist], 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" (13:15). These Earth dwellers, "whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (13:8), are the unelect, who never will repent. However, it is important to note that a commandment to leave Babylon the Great, i.e., "And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (18:4), comes towards the End of the Tribulation Week, indicating that some of the Earth dwellers must have repented. "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me" (Isaiah 49:16). Therefore, it appears that some that worshipped the Beast, will repent; but, Scripture gives no one the slightest chance of Heaven, who thinks to preserve himself through aforethought and premeditation to bow down to the Beast. "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His Commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him" (1John 2:4). And, the "fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the Second Death" (Revelation 21:8).
The voice of the Holy Spirit is only to those who "have an ear" (13:9). In
keeping with the Creator's original plan of a "perfect
man" who measures up unto the "stature
of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13), the Spirit
of Christ is constantly watching for any man "whose
heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). That
perfection occurs the moment a man repents of sin, for it is the perfection of intention
(where opportunity allows) that always manifests itself in the "fruits meet for [literally, worthy of]
3:8). "22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, 23
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Galatians
Who will this Antichrist be? Periodically, each generation has had its own Antiochus Epiphanes, Caligula, Pontifex Maximus, Hitler, or Mussolini that must be the Antichrist. But, why? The appearance of the Antichrist will precede the Second Advent of the LORD Jesus Christ for the counterfeit to properly work its deception. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition" (2Thessalonians 2:3). The fact that the LORD Jesus informed His people that He would return, must be a large part of the reason for the Saints' anticipation that "Antichrist shall come" (1John 2:18). [See our article, "Antichrist Shall Come" ---New Window, for a development of the Scripture concerning the Antichrist.] "2 In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3). Coupled with the Saviour's Promise that He would return, is His assurance that He would return speedily. Most certainly, this has inflamed the Saints' desire for His return and their departure. "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Revelation 22:7). [See our editorial, "Behold, I Come Quickly" ---New Window, to review the merits of this Promise.] Remembering that the Restraining Influence, which is the Holy Spirit dwelling in His Saints, must first "be taken out of the way" (2Thessalonians 2:7), only "then shall that Wicked [the Antichrist] be revealed" (2:8). So, the Pre-Tribulational Rapture will remove the Watching and Waiting Saints before the revelation of the "man of sin" (2:3). [See our article, "Must There Be a Pre-Tribulational Rapture?" ---New Window, for a brief exposition of 2Thessalonians 2.]
The Protestant Reformation, which was marked by a return from an infallible pope to the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures and the concurrent right and necessity that every man should be his own priest, typically saw the Roman pontiff as the Antichrist. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light" (1Peter 2:9). Even before Martin Luther (1520) wrote, "I know that the Papacy is none other than the kingdom of Babylon, and the violence of Nimrod the mighty hunter"; John Milicius (1294-1374), Archdeacon and Canon of the Archiepiscopal Cathedral of the Hradschin, Prague, was so shocked at the moral scandals of the Rome that he served, that on his visit to the Pontifical city, "he wrote over the door of one of the cardinals, 'Antichrist is now come, and sitteth in the Church,' and [then] departed" (from James A. Wylie's "The History of Protestantism", Volume 1, Book 3 ---New Window).
Scripture gives many clues to the identity of the Antichrist:
This verse begins with a Promise of Divine retribution, i.e., "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity" (13:10). "And thine eye shall
not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand,
foot for foot" (Deuteronomy 19:21). The gravity of God's
Divine Law necessitates a justice that "he
that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword"
(13:10). "Vengeance is mine; I will repay,
saith the LORD" (Romans 12:19). Even in these Gospel times,
God is still a "just God and a Saviour" (Isaiah 45:21); and, the Godly still rejoice that the Almighty performs
His judgments, when the impenitent place themselves beyond His forgiveness. "1 And
after these things I heard a great voice of much people in Heaven, saying, Alleluia;
Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the LORD our God: 2 For true and righteous are His judgments:
for He hath judged the Great Whore, which did corrupt the Earth with her fornication,
and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for
ever and ever" (Revelation 19:1-3).
Why does this verse of Divine vengeance speak of the "patience and the faith of the Saints" (13:10)? Since "it was given unto [Antichrist] to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them" (13:7) just previously, this Promise of retribution, most assuredly, is to those whom the Almighty asks to lay down their lives in witness of His presence, superiority, and Truth. "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (12:11). This Promise-- "faith" (13:10)-- encourages the Tribulation Martyrs to stay their course to the end-- "patience" (13:10)-- because those who will never repent, will be judged with the same certainty that the Penitent will be forgiven. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9). And, the Penitent, God will glorify. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1Corinthians 2:9).
