What does Revelation 13:11-18 mean to us now?

 

Who are the beasts in your life?

Once in a sermon, Augustine asked his people if any of them was antichrist, as in opposing Christ, in character or unfaithfulness. The 1 John definition of antichrist, the only place in Scripture this term appears, simply means anyone who opposes Christ. It isn’t about an ominous opposing personality rising up and tricking us; rather, it is about our willingness to be tricked. God gives us a mind and incredible resources of His Spirit and Word; we have no excuse to be disloyal to our Lord. The call here is to heed the warning, not engage in vain speculation; rather, we are to make sure we are lined up to Him, loyal to our LORD! This means that as we lead our lives and run our churches, we have to seek Him and ask, are we being disloyal to our Lord? If so, guess what? The antichrist is not a political figure; it is you! We are the ones who are opposing Christ! This aspect is far more important that the speculations, because it all comes down to one thing, loyalty. Are you devoted to Christ or a slave to your will and to the manipulations of others? 

This passage could also mean that Christians may think that as long as they are not worshipping in a pagan temple, they are OK; but, to be loyal to evil or compromise God’s Word is worshipping something that is not of God! What we can do is trust Christ and be prepared, and that is John’s message to us. Stand firm in faith and do not be carried away with trivialities or intense persecution. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Why do these sings and wonders astonish people and, in turn, greatly deceive them? Do you believe people are personally responsible for allowing themselves to be deceived?
  1. What do you think this image is? What do you think the purpose is for the statue/image? How would you react to see this image come to life and speak? What would be the motivation for people to worship it?
  1. What do you see as the danger of the beast to us today, either personally or to the Church? What about relativism, diminishing values as Christians, replacing biblical teaching with faulty trends, and faulty logic and thinking?
  1. Why are there countless speculations on the mark and the number 666? Why would a pastor desire to preach by his personality and ignorance and not out of the Scriptures?
  1. What does it mean to you, as a Christian, to be watchful and loyal? Do you believe that when the beast does come there will be no mistaking of his identity? Then, how and why will Christians be tricked? What can we do to prevent ourselves from being deceived?

 © 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 13:11-18

 

The Preterist view: There are three prevailing theories in this camp about who or what this second beast is. First, it might be a representation of the emperor worship cult that was estranging Christians economically and socially as they were being forced to worship Caesar and disown Christ; it was an ultimate test of loyalty. Were they willing to lose everything for our Lord’s sake? Are you? The second theory is that this is about a religious persecutor either from within the Church or outside, because of the designation of the two horns, such as pagan religions influencing or persecuting the Church or false prophets from within the Church doing so. The third theory is that this beast represents local or geographical persecutions such as governors of local provinces because of the land/earth and under authority references, Others have said it could be corrupt internal religious leaders or Jews attacking the Church (Matt. 7:15; 23). The image of the beast is seen as paying honor and homage to Rome, as Jews did during their occupation.  From the Hebrew translation of Greek numerical values, 666 is seen as a cryptogram for Nero. The mark and buying and selling are seen as a boycott of Christian products and services meant to ruin them economically. Others see it as the corrupt Jewish officials forcing faithful Jews out of business. 

The Futurist view: They see this second beast not as strong a persecutor of the Church, coming in disguise as a faithful Christian (because of the two horns), and then tricking people into worshipping the beast. This may be a counterfeit Jewish messiah or a slick false preacher who is the “false prophet” mentioned in Rev. 16:13. Others see it as the corruption of the Church. Others see him as the antichrist. The image brings all kinds of speculations—from an idol coming to life to a robot. Most believe it is technology that is key and God can’t do anything until the technology is right and ready; this ignores His sovereignty and omnipotence! Some see this as the rebuilt Temple captivating people. The mark and buying and selling are seen as the world changing to a cashless society, ripe for corruption and control by the antichrist. The mark is seen as a computer chip implanted in people. This 666 is seen as a theme for apostasy in the Church or world; others see it as the antichrist and still others see it as a literal number tattooed on people’s foreheads. Others see it as a symbol of man’s defiance of God. Such theories may be possible (a big stretch at least), but usually are ridiculous and miss the main point of the passage. 

