The 2 Beasts
The 2 Beasts
Text: Revelation 13
Thesis: To identify the 2 beasts and to examine the ultimate outcome of them.
(1) Revelation 13 has given way to much speculation regarding the mark of the beast and the # 666.
(2) Let us attempt to understand this passage and interpret these symbols within the context of John’s writing.
I. The Text:
A. In the opening verse, the dragon is mentioned in connection to the 2 beasts.
1. From Rev. 12:9, we learn that the dragon is Satan.
2. Thus, we can correctly see the 2 beasts as agents working for Satan who is now after Christians since he could not get Jesus.
B. The first beast that is mentioned is pictured as coming out of the sea.
1. The description:
a. ‘Ten horns’ symbolize “fullness of power” (Hailey 283).
b. ‘Seven heads’ symbolize “completeness of intelligence and wisdom” (Hailey 283).
c. ‘Ten crowns’ symbolize “rule in the realm which he represents” (Hailey 284).
d. ‘Blasphemous name’ “indicates a totally irreverent attitude toward God and all that is sacred” (Hailey 284).
e. Verse 2 obviously refers to Daniel 7:1-8, the vision of the 4 beasts, which is to be connected with the dream of Daniel 2, in which we learn about the 4 kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman.
f. Thus, “this beast represents Imperial Rome as personified in its emperors” (Shelly 77).
2. The ‘fatal wound’ was probably “the death of Nero, the first emperor to persecute the church, whose policy of persecution was revived by Domitian, in whom ‘the death-stoke was healed’” (Hailey 286).
3. Thus, we have a picture of men refusing Jesus because of the persecution and accepting paganism and emperor-worship.
4. However, the period of persecution would be limited to 42 months (i.e., 3 ½ years or 1260 days, which is a symbolic way of saying that it is a fixed period of time determined by God).
5. During this period or persecution, Christians are encouraged to be faithful and endure no matter what.
C. The second beast that is mentioned is pictured as coming out of the earth.
1. The identity of this beast is not as definitive as the first, which was connected to Daniel’s vision.
a. Thus, some have identified this beast with the Holy Roman Empire (i.e., the RCC).
b. However, the better interpretation seems to be that this beast is “the body of priests which guided and enforced emperor worship throughout the Roman Empire” (Shelly 81).
2. This beast worked on behalf of the first beast to cause men to worship the first beast and is willing to go to any measures necessary to accomplish such a task.
a. This beast will resort to using counterfeit miracles to deceive people.
b. This beast will even have people put to death who refuse to worship the first beast.
3. Those who worship the first beast will receive “a mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name” (v. 17).
a. Many attempts to identify this as a literal, physical mark have been made (e.g., bank #’s, social security #’s, bar codes).
b. However, it seems best to see the mark of the beast as the antithesis of the seal in Revelation 7 and if “the mark of chapter seven was non-literal in nature and invisible to the human eyes, this mark need not be thought of as being different in nature” (Shelly 82).
c. As for the economic implications, “maybe, when a Christian would not bow to the image, word passed through the community, and merchants refused to deal with him” (Roper 2:68).
4. In verse 18, the beast is given one last description, i.e., his number is the number of man, which is 666.
a. Some have interpreted this # as a significant period of a literal 666 years (referring to Catholicism, Islam, etc.), but these have lasted longer than such time.
b. Most attempt to identify this # with a specific person.
(1) E.g., Iranaues suggested ‘Lateinos’ (i.e., Latin man; therefore, Rome) or ‘Teitan’ (i.e., a variant for Titus, the Roman Emperor and a family name for Domitian).
(2) The most common suggestion is ‘Nero’ on the basis that ‘Nero Caesar’ equals 666 when it is transliterated into Hebrew.
(a) Further, when the “n” is left off (Neron), then the # also equals 616, the variant reading.
(b) If this is correct, then people would argue this would be a reference to Domitian, who would be Nero revived.
(c) However, “we are left to wonder why a letter written to Greek Christians in the Roman province of Asia would resort to such a circuitous identification” (Shelly 81-82).
(d) Further, “why did none of the ancient interpreters of Revelation recognize the solution?” (Roper 2:273)
(3) The fact of the matter is that “the attempts to arrive at an interpretation by adding the numerical values in [a] name lead to nothing just because they lead to everything” (Hendricksen 273).
c. The best way to identify this # is see it symbolically.
(1) Context: #’s before it and after it are symbolic; thus, consistency
(2) Basically, 6 is an imperfect number that will never become 7.
(3) Thus, 666 “stands for the complete and total failure of all human systems and efforts antagonistic to God and His Christ – all are doomed to ultimate and complete defeat and failure” (Hailey 299).
(4) Note: some have also observed that 777 refers to the holy Trinity and thus 666 refers to the unholy trinity of the dragon and beasts.
II. The Application:
A. Satan is working against Jesus and is attempting to lead us astray.
B. No matter how much he tries and how difficult he makes life for us, we must remain faithful to Jesus.
C. We must always remember that Satan and his army are destined for failure and only Jesus and His army are destined for victory.
- Do you have the seal of God or the mark of the beast?