The Greek word therion is translated as beast in both verse one and this verse; and, another comes from the Greek word allos, which means another of the same kind, i.e., "And I beheld another beast" (13:11). Since verse one refers to the Antichrist, then verse eleven must be describing another savage creature of the same kind. "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). This Beast comes "up out of the Earth" (13:11), indicating that he is a creature of the Earth and not of Heaven. "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:15). One feature of this Beast is that "he had two horns like a lamb" (13:11), meaning that he had the outward characteristics of a meek and mild lamb. This implies that this Beast will attempt to appear like the LORD Jesus Christ, who is truly the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). But, the true nature of this Beast is betrayed by the fact that "he spake as a dragon" (13:11). "And he [the heavenly angel] laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:2). Therefore, we can be assured that the Beast "out of the Earth" (13:11) must be another savage creature like the Antichrist, who attempts to shield his ferocious character with a lamb-like mask. "And He [Jesus] said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them" (Luke 21:8).
Possibly, the Godly have mistaken this Beast "out of the Earth" (13:11) as the Antichrist; but, this Beast is clearly another personage than the Antichrist. "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him" (13:12). Since the Beast "out of the Earth" (13:11) is equal in power and authority to the Beast "out of the sea" (13:1), it must be by mutual consent that this second Beast chooses to make the "Earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast" (13:12). A mark of distinguishment for the Antichrist will be that his "deadly [head] wound was healed" (13:12 cp. 13:3). Many commentators, including this one, believe that this Beast "out of the Earth" (13:11) describes the Endtime personality that is commonly referred to as the False Prophet, i.e., he "causeth the Earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast" (13:12). The worship that the False Prophet directs toward the Antichrist will ultimately be received by Satan, i.e, "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the [Antichrist]: and they worshipped the [Antichrist], saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (13:4). And, Satan is willing to trade the riches and power of the world to buy himself the worship that he does not deserve. "And [Satan] saith unto Him [Jesus], All these things will I give Thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9).
Both Antichrist and his False Prophet are liars, like their "father the devil" (John
8:44). As such, the only kind of "great
wonders" (13:13) that they perform, are lies. "Even him [Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power
and signs and lying wonders [performed by the False
2:9). We must go back to the Old Testament to recall that even a false prophet can
make predictions that come to pass, just as some have thought that the astrological
quatrains of Nostradamus (1503-1566) accurately predicted certain details of the
French Revolution of the eighteenth century. "1 If there arise among you a prophet,
or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof
he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known,
and let us serve them; 3 Thou
shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for
the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all
your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
[See our article, "How
to Identify a False Prophet" ---New Window, for a Scriptural survey of
how to identify any false prophet.]
Magicians and illusionists perform their feats for entertainment or diversion. But, at what point are their tricks and illusions actually "lying wonders" (2Thessalonians 2:9) masquerading "as only a trick"? When the conjuring of their magical act seeks to draw men away from the Living God, i.e., "And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them" (Deuteronomy 13:2), then they are performing "lying wonders". Traditionally, men such as Simon the Sorcerer used their craft to deceive people into believing that they possessed the power of God, and were, thus, His representatives. "9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God" (Acts 8:9-10). Though magic often uses mechanical props to trick the mind, the supernatural power of Satan may be illicitly employed to allow the prestidigitator to go beyond the mere "slight of hand" to accomplish what science cannot explain. "9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods" (Exodus 7:9-12).
When the False Prophet makes "fire [to] come down from heaven on the Earth in the sight of men" (13:13), he may have the connivance of some of the best scientific minds to aid him in impressing the great mass of mankind; but, regardless of any assistance from man, the False Prophet will have the supernatural aid of Lucifer the fallen angel. "And the Beast [Antichrist] was taken, and with him the False Prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the Mark of the Beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a Lake of Fire burning with brimstone" (19:20). Satan's power is greater than any man. "4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour" (Psalm 8:4-5). But, lest the Saints should become exceedingly impressed or intimidated with the power of the Satanic trinity-- Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet-- God is greater. "3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them [Antichrist, etc.]: because greater is He that is in you [the Holy Spirit], than he [Satan] that is in the world" (1John 4:3-4).
Just as blasphemy is the hallmark of Antichrist's career-- speaking
"blasphemy against God" (13:6)-- deception is the main feature of the False Prophet's ministry,
i.e., he "deceiveth them that dwell on
the Earth" (13:14). After all, without the False Prophet's
deception, who would care to worship the Antichrist, if they truly believed that
on account of their worship, God would damn them forever? "9 And the third angel followed them,
saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive
his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured
out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with
fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the
Lamb: 11 And the smoke
of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,
who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name" (14:9-11).