The Idealist view: They see this beast as a support to the first beast and dragon, unified in strategy and purpose. Most see it as false prophets and teachers in the church or a singular master false teacher. Another view is that it is false theology, paganism, and/or other forms of extreme corruption in the Church. Some see the Church switching its focus from serving God to serving governments and/or current trends and secular thinking. The image is seen as conforming to nationalism and being disloyal to Christ and/or actual signs and wonders meant to deceive people. The mark and buying and selling are seen as one’s life philosophy and choosing loyalty to God or to the world. Others see this as economic boycotts and pressures on the Church. The 666 is seen as a representation of impurity and corruption, or false religions. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Church going into apostasy, or those who blaspheme holiness and persecute the faithful. The first beast is the corruption of the Papacy and the second beast is the corruption of the priesthood. The second beast, as with the first, is seen as emphasizing the corrupt priests under the corrupt Catholic Papacy. Others focus on “Charlemagne” and the Holy Roman Empire around 800 AD and/or oppressive ecclesiastical power, or perhaps the emperors of Rome. Image is seen as false or alleged miracles, appearances of Mary and such being used to manipulate people down through the centuries to the corrupt practices of the Church. The 666 is seen by Irenaeus’s perspective as a representation of the last of Daniel’s Kingdoms and/or the “Lateinios,” the Latin reign and language of the Church, keeping God’s precepts from the common people as a control mechanism. The mark and buying and selling are seen as the corruption of worship practices and/or the Papal powers controlling the economics of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Six hundred and sixty-six!

What does 666 mean?  

It is a symbol typical of first century Jewish apocalyptic riddles usually known to the audience being written to; John’s readers knew who he was talking about. It perhaps referred to Nero, and thus was a warning about making loyalty-oaths to Caesar. It was not a secret code to the hearers, only to those outside of the Church such as Roman officials. 

This was also a common way to express or warn about godlessness or those opposing Christ (could be attributed to a specific person such as Nero, or to any person in opposition to right and God) while avoiding unnecessary reprisals. Some commentators have said this is “the trinity of evil”, referring to the number of the antichrist who seeks to combat God and His people. This is called in the Greek a “triangular number;” it is used as a parody or a word play in the first century, referring to someone or something else. 

It was also a cryptic code word that referred to Nero, using the Hebrew translation of the Greek numerical values. This type of code is called “gamatria” where each of the letters in the Greek or Hebrew has an equivalent numerical value, such as alpha stands for one. This was not secret but common Jewish thinking; Jesus, in the Greek (IhsouV), has a numerical correspondent to 888. Some early Christian thinkers, such as Irenaeus, have attributed this to Euanthas or Lateinos or Teitan; Martin Luther thought it might refer to a Pope Benedict, and to other various evil Popes. 

In addition, 666, as a number, is diametrically opposed to the perfection of the number seven which means fullness and completeness. Thus, the theory of the numerical value is that a future antichrist may have a name equal in numerical value to 666 when it is written in Greek. “Nero Caesar” is 666 in the Greek when transliterated from the Hebrew (Matt. 24:15, 36-51). 

There is no reason or call to seek to decode this; it is not about the world’s population hitting 6,666,666,666 that may have happened in Nov 2006, or some mathematicians’ theory or whatever the theory of the day is. The plain meaning, is far more important to us than what speculators have come up with… 

Which is? That we are to be watchful to those who oppose Christ and make sure we are not opposing Christ in thought, word, or deed, taking oaths, or making promises that counter Christ’s principals!

The Mark!

What does the Mark mean? 

It is simple, it means ownership and control; in this case it also refers to a forgery of the seal and love of God given to Christians (Ezek. 9:4-6; Rev. 7:2-8; 14:1). 

This “mark of the beast” is about who controls us, Satan or God. This beast forces people to bear the mark as a way to control and also as a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit that “marks” a true believer. This is also a pattern of the stranglehold that has been repeated throughout human history, such as the trade guilds that controlled who could buy or sell in the midst of the church at Thyatira (found in Revelation 2:18-29.) 

Also, it is the corruption as exhibited in John’s time by both Jewish and pagan priests, and especially the emperor cults. It is also represented in countries that are run with totalitarian tactics by corrupt officials and/or dictators. There are countless speculations on this, but it really denotes from the word meaning and the context, that it is a metaphor for ownership and control, but the means by which this will occur is unknown. 

All we can do is see how this has played out before and be ready for the future. Fear mongering over technologies and personalities are beside the point; neither Satan nor God need technology to make this happen, because it has happened before in grand scale without it. However, since we do have it… (Eph.1:13; Rev. 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20 and 20:4).