It will be difficult for those "that dwell on the Earth" (13:14) not to be deceived by the False Prophet's miracles, "which he had power to do in the sight of the beast" (13:14). Why? To the unelect, the miracles will speak more loudly than any previously rejected Scriptures. God will send them "strong delusion" (2Thessalonians 2:11), specifically, because "they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved" (2:10). And, the elect-but-still-lost will not yet have any foundation upon the Scripture of Truth (Daniel 10:21)-- though they may be uneasy about the False Prophet's miracles-- to resist the deception. It is only by the "shield of faith" that we can "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one]" (Ephesians 6:16). The charlatanism of the False Prophet will make the pitch to the world that "they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live" (13:14). In other words, the False Prophet will convince the world that they should make the "image of the beast" (13:14); or, at least, it should be built by popular demand. "9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. 17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god" (Isaiah 44:9, 17).
The False Prophet will be especially acclaimed for two miracles or wonders:
He will "cause that
as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (13:15). And, this ought to remind us of what Jesus said during His earthly
ministry, i.e., "4
And I say unto you My friends, Be not afraid
of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will forewarn you whom ye
shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea,
I say unto you, Fear Him" (Luke 12:4-5). Pneuma
is the Greek word that the Authorized Version (KJV) has translated as "life" (13:15); but, it
is more commonly translated as spirit or ghost, and even as wind,
i.e., "The wind
[Greek, pneuma] bloweth where it listeth, and
thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither
it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit [Greek,
pneuma]" (John 3:8).
"Neither is worshipped with men's hands,
as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life
[Greek, zoe], and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). Therefore, the "life [Greek, pneuma]" (13:15) that the False Prophet gives to the "image
of the beast" (13:15) will not be the same kind of "life [Greek, zoe]" (Acts 17:25) that only the
Does the Scripture give us any clue to the identity of this False Prophet? Yes. By analysis, if the Beast "out of the Earth" (13:11) is the False Prophet, and the Great Whore (17:1) is the Church of Rome, then the Pope would be the False Prophet. We are told that the Great Whore sits "upon many waters" (17:1), i.e., upon many nations, just as the Antichrist rises "up out of the sea" (13:1). BABYLON THE GREAT is the name of the Great Whore, "with whom the kings of the Earth have committed fornication [Greek, porneia]" (17:2). "17 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city [papal Rome], which reigneth over the kings of the Earth" (17:5-18). The spiritual fornication of the Church of Rome eminently qualifies her as the spiritual offspring of MYSTERY BABYLON, making her the quintessence of harlotry, and appropriately, "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (17:17).
Though the Protestant Reformers most commonly referred to the Roman pontiff as the Antichrist, more accurately, he is best qualified to be the False Prophet, because he "exerciseth all the power of the first beast [the Antichrist] before him" (13:12). Church history entered the Worldly Church phase of the Thyatiran Age (2:18-29) after the fall of Rome, and continued in it through the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages until the Protestant Reformation, for nearly a millennium (500-1500 AD). This period of world and Church history was dominated by the presence of the Bishop of Rome and the power of the Roman Catholic Church. "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel [the harlotry of Rome], which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols" (Revelation 2:20). Presently, we have yet to see when or whether the Pope will declare himself favorable or available to such attempts as the United Religions (2000), the official religious counterpart of the United Nations; but, the United Religions (presently) appears to be the most viable vehicle for the False Prophet. "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; He will render unto her a recompence" (Jeremiah 51:6). [See our series, "Babylon the Great" ---New Window, for the history of Babylon, the Church of Rome, and ecumenism. Also, further analysis of the United Religions may be found in our editorial, "United Religions (2000): A Tower Unto Heaven" ---New Window.]
Verse sixteen is the first mention of the Mark of the Beast, which
even the nominally thoughtful may presently detest. "And
it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus,
that all the world should be taxed [literally, registered or
enrolled, i.e., in the public records, the names of all people, for the purpose of
taxing their estates or property]" (Luke 2:1). Notice that the False Prophet instrumentally "causeth all" to "receive a mark" (13:16), meaning
that, the False Prophet, not the Antichrist, is the chief promoter of the
Mark of the Beast. If the Antichrist were to solely promote the reception of the
Mark of the Beast, it would be by raw force, i.e., "And
in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full,
a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up" (Daniel 8:23). But, if the False Prophet is the prime promoter for the
reception of the Mark of the Beast-- which he will-- then it will be accomplished
by deceptively causing the world to desire to receive it. "[The False Prophet] deceiveth them
that dwell on the Earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do" (13:14). Negatively, refusal to worship the Antichrist will be punishable
by death (13:15), while on the other hand, the ability to live, i.e., "buy or sell" (13:17), will
be controlled by the willingness to "receive
a mark" (13:16).