Exegetical look into Revelation 13:11-18

 

  • Another beast. As a word, it means a ravenous animal; as a symbol, an opposing power. In association with earth, it represents religious powers or people serving secular authorities. He is acting as a counterfeiter of good, turning it into evil; as a “propagandist” (dispensing deceptive misinformation) for evil, it is the first beast and Dragon—Satan. He seeks to bring glory to himself and that of evil, whereas in contrast, the Holy Spirit brings glory to Christ. This beast is also called the “False Prophet” in Rev. 16:13; 19:20 and 20:10.
  • Coming out of the earth. This may refer to a locality or regional persecution whereas the beast from the sea is more universal. Romans had local enforcers; various cults also had their representatives, such as the emperor cults and various personalities who waged their ways and evils upon the population (Dan. 7:3, 17; Acts 19:30-31). 
  • Two horns like a lamb/horned lamb. This is a parody and distortion of Christ, perhaps referring to the power of evil governments such as Persia in Daniel. This may mean he starts off as gentle, and then manipulates behind the scenes until he rises to power. Whatever the form may take in the future, this beast seeks to manipulate and deceive people with seemingly miraculous signs and wonders, counterfeiting the work and purpose of the Holy Spirit. This will be very evident prior to the return of Christ (Dan. 8:6; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 5:6).
  • Spoke like a dragon. His true colors come out, such as Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:15 concerning wolves in sheep’s clothing. When this happens, there should be no doubt who he is and what he is up to.
  • Exercised all the authority. This means under the authority of Satan or working on his behalf. It can be in the form of evil secular authority, corrupt religious figures, or the compromise and apostasy of the Church. Some see this as an evil trinity of Satan/dragon, the antichrist/beast and the false prophet mimicking God’s Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Great and miraculous signs. Wonderworkers were common in this time although most did not have real powers. Like today’s magicians, they tricked people. The danger to us today is relativism, as Christian values diminish and are replaced by faulty logic and thinking (Duet 13:1-3; Ex. 7:11; Matt. 24:24; 1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev 19:20).
  • Fire to come is a parody of Elijah and of God’s marvels and powers, as well as how false prophets worked in the Old Testament. Satan seeks to deceive us while he discredits God (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7,18; 2 Kings 18: 24-39; Rev. 11:5).
  • Image… it could speak. It was a common magician trick used by priests to cause their idols to speak in this time, today we call it “ventriloquism.” Such deception was used for propaganda as well as evil personal gain (Deut. 13:1-11; 2 Thess. 2:4).
  • Refused to worship. The issue was perhaps not worship in the sense of religion, but rather loyalty pledges. This is a clear warning to early Christians to refrain from apostasy, as our loyalty is to Christ and thus, we should never compromise ourselves or His message. This beast can make the pronouncement of apostasy to those who refuse, such as what the faithful faced during the period of the Maccabees 175-134 BC (1 Macc. 1:50-51—Apocrypha; Dan. 3 and 6).
  • Forced everyone. Many Greek and Roman occupiers of Jerusalem forced the Jews to do this, thus, it was not an unexpected enterprise. Such a mark was, in the past, a tattoo, membership in a guild, code words, and/or an imperial stamp, etc. This is why early Americans reacted so negatively to the British Stamp Act of 1765 that was used to control, subvert, manipulate, and steal from the colonists. There was a tax on anything that had the king’s stamp on it. Many Greek people in this time had tattoos for the god and/or guilds to which they bore allegiance.
  • Right hand or on his forehead refers figuratively to a brand on a slave signifying to whom the person belonged. Not necessarily a literal tattoo or mark on the body, this was more a metaphor for allegiances, either to evil systems or to God. Romans who graduated from a class on emperor worship were given certificates that led to many privileges and opportunities (Is. 44:5; Rev. 3:12; 7:3; 14:1; 15:6; 17:5; 19:12; 22:4).
  • No one could buy or sell. Refers to commercial discrimination such as the trade guilds at that time, which had an economic boycott against people of faith. But, it will become more strict and cruel.

Revelation 13:11-18: What are the Contexts?

 

This passage is about the enforcement of imperial worship and/or totalitarian regimes in John’s time, an even more evil emperor yet to come, and about their forms of deception. (Remember, Revelation is also a letter to the Seven Churches facing current problems then as well as fulfillment of things yet to come.) This theme of allegiance continues today; whom will we serve and trust? Will it be good or evil? The chief ends of the beasts and Satan are to get people to worship them—or anything else besides the One True God. He will counterfeit the claims and ways of Christ by twisting them for evil purposes. 

This is more about our battle against evil, Satan, and those who follow who are duped or have the desire to be evil than it is about a singular antichrist personality that may or may not come into existence. There are countless speculations on the mark and the number 666. In word meaning, context, and as a metaphor, the mark denotes ownership and control. The 666 denotes a parody or cryptic metaphor for Nero or anyone opposing Christ. Most of what is going on in chapter 13 is an explanation about what is going on in his time period. The proverbial 666 has been made into incredible magnitude by movies and sensational pastors who preach by their personality and ignorance and not out of the Scriptures. This makes good movies but not good biblical interpretation. 