Three pairs are enumerated for the Mark of the Beast, showing the totality of those marked:
In contrast to the Mark of the Beast, the LORD marks His own. "4
And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of
Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for
all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. 5 And to the others He said in mine hearing, Go ye after him
through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6 Slay utterly old and young, both
maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the
mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before
the house" (Ezekiel 9:4-6). In all, no segment of the
world will be excluded from receiving the Mark of the Beast, for it will be Satan's
brand upon his possessions, as much as cattle are branded by ranchers, i.e., "his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin
unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Romans
Much prophetic discussion surrounds the technology of the Mark of the Beast, i.e., the "mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads" (13:16). The use of the Social Security Number (SSN)-- employed in some form by most modern countries as a registration of its citizens, to provide a societal safety net for sickness, disability, retirement, etc.-- is most often necessary for employment, as well as the payment of income taxes. "15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth... 18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: 19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. 20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh's" (Genesis 47:15, 19-20).
The proliferation of computers, databases, credit and debit cards, scannable bar codes (UPC), and wireless satellite Internet, data, and telecommunications-- they all facilitate the tracking of the movements and activity of much of the developed world, in addition to the myriad of records traditionally kept by all governments. "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the Words, and seal the Book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4). Possibly, all that would remain, would be the employment of a type of programmable, scannable "smart chip" that would be implanted under the skin of "their right hand, or in their foreheads" (13:16)-- as has been done with pets and livestock-- that would enable a cashless society, as well as for identification and tracking, i.e., medical information, military status, immigration records, criminal records, etc. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come [quickly], LORD Jesus" (22:20). Amen, and Amen.
Even if one were to evade the death penalty for not worshipping
the Antichrist, still, he would not be able to "buy
or sell, save that he had the mark" (13:17). The Almighty
will finally allow Satan the use of this mark to force the issue with all the inhabitants
of the world-- "Who is on the LORD'S side?" (Exodus 32:26). As in the end game of a chess match, the LORD of the Harvest
(Luke 10:2) must skillfully position His game pieces to harvest all the Elect,
while carefully punishing only the wicked. "Whose
fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into
the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12). When the LORD Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming,
and "every eye shall see Him" (Revelation 1:7), He will carefully separate for judgment and damnation
(cp. 14:9-11), the "tares", which are the recipients of the Mark of the Beast. "28 He
said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto Him, Wilt Thou then
that we go and gather them up? 29 But
He said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares [a kind of
darnel, which is a poisonous grass], ye root
up also the wheat with them. 30 Let
both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the
reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them:
but gather the wheat into My barn" (Matthew 13:28-30).
Thus, the Almighty's use of the "wrath
of man" (Psalm 76:10) in the form of the Mark of the Beast,
(76:10) Himself, when He separates for judgment the wicked, and preserves all the
remaining Righteous ones. "[Jesus prayed immediately before the Garden of Gethsemane:] While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name:
those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition;
that the Scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12).
The "mark [Greek, charagma, or imprint], or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (13:17) connects the mark with the name and the number of the Beast. If the Mark of the Beast is initially sold to the world as a helpful or convenient identifier of the recipient, then the Scriptures reveal the true motivation for the device-- to brand every human being as the personal property of the devil. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8:44). In other words, the Antichrist's name will be digitally expressed and encoded into the mark, which will also uniquely identify and control the recipient. "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (8:34).
Some have explained the "Six
hundred threescore and six " (13:18) as an adding of the numerical equivalents of the Hebrew, Greek,
or Latin letters of the Antichrist's name. For instance, it is said that Caesar Nero
is spelled Kaisar Neron, if written with Hebrew endings. Accordingly, the sum of
the letters that would be Hebrew consonants, would total 666, i.e., K equals 100,
S equals 60, R equals 200, N equals 50, R equals 200, O equals 6, and N equals 50.
But, the verse begins with the expression, "Here
is wisdom" (13:18); and, wisdom or "knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth" (Proverbs 14:6). Biblical numerics are appropriate for the Saints to study;
but, like all lawful endeavours, Biblical numerics can only be properly understood
when they are submitted to the guidance of the Spirit of God through His God Breathed
Word. "16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Timothy 3:16-17).
This writer has found satisfaction with the understanding that the number 666 represents the "number of a man" (13:18). Since man was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-31), the number six represents man. When it is repeated three times, it is the LORD emphatically stating that the Antichrist is not God, but merely a man... a man... a man. Nebuchadnezzar, who finally came to the "knowledge of the Truth" (1Timothy 2:4), would undoubtedly vouch for the position that the Antichrist is nothing but a mere man. He suffered the humiliation of being treated as a beast, because of his pride and arrogance. "32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will... 34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto Heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the Earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? 36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of Heaven, all whose works are Truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase" (Daniel 4:32, 34-37).
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