Basically, symbols in Revelation had specific meanings for a First Century Jew or Greek, like when we might say “it is raining cat and dogs.” These are metaphors not to be taken literally or lightly but should be taken as they meant then, not compared to a modern day newspaper. John was in a totalitarian, evil regime under Emperor Nero (as was Domitian) who was very much an antichrist (this means one who opposes Christ—not just one person but anyone who oppresses someone away from Him – 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). This can also mean Nero and/or someone like a Hitler, a Mussolini, a Saddam Hussein, or someone who is yet to come). We are called, as Christians, to be watchful; however, it is foolish to seek an antichrist, predict one, or come up with some kind of fanatical theory such as a computer chip planted in us. There have been many theories; none of them have come true, and there is still an antichrist to come into fruition. When he does come, there will be no mistake of his identity.

Revelation 13:11-18

Introduction 

 The Second Beast 

The second beast appears as he comes out of the earth. He, too, sought to imitate the True Lamb by having two horns but he spoke with the voice of evil; the dragon and his true intentions are now exposed. He was given the authority of the first beast and demanded all people to worship him. The first beast’s mortal wound has been healed, and this second beast starts to mimic Christ by performing miracles, astonishing people, and in turn, greatly deceiving them.  He further exasperates believers by demanding a statue of the first beast to be made, equipping it to come to life and speak, and demanding people to worship it. Those who did not were condemned. 

This beast not only demands worship, he now marks those who follow him; he requires all people to receive his mark or his number on their hand or forehead. Thus, only those with a mark may engage in commerce, even just to buy food. The number is 666, the number of a man. John asks us to seek wisdom in our understanding of these things. 

This beast, Satan, and evil people hate Christ and seek to scandalize Truth and righteousness and proclaim evil as a replacement of the Way! This passage has to do with what contains and controls us; will it be the riches and desires we seek, or the Lord we wish to glorify? The devil will bestow to us gifts and opportunities that seem great, but the strings that are attached will tie us to him and away from Him. This beast also desires to control wealth and in turn restrain people; this is basic economics and politics. Those who weald the power and money will direct and manipulate the people. What is interesting is that people, by nature, seem to worship money and power. Thus, the task of the beast, whether he is a real person who rises up or a metaphor for what seeks to control us, this is about what does control, motivate, and inspire us. Is it seeking to glorify Christ or allowing others to motivate or manipulate our desires so we are devoted to things that are not righteous or pleasing to Him? 

What can you do to trust Christ and be prepared? How can you protect yourself from other’s faulty control, motivations, or manipulation? 

How can you inspire others to be loyal to our Lord?  

What can your church do to inspire its people to glorify Christ and not allow others to motivate or manipulate evil or misplaced desires, so we will be devoted to things that are righteous and pleasing to Him?

What does Revelation 4: 6-11 mean to us now?

Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, can easily fail when we think we no longer need to put our best efforts forward. It is when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others that we fail as His church. When we live in the past, we are not living now¾we actually are not living at all. Keep in mind that just about all churches were good and vibrant at one time or else they would never have been formed. It is when we fail to keep those things going that we fall short. 

The Church is to be under His rule and kingship, not our committees and trends. We are to surrender to His lead and to His Way so we can proclaim His supremacy and majesty. If not, we engage in spiritual warfare, but not the kind that most Christians think of, as in our battling Satan. Rather, it becomes us battling God for control so we can conform His church to our pleasures. Satan does not need to battle us when we are already battling God. He will fuel our battling and provide the weapons, but he does not even need to do that, we are so good at it ourselves. Satan’s objective is to manipulate those with bad intentions to battle the righteous and godly, to lead us astray, and/or to get us too busy to see Christ in our everyday lives. 

Looking forward to His eternity? Great! But, consider this. We do not need to be in His Throne Room; He is here with us now. We just need to see His hand upon us now, feel His presence, and allow His supremacy to lead us in His way. In the end, God wins out. Satan’s spiritual warfare against us is as futile as our war against God. He wins! There is no other way; His way is the best and most glorious for us and for Him. Satan wants our eyes distracted so we do not see Christ’s majesty, with the goal being that we worship him and not Him. God wants us in spiritual purity and faithfulness in and to Him. The choice is given, the call is made; the choosing is up to us! How will we lead and manage our spiritual journeys? How will you lead and manage your church? Will it be His supremacy or your inclinations? Which way do you think will win out? Then, why would a person of faith in Christ choose to run his or her life or church by any way other than His? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you? How would this glimpse of heaven motivate you and your Church to get right and get busy in Him?  
  2. How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures? How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey? How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him? 
  3. Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, could easily fail. How does the breakdown of putting our best efforts forward contribute to this?  
  4. What about that when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others, our churches fail? What can your church do to prevent this?  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 4: 6-11

Preterist view sees this passage as a courtroom with a Judge who is Sovereign, and who pronounces those who are guilty in the next chapter. They see the phrase of “after this” as meaning it will happen right away and thus has already taken place in the first century. The 24 elders represent the worship of Christ, but are not angels or people. Rather, they are just an image made up for John to grasp His Throne. Others see the creatures and elders as angels or separate created entities that guard God (who needs no guard) and proclaim His Glory and Lordship. They also see this passage as an assault on the zodiac and astrology. 

Futurist view sees this passage as the turning point from dealing with the Church to dealing with the “last days” that have not occurred as of yet. In addition, they see the phrase “after this” and “the triumphant” as referring to after the Church age and thus, since the Church is no longer mentioned much, they mostly believe the Church will not be a part of these events because it has been “raptured” (even though there is little to no scriptural support for this theory, 1 Cor 15:51-54, 1 Thess. 4:16-18, and Rev. 7:9-17; 22:16 are twisted out of their context as they ignore word meanings and other phrases used for the Church such as “redeemed” and “saints” in Rev. 5:8-9; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:7-10; 14:3-4, 12; 15:3; 16:6; and17:6,  seeing these as meaning characteristics of the church but not the church玅a big stretch away from the actual meanings for this view). The 24 elders represent the first 24 ancestors of Christ listed in Genesis 5 and 7 (this is a big stretch, reading into the text what is not there); others see them as exalted angels who serve God, and some see this as the 24 elders adhering to the Levitical orders (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:9-13) and functioning as priests. Others say they represent the redeemed. They see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. They see the sea of glass as solid, meaning we no longer need the cleansing of the water because of Christ. The four living creatures are living entities that can represent the attributes and qualities of God, the attributes of nature, or as four portraits of Christ from the four Gospels, as King, Servant, Son of man, Son of God. However, such views are wildly speculative and not rooted in Scripture. Their function is to praise God and execute His sovereign will. 

Idealist view sees this passage as a vision, depicting the entire church age. They ignore key words and context. They see the phrase “after this” as meaning “this is what I saw” (not what the words actually mean). They see these images as representative of the Ezekiel and Isaiah passages combined into one series of images of God’s purity and holiness. They see these beings as a separate class of angels or celestial representatives. The 24 elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles of the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 21:12-14). They also see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. The elders and such are to glorify God because He is Worthy and reassures the people who are being persecuted. 

Historicist view sees this passage as depicting the Sovereignty of God and the privilege we have to know Him and worship Him. These images parallel the ancient courts of kings such as King Solomon, who had the lions carved on either side of his throne, as well as the Babylon and Roman emperors who had similar images on their thrones. The 24 elders represent the entirety of the Church triumphant that replaces the Jewish priests and sacrificial system with Christ as Lord. However, these angelic hosts were real beings, depicted according to our ability to comprehend. These depictions are in humanistic terms so we can get how glorious God is, far beyond any human rule. The images refer to God’s stability, preeminence, and His ability and right to govern through His rule, wit, power, intelligence, vigilance, and energy.

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:9-11

What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you?

This passage is about coming before our Lord, and our worship from our gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us as individuals. He is the depiction of the centrality of His Supremacy as Christ. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object and reason why we meet and function. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. 

  • Fall down before him. Anyone who comes before God falls “prostrate.” This is a form of reverence and homage. 
  •  
  • Worship him. An essential element is that all who proclaim God as Lord must also worship Him. Here, it refers to songs of praise for who He is in glory and what He has done in deeds (Ex. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; John 20:28; Rev. 1:6). 
  •  
  • Lay their crowns…you are worthy means the recognition that God alone is worthy of our praise and worship.
  •  
  • You created acknowledges God as the creator of all things and Sovereign Lord over all. He made it and He gets to run it and all that is in the universe, including you and me! 

How is God exclusive and pure? How does this fact help you to come before God? 

What can your church do to better reverence God, not just in song, but also in motivations and behaviors? 

Why does the Church exist? What about your church? Why is this so often forgotten in our boardrooms and planning? 

How does this passage give hope and encouragement to the persecuted church?